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Marvel Doesn’t Know How to Handle Spider-Man

Wolverine’s dying! I think it’s a pretty dandy idea. They say he’s going to stay dead, but I can’t stop laughing long enough to try and believe them. In a few years, once sales need a sizable boost, I feel they’ll do something to “bring him back”. Clones, robots, something. Thus the wheel of X-Men continues spinning.

Anyway, Spider-Man is going to be a guidance counselor at the school after he dies. Oh, what? You’re confused? Well of course you are, that makes little sense. Spider-Man has long been a friend of the X-Men — as he’s the friend of pretty much everyone in the Marvel Universe — but was never considered one of them. He’s a mutate, after all, not an actual mutant.

So why is he suddenly in the mix? Outside the shoehorned in-universe explanation, that is?

Is it This?

It’s the Batman Problem

It’s the Batman problem! What I mean is DC puts Batman in everything because he’s their most profitable character. They don’t trust any of their other properties enough so they stuff Batman in where they can to sell better. An audience lubricant, if you will. You probably wont.

The same seems to go with Spider-Man, but to lesser degree. I think it’s been offset by the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron-Man and Captain America are now household names. They can move merchandise now. Yet still, Marvel works to put ol’ Webhead in anything they can.

When Johnny Storm died during Hickman’s Fantastic Four run, Spider-Man joined the new Future Foundation. Why? I mean, yes, there were in-universe explanations, and it seemed fairly organic, but it wasn’t a natural choice by any means. It almost felt like “yes, this going to be weird, but look! Spider-Man’s here! You guys like Spider-Man!”.

SpidermanFF
He even brought another costume change!

A similar thing seems to be happening with this X-Men event. Spider-Man’s being injected into those books because “oh hey, we know Wolverine dying is big deal, but look! Spider-Man’s here!” He’s on a “secret mission” that he suddenly has from Wolverine that no one knows about. It makes a little sense, but, at least for me, not enough to have a tangentially related character suddenly land smack dab in the middle of this universe.

They Have a Spider-Man that Works and They’re Sticking to it

“With this touring Spider-Man, there must be some interesting character developments!” You think. And you’d be almost entirely wrong.

Comic book characters don’t really end, or arc, but they do change a little over their long life times. I mean, Wolverine used to be a morally gray, loner, killing machine. Now he’s the respected head of a school, a teacher, and has almost switched places with Cyclopes. Almost all of Marvel’s big characters have changed over the years. Except, really, Spider-Man.

Even in his most trying times

He doesn’t get ahead. He teaches at his old high school or starts his own business or even gets marry to Mary Jane, but always something happens to bring him back to the status quo. Sometimes involving literal deals with the devil.

Over the years he’s went from a high school nerd who becomes a quipping morally strong superhero to an adult nerd who becomes a quipping morally strong superhero. Every time he has some sort of development, they find a way to bring him back. It doesn’t really happen to other heroes. Iron Man is no longer really an alcoholic playboy, the Hulk has pretty much recovered from World War Hulk, and Thor isn’t really as headstrong and brash as he was once made out to be.

Superior Spider-Man was a big change. They didn’t really go far enough in my opinion, but at least it was something we haven’t seen before. However, when they cleared all that up, Spider-Man was back to status quo! I mean, yes, there were details that were new, but it was a fresh, reset Spider-Man. Back to square one.

To be fair, I understand it on some level. People don’t want to be bored, but fan hate change. They want to see classic Spider-Man, but Marvel has been able to change other characters, grow them into new areas, and keep the fans happy. Why can’t they do that for Spidey?

They Can Only Kill Him or Add More Spider-Men

Everyone gets big events like World War Hulk or Avengers vs. X-men. Spider-Man gets his own, smaller version of that, but he either dies or meets more Spider-Man.

Think about it. Peter Parker “dies” when Doc Ock takes over his body for a big event. Miles Morales appears in 616 and meets Spider-Man for another big event. We have both Clone Sagas and Spider-Islands. Hell, the new event, Spider-Verse, combines both Spider-Death and Spider-Over-Saturation. Morlun is killing all the Spider-People in the multiverse and so Spider-Man must bring them together. Even years ago, when Morlun was first introduced, it started with Spider-Man meeting another person with spider powers.

It’s like Marvel has a policy of no Spider-Man or all the Spider-Men. The details change, but the structure stays the same.

Spiderham
Some of those people are actually pigs

I think Spider-Man is merely being a victim of his own success. They don’t want to ruin their star character with experimentation. Killing the title character or having more of it are always big sellers, but hasn’t gotten a little stale? Did Superior Spider-Man tank the sales? I’d like to see more experimental Spider-Man stories, but it seems pretty clear Marvel doesn’t know what to do with him.

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Comments

  • MilesMorales616

    “Did Superior Spider-Man tank the sales?”
    During the Superior Spider-Man the sales shot up. The book sold way more than the previous Amazing Spider-Man run and was one of Marvel’s best selling books the whole time it was going on. And now that Peter Parker is back, the sales have gone up even more.
    Just go over to CBR or ICV2 and look at the numbers. For half a year the current Spider-Man book and Batman are the only books cracking 100,000. Spider-Man hasn’t done this well in years.

    • Mike Miersen

      Do you think it owes its success to the “killing off” of Peter Parker? Or was it just an upswing in quality overall?

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