Spider-Man works best when he’s placed in bizarre circumstances. Whether it’s helping Kraven against a bizarre alien gorilla or growing four extra arms; Spidey can handle weird. Most readers know that I’m an unabashed fans of Secret Wars I and II. These were some of the first superhero comics I ever read and The Beyonder still fascinates me to this day. Naturally, the main crossover issues I remember are where he turns a building into solid gold and forces Spider-Man to teach him how to poop. I was about 5 or 6 reading this and the idea of Spidey teaching an alien overload to poop blew my mind.
The Beyonder could’ve turned to anybody, but he ended up with Spider-Man. Much has been made of how Spider-Man is an arrested adolescent fantasy while also being a common man. But, do we cross a line when we have him teach an alien how to empty his stomach? That is the context of the scene. The Beyonder is in a new human body, but he doesn’t know how to stop his stomach from hurting. So, Spider-Man points him to the toilet and relays the mechanics of taking a dump. I’m still giggling over it and I’ve seen every Merchant Ivory film known to man. I’m supposed to be above this.
It would be on par with Q showing up on the Enterprise, walking up to Picard and saying “Gotta Shit Bad”. The fact that Marvel was willing to roll the dice and take a gamble on this is a testament to Jim Shooter’s iron clad grasp around their creative throats. Sure, he was the Editor-in-Chief, but somebody should’ve questioned it. That being said, I’m glad that we go to see this incredibly awkward moment. It forces Spider-Man to step outside of himself and realize that he’s just a super powered speck in a grand expanding universe.
Not much else is brought up about the second point of this visit. Basically, The Beyonder realizes that wealth inequity exists in the world. So, he decides to help Parker’s neighbors by turning a building into gold and letting the poor have their way. The problem with that is The Beyonder doesn’t think about weight distribution or the fact that he turned a multi-story building into something that will promote ghetto fighting. The Kingpin, the US Government, Iron Fist and Luke Cage get involved, as the building starts to buckle and collapse under its new found weight and pliability.
Ultimately, what does it mean to teach The Beyonder how to poop? It ties back into the identity politics that I want to reinforce about Parker. He doesn’t laugh, he doesn’t put it off anyone else; Parker steps up to the plate. The issue arises again when Parker has to wrestle with stealing some gold items from the collapsed golden building. He could steal a golden notebook and pay for Aunt May’s care for the rest of her days. He’s strong enough to steal more items and get himself out of a crappy apartment and job.
But, Peter can’t because of that mantra entrenched in his psyche. Hell, he doesn’t even try to do something when the Kingpin and the Government steal most of the stuff anyways. It wasn’t even the Kingpin’s direct property; but he cleaned up the mess. What does that mean for schlub like Peter? How can it stand to keep sitting around and abiding that kind of headache? As we enter the last half of this project, that is what we’ll examine. At what point, can you officially dump too much conflict and pain on Peter Parker?