Ma'am I'm not a hero, I'm just doing my job!

I wrote this in response to a friend who posted a blog entry about heroes a few days ago:

When I was a young boy, my aunt would let me and my sister go to 7-Eleven; it was one of the few areas we were allowed to go by ourselves. Generally, I was there for a Slurpee, but once a week, something magical would happen: the 7-Eleven would receive new comics!!! Oh joy! New comics! Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Hulk, Captain America, the X-Men and my favorite, Spider-Man. Yes, for the longest, he's been one of my favorites to read and even though I don't buy comics anymore (are you kidding me, look at the price tag?!?) I still casually read it when I'm in my favorite bookstore and occasional, I'll buy graphic novels.

He's been my favorite for several main reasons:

1-He's like me.
Oh sure, he was a teenager by the time I started reading but I understood what it was like to have a good day at school but a bad day at home. Or a good day at home, a bad at school and a fair day outside with my friends. And, as I entered my teen years, I began to relate to him to a point where often, I'd find myself in a difficult situation and the phrase "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" would pop into my mind. Being a teen is NOT fun especially when you're awkward, socially or otherwise. Recently, a friend of mine refereed to him as "whiny". Maybe. You would be too if your week looked like this:

Monday: Woke up late for school because of that fight with Mysterio last night; wasn't able to get all of the mind-altering toxins out of his system. Mumbled something about "Perky" when he turned Mysterio over to the cops and swung away. Makes it to school and realizes he has a quiz in 2nd period Algebra where he sits next to SUSIE PERKINS! Ah-ha! That's where the Perky came from! Wonders if she'll ask him out to the Sadie Hawkins dance on Friday. He heard a rumor that she just broke up with her boyfriend and is looking for someone for the dance. She looks at him and sneers. Guess not. He quickly jots down the answers to the quiz (and scores high enough to ruin the grade curve for the other students) just in time for the bell. After lunch he's reminded about the big group assignment in History that accounts for 35% of his grade this quarter (due on Thursday) AND that he's missed two meetings with his partners already. They're meeting again on Tuesday and the other students told him that he'd better be there! Afternoon, uneventful. Evening, he's heading home after getting reamed out by Jameson for submitting MORE Spider-Man photos!!! Can't be late for dinner again or Aunt May will be pissed. And she will 'cause Sandman's robbing a bank. He thwarts said robbery and arrives home to cold lasagna and a heated Aunt May.

Tuesday: A lot like Monday. Sneer from Susie. History group reminds him to be at the library at 5PM. Heads to lunch, and hears on the radio that Doc Ock is robbing yet another bank. Pulls the fire alarm to evacuate the school and leaves in the ensuing chaos. He gets KO'd by Doc Ock and wakes up in an impossibly EASY trap that he gets out of, turns the tables on Doc Ock and saves the day. Makes it to the library at 8! Whoops.

Wednesday: Practically uneventful. He goes to the History group asking for one more chance and gets it! Today at the library, 5PM...or else! Susie even looks like she's warming up to him. Flash Thompson stuffs him into his locker (thanks to Spidey's pesky secret identity, he has to feign weakness. D'oh!), end of school bell rings and he heads off to the library, books and notes in hand. Decides to websling to get there faster and nearly gets hit by a dart launched by Kraven the Hunter. Ends the fight quickly but not before Kraven accidentally destroys ALL of Spidey's books and notes! Arrives at the library with minutes to spare...unprepared! History group is not pleased.

Thursday: Susie asked him out for the Sadie Hawkins dance! Woo-Hoo!!! A girl talked to him AND asked him out! He's to pick her up at 7:30 so they can be to school around 8-ish for the dance. He's still smiling, even when his history teacher tells him that if this weren't a group assignment he would've scored an A, but he knows that he hasn't been carrying his weight in this assignment. He flunks the assignment. He doesn't care. He's going out with Susie Perkins on public! He goes home that evening; the Lizard was on a rampage but Daredevil took care of it. Aunt May has to work late so he makes dinner, leaves it for Aunt May and calls it a day. Unaware of the blinking voicemail message on the answering machine...

