Saturday, September 22, 2007

Superhero of the Week – Patrick S. as Spider-Man

Congratulations to Patrick S., this week’s winner for the Superhero of the week contest. Patrick Compared himself to Spider-Man, and did a very thorough job in said comparison. This week’s submission for superhero of the week pretty much sets the bar for the A+ answer. I encourage all of you to read it in its entirety as it is a great answer. We had tons of great submissions this week. If yours didn’t get picked, continue to send them in, maybe next week will be your week!

I've always related best to Spider-Man, and have felt that way long before his late-90's movie-fueled revival. It's sort of a cliché to say that Marvel Comics' characters seem a lot more "real" than DC's Golden Age icons--Superman, Wonder Woman, etc. – because they are flawed and conflicted and deal with more real-life issues. Well cliché or not it's true, and it's more true for Spider-Man than any other character. Batman may be cool, but he's also a borderline-psychotic billionaire who just happens to be a genius and apparently the world's greatest athlete, and that's just not easy for me to relate to. Wonder Woman is literally a goddess. Superman is an alien who is practically omnipotent, and sheesh, how boring is that? What I like best about Spider-Man is that he's not all that 'super' when you really think about it. Thanks to a radioactive spider bite (I know, I know; it's really not that much more realistic than being the Last Son of Krypton, but stick with me) he's stronger and faster and more agile than a normal person, and he can cling to walls. That, plus the fact that his Spider-Sense warns him of danger ahead of time – but often not soon enough to actually allow him to do anything about it – is pretty much the extent of his powers. In the movies he also gains the ability to sling webs from his wrists organically, but in the original comics he actually had to build web-shooters from scratch (a fact that resulted in an oft-repeated crisis wherein Spider-Man would run out of "web fluid" at crucial moments). Spider-Man's enemies are often much stronger and more powerful than he is, and as a result he is often forced to fall back on his wits or just plain old dumb luck to get by. He doesn't win every battle he fights. And rarely is he out to save the world; usually he's just trying to make his hometown a little safer. At heart, all superhero comics are really about wish fulfillment, usually adolescent male wish fulfillment. Spider-Man accomplishes that, but it also hits almost every note perfectly in telling the relatable story of an imperfect guy who's just trying to figure out the right thing to do, and much of the time getting it wrong. When you get down to it, Peter Parker is just a poor kid from Queens. For most of his life he's been painfully awkward with girls, and often through no fault of his own has to endure public humiliation from knuckle-draggers with idiotic names like "Flash." His sense of responsibility makes it difficult for him to carry on a normal life and strains relationships with people he cares about. Sometimes his hard work and good intentions still blow up in his face. And to top it all off, about half of the population often seems to resent and suspect the worst of him (usually thanks to disinformation supplied by newspaper magnate J. Johah Jamison). In the end his reward is usually not the key to the city or statues in his honor, but only the knowledge that his anonymous sacrifice has hopefully made the world a slightly better place. I doubt there's a human being out there who can't relate to at least parts of his story, and I personally relate to pretty much all of it.

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