Marvel has officially killed Spider-Man. They did it before with his deal, for all intents and purposes, with the devil. And now they’ve done it again by turning him into such a pacifist clown that his lack of moral clarity actually makes him an accomplice to evil. Correction: Writer Dan Slott’s pacifist-clown take on Spider-Man has made him an accomplice to evil.

Case-in-point would be Marvel’s current storyline, ‘Ends of the Earth.” In it, Doctor Octopus has come up with a plan that could seal the ozone layer and save humanity, but the technology — that only he possesses — could also be used to bring about world-wide genocide. Isn’t the ozone layer so … 1989? Regardless, Spider-Man is convinced his enemy is going to trick the international community into agreeing with him and kill billions with the push of a button.

That is precisely what seems to happen, which makes the “amazing” Spider-Man’s actions leading up to the event so maddening (and that’s not even counting the “one man’s hero is another man’s terrorist” moral relativism that’s dished up by a supporting character).

It all starts with a race to stop a number of satellites from being made, some of which are being put together in North Korea — home of the world’s very notorious, very real gulags. A member of Spidey’s team sets explosives at the factory, taking out all the tech and presumably the North Korean soldiers guarding it. Peter Parker then channels Jimmy Carter, berating the hero: “No one dies! Understood?” Sadly, it turns out the North Koreans — those giving direct aid in an effort to cause a mass-extinction event — were led to safety!

The story then moves on to an interrogation scene, where Peter must extract information from Flint Marko (aka, Sandman) as to the location of another weapons factory.With Flint not wanting to talk, a team member begins the equivalent (arguably) of waterboarding to get the intelligence she needs. Spider-Man acknowledges that he would have caved in to appeals for the “pretty please” approach if the terrorist foot soldier had pleaded with him for just a bit longer. Once again, a braver hero must pick up the slack for Spider-Man’s ineptitude. There is never really any acknowledgement by the characters that Spider-Man is out of his league, or that his “peace at any cost” mentality will actually bring out his worst fears: word-wide death and destruction.

The new Spider-Man waffles on water boarding a guy who could help stop the death and destruction of billions of lives. Let’s just rename Peter Parker ‘Jimmy Carter’ and get it over with.

There is really no way to spin this (no pun intended) into the character’s favor. If good and evil exists — if it is real — then there should be no hesitation by the true hero to do what is right when the moment calls. Not using deadly force for a purse snatcher? Sure. I get it. Freaking out over the death of soldier-scum enablers of one of the most vile, despicable regimes in the world? No excuse. In this day and age, Spider-Man will make a deal with the devil but he won’t kill a few North Korean soldiers when the fate of the world hangs in the balance and the situation demanded it? Thanks a lot, Marvel: You’ve turned my childhood hero into a morally bankrupt loser, sailing through life without a rudder.

My spider-sense is tingling, and it’s telling me Marvel’s Dan Slott might want to talk to Shin in Geun, who escaped from North Korea’s infamous Camp 14, before he writes another issue.

Update: Looks like Dan Slott didn’t bone up on the North Korean regime. See how Spider-Man has become a war zone liability.

Editor’s Note: It’s always fun to see Dan Slott’s CBR drones read my stuff and then distort my words over in their little forums. I suspect the reason why you haven’t tried that in the comments section is because I’d call you out on it immediately.

Spider-Man’s moral compass broke and billions of people may have died. But hey, at least he can pat himself on the back because he saved the lives of the North Korean Communist goons who helped bring about hell on earth.
While I'm not into Spider-Man porn, I am the "NeoCon" who wrote about Spider-Man's absurd "no one dies" mentality proved what a naive loser he has become with Slott at the helm. Maybe Dan Slott never read up on North Korean gulags. It's a shame.
While I’m not into Spider-Man porn, I am the “NeoCon” who wrote about Spider-Man’s absurd “no one dies” mentality proved what a naive loser he has become with Slott at the helm. Maybe Dan Slott never read up on North Korean gulags. It’s a shame.
Once again Dan Slott addresses me in a way that I would never see unless I was stalking his Twitter feed or a kind reader brought it to my attention. I wonder why I wasn't tagged or why Mr. Slott didn't comment here? Perhaps because he wouldn't be able to make disingenuous claims without having them shot to pieces.
Another example of Dan Slott addressing me in a way that I would never see unless a kind reader brought it to my attention. I wonder why I wasn’t tagged or why Mr. Slott didn’t comment here… Perhaps because he wouldn’t be able to make disingenuous claims without having them shot to pieces.


  1. I haven’t read the comic book, so if I’m off base, or have misunderstood vital point, please pardon my ignorance but, am I to understand that spiderman’s hesitation (hesitation, not refusal, mind) in waterboarding (acid boarding?) a guy is an act of cowardice and moral relativism?

    1. Notice I wrote “the equivalent” of waterboarding, since interrogating a man made of sand … who could survive as a single particle or grow to the size of an entire beach … would be difficult. Slott knew his social commentary could get lost or confused without the word ‘waterboarding’ included, which is probably why he worded it the way he did.

      The moral relativism was in parenthesis and in reference to another part of the story, as I noted (e.g., one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter).

      I see what you were trying to do with your question. It was cute, but it doesn’t work.

