Rave : 2006 : A Word From Al - Spider-Man's Identity

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Spider-Man's identity is out. What do we think of that?

There are those who suggest that it was inevitable, with forensics more than capable of discovering any super-heroes identity in today's world. This is essentially Bendis' view, I think, judging by the way he outted Daredevil and Ultimate Spidey (repeatedly). Bendis is also the one who argues that the Hulk must have killed people in all of his rampages in spite of what the mythology says because it doesn't make sense that he could cause all that destruction with no casualties. But the answer to both the forensics and the Hulk's rampages is the same. It's comics! Why is it so easy to believe that someone can get powers from a radioactive spider but so hard to believe he could keep his identity secret? It's like Clark Kent with those glasses. It's a willing suspension of disbelief that we do all the time in comics.

As for Spidey's outing in Civil War, I'm in agreement with many fans who are horrified by Peter having put his family and friends in great danger. But I have to say that the ASM issue that led up to his unmasking (can't recall the # offhand) did a wonderful job of making it plausible that he would do it. My problem with it, however, has more to do with the series as a concept rather than the imaginary world Pete lives in. I think that what makes the series work is the dual lives of Peter and Spidey; that split between all the people that Peter knows and the hard luck aspects of Peter's life and the way he is treated like any old schmoe, and the apparently glamorous life of the web-slinger. Here is a guy who is world famous, has saved the universe and knows pretty much every super-hero personally but he still gets dumped on by J. Jonah Jameson and can't make it on time to appointments. Instead of Spider-Man enhancing his life, it puts a crimp in it. So, you had the Spidey adventure stuff combined with these great moments of life with Peter and his friends.

They've been chipping away at that steadily for a while now what with Peter marrying MJ, with MJ knowing his secret ID, and now with Aunt May knowing it. But putting him in Avengers tower was a mistake, this lapdog job with Tony Stark is a mistake (whatever happened to his teaching job?) and this unmasking is a huge mistake. It eliminates the very elements that make the series work. Yes, they can knock out a few interesting stories but it will get stale in a hurry.

I'm not saying that the series has to remain stagnant but there are one or two things that the series relies on to make it stand out above most other comic series. One, as Henrique has referred to, is the responsibility engendered by the death of Uncle Ben. Another is the split I just described. You can see it already. We all know that something has been wrong with the series for a while now. And we often point to the fact that there are no supporting characters. But it's really that Peter and Spidey have become the same person, knocking out a huge chunk of what makes the series work. Now that they've gone all the way with this, things are going to sink even further.

Of course, they have to retcon this back. The sooner the better. With luck, it will happen at the end of Civil War. It wouldn't be hard to do... just a spell by Dr. Strange. And I suspect that the rumors about Joe Q. and JMS returning Peter to basics by the end of the year mean that this won't last long. But I have no inside info on this and I don't know how long they're planning to run with it. It's already lasted too long, if you ask me.