I really didn’t expect to like Spider-Man as much as I do.
I’ve been reading Marvel comics for, say, 27 years. And I’ve never been into Spider-Man. In hindsight, it’s because Spidey as a guest-star is basically a comic relief quip machine. But focusing on Spider-Man as the main character, and even more importantly focusing on Peter Parker and his day job, his real life, gives background–and foreground, for that matter–for what’s going on in the Spider-Man persona.
As is usually the case with me, I spent a lot of research time poking around at stuff that’s really interesting but nothing that begs for a really deep dive, nothing that grabs me by the lapels and insist that I know everything about it, that I start way back at the beginning and follow the thread all the way through. (That always gets saved for the last part of my projects–a mad dash fartlek at the end of a long, steady jog.) I read some of the early Stan and Steve stuff and I read as many of the current ongoings as I could, Spider-Man: Worldwide and Spider-Gwen and Silk and the new Spider-Woman series where she’s a mom. I even started Carnage, but that whole thing just feels like a way different world than the rest of those titles, and I couldn’t get through the first trade. De gustibus.
I also read Superior Foes of Spider-Man because I have always, always wanted to read that. And I did. And it was as awesome as I thought it was. And there was much rejoicing.
But it was about two-thirds of my way through the project that I landed on Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli’s run with Miles Morales that I really started to catch up to what Spider-Man can do, to the parts of that character’s story that really speak to me personally. (Although there’s a lot in Silk and Spider-Woman, too, to be fair.) But reading Bendis’s take on Miles really got me.
Those feelings of being on the outside as a teenager, of leading a double, even triple life. Of getting caught in lies you were telling to protect other people or to protect yourself. Snark and wit and sarcasm as ways of not just entertaining people but of protecting yourself, that sometimes what saves your skin isn’t your fists but your words, your ability to think on your feet, to see what’s about to happen before the next kid does.
That led me back to the original run of Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis (again) and Mark Bagley, and that had the same appeal. That laser focused sense of what being a teenage is and was, how it feels on the ground, in the trench. The courage to spend all of that time telling the story of a high school kid and never let him out of high school. And Bendis’s work does wonders with the more realistic style of Sara Pichelli and, later, David Marquez, but there’s something about the jokes and the angst and Mark Bagley’s whimsical art style that just land so, so, so, so perfectly.
I’m glad I got here. I’m glad I stuck with the project long enough to figure out what I, too, love about this character that millions of other people around the world love.
Let’s hope the movie is good.
What I Read So Far////The Spidey Files (148 issues as of 6/26)
- Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1
- Spider-Man: Worldwide Vol. 1
- Spider-Man: Worldwide Vol. 2
- Spider-Man: Worldwide Vol. 3
- Superior Foes of Spider-Man Vol. 1
- Superior Foes of Spider-Man Vol. 2
- Superior Foes of Spider-Man Vol. 3
- Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted?
- Spider-Gwen: Greater Power
- Silk: The Life and Times of Cindy Moon
- Spider-Man: Noir
- Warzones: Renew Your Vows
- Miles Morales: Ultimate Collection Vol. 1
- Miles Morales: Ultimate Collection Vol. 2
- Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection Vol. 1
- Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection Vol. 2
- Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 3
- Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 4
- Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 5