On Spiderman

The Absent Father and Spider-Man's Unfulfilled Potential

By J R. Fettinger

Spider-Man is a hero of mythic proportions who has used his great power to serve and protect a largely ungrateful humanity. This power has come with an equally great price that he will forever pay: his happiness, peace of mind, and the blessings of normalcy that most of us take for granted. But when his epithet is written, will he fall short of what he could have been, in both his costumed and civilian identities? And if so–why?

Are these absurd questions, considering the magnitude of his heroic deeds? Perhaps. But compare the Spider-Man of fifteen (his age when bitten by the radioactive spider) to the webslinger of the present (anywhere from twenty-five to thirty depending upon the reference). He has made few enhancements to his fighting skills, continuing to rely on sheer strength, raw intelligence, dumb luck, and the never-to-be-underestimated stupidity and lack of imagination of his foes. Except for brief flirtations with an alien symbiote designer line, and his current costume as “Iron Spidey,” he has remained in his wash ’n’ wear red and blue pajamas. His webbing and its delivery system has remained largely the same, superseded only by a recent physiological change that allows him to generate webbing organically, like his movie counterpart. His relations with the public he serves and the police he assists are tenuous at best. Despite occasional dalliances with team membership, his stubborn independence and feelings of inadequacy ensure that he remains a loner and, at times, a fugitive, with many considering him  …

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