Perils of the Aging Superhero

Although "Perils of the Aging Superhero" was not the first article I wrote for this web site, it was the first one that I wrote for the Hero Realm back in April 2000, the month that site debuted (unfortunately, Hero Realm no longer exists except as a small message board community.) To put this article in perspective, you have to realize that during this time, the Spider-Man titles were at their lowest point in 20 years, and very close to their lowest point ever. Bob Harras was the Editor in Chief, and his edicts included killing off Mary Jane, a decision so unpopular that not even the writer and co-plotter of the titles at the time, Howard Mackie and John Byrne, agreed with it. Harras had also dictated that Aunt May come back from the dead (thus the "genetically altered actress"), and then she was only a peripheral figure after the reboot. The "death" of MJ was very likely the straw that broke the camel's back for this particular era and for Harras himself, who was soon replaced. But even though change was in the air, Marvel's first major investments in revamping Spider-Man were not by improving the core titles, but by launching the "Ultimate" line - which reflected then Marvel President Bill Jemas' belief that Peter Parker needed to be a teenager. I tapped into that particular grievance in a separate article entitled "Spidey was Never a Kid!" and have combined the two articles since they deal with essentially the same subject matter. Even though the debate about Peter's age has died down somewhat, and Marvel seems content to let him be in his late 20's now, it never really goes away. Therefore, much of this column is still relevant, because Marvel from to time still will tie itself in knots about Spider-Man's age, and miss the big picture entirely. Some of these ideas are discussed in a larger context in my article Spider-Man 101 Part 6. And with that in mind...

First, they "killed" Peter Parker's infant daughter before she had the chance to draw her first breath. But that wasn't enough. He wasn't miserable enough, alone enough, young enough. So then, they "murdered" his wife as well. Blew her up in a plane. Then they got him fired from his job. After that, they evicted him from his apartment and put him out on the streets. Now, what they have wanted for so many years seems to be within their grasp. They want to break Peter Parker, crush his spirit, destroy his will, and turn him into a morose and bitter young man, full of anquish and sorrow.

Who are we talking about? The Sinister Six? The Scriers? The guy behind everything these days - Norman Osborn? No - we're talking about a far more insidious and relentless group of villains -

Marvel's editorial staff.

As mentioned earlier, this article was largely inspired by Mary Jane's "death" (No, I never believed she was really dead). I was in the preliminary stages of a multi-part effort back at Spidey Kicks Butt! which involved re-writing my original Mary Jane articles to reflect recent events (it only took me another four years to finally get that done). I had also planned on writing an article about young May Parker (This never materialized, but there may be an article about Spider-Girl in the Alternate Spidey series one of these days), and then taking a new look at the Clone Saga - why I think it was destined for failure even before the big revelation about who was the clone (Seven years later, and I still have never done that series - but it's always in the back of my mind). But when you step back and take a look at the whole affair, all three of these issues - MJ, the baby, and Ben Reilly, reflect the same problem - Marvel's almost pathological fear of their number one icon becoming a grown man.

Those of us who love Spider-Man related to him for one primary reason - because he was a lot like us in many ways. He was fallible, prone to making mistakes, and was always craving the acceptance and support that seemed perpetually beyond his grasp. He often loved none too wisely or well, had trouble making ends meet, and constantly felt that he was not living up to the expectations demanded of him. He was the working class superhero - the Charlie Brown of the spandex costume set. It didn't matter if he was 15, 25 or 35. Plus, he had a strong stable of friends and acquaintences who could be counted on to carry part of the story load.

But somehow, as the sales of Spidey's comics faltered during the 90's (it should be noted that the entire industry nearly crashed and burned during those days, not just Spider-Man), Marvel chose to see it almost solely as a function of his increasing maturity. The fact he had a wife, was no longer in college, and (at one time) was going to be a parent - all of this in Marvel's mindset contributed to the decline in sales because he was no longer so young. For some reason, it never occurred to this once proud multi-million dollar corporation that was listed on the New York Stock Exchange that Spidey's decline might have been rooted in:

  1. Bad and predictable writing;

  2. Overexposure - including four titles a month and way too many limited series and guest star appearances;

  3. The general decline of the comic book industry;

  4. Flavors of the Month such as Spawn that seem "hipper" - for a time; and

  5. Marvel's own stupidity in expanding too fast and spreading its talent too thin.

(Looking back five years, although Marvel remains loathe to fess up to mistakes - and admittedly most of the people who nearly sunk the character are gone - reading between the lines, they realized (1) (2) and (5) and took steps to correct them. (3) and (4) were not really within their control anyway - although Marvel is a big enough player that it does influence the overall health of the industry.)

