Um, Amazing Spider-Man, I’m Feeling Trapped…and a Little Unhappy

Part of me didn’t want to write this post.  Then a bigger part of me didn’t want to share it.  It feels inappropriate.  This feels like talking about problems with a significant other in public when it should be handled privately, just between the two of us, and behind closed doors.  But I keep wrestling with it and I write a blog about comic books (and, you know, other stuff) so I figured it was time to just be out with this.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll glean some insight here.

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The Marvel Legacy kickoff in Amazing. / Photo Credit – Marvel Comics

I’ve loved Spider-Man my entire life but I’m never excited about reading The Amazing Spider-Man.  Each month (with the exception of Mark Waid’s embarrassingly bland Captain America (which I’m only sticking with because I believe Ta-Nehisi Coates is still taking over with issue #701)) this is the comic I read that interests me the least.  I just don’t much care about what’s going on in Peter Parker’s world.  Now please, don’t get me wrong.  These are (by and large) well written superhero comics.  They are fun, funny, and exciting.  We see Spidey doing what he does best, saving the day despite the curve balls the ol’ Parker Luck throws at him.  If I was eight or thirteen or maybe even twenty-three I would adore this comic as much as I did in my youth.  But I’m thirty-five and I feel like I want more.  I feel like I’m wasting time and money each month with a comic that lacks the depth I find in the other titles that fill my file.  But I don’t know what to do.  How do I quit reading The Amazing Spider-Man when I’m still reading comics???

It seems impossible.  I’ve loved Spider-Man forever.  Even when I wasn’t reading comics, I was loving Spider-Man.  And, when I came back, The Amazing Spider-Man was the comic that took me the longest to pick up again.  It meant so much to me as a kid and I left it on a note of Peter and Mary Jane walking away from the superhero world to finally have their happily-ever-after.  Heck, the only reason I could stop reading comics was because I had an ending for Peter and MJ!  I was intimidated and anxious about returning to his world.  I knew he was an Avenger now.  I knew he’d sold his marriage to the devil because Marvel’s editors lacked creativity.  I knew Doctor Octopus had been in his body for a while.  I knew he’d become the C.E.O. of a major international corporation.  That was a lot to jump into.  Maybe, I wondered, I should just stay on the periphery.  But how could I?

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You still know how to make me laugh Spidey.  You probably always will… / Photo Credit – Marvel Comics

This was Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, we’re talking about.  This is the guy I’ve loved longer than Star Wars or Ghostbusters or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  This was the guy I’d spent more time with than Star Wars, the Ghostbusters, or the Turtles too!  There has never been a fictional character (then or now) who’s ever meant more to me.  So I could only avoid his comic books for so long.  When I finally returned, it was tentatively at first.  I read Spider-Man/DeadpoolI read Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows.  Then, eventually, I just jumped back in.

It hasn’t been all bad either.  I began with the “Spider-Verse” storyline and absolutely loved it!  I’d never seen anything quite like it in a Spider-Man comic before.  It was so unique while being so aware of the whole history of Spider-Man.  It was a brilliant celebration of the web-head’s life.  It was entertaining too!  Is it any wonder I recommitted to reading The Amazing Spider-Man after a story like that?  I also really, really enjoyed “Spider-Man: Worldwide.”  Having seen Peter struggle financially for so long, it was fun to see how wealth and privilege affected him and it was inspiring to see him try and navigate the waters of being a justice-oriented C.E.O. too.  I also loved seeing Spider-Man travelling the world as an international crime fighter!

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As excited as I was for the “Venom Inc.” crossover, it ended up leaving me wanting more.  I didn’t find it memorable and I kind of “nothing” it. / Photo Credit – Marvel Comics

But…I feel we got back together only to find the magic’s gone.  The stories aren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination.  They just aren’t hooking me the way they always did.  We’re just going through the motions.  I buy the comic.  I read it.  But there’s no spark, no joy, no fun.  I feel like I’m trying to reignite the fire in the relationship but, no matter how hard I try, it’s just not there.  I once wrote that returning to reading The Amazing Spider-Man felt like coming home.  Now it feels like I’ve outgrown that home; it’s familiar but doesn’t feel like I belong anymore.

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Peter and Bobbi, the one plot point that intrigues me. / Photo Credit – Marvel Comics

What makes this so hard is there are SO MANY INCREDIBLE COMIC BOOKS OUT THERE that I could be reading instead.  Obviously I have limited time and a limited budget for comics.  The Amazing Spider-Man is a bi-weekly offering too so I’m paying $8 a month for the story I’m least emotionally invested in.  In fact, the part of The Amazing Spider-Man I enjoy the most is his relationship with Bobbi Morse.  But I can get Mockingbird whenever I want by re-reading Chelsea Cain’s brilliant (and all-too-short-lived) series Mockingbird.  BUT I feel guilty leaving Spidey.

