It is Spider-Man’s 50th Anniversary this week and that’s kind of amazing. To celebrate this fact, I sat down with the Twinfinite staff and asked them what Spider-Man meant to us. Sure it’s a hokey question, but we’re talking about a character that has been the face and name of one of the biggest publishers in the country. He has graced our TV screens, our lunch boxes, our tooth brushes. Spider-Man has become a piece of Americana.
Come celebrate his birthday with some of us as we remember what makes Web Head so great.
Most other heroes have secret identities that serve one of two purposes. The first, are those like Iron Man or the Hulk, who have normal lives that are so far out of most of our experiences that they seem fake. The second are those like Batman, Captain America, or Thor, whose hero identities are real and their secret identities are facades they put up in order to fit in with normal people. Spider-Man, on the other hand, is one of the few heroes whose heroic and normal identities are symbiotic.
Peter Parker, the scientist, creates inventions that Spider-Man, the superhero, can use to help people and clean up the city. Even the writers of the comic are aware of this unique duality. Peter gets a job as a scientist at Horizon Labs, and his inventions help people without him having to put on the mask, while Spider-Man can use modified versions of the same inventions to combat his rogues gallery. While people imagine Batman without Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark without Iron Man, it’s extremely difficult to picture Spider-Man without Peter Parker or vice versa.
This dynamic is fascinating to me. There is no false front or different personality with Spidey. What you see is what you get. The powers or the personal tragedies haven’t changed him. He remains a guy you can’t help but root for.
Spider-Man represents more than a pun-wielding wiseguy with quick reflex. To me, Spider-Man represents the focal point to which the greatest cast of villains ever is assembled around.
Be it smaller villains like Kraven the Hunter and Morbius or massive baddies like Venom and Doc Ock, the assortment of misanthropes in Spider-Man never disappoints. I can name far more villains from Spidey than I can from any other comic book.
It’s not that Peter Parker isn’t likable in and of himself (he most certainly is), but the antagonists were always what kept me coming back.
What is there to say about Spider-Man that hasn’t already been covered? ‘With great power comes…” blah blah blah. Honestly, there are some aspects of Spider-Man that bring me joy when I think about them, but mostly they are tangentially related to him as a superhero.
Here are four reasons why Spider-Man has made my life better and more fun:
- Imagination: Spider-Man didn’t have a cape, which meant that it was really easy to pretend I was him and wear my regular clothes on top when I was a kid. There was an entire year of my childhood in which everyone else say a small six-year-old boy, but they didn’t know I was hiding a secret. I was Spider-Man!
- Black Cat: I don’t have 100% confirmation of this, but I’m pretty sure my first experience with sexual attraction was the Black Cat. God damn, is she hot….and nasty! She was a bad girl who didn’t leave a whole lot to the imagination, and that is something that had kept me warm on many a winter night while growing up.
- The Punisher: One of comic books’ most fascinating characters made his debut in The Amazing Spider-Man # 129, as an assassin hired by the Jackal to kill Spidey – believing him to have murdered Norman Osborn. Straight up, the Punisher is a kick-ass antihero.
- Nice Digs: Back when I was regularly reading Amazing Spider-Man in the mid-80s, Peter Parker lived in a really cool apartment. It had a skylight that he came and went through, and it was in New York. I grew up in rural Canada, so there was nothing I wanted more than to live in a big city and be a bachelor about town. By that point also in the series, Peter had kind of gotten his life in order and wasn’t such a hot mess so it was a great dream for a geeky teenager.
Spiders Man is a helpful man. He saves people with the power of spiders. Spiders Man says funny things sometimes. Sometimes he saves children with his yarn. Spiders Man means a lot to me because I think he is strong enough to throw cars and he can watch TV upside down if he wants to. I think this is really cool.
Sometimes he writes the news and that is important because people need to know about the news and when there are bad guys and when Spiders Man saves them. I don’t think a lot of people like Spiders Man but I think they should because of his yarn powers.
Spider-Man is an interesting character to really talk about. He has everything that a guy should want after he gets his powers. Yet, he is incapable of ever living a great life. It is his fate to fail. That was his origin and that has happened to him at every turn.
This is really what has always drawn me to the character. He is in a constant cycle of good and bad days. This is especially representative in how I’ve grown to read Spidey books in my life time. I first really started reading unfortunately in the Ben Reilly era so I never really grew up with a strong sense of Spider-Man outside of the more mainstream media like cartoons, video games and the occasional crossover comics. However, when I got back in to comics in high school, it was books like Ultimate Spider-man, then Spider-Man: Blue. I read Tangle Web and even Spider-Man/Black Cat: the Evil that Men Do.
It was Spider-Man that was lovingly bringing me back in to the comic books I loved and this continued until One More Day sort of broke the whimsy of the media for me. It is in his books that I have felt the highs and lows of a true hero. He is a character that gets broken and beaten only to stand back up. It is in this one character that I have seen the highs and lows of comics. Spider-Man has always been good entertainment and I love the character for that.
Note, I couldn’t actually get a reasonable response from our dear Yamilia. Whenever we get a conversation started about Spider-Man, it always seems to float right back to Andrew Garfield’s posterior. We get it Yami, he’s dreamy. Move on.
Spider-Man is easily one of the most spectacular heroes comics has ever devised. Spider-Man was Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s follow up to the Fantastic Four and in one book, they changed the entire idea of what a super hero was supposed to be. Relatable.
Even through his faults, Peter Parker does everything he can to save the day. It is his strength. It is his responsibility.
Happy 50th Birthday Spider-Man.