Trapped Under Wreckage and Doin' It for Aunt May
posted by B on 8/06/01
A few years ago I was forced to give up something that was very important in my life. At the time I was around 18 years old and was mired in my first physical, monogamous relationship with a girl named Jessica. She was gorgeous and at the time I loved her with all of my trembling little teenage heart, as much as an over-sheltered kid trying to live by the rules his grandma taught him in Sunday school class COULD. The first time she cheated on me, with a prissy guy she went to church with, I was heartbroken but still gave her the benefit of the doubt. The second time she cheated on me, for a guy with a nicer car than mine, I wanted to put her in the Crippler Crossface. Unfortunately she never tried to clothesline me, so I could never set it up properly, and had to give her the benefit of the doubt again. On Valentine's Day, when she waited long enough to get all my presents before reversing my Crossface attempt into the Walls of Jericho and dumping me like one would dump an amount of feces into an amount of toilet, it was over. Triple H did a run in and hit my heart with a sledgehammer, shattering it into a thousand pieces.
Jessica and I in happier times.
It was one of the most painful personal losses of my life, one that even today I must fill with awkward but somehow appropriate pro wrestling references to soften. It wasn't, however, the most painful loss I'd ever gone through...a few years earlier I'd lost something to me that meant more than any teenage girl could, more than the loss of my personal freedom as a citizen or the loss of a rocking chicken sandwich could compare to.
It was 1995, and I was going through an emotional catharsis. It was the year that I, like many of my contemporaries, were starting to feel distant from the hero that helped guide us through adolescence. Y'see, Batman, Superman, the X-Men...these are comics that help people suspend reality during tough times. I was never into Superman...how can you identify with a man who can just come up with a new super power out of the blue to get out of a problem? "Oh no, Lex Luthor has created a Superman destroying laser device! I'll just use my power of instantly recognizing and being able to dismantle Superman destroying lasers before it kills me!" Superman must be a joy at parties, he could just dream up a "I get hot bitches" superpower and have the ladies lining up to get a tug on his cape. Somewhere in the corner the Lone Ranger stands around begging someone to pull on his mask, but just ends up spitting in the wind. That injustice is meaner than a junkyard dog.
And as far as Batman goes, the man has no super powers, is richer than Ernest P. Rockefeller, and never loses a fight to anyone, even if he's fighting Jesus. So how are you supposed to get behind Batman and root for him? ESPECIALLY with all the homosexual subtext and rubber super bat shark repellent nipple suits that any standup comedian or half-assed Internet e/n site retard constantly comments on. OMG HE HAS A BOY WONDER SIDEKICK IN SHORTPANTS LOL!!!11 If I wanted to read about gay superheroes I'd read Alpha Flight, or any comic produced by Valiant. As far as the X-Men go, I can find large groups of unoriginal, self-homofying lamers I'd turn on MTV.
Before you get on my case about not liking the X-Men, as I know our readers possess the same level of dork as our writers, let me clarify myself with some "good" X-Men buzzwords and some "bad" X-Men buzzwords.
Good: "Dark Phoenix Saga," "Days of Future Past," the Mutant Massacre issues, storylines involving teenagers who hate themselves and are hated because they are different, creating a thought-provoking parallel between the comic book characters and the readers.
Bad: Anything involving X-Force, or Cable's tiny little feet, Gambit (who likes to sneak words into sentences that have no meaning, i.e., "It looks like we're in for some rain today MON AMI!), Wolverine's super powers are his bone clawz!!111 And look, we changed Psylocke from a blonde British chick into an Asian ninja in her underwear because Jim Lee wanted her that way.
Watch out for Lance Storm, General Rection!! Laissez les bons temps rouler!
How much of the "good" has happened in the last 15 years, and how much of the bad? That's 15 years, most people have already had sex and killed someone by age 15. At least I had. WITH THE SAME PERSON! But not necessarily in that order. I wish I still liked the X-Men, I went to see the movie with high expectations. About the thirtieth time somebody fell over and knocked over a table of things I started looking at my watch. And my watch was at home, between films not featuring men in leather jumpsuits being tied to things. And it's on a dead girl! THAT I HAD SEX WITH! HAW HAW!
But I'd abandoned the X-Men long ago...in 95 the loss was more extreme. It was the year when myself and others were just getting over our love of comic books in exchange for a love of pretentious teenage vaginas. It was shortly after we'd either abandoned Spider-Man comics because of the whole "Scarlet Spider" debacle or had just muscled our way through each contrived plot-twist and came out with a shell of the character we'd all known and loved like our surrogate Big Brother. He wasn't the "surrogate Big Brother" who becomes your step dad and throws your Sega Genesis against the wall and beats your Mom. The good kind, that takes you to soccer games and gives you positively reinforced hugs. 1995 was the year Amazing Spider-Man #400 caught our eye at the Walmart, so we picked it up. Then we put it down and just sat there in the aisle crying.
