The promotional material for the third issue of Brian Michael Bendis’ Spider-Man promised Miles Morales would go up against “his toughest villain yet.” It did not disappoint, as the young hero and his family are subjected to an irascible jerk of a woman for most of the book. I found myself at times shocked that social-justice obsessed Marvel would allow a minority character to be written with so many flaws until Bendis disclosed the reason why: She’s a Christian hypocrite.
Spider-Man #3 is a perfect example of how Marvel’s track record for inserting politics into comics alienates fans and mars an otherwise good title. It also shows how a good writer can subtly insert an agenda into his book so that many readers will be none the wiser.
Unlike other writers at Marvel, Bendis understands that most people will not care about the character under the mask if his personal life is not adequately developed. Readers will not be invested in supporting cast members if they randomly fly past the hero’s obit on occasion like a comet.
If Miles’ grandmother is going to play a huge part in his life moving forward, then it makes sense that an entire issue would be devoted to introducing her to the audience. If not, then the decision was a waste of time. I’m inclined to give Bendis the benefit of the doubt due to his track record.
The problem, at least as far as this reader is concerned, is that once again a Marvel book shines an unfavorable light on Christianity.
Miles grandmother generally acts like a buffoon. The way she treats his father is horrible. She shows zero respect for her own daughter. She barrels through the house and leaves anger and confusion in her wake, and then when she tries to show a softer side she tells Miles, “Let Jesus be your guide.”
Indeed, that is great advice. Unfortunately, it seems as though the only time Marvel talent puts a spotlight on Christianity it is in a negative light.
- Dan Slott of The Amazing Spider-Man tells Christians who win legal cases before the U.S. Supreme Court to go to “Christ-Land.” (I’m still waiting for him to tell a bunch of Jews to go to Jew-topia over a similar disagreement, but I don’t think that will happen.)
- Nick Lowe dresses up as the pope for Halloween for laughs because dressing up as Mohammed or an Orthodox Jew would require personal and professional courage.
- Dan Slott used the San Bernardino, California, terror attack to mock Christians who prayed to God after the massacre.
- Jose Molina’s “point” tales in ASM turned Peter Parker into The Amazing Spider-Atheist — so much so that he called God a “lie” after Uncle Ben’s death.
Under normal circumstances there would be no reason to care about having a Christian hypocrite appear in the Marvel universe because everyone is guilty of hypocrisy at some point. We are all fallible.
The reason why it is an issue with Marvel as a company is because there is a repeated pattern of anti-Christian sentiment disseminated by its staff.
Jose Molina’s Peter Parker will call God “a lie,” but where is the Marvel character who openly calls God “the Truth” in print? Daredevil is a Catholic, but his faith is regularly ignored and Tom Brevoort makes jokes of that fact on Formspring.
How sad is it that fans of the character have to watch the Netflix series to see him go to confession or make the sign of the cross?
Brian Michael Bendis will introduce a Christian hypocrite who is incredibly grating to readers, but when will they get a Christian character who is the modern equivalent of Saint Francis, Dom L. Scupoli Apulia, G.K. Chesterton, St. John of the Cross, etc.?
Regular readers of this blog know that I have given Bendis’ work great word of mouth for months — for both Invincible Iron Man and Spider-Man.
I want to support Marvel, but there is almost no reason to do so when time after time its creators needlessly take sucker punches at my faith or political persuasion.
With that said, the only other development in the issue involves Black Cat, who apparently wants to go after the “new” Spider-Man in town.
Marvel’s insistence on portraying Black Cat as a wannabe Mafia Queen is laughable. As is the case with every other editorial misstep, the guys in charge would rather dig their heels into a stupid-trench than admit they were wrong.
Spider-Man #3 is an important issue in terms of establishing family dynamics that will come into play in the months ahead, but it should also serve as a red flag for potential customers of faith.
When there is a chance to denigrate your worldview, Marvel will almost always jump at the opportunity. Its best writers insult you with kind of finesse that on some level is impressive, but they insult you nonetheless.
Do not buy this book if you are sick and tired veiled and unveiled political pot shots by Marvel’s writers and editors.
Exit question: Should I continue reviewing Bendis’ Spider-Man? On some level I feel as though it is important to shed light on what Marvel is doing. My thought process is that I may spend $50 a year reviewing a book, but exposing political or religious suck-punches will cost the company more in the long run. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.