10 Worst Modern Spider-Man Moments Marvel Wants You To Forget Pt2



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So this is starting to really become a recurring theme in my Top 10s these days.  It’s not too hard to figure out why.  These things are rapidly becoming a plague to modern comics, with Marvel being the chief perpetrator of this nonsense.  And while some of the Spider-Man events have been good – Spider-Verse comes to mind but even Spider-Island had its moments – it feels like Spider-Man is just constantly involved with events in general.

Modern Spider-Man can be summarized as thus – filler, filler, filler, overblown, company-wide event.  Filler, filler, filler, overblown Spider-Man crossover event.  Rinse and repeat and that’s pretty much all that the Spider-Man comics feel like they amount to these days.  Which not only gets stale and repetitive quickly but it also makes any sense of traction in the main Spider-Man stories, well, non-existent.  This problem has felt exasperating in recent memory, with Spider-Man essentially doing nothing but focusing on his own company during the events of Civil War II while featuring in one of the worst Spider-Man events in recent memory with Clone Conspiracy.

And for the same reasons this has damaged modern Marvel in general and was a real problem in the New 52, events have kind of ruined Spider-Man.  It’s certainly not the only problem, but it’s one of the absolute worst things about his comics these days.  His character doesn’t change and grow because there’s really no room for it when he’s got one crazy plot after another to deal with.   Spider-Verse was fun, sure, but it didn’t move Spider-Man’s story an inch forward.  And that was fine, but when that is the norm for Spider-Man, which is pretty much is these days, well, it’s hard to care about our protagonist when he gets lost in so much over-hyped nonsense.

Marvel doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon either.  Within two months of writing this we can expect Secret Empire to show up, no doubt giving Peter more pointless crap to deal with while Marvel is currently talking about their next big event that’s coming out after Secret Empire.  It never ends.  As for Spider-Man, well, he’s got that Green Goblin fight coming up… and Venom-Verse… still not sure what to think of that but it definitely doesn’t help assuage my concern over there being too many event-based comics these days.

The only thing these events ever really do for them are the occasional rounds of soft and relatively pointless reboots.  With one major exception, those usually involve making superficial changes to the character’s status quo while failing like they do every single time to get at the heart of Spider-Man’s problems.  The rest of this list will be devoted to those problems.  The very worst things about Spider-Man that the company constantly misses that are still somehow worse than a near constant stream of events.  Let’s get to it…




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There’s nothing quite like a Spider-Man story that works.  When I think of the older Spider-Man comics or Ultimate Spider-Man, there’s a feeling you get when you read them.  It’s the same feeling I still get out of watching Spider-Man 1 & 2, and hope that Spider-Man: Homecoming will be bringing us later this year.  It’s a difficult sentiment to describe.  The closest I have managed is to call it this certain sense of soulfulness.

What I mean when I say that is that feeling I get when Spider-Man swings off to the next adventure after a fantastic and well written story arc.  Or when watching that scene in Spider-Man 2 with the imaginary above ground New York City train.  It’s moments like these – optimistic, fun, unabashedly hopeful, and yes, nostalgic – these are generally what I think of when I think of Spider-Man at his best.  Like I said, nostalgia isn’t bad.  There’s value in remembering a Spider-Man we love, within reason.

The heart and soul of Spider-Man is one of those things that’s worth preserving.  It’s the most important part of Peter Parker’s character and it will be the topic for the rest of this list.  When Spider-Man works, and works well, he makes you feel something.  It can be happiness, excitement, hope, despair, bravery.  It can be any number of things.  But it has to hit you in the feelings and it has to hit hard.

Sadly, in the mainstream Spider-Man, that is rare these days, to say the least.  The comics don’t have that feeling very often and instead we get mountains of exposition and hollow, mediocre bouts of action without stakes or much fun to them.  The character doesn’t feel grounded in reality with real problems anymore.  And while I get that Peter has gotten past the point in life where he might have to worry about paying bills, even successful humans are still people who we generally can relate to.  They have personal lives, goals, stakes, and beliefs.  You know, the sort of things that any decent character would have.

