COMMENTARY | Does anyone really expect the death of Spider-Man to stand?
For the ten of you who don’t know, the 700th issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man” killed off Peter Parker by swapping his mind into the decayed and now-dead body of villain Doctor Octopus, or as I understood it when I first read it: Blah blah blah plot contrivance, because insanity.
Now this isn’t a defense of mainstream comic books, which have long been wandering off the path of coherence and literary merit into the hopeless situations that cause “controversial” storylines like this. I was just a kid when the odious “Clone Saga” thing happened and Norman Osborn was resurrected after a few decades in the ground. I was just wrapping up college when “One More Day” came out, ending Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson, effectively removing his greatest ally from his life with the flick of a pen in order to roll the clock back to “single and ready to mingle” years because, again, insanity.
Captain America “died” around that same time, enraging damn-near everyone.
And that’s the point, true believers. Everyone is writing about the death of Spider-Man when no one ever writes about what’s going on in comic books, at least not with the frequency that my peers diligently observe when publishing episode recaps of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. You’re pushing up issue sales just by reading this article, and Axel Alonso (Editor-In-Chief, Marvel Comics) is making it rain $1 bills in his office, laughing “We’ve done it again!”
Some of you guys are really giving me a rash over this whole thing. Writer Dan Slott, who is responsible for putting Peter Parker on the bench, is said to be receiving death threats. Why? You guys do remember that these are comic books, right? “The Superior Spider-Man,” which will see Doctor Octopus trying to live up to the name of Spider-Man in Parker’s body because, again, insanity, will be an “interesting character study” for about a year, we’ll get some kind of cross-title crisis and a bunch of tie-ins, and Peter Parker will make his triumphant return.
That’s how these things work. Mainstream comic books writers and publishers are terrified of taking real chances and changing their characters even a little for fear of losing their precious (yet committed) readership. Instead of letting Spider-Man grow old with Mary Jane and hang up the tights, and turning the mantle of “Spider-Person” over to a son or daughter, they have to make an alternate universe to tell that story so they don’t disrupt the flow of the main titles or undo the perpetual stagnation of impossibly immortal characters.
It’s not even really their fault, and death threats against Slott prove it. The only way they can keep you engaged is to shake up the status quo once in a while and then take everything back a year later. The most obvious way to do it is to kill a character, only to reveal through a series of mind-numbing plot twists that they never really died, or have all of the characters collect the magical cosmic MacGuffin to resurrect them once more. They can do this, but Peter Parker is still mourning the death of Uncle Ben.
And Slott is hardly an innovator for being the “first” to kill Spider-Man. Brian Michael Bendis killed the Ultimate version just last year. That death might actually be for keeps, because alternative universe.
In summation, Dan Slott doesn’t deserve to die for being a hack, and if you’re upset over Spider-Man’s death, I’m sorry to say, but you’re incredibly dense.