      The bottom line is this: With 6 billion lives hanging by a thread (a spider thread?) and when time is of the essence, would you waterboard a member of a terrorist organization’s inner circle to get the information you need? Dan Slott’s Spider-Man is conflicted about it. Mine would not be. At all.

    2. Conflicted yet he lets it happen. That’s not how you’re painting it as you try, due to your partisan slant, to shove a square peg into a round hole. Try again.

    3. So you’re saying that Peter is like our president, who demonized those who saw the world differently, and then when he got the intelligence briefings and saw first-hand what he was up against … continued many of the policies he self-righteously criticized? Got it.

    4. Better than the previous President who saw briefings about Al Qaeda’s possible plans to fly planes into targets– and did NOTHING. And better than the previous President who had a chance to take out Bin Laden and DIDN’T pursue it. I guess what you’re telling us here is that in the next election, you’re voting Obama, right? 🙂

    5. You know that the intelligence that led to the capture and killing of bin Laden took years and years worth of blood, sweat and treasure to attain, right? And that part of the mosaic was filled in by the information gleaned by waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed …

      Try reading the 9/11 Commission Report when you get a chance. All of it. It’s a lot healthier for you than reciting tired talking points.

    6. You propose a faulty choice. If you really want information in a timely fashion, torture is not the way to go. In fact, traditional FBI interrogation techniques (requiring more homework, less water) were very successful in gaining actionable intelligence while torture was an absolute failure and waste of time. Read The Black Banners by Ali Soufan to get the whole story. If you’re truly interested in intelligence, torture is the wrong tactic.

    7. First of all, you’re confusing the FBI and the CIA. Two very different missions with two very different sets of rules.

      Two: We got important intel from KSM, whom we waterboarded:'s

      You can’t say that waterboarding isn’t a good method to use if you need info in “a timely fashion” and then say that “more homework” is the way to go. If you need the info NOW, then by definition you don’t have time for homework. I also never said that it was the end-all-be-all technique, only that it shouldn’t be taken off the table. For your random low-level al Qaeda, I probably wouldn’t suggest going there. For KSM? Sure. Be my guest.

    8. Read the book because it’s obvious you haven’t. My comment was about the techniques of interrogation. Soufan, who was and is an expert on al Qaeda was able to outsmart and catch detainees in lies, gain their trust, and get actionable intelligence. This usually takes some time, but even with the CIA and the administration “handcuffed” Soufan by limiting his time, as was the case with the interrogation of Binalshibh, he was still successful. “Homework,” ie, a keen knowledge of al Qaeda, it’s structure, the people you’re talking to is essential to successful interrogation. If you know nothing and the suspect knows that, they’ll give you garbage. It really is garbage-in-garbage-out in this case. Also, if you don’t know who you’re interrogating and what they should know, you often get something you want to hear that is far from the truth. Soufan illustrates this in multiple instances where the CIA and the administration thought the suspect wasn’t telling the whole story without knowing that he was a low-level suspect. If you read the book, you’ll find that it’s horribly embarrassing for both the CIA and the Bush administration. The people making the decisions had no experience or knowledge of how to effectively gain intelligence from detainees, they simply did what they thought was right. This ultimately cost many American lives. In short, torture, and that’s what “EITs” are, is no shortcut in gaining accurate intelligence.

    9. Okay, so you read a book with a guy who apparently says you should never waterboard, and yet former CIA head of Clandestine Service Jose Rodriguez says they got valuable info from KSM as a result, at least in part, by waterboarding.

      I already said that waterboarding wouldn’t be my go-to method of interrogation. I said that I wouldn’t take it completely off the table. I’m not sure what’s so hard to understand about that.

    10. No, the FBI agent that interrogated suspected terrorists without torture and gained actionable intelligence wrote a book chronicling the experience, including that of his CIA colleagues who did torture and were not successful in gaining intelligence. His notes from the interrogations are in FBI custody. Jose Rodriguez wrote a book in which he admitted torturing suspects and gaining intelligence from it. The videos of the torture were destroyed by Rodriguez. So if you’re talking about a he-said, he-said situation, who’s got more proof backing them up? There is no proof of torture foiling any terrorist plot. If your argument was true, why would they have to torture someone dozens of times? That hardly seems quick.

      Beyond that, the techniques used by Soufan et al led to actionable intelligence and allowed for suspects to be used as witnesses in court and tried in court for their crimes. The torture techniques used by Rodriguez and other war criminals disqualify those suspects from being used as witnesses or being tried in court. In fact, suspects that have been tortured have gotten much lesser prison sentences and some roam free to this day because of the use of torture.

      It’s pretty clear, traditional FBI methods of interrogation are superior in gaining accurate, actionable intelligence, and bringing terrorists to justice. Torture is superior in getting suspects to say what you want them to say, regardless of the truth, letting terrorists go free sooner, and slowing intelligence gathering. This is still a hard choice for you? This is not about one being better than the other. This is one working and one not working.

    11. Perhaps one day I’ll read this bible for interrogation buffs. Regardless, there are other tough interrogation techniques out there. I don’t know where the line is between “tough” and “torture.” A lot of smart people wrestle with that question too. Personally, I’m okay with waterboarding being available to the CIA in the rare instances they feel it should be used. And I really don’t care if KSM of all people had it done to him. You’re not okay with it. We’ll agree to disagree.


