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July 9, 2012 8:36 AM   Subscribe

OMG, the stupid Spidymobile! The dumbest idea ever, but gave Spidy and & The Human Torch a male-bonding experience.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:48 AM on July 9, 2012

Bowery Boys! Those guys are excellent. If you are a new York-o-phile like me, theirs is the best podcast to listen to after watching all of Ric Burns' New York: A Documentary Film.
posted by Edison Carter at 8:56 AM on July 9, 2012

Awesome piece by Chris Sims on what makes Spider-Man as a character.

I'd say that more so than other Marvel character except maybe Daredevil, his stories are grounded in a real-ish version of New York really makes him. Sure, the Fantastic Four are based in a building somewhere in Manhattan, but most of the time they're off to space or the negative zone or Latvia to fight outlandish science badguys - Spider-Mans big stories are all linked to the city.
posted by Artw at 8:56 AM on July 9, 2012

...his stories are grounded in a real-ish version of New York really makes him.

99% of Spider-Man fans have never been to NY and couldn't care less if the buildings are realistic. What makes Spider-Man a good character is his humanity, humility, self-doubt, kindness, etc.
posted by DU at 9:00 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Maybe, but it feels like some of that down-to-earth stuff within the Marvel books stemmed from being set outside the creators doors rather than fictional Gotham or Metropolis, and Spidey is the one whose character is formed by it the most.
posted by Artw at 9:12 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Why, the budget to clean buildings of Spidey's used webbing would reach into the thousands each year!

It degrades by itself.

*pushes up glasses*
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:14 AM on July 9, 2012 [13 favorites]

That's pretty awesome. I really enjoyed Namor's premier in Lee/Kirby's Fantastic Four, because they found him in the Bowery (where Johnny Storm had been squatting after he ran away from home,) which is where I had been working at the time.

Also, when living in the LA suburbs, I was speaking to another comic book reader, and he asked me if I Spider-Man was my favorite because he was from New York, as well. He was not, and all I could think is that Spidey and I hung out in really different locales.
posted by griphus at 9:18 AM on July 9, 2012

Love this. Thanks. :)
posted by zarq at 9:18 AM on July 9, 2012

...the negative zone or Latvia...

Please tell me this is a typo for Latveria, because I'm getting excited about a retro-style book having the Fantastic Four's square off against the dismal Soviet bureaucracy.
posted by griphus at 9:20 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

I always think of Doom as ruler og Latvia, it's just more fun that way.
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

What's also cool about Spider-Man is that, apart from the whole superhero thing, he could be a real person. He's from a working-class family in a working-class neighborhood (that exists in real life). He has realistic problems in his day-to-day life. He has the same neuroses and doubts and fears and hopes and goals as most of us. He's an outsider from the before his changes who's been bullied and teased at school and has a boss who is begrudgingly nice to him at best, none of which his powers can help him with (and oftentimes exacerbate). His friends and family have undergone hardships of their own including illness, substance abuse, depression, and suicide. He's held down relatively normal jobs as a photographer and a science teacher in most depictions. He's had to worry about paying his bills and taking care of his aunt and his apartment. And in the current Ultimate universe, he's a guy that represents the growing changes in American demographics.

Sure, there's a bunch of writers' fantasies (supermodel wife, revenge on his tormentors, and larger-than-life friends for starters) being fulfilled, but even those have been dealt with pretty well. Flash Thompson, for instance, underwent a pretty significant change from one-note bully to former-jock-turned-schlub gym teacher to amputee war veteran. He's more easily identified with than world-famous astronaut/scientists or billionaire orphans or aliens or gods come to earth. The movies could stand to focus on that a littler more, although I haven't seen the reboot, so if his pre-origin story is better than the first Raimi/Maguire, I'd be impressed.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:22 AM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

"Latveria" from what I recall reading long ago, is a conglomeration of Latvia and Siberia.
posted by Renoroc at 9:56 AM on July 9, 2012

"Artist Jack Kirby and writer Steve Ditko fleshed out Lee's vision..."


