There’s a professional wrestler named Cody Rhodes. His family has been in the wrestling business for longer than he’s been alive, his father being the legendary Dusty Rhodes and his brother the offbeat Golddust, both working for the WWE. Following family tradition, he’s a fantastic wrestler, absolutely charming and has only recently gotten the crowd’s attention through a horrible-looking mustache.
Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.
As I said, Cody Rhodes is fantastic. He’s worked with legends, played mostly heel roles and tried to work the crowd against him. He even had a stint with a Doctor Doom-esque look, complete with mask, dark hood, minions and a hatred for the ugliness of WWE fans. I thought it compelling, at least, but most crowds seemed to find it lukewarm at best. He brought a sense of prestige back to the Intercontinental Title; it’s already moved on and stagnated once more. Nothing seems to stick with a guy who has so much going for him … until this mustache. After some time off for an injury, he returned to a tag-team partnership with — gracious, just look at it. It’s horrible. It’s laughable. Patchy in places, it just doesn’t fit his face quite right, making him look less like Tom Selleck and more like a guy with candy in his unmarked van. The very night he returned, the audience seemed to wake up. A spontaneous chant of “Co-dy’s mus-tache!” broke out and has followed him since. Other wrestlers can poke fun at it, he can be angry and indignant about it, bad guy wrestlers can support this horrible decision and somewhere down the line, there can be a “Mustache Match” or something where the thing is removed and we have story line closure.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Superior Spider-Man is Cody Rhodes’ mustache.
Confused? Read on!
WARNING: We’ll be talking extensively about The Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 as well, so grab your copies and read along!
Losing your identity is terrifying. Hearing the story about the Wired writer who lost his digital life through an Apple and Amazon security flaw had me changing my passwords instantly, and I don’t even have an AppleID. It’s weird how much of ourselves we offer to people, and yet that sense of self is probably one of the most precious things we have. When confused or uncertain, not having a clear idea of who we are can make simple decisions, such as what you wear, or more complicated ones, like whether to take a better job, crippling. Gaining a sense of identity is a crucial step in being a teenager and that uncertain feeling can last all the way until adulthood. Maybe that’s the reason we take solace in superhero stories; the reassurance of an alter ego, the mystery of deceiving appearances, the sense of satisfaction in doing the right thing and the defeat in wondering if it really was right to begin with.
Spider-Men watches Peter Parker struggle through identity issues in a much more literal sense. Sent to the alternate “Ultimate” universe, he’s instantly confronted with who he was (a teenage superhero rather than the man he is now), who he is (a grateful New Yorker knows the man behind the Spider-Man mask right off the bat), and who he could be (a dead man). It’s rough, but we take it in the gut alongside Peter Parker, thanks to the skillful writing of Brian Michael Bendis and the incredible art stylings of Sara Pichelli, both of whom really bring the story into your brain and let it soak in all the emotional juices. But what will happen next? Issue 4 came out this week, and we only have one issue left before Peter Parker is sent back to his own universe, hopefully a little wiser and better off for his stay, but what will he leave in his wake? I’m going to talk about that and some bullet points about Spider-Men #4.
WARNING: Yep, I’m going to talk about Spider-Men #4 below, so grab your copy and read along!
This past Wednesday saw the release of a comic we were told would never happen — a crossover between Marvel’s original universe and the newer, shinier Ultimate universe. Spider-Men #1, by Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Justin Ponsor and Cory Petit, features a team-up between the original Peter Parker and his namesake, Miles Morales, who took the mantle in the Ultimate universe last fall.
So what was the reaction to the first issue? Here are a few opinions from around the web.
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “For all his work on the Ultimate version of Peter Parker, it’s surprisingly rare to see Bendis writing the Marvel Universe Spider-Man in anything approaching a starring role. Spider-Man may be a constant presence in Bendis’ Marvel Universe titles, but only ever as a supporting character. It probably isn’t intentional, except as a measure to avoid diluting Peter Parker’s voice between the two comic lines, but it’s worked out for the best. To have Brian Bendis inside the head of the ‘real’ Peter Parker in Spider-Men #1 gives the issue an immediate air of significance. Even before anything’s happened, we know it’s something special.”
