A week ago I covered Spider-Man, and how liberal writers have turned him into a walking war zone liability. In a situation where 6 billion lives hung in the balance, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man did the “neighborly” thing and thought to use precious seconds wondering whether a bunch of North Korean soldiers (those same guys overseeing the world’s most notorious gulags) were ushered to safety before explosives took out the weapons … they were guarding. He then saw fit to warn his soldierly teammates “no one dies,” precisely the kind of all-or-nothing delusional thinking that sets the stage for death to occur.

Issue #686 of Amazing Spider-Man takes place right after our heroes believe half the world has been destroyed. With carnage surrounding them, Black Widow tells Spider-Man they must leave immediately, as time is not on their side if they want to save the roughly 3 billion people remaining on earth. Spider-Man’s response? He’s not budging because he has people to save right there. Dan Slott’s Spider-Man is so myopic that he only sees the lives right there in front of him. He’s like a baby, tricked by peek-a-boo because his mind isn’t fully developed; if there are lives to be saved right in front of him, there’s a good chance he can be distracted. The Black Widow knows it and, sadly, his deadliest foes take advantage of it.

With 3 billion lives at stake and with every second counting, Dan Slott’s Spider-Man wanted to play search and rescue. It’s an honorable job, but the problem with that is this:  At that moment in time Spidey was the guy who was supposed to be saving the world — not Black Widow.
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. Dan Slott’s Spider-Man may save the world, but an honest writer would have penned the more logical conclusion: utter defeat caused by unforced errors.

In the end, Dan Slott gives Spider-Man a reprieve, and the hero is given a chance to save the day by taking advantage of the vanity, greed and hubris of his enemies. The “end of the world” was an illusion meant to distract the heroes and buy time for the machinations of evil men to materialize. It would have worked, but the enemies who literally have the world in their hands want more, overreach and lose it all. Spider-Man takes advantage of his second chance, but it feels like a Deus ex Machina of sorts, freeing the character of the consequences of his short-sighted actions. In the real world we often don’t get second chances.

Even Black Widow can’t resist rubbing Peter Parker’s nose in the evidence of his ignorance — in his own book, no less:

Spider-Man’s complete lack of foresight nearly cost his team the chance to save the world. Black Widow makes sure to let him know it. Lectured by a supposedly-lesser hero in his own title. Sad.

At $4.00 a pop, The Amazing Spider-Man hurts the wallet over the course of a year. These days, it also hurts just to read the title, period. Here’s to hoping Peter learns something from the experience. If not, look for books featuring Black Widow. She deserves it.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

18 comments

    1. The cynical answer is he’s wearing a suit that will allow Marvel to sell a new action figure. Another answer is that Spidey often acquires or makes suits that will better prepare him for missions his “classic” duds might not be appropriate for.

    2. Ever since Slott started writing, we’ve been getting constant costumes that we never see again. This costume included, even though I like it. When he lost his spider-sense, he made a bullet proof outfit to protect him from bullets. Why didn’t he keep that costume? His spider-sense was gone for awhile until Spider-Island so it would’ve been the more obvious route to go but like most of Marvel’s mindset, it’s all about being toyetic.

    3. You’re spot-on in linking these decisions to toy sales. There really isn’t any other explanation. They’re sacrificing the integrity of the comics so they can work in a “bonus” costume for some future video game or have another Hasbro toy to sell when the next movie comes out.

      On some level I wouldn’t mind if the writers would just admit that they’re under pressure to do this kind of thing. I can live with it if they’re just honest with the readers. But most of the time, they’re not.

      How many new toys will we get out of the era of Peter Parker-Bond-Wayne-Stark-Jobs? Probably quite a few. It seems like there is no end to the number gadgets Iron Man-Spider will come up with from issue to issue.

  1. Is it possible that the writer(s) are actually making the point you are, albeit in an indirect way? Spiderman’s nobility is admirable, but he was taught this lesson before when the Green Goblin offered the bus or Gwen option years ago. He made the horrible choice and Gwen died.

    There’s been oodles of dumbass storylines over the years, and liberal and conservative labels run a distant second place to pejoratives such as “lame” and “stupid.” I wouldn’t read too much into it. Marvel let them interject a bit of modern-day politics into ASM, but they really should be limiting that to great writers who can handle it wisely. Stick to cartoon villains, because thats why we’re buying them. Escapism, fantasy, enjoyment. I really doubt the bulk of the conic market wants thinly-veiled social commentary about North Korea. Stick to Latveria or Gotham, guys.

    1. I’m not opposed to having politics inserted into comics, and even liberal scribes can do a good (dare I say, “great”?) job. Brian Michael Bendis did a fantastic job with Secret War a few years ago. Good stories will have all sorts of philosophical layers to them, so that even if the writer is liberal … he’ll give readers of all political stripes something to turn over in their mind.

      It’s just sad when you get these guys who try and delve into the political realms without doing any real research. Graveyard of Empires was written by a liberal guy (I got off track and didn’t finish the series, primarily because my new job isn’t located by a comic shop.), but it was obvious he did the legwork to really know the subject matter. I might think he’s totally wrong on some of the social commentary he’s making, but I respect the work he put into the product.

      To me, if it seems like the writer’s research consists of watching some Youtube clips or going to wikipedia, I’m going to give them a hard time.