Friday: Day of the dance and NOTHING can spoil his mood. Susie has given him a new power, the ability to float, unencumbered by gravity. The school day zips by at a dizzying pace. And when it ends, he webs home at a blinding pace, flipping, spinning, looping, whizzing a thick glob of webbing at the feet of a would be mugger holding said mugger in place while the would be victim escapes, and finally makes it home. He turns on the TV, gets dressed and finds out that the Green Goblin is holding hostages at the UN building for ransom. He webs to the UN, saves the hostages and takes out Goblin. He has just enough time to web home, freshen up again and go pick up Susie. He enters his home through his bedroom, changes and heads out of the house...and is greeted by a very stern looking Aunt May. She has checked the voicemail of his History teacher being very disappointed in his performance on a recent assignment (even though Peter's GPA is better than great and flunking this quarter of History won't harm his chances of graduating in the slightest; he knows this, but if he brings it up now, Aunt May will really be upset 'cause he's being a wiseacre!) and Peter's teacher just thought May should know. She grounds Peter! No Susie Perkins for him! Peter finds out later that Susie was using him to get back at her ex and she's really upset that Peter stood her up and "slighted" her first. She calls him Peter Dorker; everyone calls him "Peter Dorker" for the rest of the year!

I can relate. Everyone has problems, and Parker was a hero despite years of ridicule from his peers. Whiny? Sure. But, wouldn't you be if you were a teenager and had a week like that? A month? Years? Parker had a ton of moments like that after he was bitten by that radioactive spider! He was just an average kid dealing with what fate bestowed upon him. And he faced it all. Alone!

With great power comes great responsibility. You can say this line to just about any comic book geek and that geek will immediately know who you're talking about and then tell you their favorite story. It's a line that rings true decade after decade after decade. It is my personal belief that if more people lived by this simple credo, we would have less problems in the world. It's so simple, so pat, mildly cheesy but effective; I believe that we as humans have issues with accepting responsibility great or otherwise. Probably didn't mean much to Parker until he failed to stop the very burglar that ended up killing his uncle. Then Parker fails to save his girlfriend, Gwen...and later Gwen's dad. At the heart of it all, guilt drives the Spidey to be more responsible with his abilities and every time he slips and fails to save someone, it's like the first time he failed to save someone; raw, prevalent, painful. Real.

Nearly 30 years before the Merc with a Mouth came on the scene, Spidey was one of the funniest books out there. And I'm not talking giggles, I'm talking belly laughs. The writers on this book have been systematically funny for nearly 50 years! Sure, there are touching moments, sad moments, violent moments. And yet, the spider continues crack up readers and frustrate villains that are trying to kill him issue after issue. Granted there are moments when he's deadly serious. Like when Kraven the Hunter buried him in the ground for 6 days or the time Aunt May was shot by an assassin working for the Kingpin, but for the most part, he uses his humor to roll with punches and throw his enemies off guard! Deadpool does the same thing right before he kills someone...violently. Not the same, not the same.

4-He is the neighborhood:
Unlike certain Avengers, Spider-Man fights crime right outside your door just about everyday. He's right there on the ground level. In New York City. The amount of muggings, robberies, rapes, stabbings, shootings and other unkind things that human beings do to other human beings has to be staggering. And then there's Spider-Man. Iron Man can't hear you when you're being robbed at gun point, he's flying too damn high. But Spidey can. And he WILL help you. When he's done, if time permits, he may even pose for a pic with your kids or sign an autograph. He's down to earth and grounded; he's a member of the hoi pollio, endowed with special abilities to aid other members of the hoi pollio. Not some hotshot with a butler and personal assistant. Of course, he's an Avenger now. But that hasn't changed him in the least. He's still Spidey; still doing his blue collar grind. A man trying to be a super hero, not the other way around.

And Platypus, good luck having that drink with Anthony, he's been a raging alcoholic since 1978. He's been off the sauce for a decade or so which in comic book years means he's been clean and sober for oh, 15 minutes or so. Have a drink with him and you'll have successfully knocked him off the wagon.



I never said it had to be an alcoholic drink :-P