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Mike Norris
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 2:31pm | IP Logged | 1  

On another board there was a discussion of the proposed Spider-Man reboot featuring a teen Spider-man,that drifted in a discussion of who is Spider-man. Some like a grown up Spider-man, who's an Avenger and has a steady job ( and a wife and maybe kids!!!!)I thought I'd share my counter argument here:

The question is, should Peter Parker "grow up". Why is that needed or necessary? Spider-man's personna is the wise cracking, hard luck hero who some people don't trust. Peter is a guy who's life never quite comes together because he's Spider-man. It costs him jobs, friends and relationships. A Spider-man with a steady job, a steady girl and membership in the most prestigous Super-Team isn't really Spider-Man. It goes against the core of the character. He can have these things briefly, but in the end it has to fall apart.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 3:18pm | IP Logged | 2  

Why does Parker need to be grown up? Because too many of his fans, who should have stopped reading years ago, need to continue to live vicariously thru him.
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Michael Andrew Gonoude
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 3:37pm | IP Logged | 3  

This is why I loved DC's Imaginary Stories in the '60's, and wished Marvel had had something similar at the time; Spider-Man could have grown up and had all sorts of terrible and/or wonderful things happen to him and/or his supporting cast (they could have croaked Aunt May, married Peter off to Gwen Stacy, and had little Spider-Kids running up the walls in webbing diapers) - but everything would be back to normal in the next issue.*  The toys put back in the box, unbroken, as somebody around here is so fond of saying... 

*Just Imagine - What If Mort Weissenger had been a Marvel editor?

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Darren Taylor
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 3:38pm | IP Logged | 4  

These characters were created and aimed at a particular audience.

Why people keep insisting on modifying them beyond this, I don't get. What these people need is a -new- character that they can relate to and leave the original character intact.

 

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Michael Andrew Gonoude
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 3:42pm | IP Logged | 5  

Hey, JB, what do you think Wayne Boring's Spider-Man would've been like?  Or Curt Swan's?  Al Plastino's would've been somewhere in between the two...
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Don Zomberg
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 3:44pm | IP Logged | 6  

It's a bit telling that the "fans" who so often claim to love a character the most are the ones who understand said character the least. If you think Spider-Man should be married (to MJ Watson, of all people) and a member of the Avengers, well, sorry, you really aren't a fan of the character Lee and Ditko created all those years ago.

Their whole philosophy seems to be, "I love Captain Wonderful, but I'd love him even more if he were something completely different."

And of course, those of us who think "First Do No Harm" is a good mandate are accused by the unwashed masses of "defending the status quo."

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Paul Kimball
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 5:49pm | IP Logged | 7  

And of course, those of us who think "First Do No Harm" is a good mandate
are accused by the unwashed masses of "defending the status quo
++++++++
Please make that the very clean masses.
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Steven Myers
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 6:44pm | IP Logged | 8  

I love the "grown up" Spider-Man in Spider-Girl.  Which evolved from a one-shot What If? story, and isn't trying to make sense in Spider-Man's current continuity, but remaining an "imaginary story".

Superman had the "Mr & Mrs Superman" stories for years that let readers see an older Clark and Lois.

And all the above leads me to my conclusion: why age the characters in the current concinuity, when you can always age them in a seperate continuity, and have the best of both worlds?

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Mike Norris
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 10:11pm | IP Logged | 9  

Guy on another board said:

"That was his thing in the 60s. Ever since the 70s, he's been at least in his late 20s, movies notwithstanding."

I dont recall Peter aging that fast in the 70s. Are there any  markers that would make the 70s Peter in his late twenties? Was he still going to College back then?  Drawing a blank on Pete's life in those days.

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Stephen Robinson
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 10:46pm | IP Logged | 10  

Peter Parker is a college graduate, which would place him at 21/22. He was in grad school for a while until the mid 80s but that was the sort of thing that could have been kept fairly open-ended.

I think the marriage is what accelerated his age. Suddenly, people viewed him as late-20s/early 30s, though there was really nothing in the books themselves to make that clear.

If I had my way, Spider-Man would always be a high-school age character with no more than a year's experience.
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Stephen Churay
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Posted: 16 January 2010 at 11:23pm | IP Logged | 11  

The problem I have with characters growing up is they cease to be relevant to what the core audience should be. Does a 10-20 year old really want to know how Peter is have trouble paying the rent or problems with his marriage? Do they care? I think they would be more interested to see if Peter can GET the girl. Same thing with Superman. Once they relationship exists, where do you go from there? It's a lot like many TV shows. Once the couple you want to see get together actually does, the show has jumped the shark. (ex. Moonlighting, Who's The Boss, etc.) I don't find comics any different in that regard.

