Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy: All the Beautiful Angst of First Love

For the fourth installment of my series exploring the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) using only Spider-Man comics, I’m considering the first great love of Peter Parker’s life – Gwen Stacy.  To write this, I went back and read the entirety of Gwen’s time with Peter, beginning with her first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #31 (from December 1965) through issue #120 (from May 1973).  Over the years, Gwen has taken on a hallowed significance in Peter’s life as his great, irreplaceable lost love.  But in reading these comics I realized she – and her relationship with Peter – illustrated something far more universal and far more interesting.  Gwen and Peter perfectly present our first love with all the awkward, emotional, angsty, and idealized moments that come with it. Continue reading

Considering Peter Parker, EDITH, and Spider-Man: Far From Home

All the creatives and stars of Avengers: Endgame joined in a massive social media campaign asking everyone to be decent human beings and #DontSpoilTheEndgame…for two weeks until Marvel Studios used MASSIVE spoilers for Endgame in their trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home.  It was clear they were seeking to use all the emotions flowing in the wake of Endgame to motivate advanced ticket sales for Far From Home.  Marvel Studios was very direct about how Spider-Man: Far From Home served as the epilogue to Avengers: Endgame.  I enjoyed the film but was – and remain – frustrated by a plot point with seriously troubling implications.

Note, this has spoilers for both Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home (obvs.). Continue reading

Spider-Man: Life Story – An Evocative Argument for Letting Superheroes Age

I’m not trying to be hyperbolic when I say, Spider-Man: Life Story is the future of the comic book industry.  Now I don’t mean to imply the comics industry as a whole is going to follow Chip Zdarsky’s elegant lead with every comic.  I’m just saying I think they should.  In Spider-Man: Life Story, Zdarsky (accompanied by my all-time favorite Spidey artist Mark Bagley (yay!)) explores what Peter Parker’s life could have been like had he aged naturally, with each issue of this six issue miniseries touching on one decade in Peter’s life.  For example issue #1 is set in 1966, four years after Peter was bitten by the radioactive spider (as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Spidey in 1962 (see how that works?)).  Issue #2 looks at the ‘70s and so on as Peter ages in real time.  He isn’t perpetually stuck in his late 20’s or early 30’s.  Four issues in, I’ll confidently say this will stand as one of the greatest Spider-Man stories ever told.  It’s the most interested I’ve been in Peter Parker’s adventures as Spider-Man in almost twenty years too.  In allowing Peter to age, Zdarsky has illustrated the hidden potential of the comic book genre. Continue reading

Spider-Man and Mary Jane: Soul Mates? (Y/N/Maybe)

Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker got married on 9 June 1987, in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21.  For someone who began reading comic books in March 1986, their marriage was a central tenant of my experience of Spider-Man.  You don’t have Spider-Man without Peter Parker and you don’t have Peter Parker without Mary Jane!  Despite Marvel’s editorial staff having “instant regrets” about their wedding, fans have passionately embraced the marriage for over twenty years.  As their relationship evolved, especially as it approached it’s end in 2007’s “One More Day” storyline, Mary Jane and Peter were increasingly painted in the light of Soul Mates.  Their relationship then allows us to ponder one of romantic love’s most intoxicating questions – are Soul Mates real?  It’s end allows us to reflect on the potential of finding and losing the one.  Now let’s see if I can write about them without getting overly emotional and/or angsty… Continue reading

Celebrating Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy

It’s been a busy few years for Spider-Man cinematically.  Peter Parker swung into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War with Tom Holland wearing the webs.  In 2017 he had his solo MCU debut, Spider-Man: Homecoming.  This April he suited up next to the Avengers and Guardians to battle the Mad Titan and his Black Order in Avengers: Infinity War.  And Friday Sony releases their animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with Jake Johnson as Peter Parker – and far more excitingly – Shameik Moore as Miles Morales and Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy!!!  So it’s easy to forget where Spider-Man’s modern movie career began.  We, as a culture, tend to proclaim each new incarnation as “the best [fill-in-the-blank] ever!”  While I enjoy Tom Holland as Spider-Man and I can’t wait to see Into the Spider-Verse, as far as I’m concerned NO ONE’s come close to capturing who Spider-Man really is more than Sam Raimi with Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004).  Even after all this time, his Spider-Man Trilogy can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of the MCU. Continue reading

Spider-Man and the Black Cat: Flirting with Perfection

It’s no secret I love Peter and Mary Jane together.  Their relationship was the foundation of all the Spider-Man comics I read as a kid, getting into Spider-Man the year before they got married.  Heck, the very first image on the very first page of the very first Spider-Man comic I ever had (Web Of Spider-Man #12) was Peter and Mary Jane standing together, in the remains of his ruined apartment.  For me, they’ve always been Marvel’s power couple (sorry Reed and Sue) and a testament to love’s power to endure all things.  I still resent Marvel for breaking them up in 2007’s contrived “One More Day” storyline.  Boo.  HOWEVER, despite my eternal love of Peter and Mary Jane there’s just something about the Black Cat.  She’s an incredible character and she balances Peter in an important way.  After Mary Jane, no one’s close to Felicia Hardy in my favorite love interests for Peter – not even Gwen Stacy.  And, despite my love of Mary Jane, I think Felicia fits with Peter in a way none of his other love interests can.

GASP.  I know, right?!  Here’s what I mean. Continue reading

Spider-Man’s Modern-Day Frankenstein Tale – “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy”

Alright, originally I intended this as a Halloween post.  I was going to finally read “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy” and write about it, analyzing how Dan Slott expands the premise of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in a modern setting.  However, life and work got in the way and I just got around to finishing reading it the other day.  I contemplated saving it for next year but I’m impatient and it’s more fun to keep the spookiness alive anyway.  When I finally jumped into Dan Slott’s world of Spider-Man tales, I avoided this storyline.  I’d heard conflicting reports about it and wasn’t ready for something with that sort of “baggage” as I was meeting his Spidey for the first time.  What I found upon finally reading it was a haunting tale that left me more emotionally shaken than I could have expected. Continue reading

Um, Amazing Spider-Man, I’m Sorry…I Love You and I Always Will

[Deep breathe…you can do this.]  Listen, baby, I’ve got something to say.  I’m sorry.  Four months ago I said I wasn’t really digging you.  I said you bored me.  I said you were turning into a bland retread.  I was thinking of…oh my gosh, it’s so hard to say.  But I started this li’l tiff in public so I need to reaffirm my love in public too, awkwardness be damned.  I said I was thinking of breaking up with you.  There!  I said it!  But I’m so sorry.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  Every single issue since that post went live has been amazing.  It’s some of the best Spidey I’ve ever had in my entire life!  So Amazing Spider-Man, I’m sorry.  I love you.  Can you ever forgive me?? Continue reading

Spider-Man: Worldwide – I’m Finally, Fully HOME

This is an important post for this site.  Well, it’s an important post for me I guess, that’s a better way to put it.  It doesn’t have a strong, driving social justice message.  It isn’t a call to action.  It isn’t a heavy analysis or anything like that.  But for the first time in almost twenty years, I’m finally reading The Amazing Spider-Man again every month.   For someone who’s always loved Spider-Man as much as I do, this is important.  It turns out, being back in the current life of Peter Parker means even more to me than I thought it would. Continue reading

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