Disclaimer: The following is an opinion piece and does not reflect the opinions of all writers of The Nerdicon. I have strong feelings on this subject that I wish to share with you. My opinion has no bearing on yours. I welcome feedback, even if you disagree. I do not mean to bash any of our readers who might be a fan of Marvel comics or other Marvel properties. Opinions are amazing, and I will respect yours if you respect mine. That being said, let’s begin.
Alright, and we are back again for me to gripe a bit more on my disappointment with Marvel comics. Our topic this time? Spider-Man…oh Spider-Man, why does Marvel not respect their flagship character anymore? You would think that with such a popular character they would want to at least keep the fans happy so they don’t leave, but hey, he is arguably there highest selling book sans the X-Men ( I will get to them eventually) and The Avengers.
I really feel that Spider-Man was the first truly human and relatable Marvel character. Sure, you had the Fantastic Four (the first in the Marvel Universe), but they were more of a family unit and they were comprised of brilliant scientists and their siblings. You also had Bruce Banner, but he was also a brilliant scientist. While Peter might have been very smart, almost genius level, he was also the everyman. He was an outcast. Everyone at one point in their life has felt like an outcast, so just about everyone and their mother can almost feel for the character and what he is going through, and why he feels the need to make jokes while performing his super-heroics. He was also one of the first superheroes who wasn’t an adult, while not being a sidekick either. He’s my second favorite Marvel character; that’s why I’m so sad that one of Stan Lee’s greatest creations isn’t getting the respect he deserves.
As we all know, characters must learn and grow as a story goes on. This is how character development works. Without it, a character will become stagnant and boring and no one will want to read or watch them anymore. The problem with comic books is that, unlike films and television shows, there is no true end to them. That is why most of them are called ongoings: they continue. Since readers do not want to see their favorite heroes age, they are stuck in a floating timeline, remaining a certain age for three or four years before having another birthday. With this dilemma of the ongoing, you also have to look at new stories and creating new ways for old characters and plots to be interesting.
The problem is sometimes new is not always good. I have been trying to decide whether Peter has actually grown as a character since his inception; he still seems to be an arrogant, impulsive teenager even though he is his early 30’s now. Now, while I do believe a character should change and grow over time, I do believe a character has to be the same at their core, retain their likeability factor, and be somewhat familiar so as not to put off readers. Recently, Peter Parker has gone through some drastic changes that have been debilitating to his fans.
Right, so many people take issue with the Clone Saga (a really long story arc in the 90s), but I haven’t yet read it, due to the fact that so many people have bashed it over the years that I feel I wouldn’t be looking at it objectively and probably automatically hate it based on their opinions. However, recently there have been some big kick in the balls moments to Peter Parker and his fans. In the infamous story line One More Day, Peter Parker sells his marriage to Mary Jane to Mephisto (the devil of the Marvel Universe) in order to save Aunt May’s life. But to be honest, it felt very forced. Joe Quesada himself stated that they got rid of the marriage because you “can’t tell interesting stories about married couples”. The opening scene of the film “Up” begs to differ. Well, you gotta give the man credit, at least this was something he didn’t lie about. This marriage had been going on for at least 25 to 30 years. This was huge, and was once again a big gimmick to sell more comics at the expense of the characters’ integrity.
Now, Dan Slott (considered by most to be the real villain of the Marvel Universe) has written some good Spider-Man stories and some bad ones. Most recently, though, he came up with the idea to *spoiler alert guys* kill the Spider-Man, this unsettled most fans because Peter Parker had already died in the Ultimate universe and, well, it’s one of the first times that the 616 universe copied the Ultimate one. While I wasn’t too keen on the idea, I wasn’t as angry as most. Then I heard that they were going to have this new Spider-Man date Mary Jane…what? After years of the will they/won’t they get back together thing, they are finally going to do it, but without Peter? It just seemed like Marvel was trying to piss the fans off. It’s like they got some sick pleasure from it.
Then issue #698 came out, and it was revealed that at some point Doctor Octopus had traded bodies with Peter Parker. Now it was Peter who was in a dying Doc Ock body and Doc Ock was in a healthy one. This storyline goes through issue #700, the final issue of the long running Amazing Spider-Man book, and one of the few Marvel books that had not been renumbered. I read the issue because I thought, hey, if it is a good enough story that warrants Spidey’s untimely demise, I could actually accept the next incarnation.
It was not.
The concept was good. Unfortunately, it only felt like it should have been a 6 issue arc and Peter should become Spider-man again. The writing was terrible, and everyone in the Marvel Universe is acts like an idiot. Doc Ock makes no effort to talk like Peter: he insults Mary Jane and speaks just like Doc Ock would, except around people who know him very well. You might be asking, well why would anyone find it strange, swapping bodies is a weird concept. Yes, but you also have to take into consideration the fact that in this universe, there are people born with powers, a guy getting bit by a radioactive spider and gaining super powers instead of cancer, and a pantheon of gods that are well known to the society at large. Swapping bodies is not the strangest thing to happen in New York City. The book might have been decent had some people questioned Spider-Man and his actions or choice of words, but nope, they pretend like it is business as usual. If people continue to act this way, then I am done with Spider-Man.
While Avengers Vs. X-Men may have been the Marvel coffin, Superior Spider-man was the final nail that sealed it. I did read Superior Spider-Man #1 (the replacement for Amazing Spider-Man after it ended), and while the story was much better, I hate Ock as Spidey. It is weird seeing certain words coming out of that mouth. The rest of it was pretty decent, and that is actually a bad thing. When you like everything about a book except the lead character, there is something wrong.
Essentially Dan Slott is trying to be the Steven Moffat of Marvel, intentionally pissing off the fans by creating convoluted plot lines and such. Only Moffat can pull it off, with class no less. Marvel, I pleaded with you in part one of this and now I’m afraid I will have to do it again. Get it together. This is not what fans want. Of course, you may have a few Marvel zombies here and there that eat everything you do up, but sacrificing great storytelling for money…not a smart move.
I do believe that Peter Parker will be back (in time for The Amazing Spider-Man sequel, no doubt). So maybe this is just another cheap marketing ploy invented by the Marvel higher ups. I just hope that one day I might get back that lovable and friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.