As the title suggests, today we will be talking about death. But not just death in general, we are going to talk about comic book death and more importantly the recent “death” of everyone’s favorite wall crawler, the Amazing Spider-Man.
As many probably know by now thanks to the movies and interviews with creator Stan Lee and Marvel Comics proper, Spider-Man was created way back in the 60s during what’s know as the Silver Age of comic books. The Silver Age is a period roughly from the late 1950s to about the mid to late-1970s. Or another way of saying it was from the first appearance of Barry Allen as the Flash in Showcase #4 to the time Frank Miller took his spin on Daredevil.
Back to Spider-Man, he was essentially THE premiere teen superhero. Before him teens in comics were either dumb as a post, constant cannon fodder for the villains to use to bait and torture the main hero, as someone to idolize the main hero a la Jimmy Olsen from Superman or to be the sidekick character a la Dick Grayson/Robin from Batman. Spider-Man broke the mold because he was a teenager, a dork, AND the main hero of his own book. Touted as the ”everyman” hero, Spidey dealt with personal problems as well as fighting off his rouge gallery. Back then this was revolutionary, now it’s almost status quo to give comic heroes issues and guilt, but back then heroes rarely dealt with personal issues except “Crap! Dr. (miscellaneous villain name) knows my weakness!!”
So it’s easy to see how a character like Spidey could become so endearing huh?
But “Hey” you ask, “What does death have to do about this?” Well, recently Marvel celebrated Spider-Man’s 700th issue last month and well the killed him at the end of it. In a final fight against his mortal enemy Dr. Octopus, Spidey’s mind and personality somehow got switched into the broken and cancer ridden body of his enemy. The fight was actually interesting with each fighter playing an intellectual 1-up game on the other. But sadly Peter (in Doc Ock’s body) loses and in a last-ditch effort tries to do the brain swap again but fails to do the complete swap. Instead, in some fluke, Doc Ock begins to relive all of Peter’s memories and experiences as if HE lived them coming to an understanding (slightly) what Peter is like and what drives him to be a hero. As Peter’s consciousness dies in Ock’s body, Ock, in Peter’s body, vows that he will use his mind and new lease on life as a better Spider-Man, a Superior Spider-Man!
And from that Marvel ends the Amazing Spider-Man (again)….Yeah that’s right Amazing Spider-Man ended before. It is true that there have been 700 issues printed in the saga of Amazing (technically more if you count 0.1 issues…and that a WHOLE ‘nother story I won’t get into now) but in actuality, this is the end of Vol. 2 of Amazing Spider-Man. BA-BA-BUUUUMMMM!!
See comic books are pretty weird in the fact that every time a new #1 in a long running series like oh say Superman appears on the racks it creates a new volume or era in the character’s long running story. This confusing bit of mess is mostly unique to mainline superhero works, for independent works like Idolized or Saga once the title hits another volume usually it means like graphic novel #2, 3, etc.
Now with Spider-Man kicking the bucket in such an over the top way, many true blue Spidey fans were/are up in arms over what they feel is a “raping” of the character.
Honestly to that I say, GET OVER IT!!!!
Look this is not the first time a popular comic book character got the shaft and definitely not Spider-Man’s first hurrah with getting caught in a shitty storyline (“One More Day” anyone??). And this goes double for people who read comics on a regular basis, there is NO WAY in the 9 Hells Marvel will be dumb enough to keep mainline Peter Parker 6 feet under for long. Given that the son-of-a-bitch has a new movie in another year and a currently running cartoon show of Disney XD. If you’ve been reading comics for a good period of time, you know characters die and come back worse than cockroaches.
Marvel needed a big surprise moment to usher in their “Marvel NOW” initiative and what better way than we a high-profile “death”. The fact of the matter is that characters from both Marvel and DC are no longer the characters many people (myself included) know. They have become pawns for the larger companies of Warner Bros and Disney to use mostly as marketing gimmicks.
Now some would say, “well d’uuuuuhhhhhhh!!!” but really if you think about it this is serialized fiction akin to old crime and pulp stories from eons ago. If you make a good story involving these characters then there wouldn’t be a need to do such stupid gimmicks. Also (and I’m looking at you DC) PUT THE GODDAMNED GRAPHIC NOVELS OUT ON TIME OR WITH CLEAR INDICATION OF THE ORDER!!!! Look at Robert Kirkman, for example. Kirkman is the writer of “The Walking Dead” and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 3 years, Walking Dead has become a juggernaut with people. Why? Good story telling! No real gimmicks outside of zombies and trying to guess who dies next.
I’m mainly writing this as commentary on the state of comic book gimmicks and the regulars who read comics should know better. For those of you just jumping into the pool and learning about some of these spandex clad heroes do yourself a favor and research comic book culture during the 90s because I’m sad to report that we are more and more coming back to that era.
Things like the “death”….no, wait, fuck it he’s not dead so let me stop….ULTIMATE universe Peter Parker is DEAD, MAINLINE Peter Parker is just taking a TIME-OUT. So let me amend, things like the “time-out” of Peter Parker happen every so often in the land of Marvel and DC. The surprise doesn’t even register to most, which honestly is just fucking sad. Yes I know, people lost their shit when Peter took his “time-out” but really it’s not like Charlie Brown died most of the people who overreacted are those who either A) are Spider-Man über fanboys or B) people coming in off the street thinking if they buy the issue it’ll be worth money.
So Amazing Spider-man #700 and the following Superior Spider-Man #1 were OK reads, not great but alright. Will I continue to read them? Probably not. To be honest I was burnt out on Spider-Man after the One More Day story. But I don’t think people need to put out hits on Dan Slott. Marvel’s not gonna let this guy put Peter on a time-out without a pay off.
So if you were reading Amazing, keep reading Superior it actually is really interesting. If you’re one of the few who wished death on Dan Slott for writing the story arc, seriously GROW UP AND GO FUCK YOURSELF!!!!!