The Death of Ultimate Spider-Man… By the Amazing Spider-Man’s Hand

After work today, I met my good friend @GentlemanMonstr¬†for some Five Guys and a stop at Midtown Comics. As the undisputed overlord of the comic world (in my opinion), the Gentleman had something obscure in mind. For me, it was the exact opposite: Ultimate Spider-Man #160.¬†In all honesty, it was something I wasn’t looking forward to, but it was, of course, something I needed to read, not only because I’m¬†the¬†Spider-Man fan among my friends, but because I loved the whole Ultimate Spider-Man series, from it’s rocky start to… well…

We naturally spend more time than necessary at Midtown. Then it was a casual walk to Penn Station where we parted ways. I got to my train platform and thought that I should wait until I got home to read how it all ends, but I realized that after the countless hours on the train that I’d burned reading and rereading Ultimate Spider-Man, there was no better time.

Now, I’m not going to explain what happens because this is a no spoiler zone. But I will say that something odd happened; something I didn’t expect:

I wasn’t bothered. I wasn’t upset; when it happened, I got a little teary eyed (yeah, I’ll admit it), but I didn’t shed a tear, which is weird because I honestly expected to at least shed one damn tear–I’m the¬†Spider-Man guy, after all!

Now, is this because the writing was off? Was Peter’s death too sudden? Was it lacking real drama and emotion? Did I not feel it? Well, while I’m not saying those possibilities are absolutely out of line, I think I know the primary reason for my ambivalence:

I had Amazing Spider-Man #663 in my bag.

And you’re thinking, “So you’re fine because Amazing Spider-Man is still alive?” And, I mean, overtly, sure, but it’s more complicated than that. The “Big Time” plot line brought serious changes to Peter Parker’s life. For the first time, we saw Peter get a job that pays his bills, new costumes, new side characters (thank God), and even a new love interest. As the arc’s name suggests, things in Peter’s life finally start looking up for the first time in… well, ever. Finally, finally things actually change for Peter Parker. Significantly.

So, what does this have to do with Ultimate Spider-Man? It’s simple: after all of the changes in Amazing, going back to Ultimate ¬†felt like looking backwards. For many of us, there was a time when Ultimate Spider-Man¬†was fresh and young and awesome, and it was probably because at the same time, Amazing¬†was tired and boring. For many of us, Ultimate Spider-Man¬†gave us what we’d always wanted as Spider-Man fans: change. Variety. But then Big Time finally came and we–well, I–realized that… Ultimate Peter Parker is still just a kid. He’s still in high school. He’s still worrying about Mary Jane. Suddenly,¬†Ultimate¬†was the past. A past we’ve all read and watched countless times. A past that some writers burned to the ground by over-using the same tired characters. A past that it’s sadly easy to let go of.

Believe what you want, but somehow, I don’t think the time could have ever been more appropriate for the unfortunate passing of our young, beloved Mr. Parker. Not because I wanted it, but because right now–before a new writer comes along and retcons all of Big Time and FF–right now is the only time I could possibly bare it. In all honesty, while I can’t say I started reading comics because of Ultimate Spider-Man, I can promise you that I never would have become so deeply invested in them if not for the incredible sense of adventure and awe that the Ultimate run instilled in me. For that, I will always be grateful for young Peter Parker and the incredible places Brian Michael Bendis took us with him.

But that doesn’t mean I want to ever go back to how things were. Not after so much has changed. The Peter Parker who was always so worried about Aunt May and MJ and work and J. Jonah Jameson and Venom–that young man is dead. And although I loved him, I’m content to let him rest in peace.

Apocalypse 2011: The Chillest Apocalypse Ever?

I woke up this Apocalypse at 10:04 AM. I was not in my own bed, but not in an apocalyptic kind of way; I crashed at the “ghetto fabulous” flat of Ronin (the camera-wielding video smith of HotMop Films) and woke up on the sofa bed. The sun was shining through the window and, looking out into it, I found the day the world would undoubtedly change–forever: a sunny Saturday with a blue sky that forbode, with the CERTAINTY OF A THOUSAND HAROLD CAMPINGS,¬† an extremely pleasant afternoon. I turned on my 360, played Streets of Rage 2 until Ronin woke up and joined me, and then we got burgers, completely forgetting all the while to work on our movie idea. I also got a black and white shake. And then bought Amazing Spider-Man #660¬†from Silver Age Comics in Queens and read it all the way back to the Bronx.

And now, here I am, casually knocking out this article and thinking to myself, Maybe beer, pizza, and finishing ODST with my brother tonight?

And that’s when I realize it. Not that I kind of love the idea of a fanatic going ape shit and promising doom to everyone on a specific date, because I realized I loved that when I dished out my first (of many) Apocalypse 2011 jokes. No, I lean back in my seat and breath in the warm, summer breeze from my window, I feel the post Beer-and-Video-Games-Night-with-a-Buddy glow I’m still enjoying and think, Yeah… This has got to be the best Apocalypse ever.

I think about it and realize: yes, I cared about Y2K because there was science involved and I was young and impressionable enough to think, Hey. Maybe. <shrug> I didn’t pay attention to the 2008 Apocalypse (to the point that I’m not even sure I heard my friends right when they mentioned it [Maybe it was 1998? Maybe they were talking about a Genesis concert they went to?]). If there were any besides, I’ve missed them… So, yes, this totally is the best Apocalypse so far.

