It Took Me 25 Years to Realize Spider-Man is the Greatest Superhero

What a title, I know. Though it is the truth. Spider-Man has been around for fifty years but I’m just now getting to this cold, hard truth that will be put into my children’s heads for many years to come. “Don’t be like daddy, Timmy. Be like Spider-Man. GOT IT?” He better, or it’s the basement for him. But enough about Timmy, he’s an idiot.

Let’s get down to brass tax, gentlemen. Spider-Man has been everywhere, from comics to TV, toys to movies, he’s all over the place. People have him tattooed on their bodies. In fact, these days, they even print “The World’s Greatest Superhero” underneath his title on the actual comic.

With another movie of his coming out in just over a week, it felt time to really spell out the reasons why Superman can’t compare. Not to mention, I feel the need to post something while simultaneously having no ideas and barely any time. Not to mention, I have an overabundance of comic book knowledge yet nothing to use it for.

Except this article.

His powers are some of the most inventive in comics, but he’s still human


There seem to be few characters that fall into this category. While most are able to simply use their strength, senses, claws, ability to shoot X out of their hands, Peter Parker’s actual powers help him, but only to a point. The villains he faces are often times stronger/faster/more powerful than him, yet he still overcomes. How so?

By figuring out their weakness, which usually doesn’t involve a fight. Electro, a villain we’ve previously mentioned, has the ability to control electricity, an element that would fry Spider-man as easily it would the rest of us. So how does he defeat the living lightening rod? By creating a specially designed, rubber insulated suit so he doesn’t get cooked upon impact.

When Spider-man has to defeat Morlun, a centuries-old, killer of super powered beings, he finds out that Morlun needs a pure source of energy to feed from, Spider-man being one of them; so he poisons himself with a heavy dose of radiation that would’ve killed a normal person and almost killed him, had Morlun not come along to absorb Parker’s life force and sucking all the poison out of him instead, killing it’s recipient.

Ka-THOOM

Ka-THOOM

The point is that Spider-man being as fast and strong as he is isn’t enough, but having to use his intelligence to defeat his enemies is a great storytelling tool when the right writer gets a hold of it. This is an area where many characters’ solution is simply PUNCH HIM HARDER. That ultimately leads to a character being so powerful, the difficult thing is figuring out what your character can’t do, rather than how he’ll overcome his problem.

That’s what’s fun about the character, seeing him overcome. His powers are great but there are plenty of characters out there with cool abilities and little personality.

His powers are even unique, having the stamp on spider-related abilities, but thanks to how Stan Lee started the books in the 60’s, Spider-man’s draw has always been his real world issues and humanistic approach to them, not his powers. Heck, like Rodney Dangerfield, he hardly even gets respect, with many civilians accusing him of stealing their wallet right after he saved them. Criminals laugh at him too until their faces have been punched into the back of their heads.

He’s always topical, keeping him a continually relevant character.

Memes all around

Often times characters are simply products of their time. In the 90s, it wasn’t uncommon for a character to have massive muscles, muscles on top of muscles, an insane mullet, and guns in every hand and foot.

Just LOOK at what they did to the Cap…*tears*…LOOK AT HIM!

Once that time is over, they’re dinosaurs crawling around in the modern age with no real purpose. They’ve only been developed to a certain point and then discarded by the powers-that-be who just don’t care about them. Some are even around just so they can be killed off.

Sound familiar?

Even Superman has issues with this and it’s why he died in the 90s. Writers didn’t know how to make him interesting anymore so they killed him to make you gasp. How can a guy from the 1930’s who’s powerful enough to destroy a planet with a punch become exciting again after we’ve made him perform so many ridiculous acts that people have grown numb to them? Make it exciting by having him do what you thought he couldn’t- die.

One of Spider-man’s main qualities is that he’s the everyman. Thankfully for comic book characters, most don’t age or at least their aging is slowed down. Captain America looks at everything from a 1940s perspective, comparing and contrasting the modern age to the Golden Age.

Daredevil sees everything through the mindset of a guy who can only “feel” his surroundings, while many characters like the Punisher or Wolverine just don’t care. Spider-man is the only one to deal with events in a humanistic way, even if he does have the ability to crawl on walls.

And your child's cake.

And your child’s cake.

Throughout the years, the comic has dealt with a crapton of real world issues, including the collapse of the World Trade Center. They wrote him in at Ground Zero, seeing an American tragedy through the eyes of a guy who, for all his powers and abilities, is still just a guy.

His lingo has slightly changed throughout the years, but being that he’s a nerd and not a jive mamma jamma like many characters in the 70’s, there’s not much to change with his personality or his suit. A nerd is still just a nerd, no matter the decade. No need to try and reinvent him every couple years because people lost interest. Not that they didn’t try at any point, it just never really sticks.

He’s appealing to everybody, fiction and otherwise


I’m not saying everybody likes him. In fact, many hardcore comic book fans hate him, just for being so commercialized. I don’t agree, but I understand. What I’m saying is that because of his human nature, his topical stance on the world, his powers and the nature of the stories, there is nobody that can’t be in to Spider-man.

Little kids love the action in the stories and that’s all they need, because he looks cool. Adults remember how they liked him as a kid while young adults stay interested because he’s got real world appeal. His stories can easily range from near childish (any one of the current TV shows based on him) to the dark and mature (anything involving Carnage, Venom, or even having to make the choice of whether or not to kill a villain). Anybody can be a fan.

I’ve also got to mention how not only does his regular suit look awesome, many of the variations throughout the years are some of the most impressively designed as well.

Spider-tron

Spider-tron

But it doesn’t stop there. Even in the stories, his appeal is universal. His powers are above human capacity, so he can hang with the Avengers, yet he’s nowhere near the level of power someone like Hulk or any one of the flying-around-through-different-dimension-type characters are.

He’s a loner so his appearances in comic teams are usually temporary, but with his personality, he’s just as well off on his own as he is playing with others. Unlike some characters who claim to be gruff loners but are on every single team in the freaking Marvel universe. Probably from fear of being alone or something.

Yes, YOU.

Seeing him takeout street level thugs isn’t beyond him though, and feels right for the character, teaming up with Daredevil to take out drug dealers on a street corner. But while Daredevil belongs in that world, beating meth dealers to unrecognizable messes, Spider-man can also go toe-to-toe (I never use that term) with a lot of, if not most, X-Men Villains. Try that, dumb ol’ blind guy!

So while Daredevil can’t fight aliens on a different astral plane, it never feels right that Superman would stop kids from smoking weed on a basketball court. You’d think there would always be a meteor to punch or a supervillain to…uh…punch.

I have no idea what’s going on here…I just wanted to share this with you.

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