Kirby was not involved in the creation of Spider-Man! (Urban legend has it that he designed the costume; Kirby himself said it was not true.) Ditko was the artist. Lee was the writer.

Though Ditko's influence grew as the comic continued, confusing the issue of "writer," until Ditko quit after three years for reasons still debated... [Harv drifts into comic book history while mumbling, staring at shoes, wishing he could shut himself up.]
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 9:56 AM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

IIRC Kirby might have had a stab at but his version was deemed too muscular and we got the Ditko version we know and love. I've half an idea that the little underarm web wing thingies that people forget about might have been Kirby's addition.
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The dumbest idea ever, but gave Spidy and & The Human Torch a male-bonding experience.

And also the immortal line, "It's the Red Ghost and his super-apes...and they're stealing your car!"
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:08 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ha, I've got that Hammerhead issue at home in a box. He wasn't such a successful villain in the long-run.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:46 AM on July 9, 2012

99% of Spider-Man fans have never been to NY

No, but plenty of the writers have and it makes a difference to have a place to ground a character. Art is improved by boundaries and constraints. I think having to make Peter Parker and Spider-Man fit into an existing city improved the stories in the Silver Age (and perhaps still does). Batman's Gotham can be molded into any shape the writer wants, which is fine, but it leads to a different sort of story. A good, if tenuous, example would be the last, completely beyond fantastic Batman videogame, wherein an entire section of Gotham was turned into an open-air prison; you just sort of nod and go, "Ok, that's fine I guess".
posted by yerfatma at 11:14 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd say that more so than other Marvel character except maybe Daredevil

I think it's far more true for Spidey than Daredevil. Hell's Kitchen has been transformed into an other-worldy, almost fantastic place by some of the writers on Daredevil. I really enjoyed (at least I think I did) Ann Nocetti's run on the title, but her Hell's Kitchen was a lot like Gotham City, a Felix the Cat's magic bag that could hold anything the writer wished to find.

And I don't like what Gordon Ramsey's done with it at all.
posted by yerfatma at 11:17 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Visiting NY for the first time I was amazed at how much it felt like I knew it - it's got such a heavy presence in the collective imagination that I don't think it really matters if you've been there or not - probably helps though.
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on July 9, 2012

One of my favorite background bits from Spidee-Man was a little scene where Spider-Man was talking to a local shopowner (I think he'd stopped a mugging or something) and the guy made a comment about Spider-Man being a native New York. Spider-Man tried to come back with the argument that New York has people from all over - he could be from anywhere. The shopkeeper came back with "With that accent? Where else are you going to be from?" I just laughed, because, yes, Peter would have an accent, and not think that he has one.
posted by Karmakaze at 1:47 PM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

Oh my god now I am going to hear Spider-Man's lines in a think New Yorker accent forever and it is fantastic.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:51 PM on July 9, 2012

So, in the most recent Spiderman movie, why didn't they just have Hearst Tower stand in for Oscorp? It's in the Hearst building, it uses the Hearst Lobby, its address is the Hearst building why not ...use that exterior rather than make a look-alike CGI one?

(I also would have like a plot that made sense and a smidgen of chemistry between Peter and Gwen but we can't have everything now can we?)
posted by The Whelk at 2:01 PM on July 9, 2012

Possibly the owners of the tower weren't thrilled with the idea of being readily identifiable as a villainous lair in a major motion picture? Permission to use a recognizable property frequently has those self-serving strings attached, like those car-appearance deals where the vehicle can't suffer so much as a cracked headlight in the course of a high-speed chase.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:10 PM on July 9, 2012

The Raimi films were certainly all about the NY landmarks in a way this latest one isn't.

(I also would have like a plot that made sense and a smidgen of chemistry between Peter and Gwen but we can't have everything now can we?)

