Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spectacular Spider-Man (Part I)

Part one of a two-part tribute to Spectacular Spider-Man.

A few months after Kraven's Last Hunt, it was time for another haircut, which meant I got 75 cents to run over to the 7-11 and pick out a comic book. This cover from Spectacular Spider-Man #135 gave me the tingles.
My haircuts weren't frequent enough for me to catch parts 1 and 3 of "Sin-Eater", so I just kept rereading this one issue. The show opens with Spider-Man - post-symbiote, but still wearing his black costume - sizzling on the sidewalk after encountering Electro.
When an unruly mob gathers, Spidey's salvation comes from an unlikely source - a former villain named Sin-Eater, now retired ex-con Stan Carter. A drama then unfolds in the courtrooms of Peter Parker's mind.

Carter's cane and stutter are holdovers from his fight with Spider-Man, who beat him so hard he crippled him. In this comic, Peter is still trying to work out the guilt he feels over this, which is why a relatively weak villain like Electro was able to get the upper hand. In the aftermath of the battle, Spider-Man struggles to gain control over his conflicting feelings of rage, guilt, and fear.
In the dream (there are no real action sequences in the comic), Spider-Man's conflicting anxieties bubble to the surface: losing control and killing someone on one hand, pulling his punches and getting killed himself on the other. It's not so different from the dilemma Batman faces going up against the Joker in The Dark Knight Returns.

That the best you can do? Here's my best. It's Electro at his scariest, and it's all in Spidey's imagination. At nine years old, an age at which the literary classics no longer seemed cool, this comic left me wondering about power and responsibility. For a Spider-Man comic, it's hard to get much better than that.

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