Spider-Man is one of those iconic comic book superheroes that symbolizes everything that separates Marvel Comics from DC Comics. He’s the every man superhero. He’s basically been the companies mascot since his inception. As popular as the character is I have had quit a rocky relationship with him my entire life. Let me explain.
My first exposure to Spider-Man was Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. It was this really lame animated cartoon that came on TV that had nothing to do with my beloved Batman, so I would quickly flip the channel whenever this show was on TV. Between this aversion to that terrible show and a few choice appearances in NES games I rented out of curiosity, I started to develop a dislike for the character. I was too young to know anything about the Marvel vs. DC debate. I knew that the Transformers comics I read said Marvel Comics in the corner and Batman comics said DC, that was about all I knew. I hadn’t discovered X-Men quit yet.
Then I did.
Once I was introduced to the X-Men I was hooked. Batman was suddenly less interesting. The first X-Men comic I ever read had Nightcrawler I think in a Santa Clause costume if I remember correctly. I hardly remember what was in the story just that cover was all I needed to get me to read that book. I was in 3rd grade. I was still firmly deterred from giving any attention to the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.
Then I met a Spider-Man fan.
I was in 6th grade. I had a friend who was a Spidey super-fan. This friend had Spider-Man comics, toys and video games as well as the official Spider-Man Magazine. At first I thought he was crazy to be obsessed with this weird spider character. Then he let me read a couple of his favorite books. I started with a story where he meets Venom. I instantly found myself drawn to the Venom character. At first I only wanted to get into Venom comics but my friend kept pushing.
Fox Kids changes everything.
Hot on the heels of the Batman and X-Men animated cartoons Fox Kids was primed to add another superhero comic. Enter the Spider-Man animated series. Produced along side the X-Men animated series it got me hooked on the character. The show finally broke through to me. At age 12 I was finally becoming a Spider-Man fan. I started reading the comics myself month to month. It was the best time to get into Spider-Man comics too as the clone saga was just getting started. I read through the entire saga along side the concurrently running Age of Apocalypse saga running through the X-Books.
Then Paperbag Man happened.
At this point the Onslaught saga was tearing through the mutant books. Somehow Spider-Man had to wear a paper bag on his head and run around shirtless. This was when I stopped reading his comics. At this point I decided the character just wasn’t worth following anymore. This was around the time I gave up on X-Men too. I shifted over to Transformers comics back issues at this time.
2002 Spidey hits the silver screen.
After a handful of years disinterested in the character yet again something special happened. The X-Men leading the way again received box office success with a live-action feature film based on the characters. This paved the way for the subsequent Spider-Man flick that was an instant classic. A massive success and quite frankly the most fun I had watching a comic book movie in ages. All of a sudden I was a fan again. Except I was fundamentally scarred by paper bag head man so I refused to give the comics another shot. Following the release of X-Men in 2000 I had gotten back into the books for a couple of years.
A few movies reboots later the Marvel Cinematic Universe started up. Only due to some weird legal red tape Spider-Man was not allowed to be included in the MCU. We had to watch as Iron Man was thrust into the forefront as the new face of Marvel following Disney’s purchase of the company. Sony kept making Spider-Man related content through it’s own studio until Civil War and Homecoming was made possible when the two companies came to a deal that allowed Spider-Man to be featured in certain MCU films. But this version of Spider-Man was so far from any previous iteration of the character I had experienced before I became firmly poisoned against this version. Thus I went through my next falling out with the character.
Ironically it was the comics that got me back into appreciating Spider-Man again. I was working for a newspaper company at the time. I was growing anxious about the declining print publication landscape as publications the world over ceased. Although I had subscriptions to all three major digital comic subscription services, I wanted to get certain print versions of books in the mail. At this time I decided to get a 12 issue subscription to Amazing Spider-Man. 12 issues of the Wall Crawler and I was suddenly hooked yet again.
Now that my sub has run out I am sitting here yet again at a crossroads. I still have an appreciation of the character. Despite that I feel lost. I can’t get into the MCU Spider-Man at all. I never cared for any of the cartoons since the 90s version. Right now I am looking mostly at reading through my backlog of back issues that I have picked up in recent years. I am going to see how that affects my interest in the character going forward. I would love for Marvel to release another Spider-Man movie I can get behind, one where he never has to meet Tony Stark at all.