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A Fan’s Reluctant Return – First Thoughts on “Spider-Island”

By
Posted on August 24, 2011 AT 11:39pm

Ever want to do whatever a spider can?

Growing up there were always two superheroes I gravitated to the most, Batman from DC and Spider-Man from Marvel. The distinct advantage that these two heroes had was that when I was just getting into comics, they had some of the most epic storylines in comics history, which are still referenced to this day. Batman had Knightfall and Spidey had Maximum Carnage. Batman also had movies and Adam West TV reruns, and Spidey had video games where he fought the Sinister Six, teamed up with the X-Men, and did whatever else a spider can and they both later had awesome mid-90s cartoons. With that kind of media bombardment, it wasn’t hard for those two to rise above the rest in my young geeky life.

As the years progressed, these two remained my favorites, even after learning as much as I could about Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and many others. That is until a fateful story arc called One More Day in 2007-2008 cast Spidey in a shadow from which I thought he could never return for me. Marvel had re-launched Spider-Man in one of the most ridiculous ways imaginable when Spidey sold his marriage to Mary Jane to Mephisto to save Aunt May. I understand comics are all about the unimaginable overcoming the unimaginable, but this felt like a slap in the face for someone who had devoted the better part of 20 years to this character. I hate that arc so much that I don’t even want to put a representative image of any of those four covers in this story because they all make me so sick to my stomach. Spidey had some mistakes before like The Clone Saga and what not, but this had felt like Marvel had painted themselves into a corner with the Civil War fallout and basically copped out of trying to fix it. I had tried to continue to read Amazing Spider-Man after this, but after only a couple of issues, I could not stand the new direction the comic had taken and so I imposed a boycott to never buy anything revolving around Spider-Man again. This meant I could still read Avengers related comics and crossovers, but Amazing Spider-Man was dead to me. The core character of who Spider-Man was had been drastically changed and I could never look at him the same way ever again.

Fast-forward to the present day. I had successfully maintained my boycott comic book-wise for over three years. I had played the video games (Web of Shadows was so-so, but I loved Shattered Dimensions), but much like the media bombardment from my childhood, I would have to have been living under a rock to have not noticed the Spider-Island push, especially as I still read a lot of Marvel comics. So here I was, with a jumping off point that could take me back into the Spider-Man universe and with a lot of distance from the arc that had pushed me away from Spidey to begin with. So I picked up Amazing Spider-Man #667, the first part of Spider-Island, as well as the Venom and Cloak and Dagger crossovers.

Honestly, I wasn’t impressed. Coming back into the character now, I still see a lot of the shortcomings from the direction he took back in 2008 and the character has become completely un-relatable to me. I think part of the lasting appeal of comic characters is how much one could imagine themselves in the shoes of the hero and I think that Spider-Man has stagnated, possibly even devolved in those regards. I will finish following at least the Spider-Island story arc though to give Spidey a chance to win me back, especially because the Venom and Cloak and Dagger crossovers started off brilliantly. And you might say that giving him only five or six issues to win me back may seem fickle, but it only took four issues to turn me away from him for three years. If this is supposed to be the ground-breaking “Spider-Event of the Decade” arc that it has been hyped to be, then there should be no problem in hooking me back in. But this arc seems more like “The Clone Saga Part 2″ than anything Spider-Man fans old or new should be excited about, and at this rate the boycott will start again in November when this event ends.

Ray Carsillo, Reviews Editor
Ray Carsillo has extensive roots in geek culture, as he’s written about videogames, comics, and movies for such outlets as Newsday.com, ESPNNewYork.com, Classic Game Room on YouTube, Collider.com, and Comicvine.com before finally settling into his role as EGM’s reviews editor. His main goal in life? To become king of all geek media, of course! Follow Ray’s exploits on Twitter: @RayCarsillo. Meet the rest of the crew.

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