Spider-Man and The Spider Family: A Look At What Might Have Been…

This is the latest installment in my series exploring romantic archetypes in literature and in life through Spider-Man comics.  So far I’ve used Peter’s relationship with the Black Cat as a lens to examine our relationships with the people we can’t stop flirting with even though we know it’ll be trouble yet we passionately jump in anyway.  Then I used Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane to consider the idea of a Soul Mate as well as the experience of finding and losing “the one.”  This time I’m looking at the alternate reality comic series The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows as a way to contemplate the romantic idea of the “What if…?” person (or people) we all have in our lives. Continue reading

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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

The Evolution and Devolution of Comic Book Characters

Where is the line for what can and can’t be changed in regard to certain characters?  Or rather, where is the line for what changes can be permanent as opposed to those inevitably reverted by future writers?  This question has been on my mind a lot last month (well, in addition to being terribly sick and having to do my end of term grading – but all my extra mental energy has been focused on this).  As a genre, comics demand new stories for their most popular characters every month (sometimes multiple times a month) unceasingly for decades without allowing characters to age more than five or ten years.  It’s easy to see why reboots, alternate realities, Legacy Characters assuming a mantle, time travel, alien doppelgangers, mind-wipes, and so on always pop-up.  How do you keep an unending story fresh?  One trope employed to this end is the redemption of a villain and this, specifically, has been on my mind. Continue reading

My Journey to Comics

By Krysta of Pages Unbound

When I was growing up, no one talked about comic books, not really.  Sometimes teachers would disparage comics as books for kids who could not—or would not—read.  Sometimes librarians would do the same.  Even five years ago, I still knew teachers and librarians who did not believe reading comics counted as reading.  Perhaps there were students in my classes who did read comics.  But, in a culture where liking comics was equated with laziness and stupidity, I can see why no one would have dared to talk about them. Continue reading

My Comic Advice: Where to Begin Reading Spider-Man

So you’re new to comics…or you’re new to the Marvel Universe…or you’re new to Spider-Man and you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I’d like to immerse myself in the amazing world of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man BUT there’s over sixty years of comic books out there.  That’s intimidating!  How do I just jump in with decades of characters and continuity??  Where do I even begin?!?”  Well you’re in luck.  I’m here to help in my new series, “My Comic Advice,” where I’ll outline the best place for any newbie to begin reading a popular comic series.  What makes me the person for this job?  Well, I’ve loved comics for over thirty years but, more importantly, you are here reading this so it seems like we already have a bond :).  That being said…where do you begin reading Spider-Man?  Let’s find out! Continue reading

My Life in Spider-Man Movies

The brilliant new podcast Pods & Ends – “the junk drawer of pop culture” – asked me to write a piece for them about Spider-Man movies.  Hot dog!  I excitedly agreed and I think you should excitedly read this.  In the post, I reflect nostaligically on everything from this Spidey movie whose name I cannot find no matter how hard I try from the ’80s up to and including the MIND-BLOWINGLY AMAZING Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  I was honored to write for this great show and would love you to check it out.

You can listen to Pods & Ends here and you should also follow them on Twitter @pne_pod because they are way awesome people. 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