The death of Peter Parker

ASM_700_CoverThe final issue of Amazing Spider-Man came out this week and it featured the death of Peter Parker, the secret identity of Spider-Man. Not only was Peter Parker killed off, it was done in the worst way imaginable: Doctor Octopus, Spider-Man’s genius archenemy while laying in his death-bed in maximum security super-villain prison, was able to lure Spider-Man to his bed-side where he then switched bodies with Spider-Man. I hate when that happens. Doc Ock now possessed the body of Spider-Man and Peter Parker lay dying in a diseased, stinky old man body of Doctor Octopus. As an added twist, the two men also have each other’s memories.

If it sounds like a stupid premise, even for a comic book, it’s because it is. It’s kind of like the movie Freaky Friday, only not done as a silly, wacky comedy.

Peter Parker, trapped in the body of Doctor Octopus, is able to escape prison with the help of some other lesser super-villains and he tries desperately to get his body back. His attempt of course fails and he ends of dying in the street after a final battle with his archenemy, who everyone thinks is really him.

Peter Parker is dead, but nobody, not his family, not his friends, know it.

Amazing Spider-Man is no longer. It ends with issue #700. In its place is a new book called Superior Spider-Man with Doctor Octopus taking the role of Spider-Man.

I find it strange the Marvel Comics would allow this to happen. Only a few short years ago, they decided that Peter Parker couldn’t be married because young people couldn’t identify with a married Spider-Man. Instead of just having Mary Jane and Peter Parker just divorce like regular people, because that would be immoral, they concocted this silly idea that featured Peter Parker striking a deal with the Devil. Peter Parker and Mary Jane would no longer be married and in exchange, Peter’s Aunt May wouldn’t die from a gunshot wound.

Only in the world of funny books would striking a deal with the Devil be more moral than getting a divorce.

If kids couldn’t relate to Spider-Man because he was married, how on earth will they relate to him now that he is secretly a middle-aged former super-villain with a Moe Howard haircut?

Comic book writer receives death threats in response to story

From a Dan Slott interview posted on Comic Book Resources in late August:

I’m really happy with our 1-2-3 punch of #698, #699 and #700. I think people are not going to forget this one. This story will raise some really strong emotions in Spider-Man fans. It will probably be one of the biggest things I ever do to a Marvel Comics character in my career.

I don’t know if people will start making little dart boards of me or not for this one. I’ve said it before, but I’m going into hiding after issue #700 comes out. I’m not looking at message boards. I’m not poking my head up out of that hole, because what happens in issue #700 is big!

It would appear that even though Amazing Spider-Man #700 hasn’t been released, it hits funny book shops on December 26, those really strong emotions in Spider-Man fans have already been raised. Spoilers to the issue have been popping up online and reportedly Slott has received death threats over the story.

Seriously, death threats.

It’s difficult for me to understand how anyone can threaten the life of someone over something they wrote about a fictional character. There’s real life and then there’s pretend life. What happens in comic books is pretend life. It’s hard for me to believe how anyone could threaten, let alone kill someone over a comic book. Then again, before last Friday, it would have been hard for me to believe that a person could go into an elementary school and slaughter 26 defenseless people, 20 of which were small children, with a military style assault rifle.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there are some really weird and deranged people out there who are capable of just about anything.

Photo: CJM

Worst book review ever

The Wall Street Journal published a book review of Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics. The “review” is written by Tim Marchman, a baseball writer who used to work for the now defunct New York Sun newspaper. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book review published by the The Wall Street Journal, so maybe this is normal, but the article does’t really deal with the book being reviewed, but instead focuses on how awful both Marvel and DC are.

After reading Marchman’s article, I know less about Tall Buildings than I knew before.

Marchman doesn’t just go after the Big Two in comics publishing, he takes personal cheap shots at some of the people working in the field of superhero comics. For example, writer J. Michael Straczynski:

The first issues of “Before Watchmen” will be published next month. Among the writers working on it is former He-Man scripter J. Michael Straczynski, who once penned a comic in which Spider-Man sold his marriage to the devil. (This is the rough equivalent of having Z-movie director Uwe Boll film a studio-funded prequel to Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.”)

That’s how Marchman defines Straczynski, that he’s the former writer of He-Man? The man has done so much more that. In fact, before reading this article, I hadn’t even known he once wrote He-Man cartoons. Why would I? Checking Wikipedia, it appears Straczynski wrote nine He-Man episodes. In comparison, Straczynski created the science fiction TV series Babylon 5 and wrote 92 of its 110 episodes. The show won two Emmy Awards and two Hugo Awards. Not a word about that, no, instead Marchman goes with He-Man, evidently Straczynski’s first job in television. Classy.

What’s even more ridiculous than the He-Man reference is the bit about Straczynski writing a comic where Spider-Man sold his marriage to the devil. Though technically Straczynski was the writer of said storyline, it wasn’t his idea. He was very vocal of the fact that he hated the premise and went so far as to try to get his name removed from the final issues. Either Marchman didn’t know this or chose to ignore it when throwing Straczynski under the bus. Either Marchman is ignorant or dishonest. Considering that he wrote the article for the WSJ, one of the country’s most respected newspapers, I don’t know which is worse.

If Spider-Man can’t be married, why can Northstar?

The recent announcement by Marvel Comics that Northstar, a gay mutant from Canada, will marry his boyfriend Kyle in Astonishing X-Men #51, has got me thinking about how marriage is portrayed in the pages of Marvel funny books. It was only a few years ago that former Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada thought Peter Parker/Spider-Man being married to Mary Jane Watson made Spider-Man not relatable to children.

As if children are reading $3.99 comic books.

Instead of having Peter Parker and Mary Jane simply get divorced, like normal people often do, Parker struck a deal with the Devil to save his Aunt May’s life. In return for saving the elderly Aunt May, the Devil made it as though Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson were never married.

Evidently Quesada and the Devil were like-minded when it came to the marital status of Spider-Man. Neither one liked it.

If it was bad for Spider-Man to be married, why then is it good for Northstar to be married? It doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Marvel Comics wanted one of their A-list superheroes to be single so badly that they actually had him strike a deal with the Devil to dissolve the marriage. Then, a few years later, they marry off their only gay character to his boyfriend.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think Marvel Comics was against heterosexual marriage, but not against gay marriage.

Marvel Comics superhero to marry his boyfriend

Marvel Comics superhero Northstar, a mutant from Canada, will marry his same-sex partner Kyle in issue #51 of Astonishing X-Men. Like all important comic book news, it was first announced by Whoopi Goldberg on the daytime TV talk-show The View.

Just kidding. The View doesn’t normally talk about comic books. If you’ve ever watched The View, than you know show’s hosts often talk about things they know nothing about.

This is no different.

This is clearly a stunt on the part of Marvel Comics. Comic book marriage is usually always a stunt to garner non-comic book media attention and this marriage is no different. What makes this marriage stunt different is that it may actually help advance the cause for marriage equality. I think the more people talk about the topic of gay marriage, the more likely it will become accepted in all fifty states, not just the enlightened ones.

Gay people, after all, are people. They deserve to be able to marry their significant other just like straight people. If the pages of a comic book can help advance that idea, than I think Northstar marrying his boyfriend is fantastic.