    12. Do you think Stan Lee would of wrote the story in the way you think Spidey should of acted? I’m just curious. I am sure Peter did that to scare Flint. Spider-Man stands for far more than a hero. He does what is right and good. Waterboarding would make him a dark hero. Kinda like the black suit did to him. I would understand if Spidey was wearing the black suit and he went that far. But Peter can also use his words to convince people to do the right thing.

    13. Ian, while waterboarding is a complex issue, I will grant you that a good writer would have found a way to have Spider-Man get the information he needed without resorting to that tactic (in a way that was believable to “NeoCons” — Dan Slott’s own words — like me).

      My main point of writing this piece was to show just how messy the real world is. If Six Billion lives were on the line and literally every second counted, would you want to have waterboarding as an option? Would you do it if you thought it would get the information you needed? Dan Slott’s Spider-Man wouldn’t AND he’d generally just be an incompetent fool who needed to be bailed out by Black Widow.

      My last point on this tactic is that it is done to our Navy SEALs during training to prepare them for what’s out there. There are reporters and Hollywood celebrities who paid to have it done to them. (I think Denzell Washington was one of them, but I’d have to double check). If waterboarding was really torture nobody would pay to have it performed on them.

      If Stan Lee wrote the story … well, that’s a hypothetical. I doubt it. Knowing Stan’s politics, very likely not. Spidey would have found another way that would have brought all fans together. Today’s writers? They just like to destroy the character and divide the fans.

  2. So… By NOT wanting ANY soldiers to die, by sitting back and doing NOTHING while his friend waterboards a bad guy with ACID, and (a few issues earlier) when he PUNCHES AL GORE IN THE FACE, Spider-Man ISN’T being conservative enough for you? Congratulations, Douglas, you’re now the conductor on the conservative train to CRAZY TOWN!

    1. There’s a difference between “not wanting” someone to die, and having the courage of your convictions to do what you know is right in any given situation. I’m not sure if that little nuance was lost on you, but I’m happy to spell it out for you again. Only a fool would jeopardize a time-sensitive mission to try and figure out a way to save the lives of North Korean soldiers when 6 billion lives are at stake. I suggest you read the book “Escape from Camp 14.” Maybe it will change your perspective a bit about North Korea and the Communist regime running it.

      Also, Spider-Man didn’t punch “Al Gore.” If you read closely you’d realize he punched the Chameleon, and he knew it was him by his heartbeat signature.

      Crazytown? I don’t think so. But if I am in Crazytown at least I know the people there read their comic books and blogs with more attention to detail than you do.

    2. Spider-Man doesn’t want any soldier (or anyone for that matter) to die. That’s not a “nuance.” Earlier in the run when a mass-murderer was incapacitated and not a present threat, Spider-Man put his own life in danger to stop that mentally unbalanced psychopath from being gunned down.

      Spider-Man managed to complete that mission AND ensure that those soldiers weren’t killed BECAUSE he’s a hero. Whether those soldiers were North Korean or not wasn’t the issue. I think that’s the “nuance” that’s been lost on you as you’ve forced this story through your clearly partisan lens.

    3. It would be nice if the real world worked out liked the comics, wouldn’t it? As sad as death is, sometimes killing bad men is the only possible solution in an imperfect world. Ask the cops or the soldiers who must make those split second decisions and live with it.

      And yes, my blog clearly states that I am conservative. I’m not sure if you missed that one, too.

    4. Douglas is right. The once great empire of Marvel comics constructed by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and the rest of the “Marvel bullpen” has been systematically destroyed by the encroachment of the moral relativism and cynicism of an editorial board bent on the destruction of once beloved icons. Unfortunately the damage appears to be irreversible. Leftist ideology poisons everything it touches.

    5. Thanks for the read, Silver Age Guy. I appreciate it. It’s painful for me to see how the honorable character I grew up with has morphed into a mishmash of moral relativism and cynicism that you’ve cited.

  3. Wow, you really believe all of this? It’s obvious you’ve not read any of the recent issues of Amazing Spider-Man or else you’d be laughing at this nonsense you’ve written just as I am. Take it from someone who actually reads Amazing Spider-Man, and has been since 2006 along with numerous classic issues from the Lee/Ditko days, that you probably should know more of what you want to talk about otherwise you come off as another Cal Thomas or Glenn Beck when you try to inject your political view into something that is NOT political.

    If your ‘spider-sense’ is tingling, chances are it’s telling you to actually read some Amazing Spider-Man comics so you know the full story before doing something like this and looking like a fool.

    1. Considering that I own almost every issue ASM from 1984 up until One More Day, you’ll have to forgive me if I dash you “obvious” claim. I haven’t purchased nearly as many comics since OMD, but I have kept tabs on the book.

      If you think that comic book writers don’t insert their own politics into the characters, then you’re sadly mistaken.

    2. It’s obvious you have trouble reading anything. I clearly said “It’s obvious you’ve not read any of the recent issues of Amazing Spider-Man…” See that word ‘recent’? You ignore that, go off on something else while admitting that you HAVEN’T read many RECENT issues proving my point. So you admit that you’re talking about something you really don’t know much about.