And, really, it makes me want to thank… uh… what’s-his-face. <checks his tabs> Harold Camping! Right! It makes me want to thank that guy, because the Apocalypse is now, officially, a holiday. A magical, moving holiday that sometimes comes after a year, other times after eight or more, but is always the best holiday ever, because you can lean back and think that somewhere out there, a pompous asshole who tried to spread mass hysteria feels like a complete moron–right now. And, in fact, he will (and you can smile as you think that) all day.

Does this mean I’m an atheist? No–I believe, although I do it in a complex way so that pretty much no one agrees with me (whether atheists or Churchies). But I definitely don’t believe in spending a ton of money to tell the world, “Well, too bad you didn’t repent, you stupid heathens! And now, enjoy five months of torment for not being as perfect as me!”

And hey, maybe you disagree, and really that’s fine and completely your¬†prerogative. But all I can say is, we just survived the Apocalypse together, brother. Relax. Have a beer. Read a Bible. Start planning Apocalypse 2014.

Me? I’m going to call my brother about that pizza.

The Andrew Garfield Spider-Suit: There’s No Pleasing You, Is There?

On January 13th, everyone got their first look at Andrew Garfield in his Spidey getup. In case you missed it, here it is:

I remember seeing this and thinking, Wow. My brother was right. He looks so weird. I didn’t know what else to think about it, aside from It’s red and blue. That’s a start. In the end, I just put the picture out of mind (which I usually do for anything I’m anticipating) and decided to wait for another shot to sneak up on me. It didn’t take long at all.

This shot from the set of the reboot is one of many that popped up later in January and earlier this month. They give a much better view of the tights and everyone’s pretty¬†unanimous in the decision that he looks stupid, weird, and skinny and that the costume sucks. There’s criticism for every inch of it; people think the color’s off, that he’s too blue, that the texture’s weird, that his spider sneakers look ridiculous, that it’s weird how his crotch is black, that his eyes are too small. The people have spoken and they are just not pleased and all I can think when I hear their complaints is…

There’s no pleasing you, is there?

The costume isn’t perfect. This much I definitely agree with. But, oh my God, they’re trying to give everyone what they go bananas over. Realism. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were chocks full of realism; tons of choices for those movies were based on what Batman would be like in real life. His suit would have to be an adapted combat suit made by Wayne Industries. His car would have to be a combat vehicle designed by Wayne Industries. His grappling hook would have to be magnetic. His love interest would have to be amazingly boring. Why isn’t that approach okay for Spider-Man?

Probably because too few people know/remember enough about Spider-Man to realize that this is what they’re doing. Seriously, maybe you just forgot or maybe you just never knew, but…

He’s Wearing Wrestling Tights

This film is supposed to be based on the Ultimate Spider-Man series of comics. In Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker is given his suit by the head of the wrestling organization he moonlights with.

Just in case you need to see to believe, here are panels from pages 17 and 18 of Ultimate Spider-Man #3.

Now, as you can see, in Ultimate Spider-Man, the only things the outfit was missing when it was handed off were its webs and spider symbol, which, if we’re being really honest with ourselves, we realize is ridiculously convenient. Sure, it’s specially made, but do you even know of a specialty costume designer that can make those perfect, sock-slipper red booties? Okay, maybe you do, but, do you know of any wrestling organization that’s going to order boots like those instead of the traditional laces-to-the-knees wrestling boots? Seriously. Spider-Man’s boots don’t exist in the real world–the only idea more¬†ludicrous¬†than the thought that his stingy, freelance employer shelled out a ton of money to have an extremely creative outfit custom-made for Peter Parker is the idea that Tobey Maguire made his movie duds all by his lonesome. I mean… sure, why wouldn’t a dude with spider powers be good at knitting/sewing/weaving/whatever, but the idea that Peter Parker was given a wrestling outfit that actually looks like a wrestling outfit just makes sense.

I’m betting this doesn’t sell you regardless. He still looks weird and different is what you’re thinking. Well, as a Spider-Man fan, I’m pretty damn grateful that he does. Ya know why?…

Spider-Man Has Looked Exactly the Same Since the 60’s

Let’s take a picture break:

Wow. Haven’t they changed? Eh? I don’t even have to explain how! Isn’t that awesome?

Now…
Let’s take a moment here. This collage features Spider-Man as he’s appeared in several forms of media. What’s different? His eyes are kind of different, yeah. The blue is different shades here and there. The webbing on his suit is straight sometimes. He’s small in some pics, beefy in others. All of these things can be attributed to different artists’ whims and periodic make-overs though. Putting these things aside, can you tell me what else is different? That’s right! You got it!

Nothing.

Yes, Spider-Man has had different costumes. The Black Suit, the Iron Spider costume, a few others. But do you know what those costumes have in common? They go away. Quickly. Only the Black Suit has found any long-lasting success, but given what it represents these days, it’s just become an unintentional tease; Spider-Man dons it to go AWOL for five panels before someone reminds him, “Hey, Spider-Man, you’re being really hardcore and you look a lot cooler. No one likes that, some shit about responsibility, here’s the ol’ red and blue.”

To boot, these costumes aren’t subtle changes. Only Spidey’s House of M suit, which, of course, only existed in an alternate reality, gave the red and blue a twist. A small twist, but apparently not small enough.

 

It was really just the same suit with different gloves, but I'm sure purists still vomited all over themselves when they saw it.

My point here is, let the man evolve a little. Let them try something new with the costume–something new that makes a lot of sense. Because if they don’t, we’re just going to get the same look we’ve been stuck with for the last 50 years.

Do you want this? Again?
Or can you just calm down and accept that this only looks different, not bad?