It sure as hell wasn't Mary Jane who sent Marvel hurtling with all abandon into an ugly bankruptcy. In fact, not even good old Norman Osborn plotted that one. Marvel did it entirely to itself (specifically Ron Perelman and his cronies who damn near destroyed the company as they tried to suck as much cash out as possible, but leaving the shareholders with all the debt - fortunately - he's long gone - but it does demonstrate that it wasn't just the people on the creative side who sabotagued the company - the financial people put such pressure on them at times to continue to push more product out the door that a rash of bad storytelling was inevitable).

This isn't to say that all of Marvel's concerns about the demographics of its readership aren't valid. After all, in America, comic books are still seen largely as "children's" entertainment. Unlike Japan, where comics are an accepted part of mainstream media, enjoyed by young and old, in the United States, if you're a grown man (and the male bias in this article is simply because males still comprise the majority of the comic-buying public) your love of comic books is typically something you underplay unless you are certain that the person you are talking to is a comics fan as well. And, it is a fact of life, young boys grow up and find other things to spend their money on than comics, and so more young boys have to be found to replace them. Fair enough.

But the population in this country is on average growing older all the time. The aging Baby Boomers aren't just a catchy phrase created by marketers, they are a huge segment of the population that radically alters the American economy each decade it grows older. And some of them kept purchasing comic books, even when they did have other things to spend their money on ("Baby formula? But, honey - it's a double-sized issue this month!") Does their age somehow make their dollars worth less? Do they spend with "older" money that disentegrates in the cash registers? (O.K. - I got a little shrill in those days - but I think my analysis is still sound - Marvel seems to have made some peace with its older readers recently - but in 2000 - it seemed to actively dislike them and deliberately alienate them.)

What was even more amazing is that Marvel seemed to have no idea where a good sized portion of its "Next Generation" of Spidey fans was going to come from. With so many modes of entertainment to choose from, and markets segmenting into smaller and smaller groups (Cable TV is the best example of that - with the right target group and the right advertising, you can appeal to smaller segments of the market all the time, but still make money), the idea that your casual 6-12 year old boy is simply going to walk into a comics store and pick up Spidey out of the blue and become a lifelong fan (or at least until he discovers puberty)is getting more remote all the time - particularly with comics at $3 a pop these days. Wouldn't you think that the best chance of having a love of Spidey passed down to another generation is to keep us old fogies happy with the comic so that we loop our kids into it? Isn't part of the reason the Star Trek phenomenon has successfully migrated across the decades (attempts to kill it with Voyager and Enterprise notwithstanding) is that parents have passed a love of the show down to their offspring? And if we get ticked off at the direction of the comics and stop buying Spidey, then our kids aren't going to be inspired to beat the drum for the webslinger after we're out of the market (Ironically, I first wrote this more than a year before my son was born - and sure enough the old man has made him a Spidey fan - and I still feel this is the best way to perpetuate the industry rather than try to appeal to the Pokemon generation directly - but I will admit that I am no businessman).

Admittedly, one of the keys to Spidey's popularity was his sense of alienation, which is a strong attraction for younger readers (and seems to keep the myriad of X-titles afloat through varying degrees of quality). But, a character doesn't have to be 15 years old to feel alienated, nor to attract a young audience. The best example I can think of is my old TV icon, Mr. Spock. The last time I dug into my old video tapes and watched an episode of the original series, Leonard Nimoy didn't look like a teen-ager to me. In fact, he wasn't even completely human! (Something about the ears ...) However, his search for his place in the universe, his struggle with the complexities of his dual heritage and his desire (in a very logical way, of course) for acceptance touched a nerve in a whole lot of young (and not so young) people. Look no closer than Marvel's own backyard and another one of its most popular characters - Wolverine. Hey, this guy was once a secret operative of the Canadian government who was rescued by none other than Peter Parker's father, and according to the Origin miniseries, is really over a hundred years old. So, it is a completely bogus notion that a hero has to be young to have problems that young people can relate to. Sometimes it felt that Marvel believed that as a person gets older, life gets less complex, less problematic, less of an inspiration for drama.