      … Who said anything about the writers? I’m talking about talking heads who try to make sense of politics and suddenly think they can talk about comics and some presumed political evil in a comic based on ONE issue in a many issue story or even one single panel. It’s pathetic and sad.
      What I’m saying is context is key. You obviously don’t know the context so it’s probably best if you either LEARN the context or stop talking about things you know little about.

    3. No need to try. This whole post is a joke. You admit you haven’t been getting the book regularly since One More Day and think ‘keeping tabs’ on it means anything more than looking at the covers. I’ve read every issue since Civil War which means I’ve read over 150 consecutive issues of the series. I’m not talking about 1984 I’m talking about current because that’s where all this stuff comes from. (not that the 80’s didn’t have some great stories)
      But your inability to actually READ the source material isn’t the only thing about this post that’s a joke. Your editing of the images you use here, more out of context stuff, makes this whole thing a laughable joke. You even edited the panels. Why? Why didn’t you show the full panel of Sandman where his face was being eaten away by acid dropped on him by Silver Sable? Then Sandman asking if Spidey was going to just sit back only to have Spidey cut him off and yell ‘And what?! Let Ock take over the world?!’
      You kept the “One more second” box but in the very next panel Spidey continues: “Sables right. I have changed. But not that much. Not yet.”

      Earlier in the book Spidey does say “I said ‘No one dies’… didn’t say we couldn’t mess ’em up.” after blasting the heck out of Rhino.

      Amazing what context does to weak arguments and analysis like yours.

    4. Well, I guess since you said I haven’t read any issues since OMD then it must be true. Please.

      It appears that anything short of posting the entire comic would have been “out of context” for you. As with any blog post, I have a limited amount of space to make an argument. I can’t include everything, and adding the panels you requested would not have altered my take. Adding them would have required I go into more detail, which would have extended the length of the post, possibly to the point where it lost focus or essentially ceased to function as a proper blog post.

      Newsflash: Pouring acid on a man made of sand (as mentioned earlier) – who can survive as a single particle or grow to the size of a beach — isn’t what you’re making it out to be. I think a man who survived radioactive bonding between his body and sand … could survive a tiny vial of acid. See how easy that was to explain? But according to you I shouldn’t wasted space in my blog post with the image from the comic AND the explanation I just gave you. No thanks. I know what I’m doing.

      For such a “laughable joke” it seems to have really gotten under your skin. That tells me I hit a nerve. And when I hit a nerve, I know I’m doing exactly what I set out to do. Thanks.

    5. If you want to think you ‘got under’ my skin or hit a nerve or something to make yourself feel good about your poor representation of a story, feel free to do so. Much like your coverage of this story it’s horribly wrong. So much so it would make CNN jealous.
      You’ve not gotten under my skin or hit a nerve. If that’s what you set out to do then you’ve failed miserably. But it seems I’ve struck a soft spot by the reactions you have displayed. I know it sucks when people take your ‘argument’ apart piece by piece but when you have such a flimsy argument and purposely leave out facts just to prop up your ‘view’ of things, well, it isn’t difficult.
      My friends and I would like to thank you for the entertainment you’ve provided. I considered writing a rebuttal to this poorly constructed and ill-informed piece but… well, I have more important and challenging things to do. Like water my plants.

      Good luck in your future endeavors and hopefully you’ll learn how to be more honest when you write about something that others know a fair amount about as well.

    6. The old, “I could totally write something better than that guy … but I won’t.” I love it.

      I like how I say I got under your skin, and your reply is, for all intents and purposes, “I know you are, but what am I.” That only works if you’re Tim Burton directing Paul Reubens.

      The back-and-forth between Greg and I says it all; a blog post on a fictional character we both enjoy spurred a discussion about very real-world issues (as was the primary intention). You? You’re stuck on Spider-Man. Think about it …

      Let’s see: You’ve commented on the post multiple times, you showed it to your friends, and you considered writing a response. But it didn’t get under your skin? Okay. Sure.

  4. There’s being a conservative and then there’s seeing EVERYTHING through a conservative lens. One’s good, the other not so much.

    Spider-Man is a super hero. He’s not the Punisher. He’s not even a soldier like Captain America. He’s Spider-Man. And if he wasn’t worried for EVERYONE’S safety (even North Korean soldiers), he wouldn’t be the hero I grew up with or the hero Aunt May and Uncle Ben raised.

    1. Again, there’s a difference between being “worried” about someone, and making the tough choice to take a life (when necessary) in order to do what is right. In fact, having Peter make that tough choice would actually benefit the character and offer opportunities for growth.

      If I live my life by conservative principles, then those principles will be applied to any number of public policies questions the nation faces. There really isn’t a way to separate the two. If one believes limited government increases individual liberty, then it stands to reason that they would carry that belief with them across the board. I’d much rather have someone in office who stands on principle than someone who isn’t anchored and doesn’t know where they will refuse to compromise.

    2. If you respect someone who stands by their principles you should ADMIRE Spider-Man for standing by his vow that when he’s around “No one dies.” (As opposed to the more nuanced version: “No one– except the people Douglas Ernst finds offensive– dies.”)

