Welcome to the fifteenth installment in my series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)! This time we’re looking at one of the most prominent themes around romantic love – how love heals, how the right person’s love can save us. When I began this series I made myself a promise. No alternate reality Peter Parkers. No movies. No TV shows. No other comic universes. I’d explore Peter Parker’s romantic exploits in Marvel’s main 616 universe and when I had exhausted those relationships, the series would end. Anna Maria Marconi will date Peter Parker in the 616 universe…but she dates “Peter” when he’s dead and his archenemy Otto Octavius/Dr. Octopus is controlling his body. So she dated Doc Ock even though she thought she was dating Peter. I’m including their relationship as a) it’s a significant one in the 616, b) the reader alone knows it isn’t Peter, and c) most important of all, their relationship illustrates something about love Peter Parker himself isn’t yet mature enough to find on his own. It’s a trope that can’t be ignored when writing about love so here we are. Otto’s time as the Superior Spider-Man is one of comics’ greatest redemption stories. Reflecting on the role romantic love plays in his salvation helps us consider the role such love plays in our own healing and growth, too.
The Superior Spider-Man : Confronting the Darkness Within
Of the many tropes to regularly wind their way through the Spider-Man comics over the years, the one that always wears on me is when some chain of events cause the “friendly neighborhood” attitude to drop from Spidey’s modus operandi and we see Peter become a dark, serious vigilante. What can I say? I like my Spider-Man to be a light, happy, inspiring character. If I wanted glum and grim I’d read more Batman. However, Dan Slott (who I’m learning more and more is nothing if not an inventive writer (who really loves Spider-Man)) upended this approach with The Superior Spider-Man. One of the many things to happen to the web-head during the nineteen years I wasn’t reading his comics was Doctor Octopus stole his body and life for a time. With Ock wearing the webs, we find our angrier Spider-Man but wrapped inside a tale of transformation and redemption. Continue reading