In Amazing 400, Spidey's Aunt May reveals that she's always known he was Spider-man, tells him she loves him, and then dies. It's one of the most touching things I've ever read, like the big payoff to the story we'd been looking for for years. If nothing else it took the jaded comic fan back to the days when the stories were more about the characters than some gimmick, some predictable announced death with a multilayered gatefold holographic "rub the warm blood" cover and 20 splash pages. Spidey was something to us that no other hero was, and everybody who agrees with me has already said it: He was just like us. He was a big fucking dork who always messed up, but thanks to the fact that he had a good heart and the best of intentions usually (but not always) came out on top. He went to school, worried about what girls thought of him, and was always getting pissed because his costume kept tearing. It, in the simplest of terms, made us proud to be a huge dork, because we all wanted to have that same good heart and best of intentions.
Is he strong? Listen, bud! Yes.
I've only cried at something I saw in a comic book three times in my life. I always told myself I'd go back and read the old comics before I read the new ones, so I had no idea about Peter (Spidey) not being able to save the love of his life from the clutches of his archnemesis, the Green Goblin, and even possibly causing her death himself. It hurt me deep down inside to see someone I looked up to in so much pain...y'see, Spidey was my hero since I was born, and I really can't tell you why. A man in red and blue pajamas really shouldn't be someone's hero...but I guess I could just identify.
When I was born I was lucky enough to get a pair of Spidey-looking pajamas myself, complete with the uncomfortable underoos with him swinging around on my ass. One of my first conscious memories is the first time I ever took a bath by myself...perhaps it was because my parents were heavy smokers or because I was dropped on my head at a young age (onto a spike, no doubt), but that day was the realization that you had to actually take your clothes off before getting into the tub. I remember it because I jumped in without my brain working and burned myself like a goon, effectively ruining my pajamas. I ran around screaming, less because of the severe burns and more because I tore a hole in the leg jumping in like a doofus and snagging it on the faucet.
He had Spidey pajamas, too.
My whole life was built around the Webslinger...my Mom was friends with the manager at the local Hardees restaurant so I got a giant hologram standup "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends" display for my room, and later, for the attic. I had a Spider-Man big wheel, the lame storybooks with the talk-along records in the back of them, and even a holder for my toothbrush that looked like one of Spider-Man's more inept foes, Electro. He could shoot lightning outta his hands, so he wore a big goofy electricity bolt mask. It's that kind of logic that a dreamer little kid just can't deny.
The first hundred and fifty issues of Amazing Spider-man read like sacred lore to me... everything is bordering on magical, from Spider-Man's origin (transcending the gay "I got bit by a super spider" and becoming gutwrenching when Spidey learns he could've prevented his Uncle's death) to his meetings with three-dimensional villains like the Osborn Family, Kraven, and the Kingpin. They are cheap comics with cheesy dialogue sketched out in four colors on dirty old paper, written with the inspiration and creativity commonly associated with geniuses and men who play golf with J. Christ on the weekends.
The Best Spidey Issues Ever:
Amazing Fantasy #15
The Significance: Nobody likes spiders, teenagers are supposed to wear fish-scaled butt shorts and say things like "HOLY SMOKES what are we supposed to do?" and DAMN what a depressing origin. He's not from space or anything! Stan Lee's efforts in the final issue of the failed Fantasy series (the same that introduced us to the first mutant in comics history, who unfortunately did not throw cards or he would've been GREAT) stand as one of the most groundbreaking of all-time... a hero who was not glamorous, not really very powerful, lacking confidence and wearing a mask that covered his entire face. Steve Ditko's art still stands as one of the finest examples of the Silver Age.
Best Scene: Peter Parker uses his newfound talents to enter the world of professional wrestling. He defeats the unstoppable Crusher Hogan and becomes an instant celebrity. Later on, his ego gets out of control and he keeps all the younger guys from getting a push. He wears this stupid biker hat and a denim jacket and ends up shagging the hot daughter of the guy who runs the federation. His horse-faced ex-girlfriend is immediately fired and forced to do unpopular workout videos and "chicks with dicks" porn. No, wait, he learns a lesson about responsibility.
Current Cost: $30,000, a little more than the price of my life.
The Amazing Spider-Man #96
The Significance: Marvel took a big chance with Amazing 96, the first Marvel comic to be produced outside the guidelines of the "voluntary ethics squad" the Comics Code Authority, who's job is basically to prevent anything controversial or interesting from appearing in the books. The story revolves around a "freaked out cat" who leaps off a building that Spidey's swinging past. It turns out that the Jumper stepped off of that ledge my friend because he was under the influence of hallucinogens, which leads to the issue's strong anti-drug message. Marvel essentially told the Comics Code to kiss their silver surfing asses and published the book anyway, to an overwhelmingly positive response.