Unfortunately, these simple truisms, which Marvel failed to grasp, demonstrated that those making the calls on Spidey were apparently pursuing an entirely different agenda than simply what was best for the character and his continued popularity (I know this seems paranoid and conspiratorial. After all, it really is absurd to believe that Marvel's management would actually sit down and plot how to destroy the company's no. 1 icon because they wouldn't - but in reading the stories from the 1998-2001 period and looking at some of the decisions and some of the statements made by management - you really had to wonder...)

This becomes even more obvious when you realize that the perfect solution to the entire "problem" of Peter Parker's aging was staring Marvel in the face and they blew it, pissing off EVERYONE.

The perfect solution was indeed the Scarlet Spider. Whoa, whoa, whoa hold those stale fruits and vegetables - hear me out. First of all, I am not going to analyze the Clone Saga, because that is the subject for another article. But I will say this, Marvel may be under the delusion that people didn't like the Clone Saga for the simple reason of the dramatic change in characters - but as I have gone back and read through some of the stories and remembered some of the circumstances at the time, it becomes readily apparent that Marvel was unintentionally setting the whole thing up for failure from the beginning due to sheer ignorance and greed.

Anyway, back to Scarlet. Having already brought back Peter Parker's clone and given him his own costume and identity (Ben Reilly), it would have been almost too easy for him to have relocated to the West Coast and assumed the role of the Scarlet Spider full time. Marvel would have had the best of both worlds - an older, maturing, family-oriented Peter Parker on the East Coast, and the single, edgier, hipper Scarlet Spider on the West Coast. And they could have simply sat back and watched which one (if not both) the comic buying audience would have supported (Marvel actually did this with such titles as "Fantastic Force" and "Thunderstrike" which were Fantastic Four and Thor knock-offs - but then cancelled the titles claiming that they hurt the sales of the original version - although Thunderstrike writer Tom DeFalco questions the veracity of those claims). In fact, for those of you who might remember a What If? comic from a looooooooong time ago called "What If? - Spider-Man's Clone Lived?" (actually, it was What If Volume 1 Number 30 - December, 1981 issue)it was postulated that since Professor Warren had taken the cell sample of Peter Parker from freshman biology - the clone turned out to be, in effect, three years younger than the then-present Peter Parker. Therefore, Scarlet could have been younger which is what Marvel wanted Peter so desperately to be. And, in being a clone, Scarlet would have been faced with the identity crises that go with being such a thing. He would have been different than everyone around him, and his search for meaning in his life and acceptance would have resinated with the younger crowd Marvel was obviously coveting.

But, Marvel took the worst possible position, short of actually killing Peter Parker off, by saying that the Spider-Man most of us had grown up with since Amazing #150 was in fact, a clone, and that for nearly 20 years, we had been reading the adventures of someone who was merely calling himself Spider-Man, but wasn't really Spider-Man. All of the highs and lows, good times and bad, bumps and bruises we had endured with our beloved web-slinger, were all a fraud (I went from 11 to 30 during that period - believe me, Spidey and I covered a lot of ground together). The fact that Marvel was so stunned by the extent of the backlash, that they never imagined how so many fans would feel betrayed by this course of action, showed how clearly out of touch they were with their audience.

Then, after their asses were handed to them over that bad decision, they chose to compound that decision by "fixing" the clone saga in the worst possible way - not only by killing Ben Reilly off, but by killing him off in such a cheap and unconvincing way. Yeah, like he wouldn't have sensed that Goblin glider coming straight for him and been able to duck (Peter himself did in the classic Amazing #122). He wasn't placed in a dramatic situation where the only solution was for him to die, he simply died because the writers wanted him to. So, having already alienated the Peter Parker fans, they proceeded to alienate the fans whom they had manipulated in caring for and supporting Ben Reilly. Even Seward Trainer, who was being built up as Reilly's closest friend and confidante, deserved better. He was given a demotion from a brilliant geneticist to a mere thieving lackey and dupe of first the Jackal, then Norman Osborn. And, he was quickly disposed of in an ignominious fashion unworthy of what he was at one time meant to be.

Anyway, at the end of the Clone Saga, we had our "old" Spider-Man back. But unfortunately, many of the same problems that plagued the titles before the Clone Saga continued to exist - and they were still struggling. Two titles were cancelled and two others rebooted with new #1s - and they still failed to catch on. The solution? Work to actually improve the quality of the storytelling? Not at first. As usual for the times, the perceived answer to all of the problems was Spider-Man's age - hence Ultimate Spider-Man.