According to The Guardian it's 'a comic book movie for the Twilight generation', you know, for girls, which is presumably why she is into his maniac self despite him being all weird and sweaty. Anyway, I think they both acted the hell out of their roles.

The Guardian also thinks that superhero movies are better the more they keep their masks off, and I think it;s true that the Peter Parker bits were better than the Spider-Man bits, but only really because the whole Lizards plot was generic and weak as hell.
posted by Artw at 2:14 PM on July 9, 2012

I still loved it, mind, but not as much as the Raimi one.
posted by Artw at 2:15 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by The Whelk at 2:17 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Eh, it's not like Raimi's script didn't have its own problems. "I swear on my father's grave, Spider-Man will pay," for instance. They went out on that.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:20 PM on July 9, 2012

It's pretty consistent tone-wise though - you know you're in a world where people say stuff like that.Whereas Amazing has a pretty naturalistic take for part of the film and then generic-bad-guy-in-generic-plot the rest of it. It mostly gets away with it, but only because the Peter Parker bits so dominate the Spidey bits.
posted by Artw at 2:23 PM on July 9, 2012

Yeah but Raimi, for the first two movies, picked a tone (saturday morning cartoon) and stuck with it. That line is totally fine in a movie with World Peace Fairs being crashed by cackling supervillians and it succeeded on the terms it steps up for itself.

The Amazing Spiderman is just a confusing muddle of tones and moods, it's going to be about his missing parents! except that never comes up again! Oh its a nerd revenge fantasy but wait no, okay its a learning responsibility story until his rash vigilantism saves the day (so he's learned nothing) well okay its a secret identity/teen romance except we don't know anything about Gwen or what she sees in him except they're both smart cause they tell us she's smart and she has like, an impossible internship? Is this a hubris of science story? What exactly in this story about?

I liked that he moved better in the action scenes- much more pakour-like which is how I imagine Spidey - and that while in the suit (which again, good on figuring out that characters who wear masks are hard to empathize with but man did they use every contrivance in the book to keep that mask off him) he looks and sounds like Spiderman to me, which is good.

It also felt like chunks of the movie where missing- like with the little lizards and shouldn't we have seen Gwen break up with Flash at some point? Not even going into the Lizard plot too much I like that the I Hate Spiderman attitude is in the hands of someone who can actually do something about it I;E arrest his law-breaking ass but thats like, one interesting dinner conversation and then never comes up again.
posted by The Whelk at 2:31 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Like, this movie did not need a big supervillian fight scene, it could have been about Peter realizing there are consequences to his actions (cause thats a big part of the Spiderman thing anyway) and uncovering a mystery. Didn't have to be an action movie, could've been a romance/mystery with the superhero elements.
posted by The Whelk at 2:33 PM on July 9, 2012

shouldn't we have seen Gwen break up with Flash at some point?

Break up with him? When were they dating? She was tutoring him, which feeds into her status as Alpha Geek but combined with the internship also makes you wonder if she has Hermione Granger's time-machine pendant or something. Anyway, other than her making sure Peter hadn't killed Flash I don't recall any hint that their relationship went deeper than that. The first time they interacted she was deliberately humiliating him in public, which I guess could be a girlfriend thing but I'd want more evidence than that.

(Re: Capt. Stacy, it seemed as soon as he saw Peter's face, he realized that Peter had been telling the truth at dinner, and let him go on the strength of that.)

Not gonna argue about the movie generally feeling incomplete, though. They're definitely playing for the two-parter with an inevitable The Spectacular Spider-Man, and at the same time they sacrificed a ton of runtime on the altar of a competently told but utterly unnecessary origin story. Self-contained it ain't.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:41 PM on July 9, 2012

It came off as totally dating but its part of the larger "Gwen doesn't have enough scene where we get to figure out her deal." problem, so she's a pretty shapeless character.
posted by The Whelk at 2:43 PM on July 9, 2012

Hey, When Cometh the Commuter is a story I referenced in a comment just a couple of weeks ago! It's nice to see obscure favorites get some love, however obliquely. The issue's Amazing Spider-Man #267, for the curious.

