Anghus Houvouras defends the controversial storyline leading in to Marvel NOW!’s Superior Spider-Man…
The last few weeks have been a maelstrom of anger and rage over writer Dan Slott’s conclusion to The Amazing Spider-Man.
Leading up to the conclusion of nearly fifty years of stories, Slott has written a storyline that sees Peter Parker’s mind switched with the evil supergenius Doctor Otto Octavius. The conclusion of the story has been leaked online revealing that Parker does not survive their final encounter leaving your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man dying in the body of an old man, while Octavious takes over Peter’s body for good and strives to become a hero in the Marvel NOW! relaunch The Superior Spider-Man.
Fans are outraged. Death threats have been issued to Slott. The authorities have been contacted. Message boards are brimming with venomous rage about one of the most iconic heroes in comic book history being dispatched with such disrespect. Mixing up the status quo is nothing new for Spider-Man. And I have to wonder if people aren’t getting worked up a little needlessly. Okay, a LOT needlessly. Before you rattle off an angry forum posting and your neighborhood comic forum, let’s just remember a few things.
1. They already killed him once
In the Ultimate universe, they killed Peter Parker like a bitch. Beat down at the hands of the Green Goblin in a street fight of all things. I suppose since this was the “Ultimate Universe” it didn’t count.
Spider-Man has been one of the most creatively molested characters in the history of the medium. I could spend a couple of hours on the sad reality that comic books become choked by nostalgia. These characters exist for decades and they don’t age, they are rarely allowed to have long term relationships. Emotionally castrated archtypes who are never allowed to mature. Eventually the status quo gets mucked with over and over again until fans cry foul, and they fix the issue by hitting the rest button and starting over from scratch.
Go back to the 1990’s for the clone saga, when it was revealed that Spider-Man had been a clone for years and was replaced by the ‘original’ Peter Parker. Then that all went to hell and they pull an 180 faster than you can say ‘Scarlett Spider’.
Just a few years back the internet raged over the “One More Day” storyline where Spider-Man makes a deal with the devil in order to save his Aunt’s life. Backlash ensued.
And now you have an even crazier story: Spider-Man gets mindjacked by Doctor Octopus and is killed. Fans will fume. But if I’m being honest here, this is the first time in a long while that I’ve been interested in picking up a copy of Spider-Man. And here’s why…
1. When was the last time Peter Parker was interesting?
Spider-Man as a character has been taken through so many iterations over the years that it becomes difficult to invest in the character. When I started reading comics, there was one Spider-Man book you had to follow. Twelve issues a year. Simple stories at a standard pace. Not this modern era where there are a half dozen Spider titles telling overlapping stories and nothing really makes sense. Spiderman goes to space. Spider-Man is an Avenger. Spider-Man is in the Fantastic Four. Marvel has used Spider-Man so much that i no longer care about his comic book antics. The truth is Spider-Man is no longer interesting because he’s been manhandled by Marvel editorial for decades and overused to move units.
2. There’s plenty of Peter Parker in other mediums
You got Spider-Man movies, Spider-Man TV shows, and a thousand old stories available in print and trade. If you want Peter Parker, you have options.
3. Continuity is a noose
I feel sorry for any writer saddled with five decades of stories and given the task of trying to please anyone. It’s impossible. There will always be a vocal minority who call any attempts to take the character in another direction as heresy. The truth is, writing a popular comic book confines comes with smothering conditions that must stifle even the best writer. Not that I’m calling Dan Slott a great writer, but I think fans need to get over the idea that their interpretation of the character and the canon are somehow the only way to tell the story.
4. F*** the Status Quo
I like my comic books to delve into mental territory from time to time (maybe that’s why I’m a fan of Grant Morrison). The idea of a supervillain taking over for Spider-Man interests me.
I understand the main complaint: one of the greatest comic book characters of all times died in a way unbecoming of a hero, But that brings us back to everyone’s favorite creative tool…
5. The Reset Button
If it doesn’t work, they’re just going to push it and take it back to where it started from. It’s only a matter of time.
So while you are all bitching about The Superior Spider-Man, I’m going to read it and see if this ridiculous story is actually worth reading.
Now everybody take a deep breath.