Variant Covers: Peter Parker Is Uh, Cool? Sort of Lame, Right?
Amazing Spider-Man #638
Alright, fuck every other comic that is coming out this week, I want to talk about Peter Parker. This week, the Spider-Man event One Moment In Time is kicking off. The event is in response to the other Spidey event that took place in 2007. That shiz was called Brand New Day. In this wonderful arc, Spider-Man was faced with a choice presented by Mephisto. Mephisto was all like, “Yo, I can save your dying Aunt May. But in return, you will never have married Mary Jane.”
Somehow, and for some reason, Peter Parker decided that this was a solid deal. What a dumb bastard. He chose his rickety old fucking Aunt May, over his gorgeous, accepting supermodel wife? This shit has irked me for some time now. Dude Pete, she ain’t even your Mom, yo. I know, I know, same thing, close enough, blah blah blah. So poof! With a wink and a nod, and probably some magical smoke that makes people disappear and stuff, Mary Jane and Peter Parker were never married.
Why’d it happen?
Well, it happened because Mephisto wanted Parker’s love. Or something. But we know why it really happened: because Marvel had no idea what the fuck to do with Peter Parker anymore. Parker was the character that apparently everybody related to growing up. I didn’t, I was a total X-Men dude. I was more comfortable running around with a pack of mutants, watching Wolverine gut dudes and totally talk smack to Scotty Summers and secretly hitting on Jean Grey.
[As a brief aside, did you ever consider Wolverine’s enhanced senses? Like, what’d they be like in the bedroom? I imagine sniffing a pair of panties with his leet skills is either the greatest thing ever, or he passes out and goes semi-catatonic.]
But anyways, people related to him. Why? Because he was dorky, and disaffected. Because he didn’t fit in, and he had typical teenage angst, and he had a rough go of things. His parents were dead, he kept waking up with webbing in his pants thinking about watching Mary Jane cheerleading at the pep rally.
Peter Parker married to Mary Jane?
That shit changes everything! Parker wasn’t angsty anymore, he wasn’t unfulfilled. He was a middle-class teacher, married to a gorgeous supermodel who accepted him for all his quirks and the fact that he dresses up in tights and fights giant reptiles. Acceptance. Evolution. Before Brand New Day, Parker wasn’t the character that people had grown up to love, who was eminently relatable. He was normal. And apparently that was boring enough, and scary enough, and far enough away from his “roots” as Joe Quesada put it, that they had to use one of the most contrived storyline mechanics I can recall to pull it off.
But now? Well now, they’re going to tell us all what happened at Mary Jane and Peter’s wedding! On that fateful day! And if I had to guess, according to all the promotional issues, Mary Jane and Peter Parker are going to reignite their passions or something. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t been reading Spider-Man. I don’t really feel the character. But that’s a different conversation for a different day. But the question that it raises, is just what to do with Peter Parker? Or for any comic book character for that matter.
On one hand, you have the static approach: keep Peter Parker young, single, and pining. Keep it looking longingly through his Spider-telescope at Mary Jane, and being unfulfilled. After all, isn’t this what made the dude the guy we could relate to? I think there’s certainly something to that.
The other idea is to have the character evolve. But that’s risky, you know? I mean, even as we speak, there’s nerdy kids who want to fuck the cheerleader, looking for someone to relate to. Even at this juncture there are kids like I was, thirteen years ago, awkward looking, shackled in braces, needing an identifiable trope to get behind.
And at this point, Marvel doesn’t seem to know what to do with the character. He evolves, they reset him. He makes some progress as a character, they get rid of it. There’s Brand New Day, now there’s One Moment In Time. Change, reduction. Peter Parker is a rat running down a hallway, with Good Lord Marvel just plucking him up halfway down the hall starting him at the beginning again.
What do you think? What do you prefer? As sad as it sounds, I actually prefer Peter Parker the emo-kid youth. And that’s probably the problem, who doesn’t? Parker as a high school teacher? Meh. That’s probably why the first fifty or so issues of Ultimate Spider-Man is my favorite take on the Webslinger in a long time.
It’s tricky though, and I don’t seem to know an answer. But that’s okay, because it seems Marvel doesn’t either.