      Also, I take it, if you WON’T stand for someone who DOESN’T know where they stand, you won’t be voting for a lifelong, career flip-flopper like Mitt Romney. 🙂

    3. As I said before, the world is messy. It’s not perfect. The choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is quite clear.

      I like your transparent attempts to portray me as some dumb conservative stereotype. It’s not working. I convey a rather serious point, in that sometimes the only choice a “hero” has is to pull the trigger (e.g., the cop who pulls someone over for a “routine” stop and is fired upon), and you reply with, “No one — except people Doug Ernst finds offensive — dies.” You look real good, there.

      Also, the belief that limited government increases individual liberty is a principle one can live by. “No one dies” is a preference. Politicians also mistake the two, which is why we have 17 trillion dollars in debt.

      Regardless, thanks for reading and commenting.

    4. You couldnt be more wrong about your asessment of the Spiderman character. Try not to look at everything through your leftist lens. There is good and evil and evil succeeds when good men fail to take action against it.

  5. Im fairly certain that Spidey has never been much of a killer; your childhood hero didn’t kill, neither does the modern. In fact, how many superheroes kill ever? It’s pretty rare.

    Spider-man recently made a vow to not let anybody die. Period. This is perfectly within his obsessive behavior. His morality has always been a bit dubious in this regard. He doesn’t kill soldiers, and he does f kill his oldest enemies.

    1. But yet, he’ll make a deal with (for all intents and purposes) the devil. Interesting… I’m not downplaying the seriousness of taking the life; I’m saying that sometimes that’s what a hero must do. And for Spider-Man (i.e., Dan Slott in this instance) to get on some more pedestal and lecture another character who is doing what must be done just makes him look clownish and naive.

    2. Remind me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Spider-Man sacrifice something he held dear (his marriage) in that deal in order to– at all costs– SAVE a life. I’m sorry that you want Spider-Man to have the blood of North Korean soldiers on his hands and to be okay with murder. That just doesn’t feel like Spider-Man to me.

    3. The Spider-Man I know would have gone to “The Ends of the Earth” to try and save his marriage, save Aunt May and defeat Mephisto. He would not have made that deal. Again, you try and frame my arguments into something silly, and any fair-minded reader will see through it.

      Peter doesn’t have to “be okay” with taking a life. I wouldn’t “want” him to kill. But sometimes, that is the only option.

      Your philosophy seems to be “Just read your Spider-Man and like it.” No thanks. Editors may get to decide the fate of Spider-Man, but a fan base that doesn’t question them and push them is a sad lot, indeed.

    4. All that I’m reading in this thread is that you really don’t know or understand your supposed childhood hero. You don’t even know who made the deal with Mephisto.

    5. You’re hilarious. I primarily went to New Avengers to get my Spidey fix over the past few years to avoid the stench of OMD and all of Joe Quesada’s dumb attempts to back track and undo the mess … Yet, somehow I’m not a comic fan or understand the character because the post didn’t satisfy your litmus test?

      You’re not doing much to dispel stereotypes there, buddy. If you want to discuss the broader political, philosophical and editorial critiques I directed at Marvel, like I did with Greg, fine. If not, I suggest getting back to your collection.

    6. Who said anything about you not being a comic fan? All I’m saying is your argument here doesn’t have a very strong foundation based on everything you’re saying yourself.

    7. I think any “fair minded reader” will immediately realize that you stacked the deck by saying Spider-Man “won’t kill North Korean soldiers” instead of what is clearly in the story, that Spider-Man will do what has to be done AND won’t let North Korean soldiers DIE. A pretty easy to grasp concept, but one that you would like to twist into some over-the-top form of conservative rhetoric.

      It’s funny how when I joke around and rise to the levels of your arguments THAT’S when you start pulling out the “I’m not a stereotypical conservative” card. Maybe it’s time to check your original blog entry again. Because that exactly the kind of figure you’re cutting yourself out to be.

    8. That’s the great thing about the comments section. The readers will determine that. I’m confident that the middle-of-the road reader will see our two worldviews and fall on my side of the fence.

      I’m glad that Spidey is so great that he’ll spend the valuable minutes and seconds he has to find a way to save North Korean soldiers … so that they can go back to giving courtyard executions to imprisoned citizens. Perhaps if Spidey (i.e., Dan Slott) had thought about what he was writing he would have had our hero target his concern for the real victims — those inside the torture chambers of North Korea’s gulags. Then we probably wouldn’t have had this conversation.

      Again, I highly suggest reading Escape from Camp 14.

      If the editors want to appease a fan base that loves Spidey magically finding a way to save everyone, fine. I just request that the character knock it off with the lectures from his moral pedestal when he’s talking with teammates operating more within the confines of the real world.

  6. One last time, because it seems like you’re very entrenched an inflexible on this:
    Do you understand the difference between “killing someone” and “not letting them die”?

    1. Sometimes it’s necessary to kill someone. Real heroes will pull the trigger not because they want to, but because they must.

      Often, the hero cannot control who dies, or he must accept that because he takes one course of action to accomplish “x,” there will be a loss of life elsewhere.