Though it features no landmarks, my favorite architecture-themed Spidey cover has to be this spectacular monochrome, two-tone piece by John Byrne. I'm also fond of covers which play around with neon lighting (The first is another version of the Times Square cover in the link, minus horrible trade dress and cropping; a better scan of the second is here, though it lacks the finished lettering that really makes the cover work for me). And this cover featuring the Empire State Building is just badass.

TASM-wise, I felt the individual scenes were stronger on average than individual scenes in the Raimi films, and the action was great, but it lacked narrative cohesiveness and made the mistake of changing things which didn't need to be changed (the actual origin story) while failing to tweak things that really needed to be (there is absolutely nothing about this version of the Lizard that makes him more than a tired retread of Raimi's version of Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus). Also, while I appreciated that Gwen wasn't forced into gratuitious damsel-in-distress moments, she got less of a character arc than Flash Thompson, so I don't see her portrayal as a step forward from movie MJ, who may have had to be rescued a lot but whose personal development was important to every film.
posted by bettafish at 2:43 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, Spider-Man with a New York accent.
posted by bettafish at 2:45 PM on July 9, 2012

much more pakour-like which is how I imagine Spidey

Yeah, Peter Parkour.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:46 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, NYC-related pendant picking but a Police Captain's salary is an average of $135,524 a year. That is not getting you a big pre-war apartment in midtown unless they bought it in the 30s.
posted by The Whelk at 2:50 PM on July 9, 2012

I wouldn't be surprised if they did. The Staceys totally came off as old money.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:53 PM on July 9, 2012

Well yeah and you also need Peter to have a convenient leaping place from so they can't like, live out on Long Island but hey interesting possible conflict lets explore the class implications of places like science magnet schools that put talented students of varying social classes together and oh wait no monster fight.
posted by The Whelk at 2:55 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

What, they never did a cover with the Baxter Building? Come on now, how could you miss that?
posted by JHarris at 3:02 PM on July 9, 2012

(also raise your hand if, during the movie you kept looking for Stark tower in the skyline yes I know the movies don't touch but still...)
posted by The Whelk at 3:04 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just a bit of public service to anyone in this thread. I bought the new Spider-Man game (for Xbox) on the understanding it was a poor man's version of the Batman games. No one mentioned the difference in income levels was comparable to Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker. Oof.
posted by yerfatma at 3:08 PM on July 9, 2012

(also raise your hand if, during the movie you kept looking for Stark tower in the skyline yes I know the movies don't touch but still...)

They almost did almost that! (Specifically, Oscorp Tower almost made it into the Avengers skyline.)

posted by jdherg at 3:12 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, can I say one thing I'm genuinely liking about the supervillains in ASM? They're Peter's fault. In a different (and, I think, worse) way than Spectacular, where Osborn and Big Man were churning out supercrime specifically to keep Spidey distracted, but Lizard, and presumably Green Goblin, happened because Peter Parker found something that was practically stamped “SUPER SECRET DO NOT SHOW TO ANYONE” and handed it to someone he'd just met. In any other franchise it would be gratingly heavy-handed, but for Spider-Man it works.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:20 PM on July 9, 2012

But shouldn't that have been teased out more? If the central theme of Spider-Man is "with great power comes great responsibility" and "being a superhero is hard", both of which I think are totally legit Spidey themes that make him distinct from other supes, then shouldn't the Your Actions Are Terrible Consequences theme be the major one?

Peter ends up turning Conner into the Lizard through his sloppiness with handling sensitive material (maybe he's got a bigger Mad Scientist streak then he lets on? There's a nice character note and good floorplanning for future movies) but he doesn't become a monster, at least not a city-wrecking one, just some horrible even-more-disabled lizardman whom Peter has to keep secret to try and figure out a cure - all the while COnners lying there HATING HIM and plotting to find a way to RUIN HIS LIFE.