Part of this blame lies at Dan Slott’s writing style, to be sure, as he generally avoids substance in favour of big ideas and lots of plot and dialogue.  Sometimes it works, and I actually got this feeling of soulfulness during his work with Renew Your Vows as part of Secret Wars.  Here, the gloves were off and we suddenly got a Spider-Man with real stakes, emotional depth, a solid supporting cast who readers quickly grew to care about, and just pretty much everything great about Spider-Man all at once.  It wasn’t perfect – it still is silly to have a grown ass adult making ends meet as a part-time photographer, but it was great and, as I came to realize, the Spider-Man I have been missing for a long time now.  From the way we had a family of characters that actually cared about each other to great moments like Spider-Man returning from retirement to challenge the Secret Six, there was real emotion that chiselled my stone heart and made me actually care about Spider-Man.

But that’s not the norm.  That’s not the way Spider-Man is allowed to be in the Prime Universe, which is why at the time, I found the comic so surprising and unique.  It shouldn’t feel that way but it does, and that’s a terrible sign for our regular Spider-Man.  The reason why seems to be the biggest differences between these two continuities – the presence of a family.  Because a family would give Spider-Man’s life some real stakes.  Something for us and his character to actually care about.  And it leads us perfectly to my next point.



Single & Hating It

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There’s nothing wrong with a single character.  I’m going to say that right now.  There are plenty of superheroes and people in the real world who happily live out their lives single.  If a character is going to be that way, that’s fine.  However, that is not the case with Spider-Man.

For one thing, we kind of know the character well enough from the older comics and pretty much every depiction of the character in any form of media ever to know that this isn’t true.  That’s not who Spider-Man is.  Peter Parker has spent much of his earlier life in one relationship or another.  It’s part of who he is, and a part that has been really and remarkably missing from modern Spider-Man.

Since… well, we’ll get to what started all of this shortly, but since a certain event, Peter has really only gotten into a real relationship with Carlie Cooper. Oh, sorry, what was I talking about?  I just fell asleep while I was typing for some reason.  Anyhow, Peter’s relationship with Carlie was  Oh no, it happened again.  I don’t know what could possibly be happening other than the fact that this character is INCREDIBLY BORING.

Talk about a waste of time and opportunity.  Here was Marvel all insistent that a single Spider-Man could be fun as he’d been tied up for so long with somebody who’s name I seem to be forgetting at the moment.  And this is what they could manage?  A boring forensic scientist that turned into a goblin?

She’s gone now, thank goodness, having run off into obscurity as a merciful act on the part of somebody over at Marvel who realized how pointless she was and how little she seemed to work as a companion to Peter Parker, in the long run.  Amusingly, the only relationship in modern Spider-Man that I actually liked was the one relationship that had nothing much to do with Peter Parker at all.  I really thought there was something solid between Octavius and Anna Maria during Superior Spider-Man.

They had a neat dynamic together, the story was well done, and its tragic end nicely wrapped things up in a way that was both memorable but decent in bringing about Peter’s return.  It’s hard to count that, but credit where credit is due – Anna Maria was and still is one of the few supporting characters in modern Spider-Man that still work for me.  While J. Jonah Jameson and Aunt May have kind of become weird, former husks of themselves – with no real function or purpose in the current stories, Anna Maria keeps finding ways to be useful and has developed a rather healthy and commendable platonic bond with the real Peter Parker.

She’s the best thing in modern Spider-Man, but that’s not a romance.  And while that’s okay, great even, considering how rare this sort of thing is in fiction, it’s not enough for a character like Spider-Man.  He needs more friends, family, and allies in his story that matter and have things to do.  They ground the story and give us something to care about, and have been a vital part of all Spider-Man history.

