I’ve been enjoying the surprise hit Venom recently. If you would’ve asked me if Flash Thompson would’ve became a hit leading character for Marvel, I would’ve laughed at you. Now, he’s playing the field like the true heir apparent to Captain America. What does that mean for this chapter? Well, Flash was always a character played as a bully for the Lee/Ditko years. As the Romita ran lead into the Gil Kane stint, we started to see Flash become deeper. Flash did some time in Vietnam, met a quality piece of ass and came back as a grown-up. After that point, he would later venture into conflicts as storylines and current political climates dictated.
But, it raises a larger issue. Flash was introduced as a football player dick. Eventually, his exposure to Spider-Man led him to become a hero of his own accord. But, the same is true for the villains. Ned Leeds was an older journalist at the Bugle who eventually was tricked into becoming one of the Hobgoblins. Phil Urich and Eddie Brock were rival photojournalists who ended becoming super villains. Hell, Sally Avril was just a high school student that dug on Peter and then got into a car wreck while trying to be the super heroine Bluebird.
Would these people have become super-powered without Spider-Man? After all, we do live in a world where the saturation of super powered people means that these guys would’ve had adversaries anyways. It’s just that Parker threw himself in the way indirectly. That is until someone attempts another John Byrne Chapter One style retcon to try and frame a new argument. But, that’s neither here nor there.
During the first 100 issues of Spider-Man, J. Jonah Jameson and a few scientists created a ton of problems for Spider-Man. Whether it’s Spider-Slayers, The Scorpion or anything Dr. Jonas Harrow crapped out; Jameson loved genetic tampering and robotics as much as cigars. Seriously, he had a decade long run where he was the Josef Mengele of yellow journalism. Eventually, Conway and Wein started pushing him away from that stuff. But, there’s a long history of killer robots, ex-cons in powered suits and genetic freaks being produced by a newspaper magnate.
Now, Jameson had to get out of papers for politics. I guess the guy saw the writing on the wall, but that period of Spidey history is so awkward. Very few people outside of some stray She-Hulk issues have ever tried to tie Jameson back to these misdeeds. Anyways, the now Mayor Jameson is so far removed from creating a villainous legacy for Spider-Man, that I see very few people trying to tread into that territory. Except for me, so Marvel needs to let me have a crack at the bat. But, who wants to read a storyline about everyone being called out for the involvement in super powered crime in the Marvel Universe?
Many villains decided to amplify their powers to match Spider-Man. I included the quick bit about how Mysterio attempted the effort, but it grows far more complex as the years rage on. Hell, Mysterio would later amplify himself again to pull the same sort of crap on Daredevil. But, let’s not talk about Kevin Smith’s comics during this discussion. If anything, the recent turns with The Superior Spider-Man further strengthens this point. The only way that Doctor Octopus could cheat death and beat Spider-Man would be to become Spider-Man. Amplification of a villain to the point that one sacrifices their identity. Here we go, back into that old hedge maze.
All of these issues surrounding Spider-Man are interconnected. For a character that was created as an after thought for the last issue of a dying comic, amazing things have appeared in the text. Some accuse the character of Catholic guilt, but that works better for Daredevil. Some state the character is an overdeveloped adolescent puberty fantasy. I find that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Peter Parker was an orphaned child who only understood being working class poor. When the means of power were given to him, Peter acted out as Spider-Man. He became a pro wrestling sensation and conned his way into easy minute. Anything he wanted was at his finger tips, so why should he care?
In the end, Peter Parker made Spider-Man. The moment that Peter Parker decided to ignore crime, he framed every argument that would follow him for the rest of his life. Before there was a Spider-Man, there was Peter Parker. Peter Parker allowed crime to run rampant and he paid the price. The character hadn’t gone through any maturity rites, so he found a forced reason to grow up without any proper framework. Couple that with superhuman powers and you have a recipe for what should’ve been disaster.
Peter nearly kills Aunt May by giving her a blood transfusion. Luckily, his radioactive blood donation didn’t mutate the frail old lady. Most of the Lee/Ditko and Lee/Romita run is nothing more than a teenager faking his way through adulthood. Girls are new and exciting, while he tries to move out and form an identity. Parker finds himself relying excessively on the same people he endangers as Spider-Man. The snake just keeps eating its own tail, while Parker desperately tries to find some sort of validation as a person. Even to this day, he can’t go a year without some original sin over Uncle Ben.