I was never against the Ultimate titles on principal. Myths have been reinterpreted by new generations as long as there have been myths and new generations. As something of a modern mythology, Spider-Man, as well as the rest of the Marvel Universe, would not be immune to reinterpretation, and why should they be? That's why the concept of "What if" was a popular one - how would our hero react if the circumstances were altered? Ultimate merely asks, what would happen if Peter Parker were bitten by a spider in 2000 as opposed to 1962? However, Marvel chose to market it in such a way as to alienate its core constituency (the implication, broken down to its basics, was that this was a fresh, vital Spider-Man for the new comic reader, and the hell with the old Spider-Man and the older readers). Even writer Brian Michale Bendis must have been somewhat sensitive to this issue, because when the title debuted, he asked fans to evaluate the story on its own merits, and not judge it based on how Marvel had chosen to market it.

I've had a change of heart about this. First of all, it turns out that the perfect solution was Ultimate Spider-Man itself. That title gives readers the perpetually teen-aged Peter Parker. There are even other "Marvel Adventures" all ages books which keep Pete as a teen. I even liked Ultimate for a while until it largely became pretty pictures in search of a story. But a Scarlet Spider series? No - Ben Reilly had to die so that there would be the One, True Spider-Man.

I remembered something that one of Hero Realm's co-creators, the "late" George Berryman, told me in the early days of the Realm was that Marvel President Bill Jemas "hates MJ, hates the baby, and wants Spidey to be a kid again."


For some reason I became hung up on the phrase of wanting Spidey to be a kid again. And finally, I figured out why it was bothering me - and that's because it presumes that Spidey was a kid in the first place. And he wasn't. Not really. At least not the kind of kid the Marvel execs who have been desperate to de-age him think he was.

You doubt?

First of all, we do have to acknowledge that while many of us related to Peter Parker in one way or another (which is the root of his popularity), how many of us are really like him? The second part of that question is how many kids did you know in high school who were like Peter Parker? Let's establish that Peter was 15 at the time of the spider bite (supported by the recent Civil War where Peter tells the media he has been Spider-Man since he was 15 years old). He probably turns 16 before too long and is 17 by Amazing Spider-Man #16 when Matt Murdock, whose radar senses are pretty accurate, estimates his age. Let's look at what kind of "kid" Peter Parker really was in the Lee-Ditko, Lee-Romita, Sr. days:

So, ultimately, Peter Parker was never a real kid, not in the sense that real kids are, but he was really an adult in a teenager's body. He had the weight of the world on his shoulders like an adult, and he had true adult responsibilities. In a way, Peter Parker was very much like Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame. Charles Schulz's famous character was never really just a plain kid - he was a neurotic adult in the body of an eight year old (or however old he was). And talk about topical references, Peanuts was loaded with them. However, Schultz's clever writing, wit, and keen understanding of human foibles made this accessible to both young and old. It wouldn't have mattered whether Charlie was five or 15, Schultz's marvelous writing would have carried the message in an entertaining style.

Now, I am not implying that no teenager has ever become head of the household, or held a permanent job before graduation, or had a lightning fast wit, or been a super-genius and still at a public school (but was there ever anyone who was all of those). Nor am I trying to take anyway any of the fun of the early days of Spider-Man, nor ruin any of the fantasy conceits, because that's what it is - fantasy. We recognize that and enjoy it anyway. The point I am making is that for anyone, whether they be a Marvel suit, editor, writer, or someone from Wizard to get hung up on Peter's youth being the core of his popularity, and something that must be repeatedly revisited in order to make the titles popular again, is either blind, in denial, or simply not doing their homework on the character.

You see, teenagers don't really see themselves as "teenagers" the way we adults seem them as teenagers. At least I don't think so based on my experience of observing them and having been one myself (all too many years ago). They don't see themselves for what they are - which is children who for the most part are not ready for the real world. They see themselves as adults who just happen to trapped by circumstances of genetics and chronology in teenage bodies. Many of them think they're either smarter, or at least more in tune with reality than their parents (when my daughter was 6 years old, she came out and said "I'm probably smarter than you, Dad." Sadly in that case, she may have been right). When I was 15, I was disgusted with my old man because he was so totally clueless as to what made the world go round. Not only was my old man not hip or "with it," but he didn't care in the slightest. I didn't understand his perspective, his opinions, his outlook - anything. God, was he stupid.