  2. Two of the most profound things I’ve ever read from you.

    “I might think he’s totally wrong on some of the social commentary he’s making, but I respect the work he put into the product.”

    If only our government, news networks, newspapers, and bloggers would take that approach instead of petty name calling and political gamesmanship. “I don’t like your approach… here’s why I think mine is better” would go a LONG way in our current acidic halls of Congress. Our country might actually improve.

    “To me, if it seems like the writer’s research consists of watching some Youtube clips or going to wikipedia, I’m going to give them a hard time.”

    Sage advice to bloggers all over. 😉

    1. Pearl Jam: Raging liberal band … but one hell of a group. I love their music.
      Grant Morrison: Raging liberal writer … but one hell of a creative mind. I make it a point to check his work out whenever I have time (and money).
      Christopher Hitchens: Was an angry atheist … with one hell of a sharp mind. I admired and respected his intelligence and probing intellect.
      Leonardo DiCaprio: Liberal environmentalist tool … who’s one hell of an actor and knows to work with Grade A directors on solid scripts. I almost always see his work in the theater.

      I’m more than willing to acknowledge smart people who do amazing work, even when I disagree with their politics or their religion. I don’t like political hacks (e.g., Chris Matthews), and I don’t have patience for intellectual laziness (e.g., Meghan McCain). Most politicians kill two birds with one stone — Republicans AND Democrats.

  3. I stopped reading Spider-Man when One More Day was released… suffice to say that story sucked (that’s the abbreviation of what and sooner or later I’ll probably roast it on my own blog. I don’t think comics should avoid politics, but as a conservative who has become somewhat disiillusioned by the left-leaning storylines in recent years, I would like to see both sides represented and not just as political straw men.

    1. Agreed on One More Day. I collected Spidey since I was a kid. I learned to read on Marvel comics, and those jerks allowed him to make a deal with the devil (essentially). The story was just so bad and out of character. Urg. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      You hit the nail on the head with the straw man arguments. That’s actually what really gets under my skin the most. As a kid you don’t really think about that stuff, and then you go back and read some of it and you’re like, “Holy crap … I can’t believe they’re almost all like this.” A few years ago I read some of my brother’s old Captain America issues and had to shake my head. I was reading “Captain Liberal America.” Sad.

    2. Yeah, the Secret Empire storyline from the 1970s contained less-than-subtle allusions to Watergate and Richard Nixon. In fact, the bad guy of the story was implied to be Nixon. And the “Captain” storyline from the 1980s contained its fair share of potshots at Reagan. Both were good stories, though, in spite of the overt leftist bias.

    3. I grew up in the 80’s, so that’s where my doses of liberal Cap came in. Didn’t he become “Nomad” in the 70’s because of Nixon?

      Sigh. I’m sure the next time a guy with an ‘R’ next to his name lands in office there will be a whole new set of annoying stories.

    4. I may be the only one here who still read Spider-man after OMD. Maybe it’s because I felt the stories were going back to basics like in old comics. And some of the stories were good, not great but still readable. That being said, they made a terrible mistake in OMD. This just proves that Marvel can’t be trusted when it comes to long term plans or ending what works for a character. I understand you wanted to get rid of the marriage but why couldn’t you just do some stupid time travel storyline involving the Marvel universe and end the marriage like that? Making a deal with the devil? so wrong on the character.

  4. Speaking of liberal politics in comics, has anyone read the Godzilla comics put out by IDW in the last year? Nearly every issue contains some ham-handed, politically correct social commentary inserted into the story. The American president, who happens to be black and named “Ogden” is portrayed as a clear-thinking hero. There was a story where a group of “gun-totin’ rednecks” head to the US-Mexico border to stave off an invasion by one of the monsters. The latest issue opens at the wedding of two gay men in Mexico City. One of the guys is apparently going to be a major character going forward. And again we see some more “gun-totin’ rednecks” organizing to take care of themselves in the wake of the collapse of the government and when Godzilla presents himself, these shoeless, toothless hillbillies open fire at the monster with one of the main characters and a young girl right in their line of fire and the girl is killed. It’s my own fault but I’m getting a little tired of paying $4.00 per month for the privilege of being insulted.

    1. Thanks for the heads up, Ryan. And thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      I used to spend quite a bit on comics. Part of the reason I cut back is because of the price, but I also have withheld my disposable income for precisely that reason. If they want to shoehorn political commentary into each issue, then I’ll keep the change and spend it going out with friends instead.

  5. Yeah, he became the Nomad because of Nixon. It was obviously supposed to be Nixon, even though it was never outright stated that’s who it was. And I agree with you in saying that if Romney is elected Presdient this year, Marvel probably won’t give him a special issue where he teams up with Spidey.

  6. Yeah, i’ve heard about that issue where they turn Reagan into a lizard man… not to mention that writer Mark Gruenwald had Reagan form the Commission on Superhuman Activities and was responsible for Cap becoming the “Captain.” It’s funny how Cap only becomes disillusioned when a conservative Republican is in office. It happened with Nixon (Secret Empire), Reagan (The Captain) and Bush Jr (Civil War). You never see him questioning his devotion to the U.S. when a Democrat like Roosevelt, Johnson, Carter, Clinton or Obama is in office and that sahows that Marvel does have a bias towadr the left.

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