You know, the era where Spider-Man had a wife wasn’t perfect, not by any means, but it had something the modern era didn’t.  There’s was always something you could come back to because Peter’s family mattered and they had important things to say about his superhero career.  They gave advice and a shoulder to cry on.  There was a heart to that era that made things a lot easier to read through.  Sure, every once in a while we’d get something atrocious or just silly, but we could always come back to the Parker family and their adventures while living in the Avengers tower.  These days, there’s nothing to come back to with Spider-Man.  He lives a shallow and empty life of corporate success without any hint of personal victories.  He’s alone and doesn’t really acknowledge this or seem to mind even, and this is in direct contrast to the Peter Parker that has been long established in the comics.




 One More Day

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One More Day remains unique in comic book history.  While there is no shortage of bad stories or ones that characterize superheroes in literally the worst ways possible, no other story continues to hold so much sway over a current superhero’s cannon the way One More Day does.  I can’t think of anything else like this in comic book history.  I hate this story and that’s no secret, but I’d hate it a lot less if it didn’t have such a lasting and disastrous impact on modern Spider-Man.

This is, in my opinion, not where the trouble started, but where the fate of modern Spider-Man was kind of sealed, and until it is addressed, undone, or at the very least ignored, the quality of Spider-Man will suffer because of it.  The effects of it don’t seem like much at first, but this was the turning point that broke me off from Spider-Man in a way I never quite got past.  I know I’ve talked this event to death at increasingly high levels of alcohol poisoning in the past, so I’ll try to keep this brief, but basically, One More Day did two things that irrevocably damaged Spider-Man.

The first was that it wiped out the then widespread knowledge that Peter Parker was Spider-Man.  Gone was all the development between Spider-Man and the rest of the superhero community, while any villain that might have had an edge on Peter with this knowledge – well, most of them lost that information.

That’s bad, but the biggest problem is that it also undid the marriage between Mary Jane and Peter Parker.  Now I have debated this notion to death but I still insist this was the first real step away from a Spider-Man even remotely grounded in reality.  Before One More Day, Peter regularly turned to and relied on both his wife and Aunt May for advice with his superhero problems.  They had things to do and even made a home for themselves in the Avengers tower.

Spider-Man had a family.  It was unconventional and a weird situation overall but there was something real to it.  There were people in his life who cared about him and knew what he was going through, and he, in turn, cared about them.  Those days are gone, and now, who does Peter turn to?  Who does he have to lean on?  Who leans on him?

No one, is the answer.  And to this day, Mary Jane sits adrift, with no real story or direction for the character.  She was helping out Iron Man, recently.  That sure hasn’t gone anywhere, especially with Tony being dead at the moment.  Meanwhile, Marvel has yet to muster up any sort of replacement, either.  It would be one thing to have just ditched Mary Jane.  I mean, they did it in the worst way possible, never giving us a reason for the split other than a bunch of magical nonsense and a contrived excuse using Aunt May’s life as a bargaining chip.  So it was terrible, but if they had at least given Peter something to do or other people to care about post-Mary Jane, this story wouldn’t matter so much.  I certainly won’t let my own nostalgia for Mary Jane Watson get in the way of something… if that something is actually good.

After all, let’s be real Mary Jane did start as a literal joke where the punch line was – it turns out the lame girl your aunt keeps trying to hook you up with was hot all along!  Eventually she became a real character and true companion for Peter, in no small part thanks to the first trilogy of movies and the 90’s animated TV show, but she’s not the only way to give Spider-Man a sense of humanity to it.  There are plenty of ways to do this.  Whatever happened to Carol and Peter being a thing?  That could have been interesting, but it seems like Marvel just kind of forgot about it.

So One More Day still somehow keeps anything worthwhile or natural happen in Spider-Man.  This huge part of his cannon just remains indefinitely suspended.  Peter remains alone.  Mary Jane remains alone.  And Aunt May, who’s life was saved in all this, doesn’t really have anything important to do anymore, especially since she’s in the dark about Peter’s life, now.  One More Day is like some weird, self-inflicted wound on Marvel’s part – never letting Spider-Man excel or be the best story it can be.  And it all ties into my final point.