A 10-20 year old can relate to whether the outsider (Peter) can get the girl. They can relate to Peter's struggle to keep his grades up and still try and be a superhero.

As long as the target audience is the 25-35 year old male, these are the kind of stories we'll get. 
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James Revilla
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 12:28am | IP Logged | 12  

As long as Twilight boy isn't Parker...I will be happy.
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Francesco Vanagolli
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 6:10am | IP Logged | 13  

Anal readers say: "I want Spider-Man grow up WITH ME!".

Actually, Spider-Man grows ALONE, if he really does, because if you want a fictional character live a real life like yours... you're the one who need growing a bit!

I wished Spider-Ma could "grow up"with me... but I meant "I want he faces new enemies and meet new people", not "He must age like me". And nowI'm 2 years older than him... next goal: to be older than Superman! In 3 years (yes, for me Superman is still 29). 



Edited by Francesco Vanagolli on 17 January 2010 at 6:10am
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Tom French
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 6:39am | IP Logged | 14  

The three major eras in my life: 
     1) when I was younger than Superman -- I was a little kid, and Superman was a grown-up.  I hardly ever thought about numbers -- one time, I remember going through the work of figuring out how old I'd be in the year 2000.  "Thirty-six?" I thought.  "I'll NEVER be THAT old!"

     2) when I was the same age as Superman -- somewhere along the line, I learned that Superman's "official" age was twenty-nine.  I was twenty-nine in 1993, the same year Superman "died."  Things were clearly going better for me.

     3) when I was older than Superman -- I'm at an age now where Superman could be my son (if I'd been straight and gotten some girl pregnant in high school).  Here I get older and he's holding steady, lucky guy. 

I'm getting close to Earth-2 Superman's age.  GEEZ!  Another epoch!

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Joe Hollon
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 6:54am | IP Logged | 15  

The first time I remember thinking much about Spider-Man's age was when he had a birthday...I'm pretty sure it was in one of the McFarlane drawn issues....and he had a birthday cake with candles.  I remember counting the candles and I believe there were 24 which made me think he was a little older than I tended to think of him.  At the very least Peter should've stayed in grad school and remained an ambiguous age somewhere in his early twenties.  And of course he never should've gotten married and Gwen should not have died.  I'm afraid the toothpaste is out of the tube as far as the comics go anyway...

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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 6:58am | IP Logged | 16  

I guess it touches upon a broader debate of characters aging.
Spider-Man has obviously aged throughout his history, while Superman never has. Neither has Batman, at least visibly, while Dick "Robin/Nightwing" Grayson has.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 7:22am | IP Logged | 17  

I love the "grown up" Spider-Man in Spider-Girl. Which evolved from a one-shot What If? story, and isn't trying to make sense in Spider-Man's current continuity, but remaining an "imaginary story".

Tell that to the minibrains who insisted the monthly SPIDER-GIRL comic was "proof" baby May had not died!

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John Byrne
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 7:26am | IP Logged | 18  

Peter Parker is a college graduate, which would place him at 21/22. He was in grad school for a while until the mid 80s but that was the sort of thing that could have been kept fairly open-ended.

That was precisely the reason he was put in grad school. You can be in grad school forever. It doesn't have to be a "clock".

Unfortunately, there are too many idiots on both sides of the equation (fans and pros alike) who simply cannot or will not play the game. "He's been in grad school for YEARS! He must have aged some!"

For as long as I have been bashing my head against this stupid argument, I have made the same point: sit down with all the issues of SPIDER-MAN, or FANTASTIC FOUR, or X-MEN whatever you like, and tote up the elapsed time. You'll find there's really not as much as you might think. (A classic example: the original "Galactus Trilogy" took place in less than one afternoon!)

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John Byrne
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 7:32am | IP Logged | 19  

Spider-Man has obviously aged throughout his history, while Superman never has. Neither has Batman, at least visibly, while Dick "Robin/Nightwing" Grayson has.

And that's another side of this stupid problem. Dick is pushing thirty, while Bruce is... what? DC and Marvel seem unable to do math. If one character in a "shared universe" ages, EVERYBODY ages.

(One of the dumbest of all the dumb letters I have received came back when I was doing FANTASTIC FOUR, and a reader wrote in to say that the "solution" to the aging problem was "easy"! Since most of the older Marvel characters had "radiation origins" simply establish that characters like the FF, the Hulk, Spider-Man, even the X-Men are themselves radioactive, and the radiation not only prevents them from aging normally, it prevent people around them from aging normally! Sure. Cuz, these pockets of non-aging people spotted around NYC and the rest of the country wouldn't draw ANY attention to themselves, would they?)

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Steven Myers
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 9:27am | IP Logged | 20  

Tell that to the minibrains who insisted the monthly SPIDER-GIRL comic was "proof" baby May had not died!

