Last year I wrote an article that was critical of comics’, especially Marvel’s, tendency to de-age their characters. They’ve made some diversity movements, and that’s cool, but in terms of age we haven’t seen as much movement. Ms. Marvel, Iron Man/Iron Heart, Moon Girl, Nova, Miles Morales, Totally Awesome Hulk. ALL bringing forth diversity in just about every way. Except age.
I got a pretty good lambasting for the article, by the way. Mostly from people who were convinced I was racist as the characters I cited in the intro weren’t white. Which WAS true, although the next section was all about Robin and Bucky, and the section after that consisted of examples of adults taking responsibility, and that section was about John Stewart and Jim Rhodes. I don’t know why I’m defending myself here. I guess it still stings a bit.
Lesson learned: “I quite liked Ms. Marvel except for the ending of the second arc” is WAY too negative. Only say something mildly critical of Ms. Marvel if you want to become one of (Twitter) history’s greatest monsters.
One of the characters I didn’t talk about much in the article was Spider-Man. Until the comments. Someone asked about Spider-Man, and I said that Spider-Man is probably the biggest all-time victim of de-aging as a doorway to “new” stories and ideas. Seriously, the guy has been rebooted in film THREE times in 14 years. That’s more than Fantastic 4! And the comics? Sweet Aunt Petunia, forget about it! The guy, it’s like puberty is the mob: “Just when I thought I was out, they PULL ME BACK IN!”
Here’s a more specific quote:
I find it interesting that we so often consider Spider-Man a teen superhero and for his age to be at the core of who that character is. He graduated high school in issue #28 of Amazing Spider-Man (also the first appearance of the Molten Man, True Believers!), which came out in September of 1965. 51 years and over 700 issues ago. To put it in perspective, Peter Parker spent less than 4% of his Amazing Spider-Man run attending high school.
I’m quoting myself, which is the definition of being up my own ass. But I didn’t want to do that math again.
And now, we have Spidey.
Spidey would probably be super enjoyable if you’d never read the origin of Spider-Man. Which means there’s no fucking possible shred of a possibility that you’re reading this review right now.
I was just talking with my officemate yesterday, and we agreed that there are 3 superhero origins NO ONE needs again: Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. I swear to god, every time with these three. A rocketship from another planet (that NO ONE can explain why, if Jor-El is so fucking smart, he only made ONE ship for a fucking baby), blood and pearls in the gutter (OMG it’s soooooo contrast-y!) and Spider-Man (with great power comes…I’m not even going to finish it).
Spidey does keep the spider bite and powers discovery portions brief. That stuff plus the death of Uncle Ben are kept down to a single splash page in every issue. Which is awesome because we have Spider-Man from page 1. It’s a fuckton better than getting a 2-3 issue arc about Peter Parker getting his powers, but still, when is Marvel going to learn that there is not a human who has access to this book and interest in it who does not know Spider-Man’s origin?
And I know I’m getting off track here, but I swear to all that is holy, I really, REALLY hope they don’t spend a lot of time fucking around with the origin in the new movie. We got like NO origin in Civil War, and that worked out great! We don’t need it! I promise we don’t!
Marvel, please, if you can, just release two versions in theaters. One with origin, one that skips that shit. Then me and the other comic book losers can spend the extra 20 minutes pumping butter into our popcorn. Which I need to do. If I don’t feel like a golf cart ran over my chest half way through a tub of popcorn, I know I fucked up.
The thing is, I’m sticking with my original thesis. I think I’d like to see some heroes that are not in high school. In Spidey, the Spider-Man parts were pretty great, the Peter Parker portions (Triple P’s) were SO BORING.
The Spider-Man stories weren’t anything earth-shattering, but they felt fresh. Spidey jokes around a lot, which he’s always done, but the writing in this book manages to capture something interesting. Spidey is funny, but he’s not hilarious. He’s funny in that he’s not great at being funny yet, but he’s still making quips. Quips and thwips. That shit’s working.
It’s the Peter Parker Portions that are a bit of a snooze, and damn if they don’t tread a lot of familiar ground. Flash Thompson is his antagonist, and Parker could mop the floor with him but doesn’t because he feels like getting his head dunked in the toilet is the only way to keep his secret identity secret.
Which, another rant, that always bothered me. Have some self-respect! Parker, you stick up for the little guy every damn time, but never for yourself. I’m not saying you have to shatter Flash Thompson’s orbital socket, but do you really have to let him put your face in the toilet? I feel like there’s a lesson to be learned here about the existence of a middleground in most situations, specifically a middleground between smashing someone’s face and having your own face swab a public urinal.
Also, a lesson in self-worth. Dude, I have SUPER low self-esteem, as evidenced by the fact that I have to prove to the faceless internet that I’m not a racist asshole even though I’m like 100% sure. I also routinely eat things off the floor because I feel like I dropped them and there’s a price to be paid. And even I don’t think kissing porcelain is the answer here.
In Spidey, Parker is in love with Gwen Stacy, he has to find a job taking pictures for the Bugle. The Peter Parker stuff couldn’t be more by-the-(comic)book.
In Spidey, the Spider-Man stuff works, the Parker stuff feels like an afterthought. Robbie Thompson nails it with the Spidey stuff, less nails it with the Parker stuff. Maybe staples it or something. What’s less than a nail but still okay?
Oh, I will say, the art is badass. The action is really cool, reminiscent of Nightwing from Scott McDaniel, but more colorful and 10% more Looney Tunes.
Okay, and I know this seems totally unrelated…does Ain’t It Cool News dislike anything? I feel like every comic I look at, Ain’t It Cool News has something great to say about it.
I don’t mean to talk shit about something that’s so relentlessly positive, but here are some headlines from right now:
It’s your patriotic duty to go see Movie X right now!!!
Video X should tickle your very soul!!!
When there’s ONE exclamation point, I guess that means it’s terrible or something.
Truthfully, I’m just jealous because I really believe the folks over there love things as much as they claim. That seems like the good life. How do I get on that train?