It’s been quite a while since we tag-teamed a review, but there’s been a pretty significant recent release for our ONE THOUSANDTH POST! (Please read that in a loud booming voice with plenty of reverb.) Yes friends, it’s taken Matt and I almost three and a half years but we’ve reached a pretty significant milestone, so I hope you’ll forgive us if we indulge in a little self-congratulation.
I loved this book. From the numerous variant covers (I picked up the winter diner cover) to the three stories and the Stan Lee helmed letters page, this single issue managed to pay due respect to the character’s history and give the readers something novel (for better or worse) and wholly worth their money.Of the three stories, my favorite was the second. Written by J.M. DeMatteis, this story features an old man reflecting on the life and times of Spider-Man. Between the inaccuracies in the story told and the visions we see through the art, this has a nice mythic feel. Until the last page, the reader is left wondering whether the story-teller is delusional, sentimental, or looking back through the fog of decades past. I could write a thousand words or more on this, but I’d rather not.
The third and final story is cute in a less than annoying sort of way. Jen Van Meter shows us a date between Spider-Man and Black Cat. Stephanie Buscema’s UPA inspired style works well in this fast paced tale of romance and robot fighting.Regarding the main story, I’m going to jump in and say that this is how Peter Parker’s story had to end. A happy ending with Mary Jane or some other love interest would have cheapened everything that Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, the Romitas, and countless others created and shepherded through 50 years of comic book stories.The fairy tale ending doesn’t work for Spider-Man/ Peter Parker for a couple of reasons.
- The proverbial Parker Luck. From his genesis, Peter Parker has been unlucky. Nerdy outcast gains phenomenal super powers only to be ostracized and persecuted for being a hero, and writers haven’t really changed that character aspect in the last 50 years. Between family deaths, deals with one devil or another, clones, and having to wash that NYC garbage can/ dumpster smell out of his costume too many times to count, he’s basically been life’s punching bag. Within this context, every gift/ boon/ bright spot has had a price or a caveat. 50 years of evidence would indicate that Peter Parker’s lasting legacy in the mythic tradition is to remind us that life isn’t fair.
- Peter Parker and the comic book version of Bruce Wayne have one great character aspect in common. Death will ultimately be the only thing that keeps them from fulfilling their solemn vow. If a competent writer/ editor decides to surprise everyone and end Peter Parker’s career as a web-slinger, he’s got to end Peter Parker’s life or his ability to be Spider-Man. To remain true to the essence of the character, the one that suffers from the omnipotent child of Jewish Guilt and Catholic Guilt in the form of his oft repeated mantra, Parker can’t leave the suit in a garbage can and walk of into the sunset with his best girl by his side. Instead he lives the life of most protagonists in Russian literature: he suffers through life to ultimately die for Justice, Love, Virtue, or Guilt. Dan Slott killed Peter Parker because anything else would feel cheap. I’d bet the farm that if Peter Parker had been given a happy ending an equal nerd rage would have ensued and/or the cynicism that runs rampant in comicdom would have been still been counting down the months until Peter’s return.
I’m of two minds on the execution of Peter Parker’s death. On the one hand, I like that his final act was to turn a sworn enemy into an inspired do-gooder. On the other hand, it is a little hokey when you get right down to it.A sacrifice and a rehabilitation are a fantastic combination for a hero’s death. I love that Peter Parker’s dying breath and thoughts are bent on inspiring a villain to become a better (dare I say superior?) man and a hero. It is nothing short of a heroic miracle. It’s a deed far more heroic than simply punching a villain into unconsciousness. This ending adds a nice weight of meaning to the death.
Still, seeing Otto Octavius living Peter’s Tragedies and triumphs was a little goofy in that sweet and innocent 1950’s sort of way.
I feel confident that this new status quo will give rise to many interesting new story direction, but I won’t stick around to see them. I take my leave of Spider-Man comics now. I like the ending. It’s perfect, and a return (inevitable?) of Peter Parker would tarnish it for me.In point of fact, I’m drastically cutting down on my monthly comics intake as a whole. Whether it is for good or for now remains to be seen. If you’ve followed the blog, you’ve read time and again how I don’t care for Johns’ DC. Marvel’s constant state of flux and event has also worn thin for me. Here’s my vote with my wallet.