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An Idiot's Guide to Superheroes: Spider-Man

Written by Christian on Friday, June 11 2010 and posted in Columns

This is An Idiot's Guide to Superheroes.  It contains a quick, informative, and not 100% factual look at various superheroes throughout the ages.  Should be read at your own risk and for amusement purposes only.

This is An Idiot's Guide to Superheroes. It's part fact, part opinion, and part bullshitting my way through 75 years worth of literature that is both entertaining and slightly ridiculous. An Idiot's Guide to Superheroes is not meant to be taken 100% seriously nor is it 100% factual.

If you come away learning something new, I applaud you. Knowledge is power and knowing is half the battle...or something like that. Otherwise, I apologize for wasting the next five to ten minutes of your life.

Week 2: Spider-Man

"Spider-Man, Spider-Man
Does Whatever a Spider Can" ~Thomas Blake

When someone asks me what the difference between Marvel and DC is, I like to use the comparison of Spider-Man versus Superman. Superman is everything that you could want in a superhero. He's tall, muscular and has the chin of a Greek god. Superman has a steady job that he's held on to for the last 75 years, a loving marriage, an adoring public and all the friends an alien from another planet could ever want. The only personal problems Superman ever has is when Lois gets kidnapped by Lex Luthor for the 10,357,864th time and Superman burns the roast he was cooking to save her. But even when that happens, Superman gets great rescue sex out of it.  Nothing bad ever happens to Superman because he's Superman.

Spider-Man, on the other hand, has bad stuff happen to him all the time.

Bitten by a radioactive spider during his senior year of high school, Peter Parker gains the power to do anything that a spider can. This includes climbing walls, punching things really hard and being able to sense when shit's about to go down. Like any good New Yorker, he quickly decides to use these powers for monetary gain and becomes a professional wrestler. However, his wrestling career is tragically cut short when he learns that a poor moral decision of his causes the death of his beloved Uncle Ben. Remembering Uncle Ben's mantra, "With great power comes really crappy luck and the responsibility to fight garishly costumed villains," he becomes the Spectacular Spider-Man!

Spider-Man attracts bad things like a drunken sorority girl attracts every douchebag with a popped collar within city limits. Trouble follows him like bears follow delicious picnic baskets. Although it's not known why exactly the universe likes to crap on Peter Parker, it probably has to do something with the fact that he's a Mets fan. Over the course of Spider-Man's career, he's been publicly hunted by police, giant robots, demons, the federal government and a Russian guy with a Burt Reynolds mustache. The poor guy been blown up, had buildings fall on top of him, stabbed, shot, irradiated, cloned, and grew four extra arms in a science experiment gone horribly wrong.

Part of Spider-Man's appeal comes from the diverse cast of characters that he's surrounded by. After his awkward high school years, he promptly became best friends with Harry Osborn, son of the famed industrialist and psychopath Norman Osborn. He also hooked up with Gwen Stacy (hot blonde), Mary Jane Watson (hot redhead), Betty Brant (hot brunette) and the vigilante/thief known as the Black Cat (hot whitehead) at one time or another. He's also been employed by J. Jonah Jameson Jr., who's the only thing the Spider-Man movies got right.

However, befriending Peter Parker has severe consequences. Let's take a look at the list.

Aunt May: Hospitalized due to radiation poisoning because of Peter. Also almost marries one of Spider-Man's supervillians. Dies but gets better. Currently suffering from a case of negatives, which is causing her to be a royal bitch. That's right, Aunt May is a royal bitch.
Harry Osborn: Father becomes the Green Goblin and regularly fights Spider-Man. Father gets killed in a fight with Spider-Man. Harry decides to become the Green Goblin II, but dies after overdose. However, he gets better.
Gwen Stacy: Gets killed by Green Goblin (the first one). Has yet to get better. (Sexist much, Marvel?)
Mary Jane Watson: Marries Peter and promptly gets kidnapped a half dozen times. Has marriage erased by devil.
Basically, it sucks to be one of Spider-Man's friends or family.

On top of the crappy personal life, Spider-Man also has to deal with every psychopath in New York City. That's approximately all 8 million of them, give or take Sammy Davis Jr.  Some of the more colorful villains Spider-Man faces are Electro (shoots electricity), Doctor Octopus (extra metal arms), the Lizard (actually a Lizard), the Rhino (dude in a Rhino suit) and Sandman (guy made out of sand). Villains based out of New York aren't very inventive when coming up with names. His main nemesis is the Green Goblin, who killed his girlfriend by dropping her off a bridge, caused his best friend to have more daddy issues than Batman and is generally batshit crazy. The Green Goblin was also employed by both the Bush and Obama Administrations, showing that even psychopaths can succeed in government. For more proof of this, google Andrew Jackson and/or Dick Cheney. When talking about villains, I should probably also mention Venom, but Topher Grace really ruined the character in the abomination known as Spider-Man 3, so I won't.

The thing that makes Spider-Man such a great character is that he's the everyman of the Marvel universe, the one character than almost anyone can relate to. Ever been worried about rent?  That's what Spider-Man worries about every month! Lost your job?  Spider-Man's lost around 40 of them! Have a crappy car?  Spider-Man had a Spider-Buggy, complete with a Spider-colored interior!  Ever had a clone?  Spider-Man's had at least two! Ever been imbued with a cosmic power source that turns you into Captain Universe?  When Spidey had it, he was called Captain Spidey-verse!  It's this relatability that makes Spider-Man the idealized Marvel character. While everybody wishes his or her personal life were like Superman's, everybody's life is far closer to Spider-Man.

Some of the more notable Spider-Man stories include The Death of Gwen Stacy (Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin, someone also dies), Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut (Spider-Man ignores the title of the arc and attempts to stop the Juggernaut, someone also almost dies), The Death of Jean DeWoolf (Spider-Man and Daredevil throw a guilt party, someone also dies) and Kraven's Last Hunt (Bear Grylls hunts the most dangerous game of all: Spider-Man. Someone dies in this too). All of these stories are classic reads, and are of course better than reading this crappy column.

So what's Spidey up to nowadays? After making a deal with the devil to erase everyone's memories of Spider-Man 3, Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane is erased, rendering him a twenty-nine year old bachelor who lives in his aunt's house. However, he promptly gets into a bunch of shenanigans with a slew of brand new villains and fights Norman Osborn (the once and future Green Goblin) and his band of government cronies.  Now, Spider-Man is faced with a Gauntlet of tragic events featuring his classic villains. This Gauntlet is being set up by the widow and child of the dead Kraven the Hunter who want to see what irradiated Spider-flesh tastes like...or something like that.  Now that you're up to date, go to your local comic book store and pick up The Amazing Spider-Man, now on sale three times a month!  It's usually entertaining and features no dance numbers or emo haircuts.


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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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