      I get the difference. Spider-Man’s preference that “no one dies” would apply to both scenarios. As I said, that is foolish and naive. His “no one dies at any cost” mentality would, in fact, jeopardize a time-sensitive mission where split-second decisions had to be made. Luckily for Spidey, he has writers and editors who take care of that problem, which allows him to get on his moral pedestal and lecture, say, The Black Widow or Silver Sable for their actions.

    2. “REAL heroes will pull the trigger…”
      I think that sums up EVERYTHING I ever need to hear from you.
      In your world someone who saves the day and makes sure that no one dies = a “pacifist clown.”
      I am so glad you don’t get to set the rules for what a “REAL hero” is for everyone else.

    3. I like how you cut off the preceding sentence and then chopped up the one you did use to alter the meaning of what I said. Let’s try again, shall we?

      “Sometimes it’s necessary to kill someone. Real heroes will pull the trigger not because they want to, but because they must.”

      Again, we can go back to my example of the cop who must make a split-second decision to pull the trigger and take down a criminal who threatens the lives of innocents around him. I’m not sure why my statement bothers you so much. I don’t think very many people would argue with it, especially by qualifying it with “sometimes it’s necessary to kill.”

      Thanks for trying to take all the context out of my point, though. I appreciate it. It just gives me a chance to show how desperate you are to twist my words. Note: It’s not working.

      I’d love to see you in a conversation with Navy SEAL sniper, Chris Kyle (who holds the record for most kills in American military history). It would be a pleasure to watch him shatter your worldview.

      You think I don’t know a real hero when I see one? Please. Don’t make me laugh. The world needs more Chris Kyles, not less. There’s another book to add to your summer reading list, in addition to ‘Escape from Camp 14.’ They’re both eye-opening.

    4. “You don’t think I don’t know a real hero when I see one? Please.”
      No I think in your mind Real Heroes HAVE to kill.
      Are there real heroes who kill threats? Of course!
      Is your example, Chris Kyle, a REAL hero? No question!

      But the idea that someone who could save the day and NOT kill– someone who could save the day and do it WITHOUT blood on their hands is a “pacifist clown” is SICKENING!

      I guess people who have taken vows of non-violence, like Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., must rate pretty low in your book. And that ONLY men like Chris Kyle could be heroes, and men like Ghandi and King would get subjugated to the ranks of “pacifist clown.”

    5. No. Characters like Spider-Man, who enter into an arena where killing is sometimes required, but who would put the mission in jeopardy for an impossible task — and then add insult to injury by lecturing others like a self-righteous jerk — make him sound like a pacifist clown. You’re really hung up on that one phrase, aren’t you? Regardless, maybe you can write The Amazing Spider-Ghandi. I hate to break it to you, but Peter Parker has blood on his hands. A lot of blood. And much of it is bad.

      Question: How many villains has he let go, only to have them kill again and again and again? How many times could he have ended it, but chose not to because “no one dies.” Congrats, Pete. You saved the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus, men who have shown that they could circumvent the rule of law and continue to implement their evil machinations even behind bars. With great power comes great responsibility, and sometimes — sometimes — that means taking a life, or that because of your actions others may die. Don’t enter into a war zone, Pete, if you can’t handle the realities of war.

      Martin Luther King and Ghandi lived by the principle that the world could change through non-violent protest. You can live by principles. But as I mentioned earlier, you confused principles for the preference “no one dies” … Martin Luther King or Ghandi did not hold Peter’s delusional stance. Marvel’s Spider-Man does not live life as Ghandi did, and so he does not get to lecture the rest of us as if that was the case.

      Related: Batman: Under the Red Hood


    [Edited for brevity, because the joke went on and on … and there’s only so much all-caps I can take. – Doug.]

  8. My final comment:
    What if Doc Ock was/is trying to save the world?
    The previews for next issue are already out and already reveal that the end-of-the-world scenario at the cliffhanger from the issue that’s upset you so much is actually one of Mysterio’s illusions.

    So what if Doc Ock IS a good guy in this story?
    Sandman believes Doc Ock is saving the world and that the world would be a better place for Sandman’s daughter. THAT is the person that Silver Sable is waterboarding with acid.

    If Doc Ock IS the good guy in this story, then all the North Korean soldiers are guarding a missile base that could launch things that could help save the world.
    If Spider-Man took out that base AND killed him, that would truly be the most unheroic thing he could ever do.
    But in YOUR book, he’d still be a “Real Hero” because he would have KILLED soldiers who were in his way.

    (I like how you haven’t commented on “J. Jonah Jameson’s” post. Because, in parody, he nails everything that is wrong with your blindly partisan view of this.

    Men and women CAN be “Real Heroes” AND get the job done WITHOUT killing.
    That’s not saying that soldiers who kill for a good cause AREN’T Real Heroes too.

    1. Nothing you said changes the fact that Peter has blood on his hands, and that by letting criminals go who have shown they act outside the rule of law, his inability to take a life — at times — has as a consequence resulted in the loss of life of many innocents.

      Your premise is false. You’re trying to say Peter’s preference that “no one dies” equates to respecting all human life. It doesn’t. I’m not going to argue a false premise. I have already demonstrated that the character does not live a life of non-violent protest, and I’ve shown that he has blood on his hands — including the blood of innocents because of the choices he’s made. When he makes self-righteous, hypocritical soap box speeches, he deserves to be called to task on it.