What am I doing?  And, more frustratingly, what am I to do?  I can’t imagine continuing to read comic books without reading The Amazing Spider-Man.  But The Amazing Spider-Man is the comic I enjoy least and/or the comic that underwhelms me the most each month.  I love Spider-Man so much!  He means so much to me!  But I don’t love the version of The Amazing Spider-Man I’ve returned to nor does it mean much of anything to me at all.

It’s all so familiar.  Oh, Norman Osborn’s back.  Oh, Peter’s working at the Daily Bugle again.  Oh, he’s got relationship troubles.  Oh, the public doesn’t like him.  Sure, Norman Osborn is disfigured; Peter’s the science section editor instead of a photographer; he’s dating Bobbi Morse; and it’s Peter Parker and not Spider-Man who New York’s mad at.  But those are slightly superficial changes at best.  It’s like the problem I had with X-Men: Gold, there’s too much of the old without any real development beyond what I read as a kid.  There doesn’t seem to be enough new to intrigue me each month, let alone to help me fall back in love.  But this hurts so much more than X-Men: Gold because this is The Amazing Spider-Man.  This is my comic!  This is my guy!

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Oh how I miss the good old days Spidey, when you were all I needed :(.  Life makes no sense anymore! / Photo Credit – Marvel Comics

Chip Zdarsky’s brilliant Marvel 2 In One with the Thing and the Human Torch rings of nostalgia.  But it also feels fresh and alive.  This is the Fantastic Four (or, well, half of them) I remember from my youth but the journey feels new.  It feels necessary.  And I’m enjoying every step so far!  But with The Amazing Spider-Man it feels like I’m buying it because of what Spider-Man has always meant to me, not because of what the comic means to me now.

Also, there’s that silly little “collector voice” in the back of my mind.  It’s about to hit issue #800 and that’s quite the milestone, it says.  Dan Slott’s epic run is coming to an end, how can you miss that? it asks.  Aren’t you even going to give the new author a shot? it nags.  Worst of all, my heart and overthinking mind join in the chorus to say, You OWE IT to Spider-Man to stay for the 800th issue milestone/say goodbye to Dan Slott/see what the new writer has in store.  I’m rarely excited or happy about what I find in The Amazing Spider-Man but I don’t know if I can or should say goodbye again.  I just don’t know what to do.

As I’ve cited before (in regard to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Television), my friend Lauren always said there are two dates at the end of every relationship – the date you should have broken up and the date you actually do.  I’m not sure where I am with The Amazing Spider-Man.  What’s going on between us?  What does our future hold?  Is it time to say “goodbye,” always valuing what we had and knowing Spidey will stay first in my heart even if I’m not reading his comic each month?  Or do I fight to reignite the spark and try to find the love we once shared, reborn anew?  Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh…I wish I knew what to do.

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“To Be Continued…” is right :/.  I have no idea what I’m supposed to do here. / Photo Credit – Marvel Comics

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17 thoughts on “Um, Amazing Spider-Man, I’m Feeling Trapped…and a Little Unhappy

  1. Are you reading the Spider-Man comic of Chip? There are some good moments, there.

    I started reading Spider-man comics with the Spiderverse event, so I’m not really such a huge fan as yourself. Although my plan is reading the wall crawler comics before I die, so I will be back here when I’m 80 or so to review my comment 😛

    Just for that, I don’t have the feeling that there is nothing new, beacuse for me it is. They are fun, quick paced and a bit crazy. Dan will be missed, but I guess a new author could bring fresh ideas for the long-time fans of Spder-man.

    My oly wish is that the new writer keeps the relationship with Mockingbird going. Although with Legacy everything is going back a few decades little by little, so… I don’t think the Peter/Bobbi duo will last long 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will miss Dan Slott a lot. Even if his stories aren’t grabbing me personally, I would never say the man doesn’t know how to write a great Spider-Man story. His love and knowledge of Spidey is apparent in everything he does. That’s part of the struggle for me – I’m not super into these stories but I love Spider-Man and I know Dan Slott really does too. So I feel bad cutting my favorite hero when he’s in the hands of such a great writer! Even if it’s not my favorite line, I still feel like I should support it.