I still have the bruises where reality smacked me and knocked me flat on my young, arrogant ass.

Also, when I was a teenager, my heroes didn't have to be my own age. Frankly, I felt so disenfranchised in my high school years that I was inclined not to empathize with people my own age, whether real or imagined. And I do think that is why a lot of young people related to Spidey, because of that sense of alienation. There aren't very many young people who don't have those feelings, and probably most adults from time to time feel disenfranchised, whether at work, or in social situations, etc. This sense of alienation is also what made Mr. Spock a huge favorite among the teenage set, as well as Barnabas Collins (the 60's soap opera version, not the revised version of the early 90's), two guys who were neither young, nor frankly, that great-looking. But they didn't have to be. Our heroes are those who appear, not necessarily as we are, but as we would like to be. We would like to be as smart as Peter Parker. We would like to handle crises as well as he does. We would like to have all of these quick zingers to the Flash Thompsons of the world.

And here's another thing. Just because a character is young!young! does not guarantee success. For example:

First of all, surely you remember Untold Tales of Spider-Man, written by Kurt Busiek. Some of these were actually pretty good, others, well, not so good. At the series' best, Busiek took some of the absurdities of the original series (what comes to mind is a teenage girl, Betty Brant, being the executive assistant of a newspaper mogul), and fleshed things out so they actually made some sense (as much as can be done in the comic book world, that is). He literally started back at the very beginning, making Peter Parker a 15 year old again, with new stories, new villains, all the recipes needed for success.

And it failed. Issue #25 was its swan song. Whether because of sales, or because Busiek wanted to move onto other things, or both (which from what I understand now is true), the point is, it did not succeed. Even if Busiek didn't want to do it anymore, if sales had been gangbusters, Marvel would have gotten someone else to write it.

Now, the devil's advocate will say that it failed because even though Peter was a teenager, the comic was still dated. The look and feel of the Lee-Ditko era was being slavishly copied, even down to Peter's square haircut, his goofy blue suit and yellow sleveless sweater.

But wait - there's more evidence that simply "de-aging" Spidey does not work, and that's the Clone Saga. Now, exactly why the Clone Saga failed is the subject for full-length articles, and inspires so much debate that I even hate to bring it up, because such a major event in Spidey's history can't be satisfactorily discussed in just a paragraph. However, based on Marvel's criteria, it should have been a smash. Spidey was single again and was hanging out in a coffee shop pouring an assortment of colorful characters some triple double half-decaffinated overpriced premium coffee just as if he belonged on an episode of "Friends." None of those uncool old people like Aunt May, JJJ, or Robbie were hanging around (except far in the background when Marvel felt the need to remind us that we were still in the same universe as that "bogus" Peter Parker). And of course, even though Ben was unshaven and dressed like a vagabond in the early days, he always had at least two good looking women competing for his affection (spunky and slightly punky Jessica Carradine the photographer and vivacious blond kitten Desiree Winthrop immediately come to mind, although there were others). Fans couldn't relate to Peter Parker being married to a gorgeous redhead, but could relate to a hygenically challenged Ben Reilly being able to pick his chick of choice. Yeah, right. So, it should have been successful, right? Well, history has made its judgment.

Well, the devil's advocates will still say that Ben Reilly was still in his mid to late 20's, still too "old" for the "target audience." If he had been 17 again, that would have worked. And if the stories had been better, then that would have worked, too.

Well, not exactly - Marvel tried that before, too. Not by regressing an existing hero, but trying it with a brand new one. Remember the Green Goblin series, with Phil Urich (reporter Ben's nephew) as a crime fighting Green Goblin? I had avoided this series like the plague when it first came out because it was an outgrowth of the Clone Saga, and I wanted nothing to do with any part of the Clone Saga. And besides, I prefer my Green Goblins to be psychopaths with red cornrows. Years later, with that whole debacle set right, and due to the fact that all of these back issues were available at either the original cover price or less, I decided to scarf up the entire run of the series. And man, was I surprised. This was a fun comic book. I enjoyed every issue. And, it had all of the recipes for success, at least as Marvel seemed to interpret them at the time:

Phil was a genuine teen-age hero. He wasn't on a guilt trip like Spidey, so he did the hero thing because it was fun. He learned on the job, he had his defeats, sometimes he even turned tail and ran because he was scared. And he was no scientific whiz, not even sure how some of his gadgets worked. He was misunderstood in both his costumed and civilian identities, and his folks thought he was a slacker and a failure. Why couldn't he be like that terrific older brother of his? At the end of the series with the Sentinel rampage during Onslaught, he began to realize the responsibility his powers gave him. The series had a lot of humor, and plenty of rock 'em sock 'em action. It was fairly well written by Tom DeFalco, who has been a pretty doggone good and consistent writer over the years. The series had everything going for it.

