Why Superior Spider-Man Won’t Last

Superior variant

Stephen Wacker claims that the Superior Spider-Man change is going to stick, and that Peter Parker fans will go away over time.

 Yeah. That’ll change dramatically just because of necessity of story. But I think for years to come the shadow of Peter Parker is going to be draped over the book. There’s nothing you can do about that. But new cast members will come in. Life goes on. Peter Parker fans will sort of fade away over the months and years, and you’ll have a bunch of people who only know the new cast. It’s probably similar to what happened with Ben Reilly back in the day. And fans seem to want him back.

He compared it to the replacements of the Golden Age Flash and Green Lantern.

This has been in the works for a few years now, and the plan always was to make this the last issue and make it a definitive end for the character. It’s been 50 years,a helluva good run. The 700th issue happening around the same time was just sort of serendipitous.

This type of thing has been done in comics before during the Silver Age when Julie Schwartz, Gardner Fox, John Broome and the guys at DC brought out new versions of classic characters like the Flash and Green Lantern. That’s the kind of worldbuilding scenario we’re playing with.

I don’t buy it. One aspect of speculation about a character’s future is that it’s fun to not know what’s coming up, or to have wildly incorrect impressions about what Marvel Comics is planning. So an analysis of why Marvel is likely bluffing might take away from that. That’s something to keep in mind whenever considering the creative decisions of Marvel writers and higher-ups. Ah well, onto the sausage factory.

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Spider-Man has appeared in fifty years worth of comic books, most of which will be reprinted in the future. Stories in which Peter Parker was Spider-Man in mind and body will be be reprinted and will remain part of the history of the new Spider-Man. So you’ll constantly have new readers exposed to stories in which Peter Parker was Spider-Man, assuming they weren’t curious about the inevitable references to the original Spider-Man. And that’s just in the comics.

There’s also the outrageously successful film adaptations. The Raimi/ Maguire trilogy included the highest grossing films of 2002 and 2007, as well as the second highest grossing film of 2004. I also suspect that due to Raimi’s unconventional style, these films will age better than most other action films from the decade. The Amazing Spider-Man was only #6, but this was in an year that included The Avengers, the Twilight finale, the Nolan Batman finale and the return of James Bond just in time for the highly promoted fiftieth anniversary of that film franchise. So it did well enough in the box office, especially since it retreaded much of the same territory (Spider-Man’s origin) as one of the most popular films from a decade ago. Director Marc Webb is approaching the next film as the second part of a trilogy, so we’re almost certainly going to have films about the Peter Parker Spider-Man for the next few years. And I doubt that they’ll stop with The Amazing Spider-Man 3.

And then there’s the current TV show. In addition to past animated series, as well as Spider-Man’s appearances in video games. As a result, we’re going to see more material about the Peter Parker Spider-Man in the future. So I don’t think anyone can expect Peter Parker fans to go away when the character can be expected to have new fans in the years to come.

Comic book characters often disappear from titles for a hiatus, sometimes when they’re believed dead. There is a wisdom to that approach with Spider-Man, since his inevitable return would be a big deal, and it allows the writers to shake up the book for a little while, and raise the significance of another character. It was done with Captain America and with Batman. Captain America was seemingly killed off after Marvel’s Civil War, although he returned a little over two years later. Dick Grayson took over as Batman after Final Crisis, while Bruce Wayne was trapped in prehistory.

The timing with the Spider-Man comics suggests an eventual return for Peter Parker. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is scheduled to come out May 2014. Assuming two issues of Superior Spider-Man a month, that means it’ll be roughly 30 issues since the new Spider-Man started. That was about as many issues as Bucky Cap got, prior to Captain America Reborn. It also means that the new status quo lasted for an year and a few months. Which is roughly how long Dick Grayson stuck around as Batman in Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin. And Marvel would be able to do an omnibus of all the Superior Spider-Man stuff up to that point, while the new film coincides with the triumphant return of the original Spider-Man.

A few plot points also suggest that Peter Parker’s story isn’t over yet. If it was, I suspect there would have been a story in which he learned that one of his best friends was the new Venom. I would imagine that Dan Slott would also want to give the wall-crawler a proper sendoff, which isn’t quite what we got from “No Turning Back” or the Hobgoblin war.

Kraven

I could understand why Wacker would try to create a different impression in public comments. It has to be annoying dealing with savvy readers who have a good understanding of the long-term beats of a mega arc. When that happens, it’s tougher to appreciate the smaller stories. It had to be exciting for those who bought the original issues of Kraven’s Last Hunt without knowing what’s going to happen next, when it had been an entire issue since the villain shot and buried Spider-Man and the hero hadn’t yet returned. So it’s worth it to try to mislead the readers to put them in that mindset. Even if it’s pretty clear that the original Spider-Man will at some point be back.

That does lead to another question. What happens next?

The Infinite Spider-Man is a series of mini-essays regarding Marvel’s options for the future of the best character in comics.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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