My favorite comics were Batman and Spider-Man, hands down.
I could totally relate to Peter Parker. He was a nerd; smart, goofy looking, awkward in social situations – what nerd isn’t?! But he also got to have this cool side, this costume that when he put it on and no one could see his face, his personality came out. He was a smart ass, he quipped with a razor sharp tongue and the puns! Oh, the puns. Plus, all that hero stuff.
Here’s one of my oldest Spidey comics:
When I really got into comics, Spidey had several titles: Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man (as shown above), The Amazing Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, Spider-Man and, I think, The Sensational Spider-Man. Whew. This doesn’t count all the little one shots and limited series and all of that crap.
When I got involved, Gwen Stacey was long since dead, Mary Jane was ‘just a friend’ and Pete? Well, he had a GF called Felicia Hardy, aka, The Black Cat.
My collection of Spidey comics spans a lot of years, a lot of stories, a lot of gimmicks and a lot of massive multi-issue crossover crap. Through it all, I kept reading. Mostly because I felt like I was growing up with Pete. I watched him mature even as I was maturing. He had relationships, he screwed stuff up with Felicia and with Mary Jane, and he fixed most of it – he made bad decisions, just like we all make bad decisions. It felt, I don’t know – real, somehow. Relateable, and that’s the point, isn’t it?
These characters, all characters – you have to feel what they’re feeling, you have to care for them, feel sad when they feel sad, shout at the pages when you see them screwing up and you know that they’re screwing up and there’s nothing you can do about it – you have to get sucked in and EMPATHIZE.
That’s the mark of a great character, a great writer and story – you get sucked in and you can’t put the book down. That’s what I learned from Spider-Man.
Over the years, they did a lot of gimmicky things to sell books – like hologram covers:
I know it’s difficult to see it clearly, but that’s Spidey swinging on a web in a 3d hologram cover. They also did things like multiple covers for a single issue – put em together and get a massive image – we’ll probably see that kind of stuff when I hit the X-Men box. Speaking of which:
Lot’s of crossover events or one shots in the Marvel universe – which is why they want the movies to have that same sort of continuity.
More on Spidey tomorrow or the next day – the good and the bad.