Thursday, June 15, 2006

Matt Drudge and I have utterly different ideas of what constitutes "news"

From the Drudge Report:
Good thing Spidey's only outing his secret ID and not his closeted homosexuality or Matt Drudge'd be crapping all over any chance Pete has at tying the knot.

I've yet to read Civil War #2, but if that scene didn't feature Spider-Man dramatically removing his mask, camera flashes going off and then a long pause before a member of the assembled press says "who the Hell is that guy?", than they missed a decent opportunity to make the Marvel University even more hyperrealistic.

There are ever so many reasons to not be angry about this, chief amongst them being that it'll probably be undone in about six months. But then there's the fact that it's not really that bad of an idea. I keep seeing things about how the secret identity is a key component to Spidey's character and I've gotta ask: why? Has there been a story where his secret ID is used for anything other than cheaply manufactured drama prior to him wiping the floor with the Shocker?

Peter Parker (thought bubble): It's my old nemesis -- the terrible Tarantula! But how can I fight him with Betty Brant right here?

Tarantula: Ah hah hah, El Daily Bugle is now under the control of my pointy, poisoned boots!

Peter Parker: Ah, Betty? I just remembered I had a dentist appointment! Have fun dealing with the weird Latin guy with the ponytail.

(Runs off-panel, Spider-Man leaps in)

Betty Brant: That Peter is such a coward! I'll never sleep with him now!

Well, that kills a page. Now Tarantula will grab Betty even though he has no idea that Spider-Man has a crush on her because that's just how it works.

Green Goblin's known Peter's secret for a solid thirty years. So did his kid. So did Venom. Auny May knows, Mary Jane knows, Black Cat knows, the entire Fantastic Four knows. Wolverine's known for about a decade. Daredevil knows. Pretty much the only important supporting character who didn't know is J Jonah Jameson, and the fact that he never thought "how is this kid Parker getting all these shots of Spider-Man from such ridiculous angles - almost as if he was hanging off of a gargoyle or stuck to the side of a building?" is a testament to... I don't know, something.

Even though they didn't know Peter Parker was Spider-Man, both Doctor Octopus and the Vulture tried to marry Aunt May, a random old lady from Queens who just happens to have their arch-nemesis for a nephew. Villains are just as likely to accidentally target somebody the hero knows thanks to the incredible level of coincidence inherent in superhero comics. But, Hell, say Electro's holding a classroom full of kids hostage. Is Spider-Man really any less likely to react just because they aren't a class of kids he personally teaches? No, he'll hop to and punch Electro's face off his body because Electro's one of "his" bad guys and therefore his perceived responsibility.

I don't really mind that Batman's status quo hasn't much changed in the last, oh, seven decades, because the status quo of Batman is Man Wears Silly Costume, Fights Crime. Sure, supporting characters come and go, and he'll occasionally be accused of murder or some such stupid thing, but that's pretty much all you have to deal with. Spider-Man's is apparently Man Wears Silly Costume, Fights Crime, Can't Make Rent Even Though He's a Genius-Level Inventor (Who Interned For Reed Freaking Richards) and a Best-Selling Author Who is Married to a Supermodel, Has Trouble With Girls, Has to Make Stupid Excuses in Order to Get into His Silly Costume in Which He Fights Crime. If you take any part of that away, out come the hardline Marvel Zombies with torches and rake-things, ready to storm the castle because Spider-Man is "the quintessential everyman" and blah blah blah.

Freaking scientists, even amateur, teenaged ones, are not everymen. I can't much relate to a guy that invents tiny radio transmitters that send signals directly to a sixth sense only he possesses. In his basement. Or a fluid that turns solid, sticky and elastic on contact with air that can also be slightly modified into armor. Girls love him, but he screws it up by being a masked vigilante and lying about it constantly until he's actually honest with one and gets to marry her. He gets to be friends with the Human Torch. He has a hot rod that can drive on walls. He makes money by taking pictures of himself. He's a nerd made good; that doesn't make him an everyman, it makes him something to aspire to. He's what every dorky kid reading the book wishes they could be, if only they could score awesome powers from a radioactive accident.

And now he's got a public identity, which means, my God, maybe we'll see a different kind of Spider-Man story, one where he's accepted by the public and doesn't constantly bitch about how tough he has it even though he can throw a car and sense danger and sleep with a supermodel and hang out with Captain America.


SanctumSanctorumComix said...

Soooo...what are you saying, exactly?



CalvinPitt said...

I suppose the argument is that now Electro won't be menacing MJ by chance, but rather he'll know who she is, and will be trying to kill her specifically to mess with Spider-Man. And so will every other villain Peter ever defeated and then webbed upside-dwon with a "loser" sign stuck to his face because he thought it was funny.

I hate it, at least partially for the above reason, and partially because it stinks as being part of Joey Q's "Master Plan to break up Peter and MJ", which also annoys the hell out of me.

And honestly, when Spider-Man is written well, he doesn't bitch about how his powers ruin his life. Yes, when he's fighting the Vulture, he's probably wishing that he was teaching, or on a date with MJ, but he's not complaining about it. Basically, I've always felt he was more about self-doubt than self-pity.

Moose N Squirrel said...

"Has there been a story where his secret ID is used for anything other than cheaply manufactured drama prior to him wiping the floor with the Shocker?"

Maybe, but isn't cheaply manufactured drama the whole point of Spider-Man? The whole draw of the character is that unlike, say, Superman, it's kind of a pain in the ass being Spider-Man. Peter has to pay bills, he has fights with his wife, he's got the annoying aunt who hates his secret identity to take care of, he's got the boss from hell who makes his night job a living hell.

It's not just that unmasking him exposes him to all sorts of villains (too many of whom know who he is already); it's that it exposes him to everybody, and if everybody knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, then Peter Parker gets treated as Spider-Man all the time. He loses the civilian life that made him such a unique character in the first place.