      I have sampled a few issues of Chip’s ‘Spectacular Spider-Man’ and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve found in there. But there’s something nostalgic about the ‘Amazing’ title for me. (I know, I know…I’M CRAZY.) So part of me would feel really weird reading a Peter Parker tale and ignoring ‘The Amazing Spider-Man.’ But Chip Zdarsky’s a great author, I love his work on ‘Marvel 2 In One,’ and ‘Spectacular’ is just once a month so maybe that’s something I need to look into further…

      And I’m completely with you on Bobbi! I love her soooooo much! And I worry you’re right. Since Legacy is trying to copy everything from a few decades ago, we could get lucky. There was a period where Peter was dating Felicia Hardy and Spider-Man and the Black Cat would do superheroing together. Maybe Bobbi and Peter could be the Legacy version of that couple!! We can only hope!

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  2. Yes…YES. YES! PREACH! I am so sick of Spidey, X-Men and Captain America being so bland. I get it, the direction X-Men and Cap were in were terrible stories that strayed away from what these used to mean. Fans hated what Marvel was doing with their beloved heroes so they reverted it back to what it was by adding nothing interesting to it. Like you said, Marvel Two-In-One has been a proof of being able to find a balance of different yet true. Even though I hated Chelsea Cain’s hammer hitting political messages in Mockingbird it did feel fresh. It would’ve been interesting to me if she’d only not done so much feminist worshiping, but it’s cool you liked it.

    Spider-Man just lost touch with what he was. Clone Conspiracy was painfully bad and I am more than glad to see Slott be getting off that ride. And please no to Ta-Nehsi Coates for Cap. I find nothing interesting about his writing whatsoever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, it’s not so much I feel Spidey’s lost touch with who he is but rather the comics are so familiar, they aren’t pulling me in, if that makes sense. I do think Dan Slott is an incredible writer though (although, admittedly, I skipped “Clone Conspiracy”). I respect his work and can see why he’s been on the title for so long. But they’re just your basic/classic superhero stories. I now find myself craving comics with more depth – like the stories I find in ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Falcon,’ ‘Champions,’ ‘Ms. Marvel,’ and ‘The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.’ I think it’s just the wrong time in my life for me to really appreciate these Spider-Man stories, even if I get why so many people do.

      Also, the bi-weekly thing is KILLING me. C’mon Marvel, at least DC dropped their bi-weekly titles to $2.99 apiece (so readers can pretend they’re saving money even though it’s $6 a month for one title instead of $4). I think I’d be having far less angst over ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ if it was monthly or if the cover price was a little less since it was bi-weekly.

      As you’re not a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates, at least that means you won’t have to decide on whether or not you’re keeping Cap on your pull list! For me, I’m quite excited. I think he’s one of the most important voices writing in America at the present moment. He clearly loves comic books too and I think he manages to write them with a eloquence very few comic writers have ever managed. So I can’t think of a better choice to handle Captain America than one of America’s most prolific writers. Time will tell how it turns out but, if it’s half as amazing as ‘Black Panther’ has been, I’ll be more than happy. Although, if it is as good as ‘Black Panther,’ it won’t help me in freeing up any room on my pull list :).

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      1. The thing is I hate all the titles you’ve mentioned like Champions (maybe new writer will course correct?), Ms. Marvel (used to be great) and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl so it’s interesting to see us have common ground on Spider-Man. Dan Slott has indeed done a lot of great work on the hero, but like you said it has ran out of steam and you may he surprised to hear, but it’s been becoming a more popular opinion that Slott’s lost the magic.

        Majority of people in the circles who agree more with me believe he has lost it when the Worldwide storyline started. His work became uninspiring so now seeing people who share your worldview agree in this area is even more telling. The sales have also supported this testament and even though this might’ve been the effect of the bi-weekly releases I still believe it was more the writing what got the people to ultimately drop it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, that’s a looooooong time for anyone to write one character, especially when you’re turning out bi-weekly and – at one or two points – tri-weekly stories. I read an interview with Slott where he said he’d planned to write to #801 and then leave as far back as 2015 or something. So I guess he’s been ready for his exit too. It’s just a natural case of “to everything there is a season…”

        On the “Worldwide” note, what I did like is it was a VERY different Spider-Man story. I’ve never read that sort of story in a Spidey comic before. But even though I really liked the idea, I don’t think he needed Iron Man-esque armor (something, sadly, they’re clearly doing in the MCU (I was so bummed they gave him an A.I. in his suit in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ instead of his spider-sense)). I do think, given the whole “Worldwide” arc, that Slott will have fun writing Iron Man. He was kind of giving Spidey an Iron Man flavor with that whole story.

        I am excited to see what comes next too. So, despite my being less than intrigued by the month-to-month goings on in ‘Amazing,’ I’ll probably stick around at least until I get a flavor of the new stories.