The "What if?" should be enough for them to....nah...some people will never get it....

On another note, the "grad school" idea also does not establish Peter as mid-twenties or so when most people (like me) enter grad school.  Since Pete's a genius level student, he could easily have finished High School at 16 or 17 and finished his undergrad by 20 or 21!

The biggest change with Spider-Man is that now that he's been married, even if it is undone, he's been linked to Mary Jane.  Whereas before he never has a relationship last.  Clark and Lois are always a team, and their marriage, while affecting the series certainly, hasn't nearly the effect of Peter/MJ.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 9:40am | IP Logged | 21  

Spider-Man's journey has been a strange one. He was created by a couple of middle-aged guys (Stan Lee, early 40s at the time, and Steve Ditko, late 30s) who tried to capture what it was like to be a teenager.

Then the torch was passed to a younger group, who tended to write Parker and his pals pretty much as themselves, 20-somethings who moved Peter further away from his high school beginnings and began to bring in issues that, it could be argued, were not properly part of the experiences of the target audience.

But, the audience, or at least a substantial part of it, was getting older, too, and Parker et al began to suffer a bit of the syndrome that seems to afflict Superman -- middle-aged guys writing about middle-aged guys for middle-aged guys.

The original audience, the audience that had made Spider-Man such a huge success in the first place (and I know, because I was part of it) were forgotten or ignored. And, "mysteriously", sales dropped.

The final, and most devastating stage came, of course, when those shrunken sales were accepted, and even applauded. (Remember a few years back when one of the Spider-Man writers showed up in this Forum celebrating the "huge" sales on the latest issues -- sales that would have gotten the book canceled a few years earlier? The triumph of mediocrity and diminished expectations.)

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Jason Mark Hickok
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 9:51am | IP Logged | 22  

Well if it was up to me Peter would be in high school, Gwen would be alive, Norman would be alive, etc.  I definitely would prefer not to see Peter worried about "real life" problems.  I have enough of those on my own.  Even though I still enjoy the book (and think they are back in a little better direction) I would still like to see it go further.

When Peter/Spider-Man went through some of the big changes (graduating, getting married) was there a big call for this from the fans?  I know the age of readers was skewing a little higher but were they clamoring for Peter to be like them and have their same problems?

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Paulo Pereira
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 9:52am | IP Logged | 23  

 JB wrote:
The original audience, the audience that had made Spider-Man such ahuge success in the first place (and I know, because I was part of it)were forgotten or ignored. And, "mysteriously", sales dropped.


And some publisher guy at Marvel is "proud" of creating the Marvel Adventures line because Marvel had never before had an all-ages line.

Yeesh.


Edited by Paulo Pereira on 17 January 2010 at 9:55am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 9:56am | IP Logged | 24  

When Peter/Spider-Man went through some of the big changes (graduating, getting married) was there a big call for this from the fans?

From the fans who had "crossed over" and were writing, drawing, and editing the books, yes. (It's the same thing that made CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS "necessary".)

This is the eternal problem -- the fan-turned-pro who cannot let go of "fan think" and consider what is needed for the books and the characters, not what s/he has been grumbling for years (too many years, usually!) needed to be done!

To once again quote the cogent observation of Len Wein: "The first story you'd do as a fan should be the last story you'd do as a pro." Wrap that in Stan's immortal "Never give the fans what they THINK they want," and you have what should be the "Hippocratic Oath" of all comicbook professionals.

(Historical Note: Parker and MJ getting married came from Stan, who was writing the newspaper strip and wanted to add more "soap opera" elements. It was NOT his intent that this translate over to the comics. It was the Powers That Were in editorial at the time who saw Spider-Man getting married as a stunt that would capture civilian attention and generate sales. DC had just done something similar with the "wedding" of Lois and Superman, which sucked in a lot of non-fans who did not realize the "special issue" was a flashback to the marriage of the Earth2 versions of the characters. What TPTW did not realize was that civilians didn't know or care enough about Spider-Man's backstory to even be aware that he wasn't married! Rather than a huge spike in sales, the marriage produce a tidal wave of apathy. But, alas, the deed was done.)

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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 17 January 2010 at 10:44am | IP Logged | 25  

I'm just waiting for DC to pull a "Spider-Man/MJ" - and dissolve the Superman/Lois marriage. The writers seem unable to deal with the marriage, so they largely ignore it (of course, they could just be bad writers...).

Which shows that the power-that-be should be careful about changing the long-term status quo of characters. Yes, you'll get some mileage out of the new marriage or the children, but you're also stuck with it.

One of the reasons why Fantastic Four succeeds as a family is that they were conceived and written that way. Superman and Spider-Man weren't.
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