And it failed. Issue #13 was its last.

Now, to be honest, as much as it had going for it, the Green Goblin series did have some things working against it, such as the deteriorating state of the comics industry at the time, and the fact that the return of Norman Osborn was going to make this Goblin a bit more problematic to keep around (it was apparent by issue #7 that Norman's return was in the works, due to the Multivex van outside the warehouse which had cleaned out the Goblin lab Phil had originally stumbled upon). Another problem was that most of the new villains were lame and unoriginal (I did like Angelface, though - unlike many new female villains who have "issues" i.e. Poison, Coldheart, Typhoid Mary, Shriek - Angelface was just a badass - and DeFalco even brought her back, older, not any wiser, no less crazy, and mother to two young psychopaths in Spider-Girl).

Ultimately, though, for whatever reason, the series did not sell. When one letter writer in the Spidey editorial pages asked why the Goblin series was cancelled and asked the question "were sales really that low?" the answer came back "yes."

So, basically the prototype comic which perfectly illustrates Marvel's criteria for success didn't make it past its first year.

And if you thought that just because Spidey was in high school and college in the movies he was a kid - think again. Tobey Maguire was 25 years old when he first copped the role. He may have been playing a 18 year old Peter Parker, but he was still 25. During the year of release for Spider-Man 3 (2007) Maguire will be 32 years old (ohmigod! A 30+ year old Spider-Man! Good thing Sam Raimi hired the actor rather than Marvel). Now, history has made its judgment here as well, and Tobey Maguire is Spider-Man and is one of the reasons the movies have been so successful. Still, it is interesting that supposedly another actor who tested for the role, Patrick Fugit, was told that he was "too young" for the role. In other words, he still looked like a kid. And if you followed the production stories surrounding the film, you saw that the studio execs were slow to o.k. Raimi's choice of Tobey until they saw that he had "beefed up." Additionally, a specialist worked with Tobey to make him more buff. In other words, apparently no one wanted to see a real, gawky, gangly teenager on the screen. And how many "teenage" characters are played by actors in their 20's? Frankly, I'm not sure why that's the way it is, but that's Hollywood, and Hollywood logic operates on its own plane.

So, folks, the point of all of this is that we have simply been lied to when we are told that the aging of Peter Parker is a problem with the marketing of the character to a new generation. He never was a real kid in the sense of the word, he isn't a real kid in the movies, and a good comic series starring a real kid that had everything going for it failed. Ultimate Spider-Man has been a success, still selling 70,000+ copies, but it doesn't consistently sell more than the old fart Amazing Spider-Man, and even when it does, it's not be enough that one could make the assumption that readers prefer a younger Spider-Man. In fact, I dare say that a huge percentage of readers of Ultimate Spider-Man are the same geezers buying Amazing. So, it's hard to validate Marvel's perception that young people would rush out in droves to buy Spider-Man comics if he were only a teenager again.

That said, why does this issue of Spider-Man's age keep cropping up? I really don't know. It just seems that every once in awhile, new EIC Joe Quesada, who has done many good things in his time at the top, gets a little twitchy over the issue of Spider-Man aging (it doesn't help that people keep jabbing him about the marriage to Mary Jane trying to provoke a reaction out of him. He's on record as saying he doesn't like it - but he doesn't know that any of the alternatives at this stage are any better - just let it go). He has stated that when he was a kid, if he read an issue of Spider-Man where our hero was changing baby diapers, he would never have bought another issue again.

Maybe it's just him.

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Copyright 1998-2007 J.R. Fettinger. All Rights Reserved. All original content is the exclusive property of J.R. Fettinger. Spider-Man, the Green Goblin and everyone else who appears in the Spider-Man comics is the property of Marvel Entertainment, and are used in these articles for the purpose of analysis and commentary.