Ben Reilly’s Back!!! – The Spider-Man Story I’ve Waited 25 Years For

Which comics go in my file/pull list is a decision I ponder regularly.  What must be read monthly in single issues?  Which stories/characters/creators can’t wait?  I ask myself this whenever I consider juggling the comics in my file because, well, money’s a thing and I only have so much for comics before they turn off my electricity and water and I use those all the time.  Despite Spider-Man being the fictional character I’ve had the longest running relationship with, The Amazing Spider-Man is rarely on my pull list simply because I favor newer characters (or characters new to me).  Miles Morales/Spider-Man or Cindy Moon/Silk or America Chavez or Jane Foster/Valkyrie don’t yet have as bedrock a status quo to reset to so their characters feel more dynamic and thus, with more potential for lasting change, there’s a greater sense of urgency to read those stories each month instead of waiting for them to pop up on Marvel Unlimited or be collected in a trade paperback.  However, last night I learned Ben Reilly was donning the webs once more so today I went to my local comic shop to add The Amazing Spider-Man to my file for the first time in years!

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Spider-Man and Jessica Jones: Harkening Back to the High School Crush

For the TENTH entry (we’ve hit double digits! ahhhhhh!) in this 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) it’s time to go back to those awkward, social-anxiety-filled days of high school!  This celebratory tenth installment will examine one of the most universal romantic experiences which naturally leads to a wildly pervasive trope – the high school crush.  Aww, those were some good (and, you know, maybe a little scarring) times.  I’m sure many readers who are longtime Spider-fans would expect this post to be about Peter Parker and Liz Allen.  But I think Jessica Jones is a far better fit.  Trust me, read on and it’ll all make sense.  Let’s take a look at Jessica Jones and Peter Parker as we reminisce about all the thrills and gut-wrenching turmoil of our high school crushes!

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Spider-Man and Mockingbird: The Allure of the Workplace Romance

Welcome to the ninth installment in this li’l series using Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)!  Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird is a scientific genius, Avenger, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and super spy whose relationship with Peter Parker would be a central part of Dan Slott’s final years writing The Amazing Spider-Man.  In Bobbi Morse, Peter found a witty, compassionate partner who could kick his ass and/or inspire him when he needed it.  Every bit as smart as Peter, she’d meet him in his brilliance and push him further.  As Mockingbird, she stood beside Spider-Man to face everything from Skrull invasions to Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign to the Zodiac terrorist attacks to Hydra takeovers.  Being a superhero herself, Bobbi could share Peter’s entire life.  Oh, and they worked together.  Which is good because, you know, nothing can ever go wrong when you date a coworker.

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Spider-Man and Michele Gonzales: Hook-Ups, Hang Ups, and Bad Habits

I never would’ve guessed when I started this series it would hit an eighth installment.  What can I say?  Peter Parker’s dated a lot of women.  This series explores the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) using only Spider-Man comics.  Michele Gonzales is an interesting chapter in Peter’s romantic history, as his roommate-turned-drunken-hook-up.  Yet the one night stand isn’t what’s most unique about Michele in regard to Peter.  Of all the women in his life, Michele Gonzales absolutely refuses to ever take any of his shit.  Granted, plenty of women have called Peter out, held him accountable, and challenged his negligence.  But Michele does so from the beginning, never accepting a single one of Peter’s lame excuses.  She knows what she’s worth.  She knows what a healthy partner and/or good person should be.  She has no time for bullshit or games.  And I love her for it!!  Peter’s baggage and bad habits kept them from becoming a couple yet, in that, Michele and Peter’s flirtationship reminds us of what we may be missing out on when we fail to own and address our own issues.

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Spider-Man and Betty Brant: Complicated Affairs of the Heart

In the seventh installment of my li’l series exploring the variety of romantic archetypes found in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) using only Spider-Man comics, I’m examining Peter Parker’s relationship with Betty Brant.  This relationship represents a lot for Peter.  She was his first date.  She was his first girlfriend.  She was his first crush-he-saw-as-love.  But as they grew up their relationship became complicated.  We love to invoke that relationship descriptor – It’s complicated – and Peter and Betty perfectly embody it.  We’ve all been there ourselves though, in one way or another, so in their relationship we find something that resonates and – maybe! – something that makes us feel a little bit better about our own complicated loves, too.

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Spider-Man and Captain Marvel: The Super Friend Zone

In this series, exploring the variety of romantic archetypes found in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) using only Spider-Man comics, I’ve looked at some sweeping romantic experiences.  Your first love!  Your Soul Mate!  Your “What if…” person!  Love offers us great variety in experiences when we seek it.  But SOMETIMES romantic exploits carry a far more significant risk.  SOMETIMES we find ourselves looking at a friend – someone we’ve always clicked with, someone we enjoy being with, someone we fit with so naturally – and wondering if there could be something more to that relationship.  Then SOMETIMES we try to claim the Siege Perilous and make that friend a significant other.  This is not for the faint of heart.  However, Spider-Man and Captain Marvel are courageous individuals so, like so many of us before them and since, they braved this harrowing quest fraught with great risk to see if they could find that something more with each other….or if they’d end up falling right back into the Friend Zone.

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Spider-Man and Silk: You Gotta Love a Physical Attraction

It’s time for the fifth installment in my li’l series using only Spider-Man comics and characters to examine the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life).  Cindy Moon attended the same scientific demonstration Peter Parker did when he was bitten by the radioactive spider that gave him his powers.  Before it died, the spider would bite Cindy, too.  She gained the same basic powers as Peter – albeit with a more attuned spider-sense, faster speed, and the ability to spin organic webbing from her fingertips – and would eventually take on the name “Silk” and become a superhero in her own right.  She and Peter also have an overwhelming physical/sexual attraction to each other.  Their relationship, such as it was, represents those “purely physical” attractions we have in our lives.  It’s fun and it’s so hot but it was never really going to last nor was there any way they could’ve ever been “the one” as it was only ever just a physical thing. Continue reading

Spider-Man and the Avengers: Considering the Web-Head’s Place Amongst Earth’s Mightiest Heroes

I feel I write about Spider-Man and his being a member of the Avengers tangentially in a lot of posts.  It’s often an aside, here or there.  Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of Spidey being an Avenger (or part of the Fantastic Four’s Future Foundation or anything).  I’ve always seen Spider-Man as a solo act, Peter Parker’s character not readily lining up with the whole “super team” thing.  Plus, is swinging around and sticking to things really the type of small-time power set you want when battling Thanos, Kang the Conqueror, Annihilus, or Ultron?  Still, that’s my bias and it’s anchored in my preconceived notions.  So I decided I wanted to sincerely look at the idea of “Spider-Man, Avenger” with an open mind.  The time to make an informed decision had come! Continue reading

The Strength of Silk – Cindy Moon May Be Marvel’s Most Inspiring Hero

When he was fifteen-years-old, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider at a science demonstration, gaining the proportionate strength, speed, and agility of a spider.  It also granted him a precognitive sense that warns him of danger – his spider-sense.  The death of his uncle at the hands of a burglar he could’ve stopped taught Peter that with great power there must also come great responsibility.  Every day since he’s tried to live up to that creed, as the amazing Spider-Man.  BUT Peter wasn’t the only one bitten by the irradiated spider on that fateful day.  Before it died, it also bit Cindy Moon.  On a whim I decided to begin rereading her adventures as the superhero Silk last week.

Reading these comics just as, “New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in record numbers swept through more U.S. states…as most push ahead with reopening,”[1] cast these stories in an entirely new light.  I marveled at Silk’s strength and realized she may well be the most important superhero we have in this pandemic age. Continue reading

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