Saturday 19 June 2010

Why Spider-Man is a wanker

Been reading Colsmi's great blog about 2000ad of late and it's made me think there's nothing wrong with a bit of overthinking, so I thought I'd put down my two pennies' worth why - even though his post Brand New Day tales have been entertaining - I don't like Spider-Man and think he's a dickhead.

One of the Marvel universe's most beloved conceits is its ability to have characters be in some way defined by flaws as much as their superpowers, and Peter parker is flawed from his first appearance where he's the shy kid who gets picked on, gets some powers, then basically tells the world to fuck itself hard because he's gonna get him some poontang and benjamins and don't owe nobody nothin'. He has powers, but he isn't going to use them for any noble purpose - he probably swings by burning orphanages without helping just after he became a superhuman, he's that kind of A-hole and total dick until his uncle gets shot, after which Pete suddenly feels he should "contribute to the betterment of society" using the only language a bullied kid understands - he beats people up and mocks them as he does so in order to make them feel insecure to the point they hate him and thus continue a cycle of violence and enmity that would most likely have burned out if the villain had managed to get away with that loot from the bank robbery and retired to Hawaii like they'd planned - there are a lot of Spider-Man villains who really, really hate Spidey and do what they do as much to get to him as to make themselves rich, cure their mutated conditions or Take Over The World, and as for the odd story where he struggles with powerful opponents who initially best him before his coming back in the last act to trounce them, those can be reduced to Spidey basically being upset because he's found someone he can't beat up.

Spider-Man is a story where the bullied kid not only becomes the bully and we're supposed to applaud, but a story where violence begets violence and happiness is fleeting and ultimately unattainable because even when Spidey goes through hell for something or someone he holds dear, when he finally starts to give back by becoming an educator and showing his face to the world instead of hiding behind a mask, he'll just sell it all to the devil in the end so that he can regress back to being a bully again, living the life of a mooching wastrel and contributing nothing.

Don't get me wrong, we're rarely in doubt about certain people needing kicked in the face, but Spidey takes pleasure in doing so, antagonises his victims unnecessarily, and at the end of the day, after he's wound them up something rotten, it's the faceless, nameless inhabitants of the world he occupies who end up paying the price when they fulfill their only purpose in existing in the Marvel universe by becoming a bodycount. Ben Parker and Gwen Stacy die and it's a tragedy that scars his soul, but the thousands of others sent to their maker fail to register beyond the tale's end and the villain will do it all again when he breaks out of prison because in not even having the courage to kill someone like Carnage - whose entire deal is that he murders people because he can - Spidey has basically put his own sense of morality before the actual lives of other people. You're either making the tough decisions and taking the safety of others into your own hands or you aren't, dude.

You're a grade-A wanker, Spider-Man, and I've never liked you.
Well, maybe when Erik Larson was drawing you. You were fun then.


  1. Bloody hell, Mr B, I've not read & been affected by such a heartfelt fist of anti-superhero passion since Marshall Law first appeared. I hope somewhere down the line you get the chance, if you should ever want it, to pour all this STUFF into at least a four page story about bullied and bullying teenage superheroes. I'd seriously queue to read that.

    Thanks for the shout-out above. I think "TooBusyOVERThinkingAboutMyComics" should've been the title now.

  2. I would queue to see you try to make heads or tails of DC's Rise of Arsenal, Col, though I suspect doing so may damage your mind.

    I did try my hand at teen superhero comics over the last couple of years but they tend to be rather fluffy, as the traditional route of the superhero validating themselves through revenge seems hard to justify compared to someone who chooses to help others because it's the right thing to do. If I did try something angsty, it'd probably just be a rambling polemic and get old fast, since Marshall Law: Fear and Loathing/Kingdom of the Blind pretty much nailed the coffin shut on superhero deconstruction - that was a "fuck you" and a half and Mills has barely been the same since.