Best Scene: Peter's best friend, Harry Osborn (the son of the Green Goblin who would later become the new Goblin) deals with the troubles in his life by becoming addicted to drugs. For like 200 issues after this Harry's always sweating profusely and throwing his arms up going "DAMN YOU SPIDER-MAN" and such. Then he has a crazy child and marries a chick who is related to a guy called "The Molten Man" who's power is that he looks like he's made out of gold. Y'know what started this descent into madness? Harry's hair. It's just like his Dad's, this wavy brown thing that ends up looking like horizontal corn rows. All he has to do is press his fucking forehead into some potatoes and like magic, waffle fries. I'd have done drugs too.
Current Cost: $75, a little more than the price of the life of Paul Reiser.
The Amazing Spider-Man #121
The Significance: The issue that created the unpredictability that still exists in comics today, the senseless death of the most prominent member of Spider-Man's supporting cast, his girlfriend Gwen Stacy. It was like something out of a dream, so unreal that most people thought it was a dream, especially in the age of the Comic Code. But sure enough, Gwen never came back (never REALLY, anyway, save for some crappy storylines) and gave the book (and the character) a seriousness that hadn't been seen in ages -- an example of the real-life consequences to crime.
Current Cost: $180, a little more than the cost of the other guy from "My Two Dads'" life, y'know, the artist one that looked like Jesus. You can count on him no matter what you do. So it's kinda expensive.
The Amazing Spider-Man #129
The Significance: The Punisher begins his one-man war on crime, armed with a van, some guns, and more bullets than grains of sand in the Sahara desert. While Spider-Man would web badguys to a telephone pole and wait for the cops to show up, Frank Castle would tie them to the pole with chicken wire and stuff a grenade down their pants. As far as the Silver Age is concerned, the Punisher was the first "hero" to believe that true happiness really is a warm gun. I've never been a fan of the guy, but he does do a convincing job of expressing the other end of the spectrum of crime fighting. Y'can only support the Fantastic Frog Man for so long.
Best Scene: Comic book poison "The Jackal" persuades the Punisher to hunt and kill Spidey. The Jackal is the guy behind the original cloning of Spider-Man, the second cloning of Spider-Man, the 10,000th cloning of Spider-Man, and the turning of Ben Reilly (the "Scarlet Spider") into dust. I guess even the worst people alive can do great things. Maybe David Arquette with write the Great American Novel!
Current Cost: $205, how much you can buy old wrestlers who got fired for on Ebay.
The Amazing Spider-Man #300
contributed by Dave Emerson
The Significance: This issue marked the first appearance of the “Cool Villain”, unless you count Punisher or Sabretooth, which I don’t. Venom was more than any anti-hero, he was the Anti-Spidey. His/Its/Their entire incarnation's goal in sentient life was to utterly destroy Spider-Man. While They never did, They certainly did beat the ever-loving hell out of Spidey on multiple occasions. Let's see you wisecrack your way out of this one, Parker!
Best Scene: Venom. Appears. What more do you friggin’ fanboys want? Oh, okay, I give in. Page 14 has an advert for the movie Hackers which shows Angelina Jolie’s nipple. Happy? The real best scene is any in the entire series where Parker is getting his ass handed to him.
Current Cost: $48, the amount of arsenic, in dollars, it takes to kill someone who was on My Two Dads. They're like super zombies.
The Amazing Spider-Man #347
The Significance: None, really, it's just possibly the most fun issue of Spider-Man ever written, or drawn. Venom makes a triumphant return from being a three-dimensional killing machine into a jumping monkey, with twenty-eight billion teeth and a tongue that could wrap around Delta Burke TWICE. Well, maybe once. Parker and Venom get stranded on a desert island with no web fluid, no fire or loud noise, and Venom's ongoing Shakespearean dialogue. During the issue Venom threatens to eat his kidneys, liver, and lungs. This later inspired the rock-ass "I want to eat your brain" talking Venom action figure that made my parents throw my young frame through a series of plate glass windows.
Best Scene: Our hero gets knocked into a shallow grave, only to turn around and see a mouth full of teeth. Realizing that it's either Julia Roberts or Venom, Spidey essentially shits his spandex britches and takes off running like a scalded dog. Then Venom beats him down like a government mule. Those two young studs really GET IT ON. Later, Venom (AFTER GETTING VOTED OFF THE ISLAND ROTFLMAO) tries to eat Jim Ross's face for making up so many dumb allegories. He gets about half of it.
