Hey! It’s our fiftieth strip! We’ve managed to turn this thing out on time, twice a week, for six months. Which is impressive, if you don’t stop to consider that Charles Schulz was doing his thing seven days a week for fifty years. We’re getting the hang of this thing, stretching our creative muscles, and we have some big plans. We’ll be delving more into the origins of the show, and this weird little cable outlet we’re on. So join us here, every tuesday and thursday!
Peter Parker’s return means, of course, that Spider-Man is ruined forever.
You read enough Spider-Man, as we do, and you start seeing the patterns. Some of them are well-documented; I have no money, Jameson hates me, gorgeous women fighting over me, that stuff is Spidey boilerplate. As soon as Carlie Cooper started taking an interest in Peter Parker, you knew something bad was going to happen to her.
Then there were the semi-annual crises of conscience, where some mishap would lead Peter to consider giving up his Spider-Man identity. These would always end with a soul-searching soliloquy, usually atop the Empire State Building, followed by a final panel of Spidey triumphantly leaping off to new adventures, proclaiming “Heads-UP, heroes! Spidey’s here to STAY!!!” I love that stuff.
Somewhat less-publicized is how often Spidey-writers would throw a character in with no idea who the hell they are, or what the hell they’re going to do with them.
It’s right in the Spider-DNA, ever since the introduction of the Green Goblin, whose identity became a major factor in the split between Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. This trend continued with The Hobgoblin, who was introduced in 1983 and whose identity is retconned more often than DC reboots its universe.
The nadir of this trope (and indeed, of Spider-Man) was the infamous Clone Saga, filled as it was with constant cutaways to figures mysterious, hooded, or shadowy, all apparently watching…and waiting! Kaine was teased that way for about 400 issues before the writers decided he was another Peter Parker clone; there was the Judas Traveller, Scrier, and a ton of others who I’m not sure they ever managed to pay off. Even Peter and Mary Jane’s missing baby remains a loose end (alternate futures notwithstanding), assuming she still exists after the reality-warping of Brand New Day.
My one complaint about Dan Slott’s current triumphant run on Spider-Man, if I can praise him with faint damnation, it’s that he clearly has a plan; every new character, from that old guy Spidey saved on the subway, to that red-haired super heroine who calls Spidey “Tiger,” is part of a plan, which is why under Slott, Spider-Man is more satisfying than it’s been in years.
Despite being ruined forever.