If you were perplexed by some of the negative reaction to the news that half-black, half-Hispanic (but not gay) teen Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, veteran cartoonist Ty Templeton helpfully explains it all in the latest installment of his Bun Toons comic strip.
A little more than a year ago, journalist and comics writer Marc Bernardin penned an editorial wondering why the Spider-Man in Sony’s movie-franchise reboot had to be played by a white actor, inspiring actor/comedian Donald Glover to spearhead an online campaign to secure an audition. The role eventually went to Andrew Garfield, of course, but Glover’s lobbying effort inadvertently ignited a disturbing Internet firestorm that Community creator Dan Harmon later characterized as a “curious eruption of a previously unknown demographic of racist comic-book readers.”
It wasn’t one of fandom’s shining moments. But fast forward 14 months, to the 49th anniversary of Spider-Man’s first appearance — that’s right, Amazing Fantasy #15 hit newsstands this week in 1962 — and the introduction of the new Spider-Man of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Caution: Spoilers follow for those who haven’t seen the countless newspaper and website articles on the subject.
You can love someone, but not be “in love” with them. Divorce rates in the United States will tell you that people can enter into marriage and then learn it’s not for them. I don’t think any of them will tell you that they split because of demographics.
Peter Parker did. He stopped being married due to an editorial decision that was made to make him appeal to a larger demographic and, as much as it pains me to say it, Joe Quesada was right.
Give me a minute, that was hard to say.
Joe Quesada was right because an unmarried person will, in this day and age, appeal to a larger audience by pure numbers. Emotional attachments to characters and years of storytelling, continuity and respect aside, yeah. It’s true. Spider-Man should fit in the “all ages” group that can entertain young and old, married and unmarried alike. Technically, more people can relate to being unmarried than being married. And while people have debated this technicality, the bottom line at the end of the day is Joe Quesada was and is editor-in-chief and was looking at a bigger picture than we, the fans. Quesada was looking at dollars, longevity and demographics. We just saw Peter Parker.
(WARNING: One Moment in Time Spoilers and Sadness inside. Grab a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #638 through #640 and read along! And then go visit CuteOverload because this isn’t pretty.)
I guess it’s all we could talk about. Over and over and over, Joe Quesada had to bear the unbelievable weight of his “One More Day” storyline. Fans would not stop their onslaught of questions and demands at each and every convention since, shaking their fists and arming themselves with pitchforks and torches at panels and demanding to know the whole story.
Just imagine how the editor-in-chief would toss and turn at night, staring up at the ceiling as sad indie rock would play, the camera panning away from him. What can I do, he might think to himself. How can I lay my burden down?
And here is that burden: The Nixon Tapes of Amazing Spider-Man as released this week in The Amazing Spider-Man #638, starting the storyline “One Moment in Time.” And while you may think this is only the humble chart-topping hit of Whitney Houston for the 1988 Summer Olympics, you’d be right. AND WRONG! For “One Moment in Time” takes us back to that fateful day where Mephisto got up all in Spidey’s business and destroyed the one thing that was holding his life together — what might seem like, in the aftermath of its destruction, the holiest of holy bonds.
Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane.
I know! I can almost hear the teeth grind at the very sight of those words, the fury unleashed at remembering that infamous “deal with the Devil.” Oh, sweet merciful God, why hast thou taken away my hot red-headed wife?
Quesada has finally had enough of the hiding and evasion. He wants “One Moment in Time” — when I’m more than I thought I could be — to explain the truth behind what happened to MJ and Peter so we might be let in on the secrets of an audacious editorial stunt.
No one needs to read this. Some secrets are better taken to the grave, and just because “we demand it” doesn’t mean you should print it.
This can only end in tears.
WARNING: Spoilers for “One More Day,” Redwing’s secret past and how many lumps of super Peter Parker takes in his coffee. SHOCK!