Thursday, March 18, 2010

What NOT to like about Spider-Man; a guide to hating Marvel's most overrated loser

The title says it all.

I got an email from an old friend who is a follower of this worthless blog, and he inquired about my seemingly unrelenting assassination of Peter Parker as a character.  Rather than answer his email, because that seemed like too much work, I thought the topic would bear some commentary here, where other fans of the biggest loser to ever merit his own comic, could come to attack my opinion and get truly irate at my nonsensical contempt for Marvel's iconic web-slinger.

I guess I should start by explaining that I never went through that phase that so many other kids went through, where Spider-Man seemed like the coolest thing in the world.  Even as a youngster, growing up in a very small town about forty minutes north of Toronto, when I walked down the street to the local convenience store with my allowance and bought a couple of comic books on a Saturday afternoon, there was zero chance that the guy dressed up in Superman's colors and calling himself a spider was going to get my money. As a child the only thing that made Spidey even remotely acceptable was that his terrible television cartoon had a catchy jingle that should qualify as one of the worst songs ever written for TV.  Singing it over and over is the perfect formula for grounding, social alienation and even divorce!

It remains Spider-Man's greatest accomplishment.

I remember the first time I vocalized my contempt for Puny Parker (thanks to Flash Thompson for that name) and got looks of confusion from so many of my friends in elementary school.  They all loved the guy, and nobody seemed to see in him what I saw in him almost right from the start; Peter Parker is a selfish, whiny loser with no social confidence and even less moral certainty. How that guys scores Mary Jane Watson is beyond me, because that girl is HOT!  Way out of his league.  She's more in a Bruce Wayne league, and trust me when I tell you that he doesn't slum with Peter Parker!

In any event, it starts with the guy's extra-lame origin.  One night when all of his pals (actually he didn't have any....Peter was, by design, an outcast and an orphan) were out getting burgers and shakes at the local hang-out (I'm picturing Arnold's from Happy Days!) our titular loser was at a science demonstration.  Let me repeat; he was hanging out in his free time at a science demonstration.  Doesn't he know that all the cool kids go to math conventions? Man, what a nerd!  Now, even at a young age I wasn't one of those meatheads who mock guys for being smart.  In fact in those formative years I was the smart kid.  Top of the class grades.  Still, I couldn't relate to a kid who wanted to spend his free time checking out "science."  I thought it was stupid, and in retrospect......I was right.  Who knew I was so wise as a kid?

So an irradiated spider bites Peter and he becomes wicked strong, sticks to walls, gains a sixth sense and awesome agility.  All of a spider's natural skills, magnified in the body of a teenage boy, right?  Wrong.  Spiders don't have a sixth sense.  If they did, they wouldn't get mashed and die every time I hammer one with a shoe.  Even as a youth I knew that they just made that power up, the filthy liars. He didn't get the ability to spin webs though (although that would have been cool) but he did develop that through his own brilliant mind.  Just a little question here folks......why the heck was he so poor if he was so smart?  Why didn't he ever have any good ideas and patent anything that would make him some cash BEFORE the spider bit him? I mean, it's not like he was out hanging out with friends in his spare time.

Anyways, I digress. I hate the guy's origin.  In my opinion it's weak and it will always be weak.  But let's say we push past that and get into the formative moments of his life.  Step one.....he takes up wrestling.  Excuse me?!?!  Nerdy, socially awkward Peter Parker takes up wrestling?  Bleh. I get the argument that he was caught up in his newfound powers, but wrestling?  It's so far outside the guy's established personality that it doesn't make any sense at all.  You know what, though? I'm a decent guy.  I can ignore that. So let's move on.....to the costume.  You've heard me say this before, and I'll say it again.  He's SPIDER man.  As in....looks like a spider?  Nope. I don't know any red and blue spiders.  The truth is that he stole his colors from Superman, and of that I have no doubt.  Heck, the hyphen in his name was put there so people wouldn't confuse him with Superman.