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      3. I hear Spectacular Spider-Man on the other hand has been picking up in quality. I was always mixed on Chip Zdarsky as his comedy never stuck gold to me but after Marvel Two-In-One I am ready to give him any chance he wants. Despite my lack of euthiasim for Slott’s Spider-Man for some CRAZY illogical reason I am sort of optimistic for his Iron Man. Maybe it’s because we can finally get a Iron Man story that can be considered among the best in the genre? Maybe? It’s a weird feeling, yet it’s there

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      4. No, I get it. Slott is a great writer, even if he’s hitting the end of his Spider-Man magic. So I can see being optimistic about him jumping into a new character. He clearly reads/loves a lot of comics. It will be fun to see what he does with the Iron Man mythos.

        I get what you’re saying about ‘Spectacular Spider-Man’ too. If Chip Zdarsky brings half that heart, fun, and awareness-of-the-tradition-but-still-creating-something-new he does with ‘Marvel 2 In One’ to Spider-Man, that would have to be a great ride!

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  3. If I might make a suggestion, it might be worth hanging around to see who the new creative team is. I’ve heard rumours that Nick Spencer is taking over on writing duties and I don’t think I need to elaborate on that one too much.

    I’m in a similar situation of sorts. I’m having to do a mass exodus of my pull list in preparation for University life. Though it has been relatively easy thus far I’m having some serious issues with some of my more beloved titles. I can’t say I have as intimate relationship with Spidey as you but I can understand the troubles you are facing. I’m likely to disembark the Spidey train with #801. I’m not sure how I’ll feel when it comes but at the moment I’m feeling okay parting ways for now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard the Nick Spencer rumors too!!! You’re absolutely right – if there’s even the CHANCE it will be him, it’s worth staying with it to that point. And, if I do decide to stop reading the title, I (clearly) won’t be able to make the decision with any sort of haste. So maybe playing it out over the next few months is the way to go. I can hit #800, finish Slott’s epic run, and then see what’s in store for Spidey’s future. I think you’ve offered some very wise advice my friend. Thank you!

      I appreciate you’re being able to feel my pain. I remember the cost of gas/other obligations that came with high school as well as the shadow of college being a major part of why I gave up comics in 1998. I’m happy you’re trying to stay connected! Even if it’s a smaller amount of titles, even if it’s only a few, I think it will be worth it. I used to follow my nerd news online and wonder wistfully about what I was missing out on as I read about things like Civil War, Secret Invasion, and the Superior Spider-Man.

      I think tagging out at #801 makes great sense for you too. I also kind of hope you’ll eventually do a post or a series of posts about what you decided to keep/cut. I would enjoy reading about your process!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Michael,

    I hear you, bro. You know I was a big Star Wars collector, toys, etc. I got married, had kids, no money and priorities shifted. I still enjoy the fandom, just differently. I collect t-shirts in my budget, watch movies, TV, have a blog, write, podcast. I get my “fix” in other ways. We aren’t leaving our dear super hero friends, however, you keep the memories, and it opens more time to explore all the new things coming down the fandom pike.

    Though, I will tell you that I have had to stop watching some of my shows because they are going in directions that I don’t want to support. I am not a prude, but there are changes. That pushes into new things.

    Plus, my friend you have your knack for fan-fiction if you want more Spidey.

    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know…I’d never thought of including Spider-Man in one of the horror/superhero mash-ups Kalie and I do until now! Why hadn’t I thought of that?? Hmm, I’ll have to let this percolate and see where the ideas go.

      And I think you’re right, even if we find ourselves moving on from the “present” experience of a character/saga/franchise or whatever, it doesn’t remove it from our hearts nor does it sully the fond memories we have of it. That’s important!

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      1. Absolutely! What a perfect example!
        Coincidentally, the analogy works with Spider-Man too :). I loved Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and now Tom Holland too. Or I can dig the original Ghostbuster movies, ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ cartoon, and the new Ghostbusters movie too. What an excellent point my friend.

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      2. Hi Michael,

        Don’t know if you found Neekology101 yet on Podbean. I hope you like it and get our format. You see how it rolls. Episode 10 which should be out in March will have our first radio like fan-fiction piece on Luke. I will tell you that the next two pieces will center around the first official meeting of the Hall if Justice( according to the new movies) and the piece about Rey being a light to the galaxy. That is the one where she speaks before the First Order and the Resistance. If you want to jump into any of these let me know. I am trying to get as much as I can before the fall ( including my second Chronolocity book edited) because I will be getting my Masters in the fall. I am not sure what it will entail, so I am just front loading content. I am not sure if you have my email : garyavants66@gmail.com. If you drop me a line I can give you all my contact information and if you want to be on the podcast we can send you some information.
        Thanks for all you do.
        Gary

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