Why I Almost Stopped Reading Spider-Man

Written by Logan Sharp

(If you have not read Superior Spider-Man and/or do not know the major plot device in it, be warned: full spoilers ahead.)

Roughly a year ago, my childhood hero, Peter Parker, died. In an incredibly intense battle between him and Doc Ock, their consciences were swapped so Doc Ock was out of his old, dying body and in Parker’s body while Parker suffered the unfortunate fate of dying inside Doc Ock’s quickly failing body. I remember the issue clearly because I was almost in tears as I cheered Parker on only to come to the final page and see this:

 

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I sat in shock at the realization of what author, Dan Slott, had done: he had just killed my childhood hero, a man who had felt like a brother by now, and replaced him with Doctor Otto Octavius now taking up the mantle of Spider-Man. As tragic as it is, I would probably not be reading Spider-Man now if Dan Slott had not taken the character in this direction.

The reason why is something all too familiar with comics, games and television shows: they simply get stale after awhile. While I have loved many a character (you’re my boy, Mal), if the story is not there, or I’m seeing recurrences of the same story recycled in a different fashion, I’m going to get bored. As much as I love the character, I don’t love seeing him, or her, in the same stories. I desire something new, something fresh; take me in a new direction, I beg of you!

I don’t think that I am the only long-running Spider-Man fan who wanted something fresh either. I think where our fault lies in is we simply did not prepare ourselves for what Dan Slott had in mind; then again, who could have prepared for a villain taking over Parker’s body and becoming Spider-Man?

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I remember when Superior Spider-Man #1 released, fresh in the wake of Amazing Spider-Man #700, the wounds still bleeding from what Dan Slott had done to our childhood. Though it hurt, I devoured the first issue of SSM; I read it three times, back-to-back. I found myself in love with the new direction and was surprised at how much I liked Otto as Spider-Man. Also, if you don’t think the bits where Otto is a smart, arrogant Parker, you don’t know “funny”. With my love for this new series blossoming, you can imagine my surprise, or lack thereof, when I saw folks on social media sending messages to Dan Slott, via Twitter, on how much they hated him and what he had done with Spider-Man.

To which I say: so what? Dan Slott is doing something interesting with a character who has gotten stale; you can at least admit that. What could he have done to make it “better”? Kill Parker, only to bring him back 2 months later? Marvel and DC has done that so much that we, as readers, now never trust in a character’s death because we know they’ll come back. A year later and SSM is still running. I think we might have to face the reality that: Peter Parker may never come back.

Don’t get me wrong, I like familiarity; it’s comfortable. But we need new directions with our favorite characters lest we begin finding boredom with them and moving on to something else. One of the reasons I read All New X-Men now is because it’s just that: all new. I like the concept of the original X-Men in their first year being transported to our modern time, post-AvX. It’s interesting to see how the characters interact with the original X-Men, as well as see how the original X-Men interact with our time and come face-to-face with who they’ve become.

But what do you think, fellow true believers? Do comics need a new direction now and then or should they stay on the same track? Let us know in the comments.

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