I grew up on The Amazing Spider-Man. For all intents and purposes I learned to read with the character. My older brother was the one who introduced me to Marvel comics. I’d sit on the arm of our old chair in the family room and he’d read to me. “With great power comes great responsibility” was engrained in my mind before “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” (although, truthfully, it’s not too hard to imagine that Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben would have fit in rather well with the Founding Fathers). I repaid Marvel for bringing the old web head into my life with years of loyalty — and Marvel then returned that favor by spitting in my eye.
In 2007, Marvel’s “One More Day” took the character tens-of-thousands of readers loved for his honesty and integrity and essentially had him make a deal with the Devil. Got that? The Devil. It was a move that was so fundamentally disconnected from anything Peter Parker would ever do that to this day it still makes me angry that a creative team that would allow for it to happen was placed in a position of authority.
What was “the deal” over? His grandmother. Peter Parker’s and Mary Jane’s marriage was “magically” erased (i.e., a deus ex machina that managed to make other deus ex machinas cringe) so that Peter could save his elderly grandmother, who had lived — any way you slice it — a full life. A grandmother who had a husband she wanted to be reunited with. A grandmother who knew her time was up and, rightfully, knew that at some point we all must face death.
One would think that after sucker-punching its fans and kneeing them in the kidneys Marvel would back off until the blood had disappeared from our urine. Wrong.
As the Amazing Spider-Man ends its run, Marvel has in effect put one of Spider-Man’s all time villains into his body. The Superior Spider-Man will apparently be none other than Doctor Octopus. The villain is now the hero. We’ve gone from being asked to root for the hero who compromises his principles to make a deal with the Devil to being asked to root for a monster. Up is down, down is up, good is bad and bad is good.
If Marvel was smart it would use a story about Peter defeating death to undo the deal with the Devil and finally put his marriage back together — but that increasingly looks like it isn’t going to happen. The same people who whined for years that a married Peter Parker was too hard to write made him single again — and shocker — the stories still sucked. That’s what happens when people who don’t respect the character’s core principles are at the helm.
To add insult to injury, the Superior Spider-Man (i.e., Doctor Octopus) slept with Aunt May and will now apparently be sleeping with Mary Jane. So the editors kill off the true hero and then ask us to shell out cash so we can be reminded once a month that the bad guy has been in bed with the good guy’s wife and his aunt. Classy.
At some point in time Marvel decided that a good business model would be: “Let’s piss off our fans, particularly the ones who have been loyal to us for decades.” In a sane world, an organization seeks to find ways to hold on to loyal customers while bringing in new ones with each generation. Not Marvel. These days, when it comes to Spider-Man, smashing what’s left of his reputation seems to be the sole motivation for those in charge. The result? Many fans walk away all together, and some (like me), cut out basically every Marvel book they used to buy, only to sporadically purchase the one they love to hate out of sheer morbid curiosity.
The Amazing Spider-Man has become like an old dog to me. I grew up with and loved him for years, but he’s sick. He needs to be put down, but I haven’t been able let go because it’s not the old age that’s killing him; it’s a pack of self-absorbed men who keep poisoning his food. I think that with the new title, Superior Spider-Man, I’ll finally be able to say goodbye. Sadly, it seems as though that’s what “the brain trust” at Marvel was hoping would happen to readers like me all along.
Related: Amazing Spider-Man #700: Doc Slott pens ending only villains could love
Related: Super Spider-Man: Is Dan Slott asking readers to root for a rapist?
Related: Dan Slott’s Spider-Man won’t kill N. Korean soldiers or waterboard a man to save 6 billion.
Related: Dan Slott’s Spider-Man: World’s Dumbest Super Hero
Related: Dan Slott’s Spider-Man: War Zone liability thinks small in big situations