      Thanks for the conversation. I’ll give you one thing: You do have heart. In that respect, Spidey would be proud of you.

    2. Greg says, “men and women can be real heros and still
      Get the job done without killing”

      Did you miss the two world wars of the last century? The ONLY
      reason that the dark clouds of Japanese brutality and Germany’s
      Nazism were defeated was because the men and women of
      The allied forces were willing to do A LOT of killing. Your naive leftist
      View of the world is a dangerous one. You have completely missed
      The point. If you are unwilling to destroy evil you enable it. Andplease spare
      Me the tired old crap of saying that if good men resort to killing bad
      Men then the good men are no better than those they seek to defeat.
      That morally relativistic crap just displays a collosal ignorance. Thank
      Heaven’s the men and women of “the greatest generation” weren’t
      As confused as you seem to be.

  9. How can you say acid boarding torture was okay out of necessity–which is the small evil versus the greater good dilemma–but go completely the other way with Rorschach’s’ dilemma at the end of Watchmen? Cognitive dissonance?

    1. I don’t think waterboarding constitutes torture. I also don’t suppose I’d think dropping acid on a man who can exist as a single particle of sand — or grow to the size of a beach — would rise to the level of torture either.

      I already explained why I love Rorschach. I can’t help it if my answer doesn’t satisfy you or you’re under the impression I’m suffering from cognitive dissonance.

    2. So making someone think they are drowning so as to involve severe distress and terror is not torture?

      The US hung Japanese soldiers after WW2 for waterboarding our troops. Why was it a war crime then and okay now?

    3. There was also this thing called the The Bataan Death March on their part.

      Let’s see, I can go back and forth with you in an argument that you want to have just for the sake of having an argument … or I can go running. I think I’ll go running.

  10. Sorry, late to the discussion, was referred here by another blog, who took the exact opposite side, with the same story.
    I have to say, I’m not satisfied with the arguments presented on either side here so far. I can see the argument that, in the real world, if you kill a couple to save millions, that’s what you do. For me, the real problem with the story here is that it’s Spider-man involved. It seems pretty stupid to me that he would relent to pouring acid on a guy made of sand, assuming that it would hurt him enough to provide information. What if it didn’t? What do you do then? And even when it does, you have no guarantee that the information you’re getting is accurate. So its entirely possible this hero has tortured for no clear purpose.
    Instead, given that Spider-man is a member of the New Avengers, why wouldn’t he make use of the resources of that group to better find the information? I mean, that’s as vast a network as anyone could hope to use in finding anything out! No guarantee there, but surely as promising as pouring acid on Sandman and hoping for results.
    So, to me, it’s not about Spider-man not killing and being too soft. It’s about Spiderman not thinking for half a second about his options, and taking a more viable path than torture.
    (Additionally, Sandman worked to be “good” for quite awhile, as I’m sure you’re aware. If it was Hawkeye who had the information (having been a criminal in the past) would Spidey be as willing to torture him? I doubt it, since torturing people who aren’t seen as evil to get necessary information would be a hard sell.)
    (And your argument about pouring acid on a guy made of sand questionably being torture doesn’t hold. Clearly, they’re trying to get Sandman to give up information through coersion. If it isn’t torture, why do it?)

    1. I simply don’t agree with your assertion that waterboarding is torture. Please define torture for me. It seems like you’re equating any sort of tough interrogation technique to torture. When the U.S. waterboarded KSM we got valuable information from him. Fact. I’m not saying that we should go there from the get-go, but there are (rare) instances where it may be the necessary and prudent interrogation technique. I’d say with 6 billion lives in the balance … the answer is rather clear.

      I had a professor in grad school who said sleep deprivation was torture. I told him that I was certainly deprived of sleep in basic training (e.g., Drill Sergeants waking you up all night, making you sweat, letting you doze off for a few minutes and doing it all over again), so according to him the Army tortured me. That professor didn’t like me too much.

      Do you have a link to the blog?

      Thanks for the comment. I can expand on your other points as soon as I get a chance.

    2. Yeah, its at
      Another reader of both blogs referred to your post, so I followed the link. Colin’s a pretty thoughtful reviewer, but got more emotional about this topic. So did I, as I can’t see how Spider-man, given the resources available to him, would go for a torturous technique that may or may not work as his only option.
      And I didn’t refer to waterboarding as torture in my post. Although being made to continually feel as though you’re suffocating without any control of the situation sounds fairly torturous to me. I realize it’s not electrodes-on-testicles level of pain, but the motives behind both actions, as well as the anticipated results, stem from the same place.

    3. Brian,

      Again, thanks for commenting. Let me ask you this: Do you believe that if al Qaeda got its hands on a “dirty bomb” (i.e., a low-level nuke that could fit in the size of a briefcase), that they would hesitate to use it? Say you were with the CIA and you intercepted a call that someone was going to set off that nuke in downtown Chicago on the Fourth of July — and it was July 2nd. Your men, by the grace of God, capture a high-level al Qaeda planner on the 3rd. You need a name and you need it NOW.

