Monday, September 13, 2010

Impossible Immortality or Why I Hate Spiderman

I have not always hated Spiderman. There were the ('70s? '80s?) live-action show and the cartoon (with Iceman & Firestar) that I enjoyed--I liked the idea of superheroism as a combination of job and collegial experience--something like being a fireman and living where you worked. Spiderman's sarcastic but effective code was fun to watch and I absorbed backstory, etc. exclusively through tv. Some years later, I married an ardent Spiderman fan. Not dress-like-Spiderman ardent, more like read-every-comic-book-see-every-movie ardent. Someone to whom Spiderman the character remained a potent emotional touchstone. Despite the movies' dreariness my spouse enjoyed them. Fair enough. He read the comics and watched the movies and was happy.

Then the story in the comics changed and I had to listen to fits of anger at the writers and at the editorial idiocies that took a storyline my spouse had enjoyed and basically said "whoops, didn't mean to do that, here's the new story." He's mad enough to give up something that he's enjoyed for a very long time and, bizarrely, I'm angry on his behalf. This is one of those continuity breaks that sheared him from the experience and, as such, puts him in the position of waste-binning one of the few pleasures he's held to since childhood. The problem is that there is a impossibile immortality that trails serialized character--the need to continue is fastened on to the need to change.

There is no immortality of experience for Spiderman that will continue to track the way a novel or epic or other similar narrative might. He isn't going to get old, he isn't going to have a final victory or defeat. He's just going to keep changing and leaving his former fans behind just as they leave him behind, in the detritus of an imaginary life while other kids pick up sheets and action figures and video games and move into the ruts of the story for a while. He could be cancelled in mid-arc. He could be rewritten in a thousand ways. I hate that this break chips away at other sadnesses in my husband's life and while I look forward to no more sarcastic, dreary, dull movies or convoluted discussions about storylines I fear that this may also make my husband feel just as abandoned on the dustbin as I've been feeling after losing my job. It's a crappy thing to do to a fan.

I hate Spiderman.

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