The Big Question ♯24

Last week we covered why Wolverine is so popular, now it’s Spidey’s turn. And that puts me in a bit of a corner, because I can’t actually write a counter argument against him. I’ve been trying all week to come up with good arguments as to why Pete shouldn’t be as popular as he is. The only decent one I could think of was the rubbish things Marvel have done with him on occasion (The Clone Saga, Civil War & Superior Spider-Man for example), but these are occasional lapses. Ok, they’ve all been terrible, but that’s because Marvel have been heavily misguided in their approach during these periods. So what I’m going to do instead is say why I think Spiderman is one of the best superheroes. If you intend to comment on why you think Spiderman is so popular, can you skip the next bit, write your comment and then read, I want to hear peoples honest opinions without them being influenced by what I say.

Now, the big thing here, for me, is realism and relate-ability. Realism, you’re probably thinking, JR you’re talking about a guy who has spider powers and swings around Manhatten in bright red and blue spandex, but hear me out. Before the 60’s superheroes were pure fantasy, none of them really had real lives and those that did (Superman/ Batman) didn’t have real problems. Even when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the concept of the fallible superhero with the Fantastic Four, they still didn’t ring as true to life as they could have. But Spiderman changed that. He was young, the same age as his intended readership at the time, which made him easy to relate to. Before that the relate-ability of the comic book came from sidekicks such as Robin or Bucky, but here we had a hero who the kids could put themselves in the shoes of, they didn’t have to imagine themselves as the sidekick. He’s smart, but not on the ridiculous level of Reed Richards, and funny. How many superheroes made wise-cracks before Spidey. I can’t think of too many. He was also an outsider, which lets be honest Bruce Wayne never was, was he? Neither were Barry Allen, Hal Jordan or Clark Kent, sure Clark kent was often ignored, but that’s because he chose to be but Peter Parker was not only ignored, he was bullied, he had problems talking to girls, he preferred reading to going out, sound like anyone? He also was affected by his super heroism more than any of his piers and predecessors. He lost his first girlfriend in the line of duty, alongside numerous associates, father-figures and even the woman who raised him (although she was brought back to life, twice). But he still fought on and never lost his positive outlook on life.

That’s my two pennies worth, now over to you guys.

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12 Responses to The Big Question ♯24

  1. I found much of him too fatalistic and willing to be shut out. Enjoyable though.

  2. **THREAD HACK: Hey everyone, I haven’t been on here in quite some time and wanted to send a shout out to everyone to say hi and I’m back. I looked back though post to see what Ive missed and has a lot happened. Many new items and great creations being made. I hope to find time to get back in the game with you guys. If anything I will be around for conversation. Now back to your regularly scheduled awesomeness!**

  3. Welcome back, Tool! Good to hear from you again.

  4. Welcome back Tool.
    I believe one of the big reasons for Spider-Man being so popular is because of the TV show and cartoons he had back in the day.I think this goes for Batman and the Hulk also. We watched them on TV and wanted more. A lot of readers started that way.

  5. Speaking mostly for myself, my reason for liking Spider-Man mostly stems from the humor. Most of my favorite comic book heroes happen to be pretty funny. Humor tends to be a big escape from me. Not to say that everything has to be funny all the time, or that I can’t enjoy some more serious dramatic fare, but with me, funny tends to be a bigger attraction.

    Although, Hammerknight has a point. Most of my first introductions to many superheroes was through television. But it doesn’t explain why some people stick with those heroes.

  6. I never related to any sidekick as a kid. I get plenty of “real life sucks” out here, thank you. I read to get something I can’t get in my own life, not affirmation that things suck everywhere else too. With Spider-man, I came in and got to like him in one of his more together phases, and left when the Powers-That-Be decided to ruin things for him. This cycle tends to repeat every four or five years. The world needs more heroes that enjoy being the good guy, not more existential angst.

  7. Wow…so I have to start out by saying Spidey is my absolute favorite character so if I start to ramble forgive me.

    I’ve been reading spider-man comics since I was 5 years old and have been watching the cartoons since I was 8. There are a lot of reasons I love the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. I like the realism, the humor, the fun villains, etc…But my absolute reason is the lessons he taught me. Spider-man taught that being a hero isn’t easy…being a TEENAGER isn’t easy. He made mistakes and struggled to balance his priorities. When I was a teenager I had the same problems…I tried balancing all my priorities and, just like Peter, I failed at it.

    The other lesson it taught me is how to deal with failure. There were MANY times that Peter failed, and he gave up numerous times…but he always came back fighting. In the darkest of times he would stand up and keep going. Even dealing with guilt over the death of a friend he would still find the inner strength to keep going. And that’s also why I don’t like superior spider-man…not because of the whole brain switching thing, I’m ok with that. But Otto has never dealt with loss, failure, or death the way spider-man did. And because of that Otto will never develop as a character.

    And of course the greatest lesson of all: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” If something needs to be done and you have the ability to do it, then it is your responsibility to do so. That is why you will never convince me to like Amazing Spider-man…They didn’t have a lesson to teach.

    I don’t like what is happening to spider-man nowadays. For me spider-man taught children lessons, while also fighting crime and kicking butt. But the newer stuff have no lessons or morals. It’s very disappointing, but I also have my classic Web Head. Even if he was a little whiney at times!

    PS – sorry for the super long post. I’m very passionate about spider-man.

  8. @HK- So definitely with you there on the cartoons, but they only made the cartoons because he was awesome in the first place.
    @Bael- I never much cared from sidekicks either. And you managed to put something in that I couldn’t figure out how to say, Spidey does make it look fun, even with all the stuff he’s been through. I wouldn’t like to hang out with Batman or Wolverine really, but I’d definitely hang out with Spiderman.
    @MScat- We obviously need a like button for comments because I can’t agree enough with what you’ve said there.
    @Tool- Welcome back.

  9. The only cons about Spidey aren’t even Spidey…there the writers who are coming up with bad stories (Civil war…him revealing his ID to the public, clone saga…which could have been better, brand new day…DEAL WITH DEVIL…giving up mj)

    (Norman) Goblin bumps boots with Gwen Stacy…erp(i threw up in my mouth)

  10. A Little Thread Hijack because this seemed a good place to share with you all something I saw in my Twitter Feed this morning.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/comics/exclusive-spider-man-alter-ego-peter-parker-return-death-article-1.1575793

    “Peter Parker to return from death in ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #1 this April”

  11. Spidey’s unquestionable popularity stems from when and how he was created. He is and was THE first superhero character ever written from a young person’s perspective. Up to that point, heroes were older and authoritarian in nature. They had it all figured out.

    Spider-Man was just like the average reader (a high-schooler) but happened to have these weird powers that caused him all sorts of problems with a normal teenage life. That resonated deeply in the 1960s and remains till this day. Even his powers were weird and awkward. He wasn’t Ultra-Cool Man with the perfect curl in his hairdo and gleaming teeth. He was a Spider-Man, which is inherently icky if you think about it and he covered his whole face with a mask. But he used it to his advantage. The perfect teenage metaphor.

  12. @Kaldath- I can’t say I’m not pleased, but that just makes the whole bloody exercise completely pointless and brings me back to my statement when I covered the whole Superior Spiderman debacle in What Were They Thinking, what was the point? The sum total of what they’ve achieved here is they’ve pissed off A LOT of fans and killed off a classic villain (who will undoubtedly be resurrected in a further contrived manner in a few months), but hey, at least they’ve now got an event in the comics to tie in with the movie release, because the Spiderman titles will need a boost when this is all over.