Monday, July 30, 2012
Peter Parker is a Man Ho!
Peter Parker is a man ho! Some people might call that statement outrageous, but if you look at his track record you can see two very important things. One, he has no clue when it comes to women. Secondly and the most important, he has done untold damage to the sex lives of geeks for over 35 years. Hey don't give me that shocked look. I know from which I speak. I was once one of those geeks. Sure, when you read a comic and see him juggling hot blondes and redheads like nobody's business, you can't help but think that this guy has it going on. Forget about the whole superpowers thing. Who wants the proportionate strength of a spider, be able to stick to walls, and shoot webs out of your wrists? Let's not even go into what that stuff really looks like. What we need to do is see if old Pete's palms are hairy like a spider's. That's what we need to be doing. Seriously!
But, I digress into the realm of a Kevin Smith movie. I'm here to talk about Peter's love life. Let's go back to the very beginning. Peter Parker was a nerd. That's the only way to describe it. Nothing wrong with that. All of my friends started off in the throws of nerdom. Then, bam! He get's super powers and everything changes. If we can trust Tobey McGuire, he also gets six pack abs. I believe those were CGIed, in case you were wondering. That's when the problems with this story really begin.
Instead of Unc Ben telling Peter with great power comes great responsibility, he should have told him that he needed to keep it in his pants. So where does all this man hoing start. If we trace it back to his high school days, we have to say it began with Liz Allen, his high school crush. Sure, it really didn't lead anywhere, but she was just a practice run for him. An aside, Liz would go on to marry Harry Osborn, Peter's best friend and just would justso happen to go on to become the second Green Goblin. From there he would have flirty run-ins with Betty Bryant, J. Jonah Jameson's secretary at the Daily Bugle. Being a bit older than our teenage photographer, Betty didn't succumb to his spidery ways but she did dip in the well a couple of times. Once she came to her senses, she married Ned Leeds, who goes on to become Hobgoblin. That's two ladies in the Parker harem. Anyone find it strange that one taste of spider-love makes them go running into the arms of super villains? I'm not saying he's a menace, but J. Jonah might be on the right track.
They were just a couple minor setbacks on his rollercoaster of love. One fateful day, his life would be irrevocably changed. Face it, tigers. He hit the jackpot. Well, as close as he could come in the form of Mary Jane Watson. I'm a bit partial to redheads as a result of this one. She presented the perfect foil to Peter. Ms. Watson saw through the façade. For one thing, she was smart enough to realize he was Spider-man, while everyone else wondered where Peter got off to every time Spidey showed up. Come on, people. Buy a clue. She was also able to resist the Parker charm for close to 200 issues of continuity. If she had gone on to give in to his nerdish advances way back around issue 42 the rest of this rambling missive might not have clogged up your mental passages.
Another result of Mary Jane playing hard to get was Gwen Stacy. If anyone knows anything about comics you know what happens. If you don't, stay tuned for more exciting revelations! Gwen might be considered Peter's first true love. The love of his life. But, really aren't all first loves the love of your life? For awhile, the women of New York were safe from this shameless lothario. Love swept him up in its embrace and with all the tenderness of a Greek tragedy ran him over like a freight train with only one casualty. The one thing Peter had always feared came true. One of his arch villains took the life of someone he cared for. Issues 121-122 of The Amazing Spider-man, the Green Goblin, after remembering Spider-man's secret identity goes after Gwen to prove to Peter that no one is untouchable. Faced with the choice of saving Gwen or a bunch of kids, he tries to do both. Unlike the movie, the comic Spidey wasn't up to the challenge.
How does he deal with his loss? For twenty issues or so, he locks his heart away. For non comic readers twenty issues or so equals three weeks in real time. Real time? I'm a comic geek, so real time applies. Then he was off chasing anything with a ponytail and silk underwear. College gave him the perfect opportunity to search out his next victims. Deb Whitman, another go with the married Betty, a couple run-ins with MJ, and I refuse to go into the new continuum started because of Marvel feeling the need to rewrite his past.
Okay, this is the point we reach Peter's second love, unless you count MJ, who hung around through all this. Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, appears first as a villain then as a love interest who keeps him on his toes for a nice long time. There's a lot of does she, will she, but the break up finally happens because sweet little Peter Parker can't take the fact that she loves Spidey more than him. Well, duh! Who wouldn't? This of course results in another chorus of poor unfortunates skipping through his web of love.
Finally, Peter convinces Mary Jane that he is her one true love. She already knew this of course but her common sense had saved her up until this point. In Annual 21, the deed was done, and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Parker were born. If this had been a novel of the romance variety, we could have inserted a tidy happily ever after in at this point, but comics like soap operas seldom give you what you want. Instead we ended up with almost twenty years of angst, super villain attacks and a costume becoming a super villain, not to mention clones out the ying yang. It's enough to make ya stop reading comics, which I did. Well, not comics but Spider-man, so I avoided the whole clone thing, even though it keeps popping back up. Whether I want it to or not.
Now, I promised not to mention the continuum thing but let's touch on it briefly. Aunt May is dying because Peter revealed his secret identity to the world. To save her life Mary Jane trades her and Pete's love to the devil for a do over. Now, none of the above stuff ever happened, and he's free to sleaze his way through the Marvel Universe all over again. Shesh. And, you think romance novels have got the market cornered on angst and tragic happily ever afters.
What's the point of all this? Besides Peter Parker is a man whore? Partly. Mainly, it's that comics and romance novels have a lot in common. Both throw a hero and heroine into impossible situations that naturally bring them closer together in such a way that the reader can't help but stick around to the bitter end. With comics, it just takes a little longer. Now, I have to go. The new Spider-man just came in, and Morbius, the living vampire, the Lizard and Peter Parker have all planned dates with Carly, the hot CSI detective. I can't wait to see how Pete is going to wow her by taking her to Burger King before swinging away without paying.
Join me next week, as I examine more comic connections to romance with a little story I like to call, So, how do they fit all that in that little spandex? It'll be at my shared blog The Writer Limits so make sure to stay tuned to that same Bat channel.