Confuse him with.....were they serious?  One guy is awesome and the other guy couldn't get a prom date! One guy was rocketed to Earth as the last survivor of a dying world, and the other guy got bit by a spider. One guy's arch-enemy is Lex Luthor (future president of the United States and founder of the most powerful multi-national in the world) and the other guy fights people named after insects and animals (Vulture, Doc Oc, Rhino, Lizard.) Who the heck thought anyone was going to confuse Spider-Man with Superman?  Seriously! But that little tidbit is a fact folks.  Look it up.

Anyways, the costume is stupid.  Red and blue for a guy based on a spider makes as much sense as yellow for Batman.  The mask I at least understand.  I'd be embarrassed if I ran around dressed like that too. Still, we ignore the retarded origin, and the weakness of the character himself.  We step clear of the leap to pro wrestling for money (really!?!?  Didn't he invent a fluid that hardens to the strength of steel?!??) and we get past the lame uniform, and we go right to the crux of who Peter Parker is.

He's a guy who had a chance to do the right thing.......and didn't.

The result was the death of his Uncle Ben, a kind old soul who's only shortcoming in life was letting his nephew turn into a nerd recluse who hangs out at science experiments.  Poor bastard died because of that little jerk!

Anyways, Ben's death is what leads us to Spider-Man.  Peter vows to use his new power to do right.  Just a little bit late, and more than a little bit motivated by guilt. Where is the heroic moment?  Where is the inspiration?  Where is the sacrifice?  Peter Parker was a self-absorbed prick who let a criminal saunter right past him, and only when that criminal hurt somebody he personally cared about was he moved to action.  There's nothing heroic about that, and in my opinion it is the fundamental flaw of the character.

He isn't heroic, he's guilty.

Plus, and this might seem a little too complex an analysis for some people, but just bear with me....

....the guy's a loser.

Here's hoping Aunt May slaps the taste out his mouth the next time he whines, too.

So, any questions?  Or can we get back to talking about other characters, who are much more deserving of our time and attention?  People like Batman, Thor and Jesse Custer.

#&^* Spider-Man!

8 comments:

Jordan said...

One question...

Isn't Batman motivated by survivor's guilt?

Is there heroism in that?

Jordan said...

Another question: Is there not some merit in showing remorse and attempting to atone?

Should someone not be considered a hero if they're trying to right wrongs they've caused, or repent or seek redemption?

Should we not recognize a person's ability to see a mistake and go through the painful motions of trying to fix said mistake?

So that was several questions but legitimate ones.

Aaron said...

I recall a 'Civil War' storyline where Tony Stark was trying to convince Spiderman to unmask. He looked at one of spidey's webs and said something along the lines of "If you're as smart of a chemist as I am an engineer, why is it I'm a billionaire inventor and you work part-time for a newspaper?"

Spiderman is a loser, he has no initiative...he's also a coward. If you look back at his love life and friendships...he's scared to death of reality without the mask. That he could hop off the walls and be extremely frail.

Tony Stark was confident and resourced with his billionaire father inspiring him, Peter Parker was nervous/shy from a poor background with his modest-living Uncle Ben as his inspiration.

I don't know, I always appreciated the difference between Spiderman and the other marvels/DCs. Especially if you consider Ironman and Spiderman were first introduced only 6 months apart, Jack and Stan probably invented those two characters together off the same drawing board.

The 4th Man said...

Jordan and I had this debate offline, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts on his points, in case the discussion continues.

First - Batman doesn't show survivor's guilt. Amongst its many indicators is a lack of drive and motivation. That's NOT Batman.

If anything, Batman reflects anger and rage as his motivation for taking up "the mission." If you want to argue an absence of heroism in him, I think your best tack would be to question his mental state.

We also debated the idea of remorse and attempting to atone. I suggested to Jordan that you cannot consider him sincere in his efforts to atone while he is lying to his Aunt May, and hiding his identity.

I think the conversation got a lot deeper into the character than I'll get here, but in the end I think we both agreed.

Spider-Man sucks.

What? Jordan didn't say that? Well I certainly did.

Jordan said...

All right...this is a friend of mine's comments regarding the Spider-Man Issue:

"Im not necessarily defending Spiderman by your point of view, just simply having a debate. You say that spiderman is motivated by guilt and on this note I do agree; however, what motivates many of our other comic book characters? Batman= obsession (possibly mental derangement), Punisher = vengeance (another psychopath), The X-man= basically ethnic struggles (nothing heroic they are just trying to fit in. Even if they got rid of the segregation they would still naturally segregate the way people of different ethnicity do now.) Captain America= he is simply a soldier. He is possibly the most heroic but basically hes just a man following orders. Maybe if he made these decisions on his own I would say he was a super hero but hes simply the same sort of hero any firefighter or police officer is. Hes doing his job. And finally to what i would assume is you favorite: superman. Dude.... hes an alien.... Nothing "Super" about that. Hes the same as a green man from mars with a little ray gun. ANYWAY... he has super powers... ok. Lets look at them. He has: Super strength, flight, freeze breath, eye beams, invincible, super speed, apparently he thinks faster than a normal human, and he comes back to life just about any time he dies. Whats s hard about saving the earth at that point. And ok you make a good point. Supe has a very iconic villa. Hell probably one of my favorites. I mean whats not to like about your basic average human being taking on a GOD. But hey, lets even talk about his iconic villain (who isnt named after an insect, but actually a wrestler). Ok what is superman's weakness... A frikn rock (weak). But moving on this rarity of mineral is apparently fragments from Superman's home world, which apparently is supposed to make him "mortal" again yet somehow always makes him wallow in his own self pity. Again to my real point about this rock. It is fragments from a planet which blew up. Now if this rock is from light years away How in the world can you explain that every villain seems to have pieces of it; more so How does Lex Luther seem to be able to shit bricks of this crap out anytime hes facing superman? I mean come on in one issue he had Kryptonian steroids :S.


Onward to your next argument. Spiderman seems to not sacrifice anything. Ok, what does Superman give up? His planet blew up? Oh boo hoo. It happened before he became a hero which sort of throws that argument out the window. What did X-man give up? Um they are basically a recreation of the civil rights movement. Therefore they give up nothing, they are born that way. What did Punisher give up? Nothing his family was killed and he had no control over that. How about Hulk? Again nothing he was caught in an explosion of his own screw up and instead of being a hero runs around destroying little timmy's backyard anytime he has a temper tantrum. And since Jordan brought up Batman Ill even tear him down (even though I like him). Batman gives up nothing, his family got shot just like Punisher's and every other person who lives in a bad neighborhood. He throws a fit and decides to start a crusade of ridding the world of violence and does a good job of it. However he does not do it for other people's benefit he does it out of a psychotic compulsion to basically try to unravel events that happened in his past.

Jordan said...

All right...this is a friend of mine's comments regarding the Spider-Man Issue:

"Im not necessarily defending Spiderman by your point of view, just simply having a debate. You say that spiderman is motivated by guilt and on this note I do agree; however, what motivates many of our other comic book characters? Batman= obsession (possibly mental derangement), Punisher = vengeance (another psychopath), The X-man= basically ethnic struggles (nothing heroic they are just trying to fit in. Even if they got rid of the segregation they would still naturally segregate the way people of different ethnicity do now.) Captain America= he is simply a soldier. He is possibly the most heroic but basically hes just a man following orders. Maybe if he made these decisions on his own I would say he was a super hero but hes simply the same sort of hero any firefighter or police officer is. Hes doing his job. And finally to what i would assume is you favorite: superman. Dude.... hes an alien.... Nothing "Super" about that. Hes the same as a green man from mars with a little ray gun. ANYWAY... he has super powers... ok. Lets look at them. He has: Super strength, flight, freeze breath, eye beams, invincible, super speed, apparently he thinks faster than a normal human, and he comes back to life just about any time he dies. Whats s hard about saving the earth at that point. And ok you make a good point. Supe has a very iconic villa. Hell probably one of my favorites. I mean whats not to like about your basic average human being taking on a GOD. But hey, lets even talk about his iconic villain (who isnt named after an insect, but actually a wrestler). Ok what is superman's weakness... A frikn rock (weak). But moving on this rarity of mineral is apparently fragments from Superman's home world, which apparently is supposed to make him "mortal" again yet somehow always makes him wallow in his own self pity. Again to my real point about this rock. It is fragments from a planet which blew up. Now if this rock is from light years away How in the world can you explain that every villain seems to have pieces of it; more so How does Lex Luther seem to be able to shit bricks of this crap out anytime hes facing superman? I mean come on in one issue he had Kryptonian steroids :S.

Onward to your next argument. Spiderman seems to not sacrifice anything. Ok, what does Superman give up? His planet blew up? Oh boo hoo. It happened before he became a hero which sort of throws that argument out the window. What did X-man give up? Um they are basically a recreation of the civil rights movement. Therefore they give up nothing, they are born that way. What did Punisher give up? Nothing his family was killed and he had no control over that. How about Hulk? Again nothing he was caught in an explosion of his own screw up and instead of being a hero runs around destroying little timmy's backyard anytime he has a temper tantrum. And since Jordan brought up Batman Ill even tear him down (even though I like him). Batman gives up nothing, his family got shot just like Punisher's and every other person who lives in a bad neighborhood. He throws a fit and decides to start a crusade of ridding the world of violence and does a good job of it. However he does not do it for other people's benefit he does it out of a psychotic compulsion to basically try to unravel events that happened in his past.

Jordan said...

Ok lets move on to costumes. Yes... Spidermans costume sucks. Its original, but it still sucks. Lets look back to many other superhero's costumes. Superman.. is flying around in pajamas and a speedo. Powerman, he is wearing 80's disco cloths with some crazy thing wrapped around his head. Everyone's favorite Wolverine, look I dont even know how to describe that thing, but if you look at the original outfit, man I dont know what they were thinking. Captain America, Well hes wearing red WHITE and blue, are you going to say he ripped off of superman for wearing red and blue?

And last but not least Peter Parker is an average loser, like any of us. He chose to be a wrestler when he first got his powers. Now tell me, if you were a nerdy loser who stayed locked in his room all day what would you do? Lets see, after hours of masturbation behind your computer over a hot red head girl you watch from your window like a stalker, you would watch tv. Who did you think was the strongest person in the world when you were a kid? Lets see next to Arnold Schwartzeneger (or however you spell his name) it was Hulk Hogan. So, if you suddenly got super strength who would you want to kicks ass in your nerd rage to feel like a bigger man? Anyway he let a mugger run past him when he had super strength. Lets see. You suddenly have super powers, Idk about you but I wouldnt want to suddenly have attention on me from the police for being a young boy taking out a criminal. At least wrestling he can say is fake, actually using the powers in a non staged way would draw attention; I mean he was exactly what you said a nerdy loser who stayed in his room all day. Do you think he wanted the world looking at him on tv?) Now He let the criminal kill his uncle by letting him go. Yes I agree, in fact there is no way to argue that, but what defines him, and anyone else who could have been put in that situation, is what he did afterward. If you simply define him by letting the man go, then by definition, Batman would be responsible for every person any of his villains killed because he put them in Jail. Why you ask? Because he knows they are going to escape; I mean lets face it how many times have they done it. With one exception being the Penguin (and the Riddler for a little while) name a villan who left arkham and didn't kill again? I mean hell throw all the villains out the window if you want, Joker is not going to be rehabilitated no matter how many times you lock him up. Joker alone should give Batman a reason to argue the death penalty.

All in all, if you are going to hold Spiderman up to a microscope; put any other superhero under it and you can realize how silly they are. Just go back and look at any of there original storyline and they are just dumb by our standards. Comic books go by the generation. They are subject to the silly things that that generation is into. I mean in 50 years people will be having this same argument because lets face it they will be different people (probably speaking Chinese if we keep going the way we are.). And so you know, I am not a Big spiderman fan. Hes ok. My actual favorite is the Punisher and I even argued that he is silly at times. Truth be told I just simply think that if you put a hero up to those standards you are going to find a fault. Spiderman was based to be like every other person in this world (because he was Marvel) and you cant compare him to a DC character because they are meant to be larger than life. Marvel have human weaknesses, and with the exception to batman (and green arrow) DC characters dont (a frikn rock).

The 4th Man said...

Good thing I don't have to worry about hurting feelings on this blog............


because THIS kind of stupidity requires a complete blog response.

To be continued...