Monday, July 2, 2012

Bad Geek Confessions: Spider-Man

Spider-Man:  At times, a case could be made that he was the most popular of all superheros.

An even stronger argument could be made that he never falls out of the top three spots of superhero popularity. 

Now he has a brand new gazillion dollar movie reintroducing him.

While I’m sure I will find it enjoyable, unlike my usual rabid devotion to babble on about these sorts of films, I need to exempt myself from reviewing this movie.

The reason is - I really don’t give a rat’s patootie about Spider-Man.

I’ve tried to, believe me, I have a short box full of trying to.

I’ll get intrigued by a story, follow it for several issues, and end up frustrated or annoyed  and swear off them for a while.  His modern adventures have been chronicled by two of my favorite comic writers, Peter David and Dan Slott, and with the exception of one cross over issue, I haven’t bought any of them.

I’m not really sure what it is.

I do enjoy when he shows up in other comics to trade jokes and barbs with the other heroes. 

His powers generate a mode of movement and combat that are exciting and unique in the super hero world.

His standard costume is visually engaging, heck even his temporary costume spawned a whole new successful character that has had his own series in three incarnations, plus other appearances.
I like black.

I always get entertained by his movies (except Spider-Man 3, I didn’t realize a movie could be simultaneously too long - I felt every minute - and too short -  it lacked build up and information on many characters-.

I equally have enjoyed simulating his powers in video games and watching them displayed cartoons (especially when he has his Amazing Friends with him!)


Maybe it’s that I like Spider-Man, but I can’t make myself care enough about Peter Parker or his trials and tribulations.

The reason I’m usually disappointed with the Spider-comics, is that they tend to be filled with disappointing endings. (Ooh- very deep Jeff, tell us more.)

It isn’t only the tragic aspect of the tales, it can’t be. I firmly believe that there is NO better comic than a well written Batman Comic, and old Brucie’s pretty much written the textbook on tragedy.

I supposed it’s a subtle difference that has caused me to own a grudging short box of one (who has to share space with a much more fun loving, if insane,  arachnid based hero: the Tick - SPOOOOOOOOOOON!), and over a half dozen long boxes ready to burst as they continue to fill of the other.

Batman, striving to make sure no other innocent has to suffer the same fate that he did as a child, is all about overcoming adversity.  The phrase, “it’s not tragedy that defines us, but how we react to it that does,” comes up frequently in Batman tales.   In other words, even when the world dumps guano all over our hero, the story can still be uplifting.

Spider-Man’s mantra, “with great power comes great responsibility” adds the tone to most of his stories.  Pete’s life is much more about, “keep going no matter what life drops on you.”  Frankly, I get a little tired of every story ending with, “Well, I did some good, but my life still sucks.” 

Having said that, there is one place in comics where I eagerly looked forward to the adventurers of Peter and the rest of the Parker family. That place is Tom Defalco’s MC2 universe starring “Mayday” Parker, known to legions of extremely vocal fans as “the one true Spider-Girl.”  You’ve got to love a fan base that organized MULITPLE hand written letter campaigns in this digital age to stave off cancellation of Spider-Girl’s adventures several times.

In these stories, Pete finally gets his happy ending. He’s married to MJ, has a family, friends, and a successful, stable and satisfying job.  His daughter wears the family long johns now, and while no stranger to the Parker responsibility gets much more uplifting finishes to her stories.
See, happiness.
The most important part of Spider-Girl is that I can share them with my young daughter.  Unlike a majority of mainstream comics, I don’t have to worry that any random issue could easily have things a kid enjoying superheroes probably shouldn’t be exposed to.  Unlike most kids’ comics, it contains full story arcs, complex character interactions and doesn’t talk down to her.  Also, the MC2 universe has a higher percentage of high tier female heroes.  This is important, says the father of a daughter who complains loudly that, "GIRLS LIKE SUPERHEROES TOO!" whenever McDonald's uses only the male characters from a comic book based cartoon in the "Boy's Happy Meal" and froo froo pink stuff for girls.

Plus there were multiple mini-series of other characters, adding depth to the MC2 universe.  All the stories were written by Tom Defalco, giving that realm the same cohesiveness that Stan Lee created the original Marvel Universe with all those years ago.

My daughter, and my wife for that matter - who tended to read the Spider-Girl trades before I could get my hands on them - enjoyed the stories and heroes at face value.  However, if they ever had a question further into the depths of the background, I could provide answers.  The reason for this is Mr. Defalco seems to have set the MC2 world the real time number of years down the road from the period he was editor in chief of Marvel Comics (1987-1994). I left Marvel about the same time he did (for likely many of the creative changes that coincided with forcing him out.) 

Basically, the Spider-Girl and related titles are:
“Jeff’s heaviest Marvel Reading Years…The Next Generation.”

It’s like coming home again!

Peter can stay on Spider Island, or as the Other for as many One More Day’s as he wants.


No comments: