By Jessica Tseang
Amazing Spider-Man #50 is an iconic cover. It shocked many (those that bought into it) that thinking that the brand-new popular superhero Peter Parker is already giving up and quitting being Spider-Man. His crime-fighting career barely started!
Much like the death of a superhero, at first, it would be shocking, but when done over and over again, it loses its appeal. Amazing Spider-Man #50 may be special the first time around, but as a friend once said, “If I had a dollar for every time an artist/writer comes up with a moment where Peter purposely left his costume in the trash can with that slow-walk-away-from-the-reader pose, I would be very rich.”
A pure exaggeration, of course, but there would be a certain gripping fear for readers (and I’m sure the fictional civilians that live in the Big Apple) if their friendly neighborhood web-slinger stopped showing up.
Although over the years, we may be tired of seeing the story line “Spider-Man No More!”, we still do hold a certain fear if Spider-Man truly did cease to exist.
Long before Tony Stark stole audiences’ hearts with his wit and humor, Spidey was the true smart-aleck and a bright light in the relatively somber Marvel universe. He is one of the most optimistic superhero characters to have been created which, no doubt, is a huge factor to his popularity.
Parker’s constant struggle to balance his life is just one of the many reasons why he is so well loved. My father was someone who picked Spider-Man as his favorite character, because of how “realistic” his life is. Whenever he wins as Spider-Man, he loses as Peter Parker. To defeat Rhino, he misses out on a date with Mary Jane. He’s not always on time like Batman, nor is he rich. He wasn’t born a mutant or with godlike powers. Peter constantly dealt with falling asleep at school because he’d been out the night before as Spider-Man, he can barely make rent because of a low-paying job as a photojournalist and tries with daily patience, to tolerate a crabby and despicable boss.
When the Ultimate Spider-Man died, the world was at shock. Poor Miles Morales had huge shoes to fill. Spider-Man inspired young and old alike, managing to capture their hearts even with J. Jonah Jameson on his back declaring him a web-slinging menace.
For a bright and ever-optimistic character, even when things are looking sour, Peter complains on the inside but continues to face the day with vigor all while making jokes. And when Gwen Stacy died, Peter’s world was shattered. He mourned, picked up the pieces, moved on but in his heart, never forgot his first love. For most superhero characters, their personalities would have taken a 180-degree turn, but not for our vigilant hero, he stayed the same.
Where Superman and Batman protected the fictional cities of Metropolis and Gotham, Spider-Man protected New York. This gave readers a certain emotional tie to the hero. He was also the first hero to address 9-11 in a storyline, which I am sure, brought tears to many readers.
Peter Parker is a flawed hero. He made decisions that at first were egotistical and arrogant, which led to his Uncle Ben’s death. Peter came to a realization on his own, from the wise words of his late caretaker “With great power, comes great responsibility.” He wasn’t a kid born with big muscles and good looks; he was gawky and weird. And though by accident, was given something that he saw as a blessing. It is not uncommon for those that were not born into money, who later earned or were given their wealth, to accept their current situation with gratitude and treat it as a blessing.
It’s hard to put into words why Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s most beloved characters, but his optimistim and wit in spite of all of his constant struggles and obstacles, makes him a character that is a great role model that many would look up to. A world needs Superman and a city needs their Batman, and Spider-Man is the same for the Marvel side. Spider-Man is one of the few characters that I find, should he cease to continue, everyone would feel affected.
Even after apprehending some bad guys, he realizes that he can’t be everywhere at once.
Parker’s grades start to slip, even if it is due to doing good deeds. To top it off, he can’t go out with Gwen whenever he pleases and doesn’t even have the time to get to know Mary Jane. Poor kid just can’t catch a break.
His boss (who unbeknownst to him was employing Spider-Man), is a constant mental terror for Peter, with his never-ending quest to convince the public that Spider-Man is a menace. Unlike someone like Wolverine, who just doesn’t give a crap, it’s not that easy for kind-hearted Peter Parker. There is no upside to the public despising him; it makes his life even harder.
Parker begins to go through self-doubt and starts to believe Jameson’s accusations. And with that…
The iconic shot.
Talk about a boss from hell. A kid who just risked his life running into the big guy’s office to give him evidence that will finally make his dreams come true, will only get a free copy of the newspaper and probably no credit. I wish I could see the kid’s facial expression!
J.J.J.’s hatred of the web-slinger is much like Lex Luthor’s own blind ambition to destroy Superman. The moment they get rid of the hero, they only then begin to realize that the protagonist has been pretty much the main reason for keeping other larger enemies at bay. Without them, the city or world is screwed.
After word gets out all over the major news channels, the Big Apple starts to have shenanigans go down.
Parker is feeling pretty darn good about himself. He’s finally got the time and mental relaxation to ask out Gwen Stacy. Although she turns him down, this young ex-hero isn’t deterred. He’s awake for the first time in ages when it comes to his studies. Though I suspect, he’s mostly feeling pretty good due to finally addressing his girl problems.
Once a hero always a hero. What a good guy you are, Peter Parker.
This entire page actually made me tear up. I think what touched me about Parker’s upbringing is how familiar it feels to me. I’ve seen it in the Kents and the Waynes. Many heroes come from upbringings as damaged as their rogues, but what separates them is the good morals they were instilled with.
When Uncle Ben saved up for months to buy his nephew his first microscope, I think that’s where I lost it and started to tear up. We often forget that simple gesture could mean a lot. Although Peter was not the biological child of Aunt May and Uncle Ben, they treated him like their son.
The watchman that Peter saves (sans his costume), reminded him of his Uncle Ben, stirring up emotions that have been suppressed from all of the negativity that he has bought into.
Peter realizes that he’s not just “playing hero,” and the whole reason why he used his powers for good, was his Uncle Ben. NOT doing anything resulted in his death.
Many may see Peter Parker as a kid, and sure, he still makes mistakes, But self-realization and choosing to change, is a very mature and adult attribute. Very few people are able to come to this conclusion.
Spider-Man vows never to fail again, and faith is restored to the reader. This issue has been one of my favorites and whenever I feel down, I go back and reread it. Sure, Spider-Man is a fictional character, but real people write him. Real people who struggle with rent, not getting the girl, having a horrible boss and not being able to be at fifteen places at once. Peter’s way of dealing with his flaws is what makes him a hero. There is a Peter Parker in all of us.