Current Cost: $4, the amount I will give anyone who has episodes of My Two Dads on tape.Other Spider-Man Wrestling Jokes to Fill My Quota for this Article:
My Two Dads
As I grew up and read more, Spidey started to change. He got a nice apartment away from his Aunt with a sun roof and sexy babe neighbors. He started getting respect at his job as a newspaper photographer, and married a nine-foot tall red-haired supermodel actress with lips so big around they could house the homeless of the world and tits so sharp they could destroy the Soviet Union from Space. His physique looked less like a bony, hapless teenager and more like a sketch book for testosterone filled wannabe comic artists with no idea of the human anatomy. The same ones who put padded headgear on their heroes and make their special power "the ability to shoot guns larger than Mars." The same ones who pass off a neon clubbing outfit under a trenchcoat as a "costume" and pass off character development by having a Cajun guy put "MON CHERE" at the end of every other sentence. I expect him to bite into a potato chip and go "HOOOWHEE, I GAY-rawn-TEE!"
The great Spider-Man moments were replaced by massive company crossovers and rebirths, raping continuity and believability that I guess was never important ANYWAY with REAL BULLETHOLE issues in polybags that you CANT OPEN unless you don't care if it's WORTHLESS. It was the only way to attract new readers and get the sales they wanted...new number one issues with 25 different covers to collect, special appearances by shitty gimmick characters like Ghost Rider and SOLO (the vigilante who takes no prisoners version 600.0). Heroes with heart took a back-seat to chumps like X-O Manowar and later Spawn, cookie cutter characters who only exist because of the "cool art" or because NOBODY KNOWS THEIR ORIGIN! It's such a mystery, buy every issues and we'll make up something new! Spawn's a demon! No, he's an angel! No, he's a hero of the Earth! No, he's the guy who played Mike Tyson in the HBO movie and the fag Hispanic guy who played Luigi in the Mario Brothers movie is the bad guy! Spider-man? Spider WHO! His character is boring...
Let's replace the great old baddies with new, more VIOLENT super villains like CARNAGE, who is JUST like Venom only MEANER! The fans want to see shit stains like Cardiac, a guy who kills people with a big stick who has a robot bird, the readers won't buy the comic unless it features a guest appearance by the PUNISHER! His super power is that he shoots everybody. It's so DARK and GLOOMY and realistic!
The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man.
I can't confess to being an expert on comic books, but when "Watchmen" and "The Dark Knight Returns" were produced, they were an excuse to add a much needed third dimension of artistic endeavor and realism to comic books, not to substitute imagination with predictability and "Spider Armor." Between ages 13 and 15 (the early 90's anyway), every hero was shot down and replaced with a newer, more streamlined model. Daredevil got a black suit of armor. Batman got his back broken and was replaced by a guy (in armor, of course) who shot "bat-throwing stars" and stabbed people to death. Superman died, came back to life as four guys, including Shaq and a robot, not nearly as cool as it sounds, and then ended the story as an excuse to grow his hair a little longer. The Invisible Woman put on a spandex thong for no reason and all the kids at my school who used to read Spidey started reading "Lady Death." Y'see, it's a good comic because she has huge tits. It's simple teenage math.
Spidey was not left unharmed.
He was revealed to be a clone, and that he hadn't been the REAL Spider-Man since Amazing 150, dozens of years ago. Then he was replaced with a clone of himself with blonde hair, who substituted Spidey's traditional garb with a redjumpsuit/blue cutoff sweater/dildo in the ass combo. Then there were more clones, a whole team of evil symbiotes, Mary Jane got pregnant, the clone died, Peter Parker was revealed as REALLY the real Spider-Man and not the unreal real one who wasn't real...it was like watching your idol be slowly tortured and killed to make money.
Then, Amazing 400 came out and gave me hope that my idol wasn't going to be slowly tortured and killed. He's just been trapped in the sewers under hundreds of tons of wreckage, with the water pouring down threatening to kill him. He thought about all the people he didn't want to let down...his wife, his family, all the people he'd helped and saved throughout the years, and every dreamer kid who looked at the four colors on those crappy, yellow pages for something better in life. With good writing and a flashback to what made him great, he got his bearings and lifted the wreckage up.
Shortly after that, John Byrne took over the book, brought back Norman Osborn (yes, the same original Green Goblin that had killed himself after murdering Gwen Stacy, yes, decades ago) and revealed that Aunt May wasn't REALLY dead at all.
That was the third time I cried at a comic.
Spidey had lifted the wreckage, but John Byrne kicked him in his radioactive spider nutsack. The wreckage fell and crushed him beneath it, nobody saved Aunt May from whatever fatal disease she was susceptible to, and Electro wore his goofy mask and shot lightning at inept bank guards for the rest of his life. Marvel has tried to resurrect the original magic and imagination that made the original story so touching and complete. The closest they've come is making a new generation confused about the whole timeline and the old generation buy another "first issue!"
Spidey in more kick-ass days, pictured actually kicking his own ass.
I hope they fix it before I have kids. If not, I'm naming my kid "Electro" and hoping for the best.
Adventures of Link BigMeats