The hero who could be you

In December, The Amazing Spider-Man No 700 brought its eponymous hero to the lowest of his innumerable lows, swapping his brain with that of his eight-armed archnemesis Dr Octopus. One of his mightiest foes was now walking around as Peter Parker, long-suffering superhero, while the real Parker's consciousness was trapped in Doc Ock's dying body. Well, not completely trapped — he hovered above his former body as a spectral presence, capable of watching, but not of intervening, while Doc Ock chatted up his supermodel ex-girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson. (She's also his ex-wife, but as ever in superhero lore, that's a long story.)

This all happens in the final issue of Amazing, the flagship Spider-Man title that's appeared monthly (and sometimes biweekly) since 1963. There have been many other regular Spider-Man comics, of course, and the discontinued Amazing was immediately replaced on Marvel Comics' publishing schedule by the first issue of a new title, The Superior Spider-Man, which picks up the story from the same dire place where the Amazing left it. Boosting reader interest in a long-running title by restarting the numbering with a new "first" issue is a gimmick that Marvel and its primary competitor, DC Comics, the home of Superman and Batman, have been milking for decades.

Superheroes were already old news in 1962, when Spider-Man was introduced in the final issue of Amazing Fantasy. Over at DC, Superman had been around since 1938; Batman since a year later. Other supernatural characters whose adventures were being published by Marvel — Captain America, The Human Torch, The Sub-Mariner — had all been around since the 1940s. And to us, half a century after his debut, Peter Parker — the kid who acquired "the proportionate strength and speed of an arachnid" instead of just a painful welt after being bitten by a radioactive spider — seems no more or less unusual than any other costumed do-gooder. But he really was radical, once.

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.