Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can…
No, I won’t torture you with that, but I will regale you with my history. I believe my first actual comic ever was Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #34, with the Lizard and his creation, the Iguana.
I grew up a science geek, just like Pete…well, not exactly like Pete. I was already very tall and made lots of friends by my formative years. I wasn’t really shy around girls; in fact, I managed to make friends with the most beautiful girls in school since sixth grade on. Yes – I mean all of you, my dear women friends.
I got an aeronautics kit for Christmas one year – and what a fantastic year that was! The next year, I got a scientific kit, and I may still have the microscope from said kit – no slides, however.
Still, with my scientific acumen, I could imagine being the wall-crawling hero, wisecracks and all. One of the highlights of my life was being invited to the Marvel Comics offices (when they were still located at 287 Park Avenue South) to participate in a round table to discuss the future of comic books – and I got to take a picture with Spider-Man! I still have it, along with my over 15,000 comic collection, which, unfortunately, is languishing in a storage unit in Naples, Florida as we speak. At this point, I’d be interested in either establishing a comic book museum or donating them to a library – if anyone has any ideas along these lines, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see what develops. I do wish to hold on to a couple of books; namely, my copy of Amazing Spider-Man 252 autographed by Stan “The Man” Lee, along with X-Men vs. Micronauts #1, autographed by the great Bill Mantlo, who I just ran into at Jugger Grimrod’s shop back in the 80’s.
As you can see, I’m a real comics buff. There’s something unique to the comics art form that you cannot get anywhere else – in sequential art, you get to control the media. You can study the panel for as long as you like. To use the example of Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons turned a murder mystery into one of the richest examples of what could b done with a blank piece of paper – and gave us something in which each subsequent reading unpeels yet another layer of the onion that is the story of Edward Morgan Blake, who has been murdered before you have opened the cover of the book. Or try out The Coyote Gospel, featuring Buddy Baker, also known as Animal Man, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Charles “Chas” Truog and Doug Hazlewood – if you are a fan of the Warner Brothers family of cartoons, as I am, you’ll delight in the nuances of this story. If you want to start easy, pick up a Sandman trade paperback by Neil Gaiman. If you’ve ever pondered how a utopia forced upon its citizens would work out, look no further than Squadron Supreme, written by the dearly departed Mark Gruenwald, illustrated by Bob Hall, Paul Ryan and the also departed John Buscema, aided by a host of inkers, colorists, letterers and assistants.
I’ve met so many creators – I even had the pleasure of having Walt and Weezie as the special guests at the Science Fiction Club (thanks for the Thor/Beta Ray Bill drawing, Uncle Walt!), and I have a number of books in my collection signed by said creators. I would love to get at a couple of key books – the rest can be up for grabs. Write to me at the above listed address – let’s see what we can do.
Now, I mentioned what many people know as the cream of the crop of the comic book art form, but Spider-Man is an icon. Spider-Man is a voice. Spider-Man could be YOU. Spider-Man could be ME.
That’s what Dan Slott maybe sees in Spider-Man. That’s why he’s having the time of his life chronicling the adventures of Peter Parker…even though he’s not quite Peter Parker right now, right? After all, it’s what’s this article is about.
But Dan has a point – Peter Parker is a scientist; and yet, besides the mostly minor inventions used to tackle separate cases, before joining Horizon Labs, Peter had missed his calling.
Here is why Stan and Steve (Ditko) are great – after 50 years in existence, the formerly Amazing (and now Superior) Spider-Man still has room for growth.
So…to Dan Slott – I hope that the morning you wake up dreading to have to write Spider-Man is indeed far off. Let me say it now – if I run into you at a convention, I’ll owe you a hearty handshake and hope to have some good conversation to offer. Ask Peter David – he got me to caress James Fry’s dreads, and we’re all still pals.