      Now I ask you: Given that situation, where time was of the essence and an entire city’s population was at stake, would you take waterboarding off the table as an interrogation technique? What would you do to get that information? The real world is a lot more complex than a Spider-Man comic because Spidey has writers who can “magically” get him out of situations that — again, in the real world — would literally blow up in his face. And that’s the point I’m trying to make.

      Some of these other blogs are under the same quixotic belief that there’s always a way to do it where “no one dies” … and that simply isn’t the case. They apply logic that could ONLY apply to a Spider-Man comic to the politics in their personal life. Every day cops and soldiers must make split-second decisions where people die because of the choices they make. They have to live with those choices and turn them over in their minds for the rest of their lives.

      Those are the kinds of situations I wish Peter had to deal with, because a.) it’s more realistic and b.) It’s the kind of thing that makes for character growth and compelling stories.

      As I said before, I don’t think waterboarding should be commonplace or used on any run-of-the-mill terrorist. However, there are (rare) situations where it may very well be the prudent thing to do. The information we gleaned from KSM (who was waterboarded) helped to fill in the mosaic of intelligence that led to the capture of Osama bin Laden. That’s a fact. I’m also not saying the ends should justify the means — only that in order to stop the machinations of evil men (e.g., al Qaeda) the tactics necessary will sometimes push us into very grey areas. The challenge is to thread that needle the best we can.

      As a side note, it seems as though the other blog you linked to was open about deleting the views of others who disagreed with him. I almost never do that, unless the person says something that is completely devoid of any rational thought (e.g., F**k you). That sort of thing.

  11. Your last panel is outdated. No one has died yet, and no one will because the last panel was actually a ruse put on by Mysterio (y’know, master of illusions), as revealed in the subsequent issue to keep Spider-Man busy while Doctor Octopus is pestering the leaders of the free world. So…no one died, meaning he would have let those soldiers die for nothing.

    1. Thanks for the heads up, although I added an “updated” at the end of the post when the next issue came out:

      You’ll notice that my analysis of Spider-Man continues to be a bit more nuanced than your blog would have your readers believe:

      “Even Spider-Man’s deadliest foes know that while his heart is pure, his mind is clouded with the quixotic belief that “no one dies” on his watch. Like a heroic Spider-Man-Pigeon, he’s easily distracted by lives in immediate danger, never acknowledging that by “saving” the few to his front, he may very well condemn 3 billion to his rear. A hero is still a hero, but some of them are meant for city streets, and some of them are meant to determine the fate of the world.”

      That about sums it up nicely, and it’s a bit harder to dismiss than “Spider-Man is a loser.” Perhaps some of your readers will wind up here, where we can have the honest debate they deserve.

    2. Frankly, my readers are three to five people a day, so you don’t have too much to worry about. I don’t write often, but it’s always about comics, usually when something shiny catches my eye like this post.

      In the end, the things that work me up enough to write about usually boil down to folks getting up in arms about comics–something meant to be fun. If it’s not fun (as the frustration you’ve expressed would have folks believe), stop reading. It’s only when companies start noticing they’re leaking dollars that they’ll change things.

    3. Like I told another reader, the post isn’t “really” about Spider-Man. This blog uses pop culture as a segue to broader philosophical discussions on public policy dilemmas facing the nation. It’s the “little bit of sugar helps the medicine goes down” approach.

      With that said, even “fun” comics have social commentary in them … and so, if someone doesn’t address it, then the editors at Marvel or DC get to have their worldview go unchallenged.

      Finally, even if you have five readers, that’s five people who are being shaped by your words and ideas. Who knows where those people will wind up one day…

  12. Reading your response to me, I’m not sure we’re really that far apart, given the construct of the situation of a dirty bomb set to level Chicago in hours. But given the tenor of your original post, it seemed a lot more “pro waterboard” to me overall.
    Of course, I understand that Spider-man comics aren’t akin to real life. But, at the same time, I don’t think it’s an unheard of situation that a decision is made for something as significant as waterboarding, or invading a country, without not only considering alternatives, but the possible blowback such an action can have. So, in that way, Spidey not considering other possible viable options is relevant, because you’d hope heroes, just like others with considerable power, would be judicious and thoughtful in how they use that might. On either side of the aisle.

    1. I’m not “pro waterboard” as much as I’m a staunch believer in giving the guys protecting us the tools they need to do their job. I’m not particularly comfortable with waterboarding, but like I said, where does tough interrogation end and torture begin? Most people who you ask to define torture, can’t. Heck, the United Nations can’t even agree on a definition of terrorism. And so, if there are rare instances where someone says, “Yeah, we waterboarded this High Value Target … and here’s why …” I think that the country will judge the situation appropriately.

      As I told another poster, a professor of mine in graduate school said sleep deprivation was torture. His litmus test for torture seemed to be anything that made someone uncomfortable, and he was being paid to “teach” that crap. It annoys me when tools who don’t see the threats — who have no clue of the horrible things that incredibly patient Islamic radical scum bags are planning — get on their high horse and lecture everyone as to what the right thing to do is. (I’m not saying that’s you, either).

      I wouldn’t even mind, but the whole anti-war crowd melted away when Barack Obama became president, which tells me they were playing politics with national security. There are things that President Obama has done during his time in office that Bush would have been raked over the coals for. And yet, silence. Telling. Very telling.

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