As I’ve mentioned before on here, I have a subscription to two comics: Batman and Spider-Man. While Batman is a somewhat newer obsession that’s sprung out of my fascination with Batman villains as well as the interesting, contemporary, and often dark themes the comic book touches on, Spider-Man has always been one of my favorite superheroes. From my earliest days I remember being obsessed with him, absolutely in love with anything to do with Spider-Man. Why, though? What on earth made a guys whose powers are derived from spiders so engaging to me?
For one, his backstory is just beautifully designed. I’m not talking about the idea that Peter Parker was given incredible powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider, that does sound a bit ridiculous. The story of how Peter Parker became Spider-Man, however, is everything we want an origin story to be. It’s action packed, as we get to enjoy a cage-fight, a robbery, a murder, and a vengeance-fueled pursuit. It’s emotionally powerful and complex, as we watch Peter Parker struggle with the guilt of refusing to stop a robber who went on to murder his uncle out of spite after the people running the cage-fight underpaid him. And finally, it cements the character of the hero when Spider-Man is distraught over accidentally causing the death of that same robber and vows from then on to become Spider-Man and use his powers for good. It’s an amazing way to start a franchise, and a big reason I love his character.
Furthermore, Spider-Man is incredibly fun to read. The colorful villains, intriguing storylines, and amusing romances all help create a comic-book experience that always makes me smile. What brings it all together, though, is Peter Parker himself. An undeniably smart high school kid with a wise-ass streak a mile wide, his dialogue and monologue are equally entertaining to read. It also, however, creates a feeling of closeness and protectiveness toward him. You can’t help but empathizing with Spider-Man as he fights his way to victory over his enemies one snarky remark at a time. I’ve never cheered harder for a hero or celebrated quite as effusively when they succeed as I do for Spider-man.
Most of all, though, I love Spider-Man because he’s me. At the end of the day, I know I could never be Superman or Batman or even Tony Stark. I don’t have that in me. But an everyday high school kid who happens to be pretty smart, gifted some extraordinary powers and just trying to do the best he can with them? That’s a character I can see some aspects of myself in. Spider-Man feels like he’s a normal person with extraordinary gifts trying to be worthy of them, and that’s always been incredibly inspiring for me. I read his comics and cant help but think that if a kid like this can save New York or the world, I can make it through whatever I might be struggling with on any given day. That is, at the end of the day, what superheroes have always been supposed to do. They fight the great evils in comics so that we can find it in ourselves to fight the everyday evils in real life. Spider-Man does that for me, and for that I will always be grateful to the friendly neighborhood superhero.
With Excitement and Optimism,