And how will he do that? He's going to lie about Peter's parents. Lie in a way that gets Peter into the cross-hairs of a much more dangerous villain, Osborn.
posted by The Whelk at 3:28 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, yeah, it's not handled perfectly, as evidenced by the fact that I saw the movie two days ago and just now thought to bring that up.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:32 PM on July 9, 2012

ASM Peter Parker is pretty rubbish at the whole secret identity thing, really. Secret anything, in fact.
posted by Artw at 3:35 PM on July 9, 2012

It's nice to see obscure favorites get some love
The Commuter Cometh! is one of my favorite issues (it's in the box in the closet in the study, along with the other Spidey comics I collected all those years ago).

The article pretty much sums up why the webhead's my favorite comic book hero: because it's about Peter Parker growing up with the unfortunate problem of being Spider-man (trying to solve Peter Parker problems with his powers almost always ended in disaster, and yet he constantly tried to make it work).

I stopped collecting after I couldn't really follow how things were going once it got to Carnage and clones and Ben Reilly... I just couldn't.
posted by linux at 4:03 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Pardon... I meant the article by Chris Sims.
posted by linux at 4:21 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Commuter Cometh! is one of my favorite issues

Peter David at his finest, doing a story where Spidey has to go to the suburbs where there's nothing to swing from, is incredibly out of his depth and it's all hilarious but still shows why Peter Parker is who he is in that he goes there knowning he'll be out of his depth because with great powers comes great responsibility.

That one issue more than made up for all that Foreigner/Black Cat nonsense.

99% of Spider-Man fans have never been to NY

That's not the point, the point is that Spider-Man especially, but much of the early Marvel Universe was grounded in a realism that comes from the stories being set in a city the writers and artists knew very well, that was familiar to almost everybody through movies and tv shows, something that DC with their fictitious cities never managed.

Of course that was before it all devolved in endless rounds of line wide crossovers where groups of heroes with questionable, barely sketched in motivations square off against each other, heroes and villains switch sides more than in a bad wrestling match and nobody is even thinking anymore about stopping muggers.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:05 AM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Peter Parker wouldn't just have a New York accent. He'd have a Forest Hills, NY accent.

That's right. Spider Man would sound like his fellow Forest Hills native Ray Romano.

Or better still, any of the Ramones.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:29 PM on July 10, 2012

Huh, I somehow went through my entire life thinking Peter grew up in Jackson Heights.
posted by The Whelk at 5:00 PM on July 10, 2012

The Amazing Spider Mensch
posted by Artw at 5:09 PM on July 10, 2012

At first some of those storyline choices seemed a little arbitrary, but it's actually a pretty good mix of "storylines that inform the film" (the origin, the Stacys, Norman Osborn) and "storylines that are really, really good" (Kraven's Last Hunt, the early J. Michael Straczynski run) I would've brought in the Venom arc from Ultimate Spider-Man, though, which is the influence for the whole Richard Parker plotline. The upcoming Gil Kane's The Amazing Spider-Man: Artist's Edition will reprint issues ASM #96-102 and 121, which includes the Six Arms Saga and The Night Gwen Stacy Died as well as the Harry Osborn LSD storyline.

It's always amused me that basically everyone seems to think that Spider-Man should be Jewish or is thematically Jewish, though I'm not in a good position to say whether that's reclaiming or stereotyping! Both JMS and Brian Michael Bendis have him using Yiddish, but for all this non-NYCer knows that's perfectly normal even for a lackadaisical Protestant (as Peter is implied to be in the comics).

Oh, and since comics-inspired fashion has been a Thing lately, here's College Fashion's outfits inspired by The Amazing Spider-Man.
posted by bettafish at 7:24 PM on July 13, 2012

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