Peter Parker has become an inherently unlikable person

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So here we are, and by function of pretty much everything on this list, we have a character that doesn’t care about other superheroes because he doesn’t really know any of them personally, who, aside form his adoptive mother and a couple of work friends doesn’t really have anyone that meaningful in his life, and flutters about from one crisis to the next.  Peter Parker has morphed from an affable, compassionate every-man to one that strikes me as fundamentally self-serving and cut off from the rest of the world.

This makes for a pretty terrible protagonist, overall.  It shows up in big things – like literally making a deal with the devil to bargain away your future daughter for your elderly aunt, but also in little things, too.  I remember that when Peter Parker returned after Octavius was running the show, Peter was pretty dismissive of everything Otto was working on and basically forced his researchers to start investing in other stuff.  The problem with this was that while Otto was researching ground breaking medical technology, Peter wanted to build better superhero prisons.

It feels par for the course with modern Spider-Man.  Everything is about him, and because of Dan Slott’s almost fanboyish instincts at times, the world often seems to comply with this narcissism and very much does make the world all about Peter Parker.  And that’s deeply frustrating to see in Spider-Man, a character that I like and usually care about.  It doesn’t help that events by their very nature often involve weird decision making and character moments just to keep the story moving, so Peter occasionally makes the most bone-headed decisions in the service of the story.

Sure, he cares about people and his company and is still a superhero, but at a certain point, it feels like it doesn’t amount to anything.  I just don’t relate to the weird, unpredictable, sex-less abomination that Marvel calls Spider-Man anymore, and I don’t really feel like I’m too far off base saying that?  I mean, right?  This sort of feels obvious to me.

If we don’t care about Peter we don’t care about the story, and, these days, I just don’t care about Spider-Man.  I like the character, in principle, and I try to enjoy him when he is done well, but it sure feels like at the ripe old age of  55, the one, true Spider-Man has fallen.  And he can’t get up.

That’s pretty much the end of my list, and my prognosis of Spider-Man… is not great, to say the least.  Dan Slott has been the main Spider-Man writer for about seven years now, and doesn’t seem all that eager to stop.  Things feel like they just keep getting worse with Spider-Man, while other comics, characters, and series, both in and out of Marvel, have flourished.

So, to help lighten the mood a little bit, I’ll tell you what I would do.  I’ve talked a lot about the problem of Spider-Man, but how would I fix it?

Well, it might sound crazy, but I’d probably make another One More Day.  Call it One More Day II.  And while fans would freak out and worry, I’d make the story nice and simple in it’s design – Mephisto would wake up from a ten year bender, realize he made an insane deal – a mean, what kind of currency is a person’s marriage, even to a demon?  That makes no sense.  So he’ll renege.  Some demon made a deal in his image back then so now, that deal is null and void.  Aunt May tragically died, but that’s life.  Peter stayed married to Mary Jane and they had a kid.  Who we’ll call, oh, I don’t know, how about Annie?

So yeah, I’d pretty much just bring Renew Your Vows to the main cannon.  But there would be a few changes.  I actually like and would keep the idea of Peter being this successful CEO.  Kind of like Tony Stark, but without the massive personal failings.  Annie would be a big part of this story, while Peter would be more of a figure in the superhero community – running his own team of Avengers while his identity is pretty much out in the public.  It’s not like the Parker family can’t defend themselves perfectly well, anyways.  Parker Industries would be a major hub for the superhero community – hell – at this point I’d even make it a sort of galactic trading post to increase ties with the aliens of the Marvel Universe and such, but also as a cool source of adventure and fun.

That’s how I would approach “fixing” Spider-Man, but it’s really not the only way.  There’s lots of ways to make the Spider-Man comics more grounding and emotionally valid, and Mary Jane isn’t necessarily the only way to do this.  But until Marvel does something, anything, to give Spider-Man a sense of humanity, well, the comics are going to just suck and continue to suck.  There are ways to communicate this to Marvel, too.  There’s a new series coming out that promises to be more back to basics with Spider-Man.  If that is better than the content we’ve been getting, well, we can vote with our wallets.  We can show Marvel there’s a need and a desire for change.  They’ll get the hint, eventually.  I mean, DC did with their entire line-up last year.  Marvel could learn, too.



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