The Redemptive Spider-Man

(Major Spoiler Warnings. If you haven’t been keeping up with Amazing Spider-Man/Superior Spider-Man, and plan to do so, you shouldn’t read this).

Today, Marvel released “Superior Spider-Man” Issue 9 and capped a hugely important story line with this issue.

For those of you who don’t follow Spider-Man, the comic world was rocked with the news that “The Amazing Spider-Man” line would end at issue 700. Speculation abounded. Was this just one of many tricks to sell more comic books? Was it just a prank? What did the current Spider-Man writer, Dan Slott, have in mind?

The world found out in issue 700 (now priced at 75.00 on e-bay, no joke, and I have a copy). The reaction was immediate. Cancellation of subscriptions abounded; Slott got threats on his life (yes, really), and the controversy even reached on air discussion on CNN.

So, what was the big deal? Simply this: In an experiment  Doc Ock, one of the worst and baddest of all Spider-villains,  was able to transfer his consciousness from his dying body to Peter Parker. Further, the bad Doctor was able to take Peter Parker’s consciousness and put it in Doc Ocks’ dying body.

In case that didn’t make sense, try this: Peter Parker in Doc Ock’s dying body, Doc Ock in Peter’s live, young and thriving Spider-Man body.

(MAJOR SPOILER ALERT)

Issue 700 involves Peter racing to get his old body back while the Doc Ock body died. In the final confrontation, Peter manages to instill some of his personality and memories back into Doc Ock/Spider-Man. These memories start to transform, teach and show Doc Ock the life of Peter Parker. In short, Peter’s life begins its process of the redemption of his greatest enemy. Peter shows Doc Ock that compassion, love and self-sacrifice, even for your worst enemies, is more powerful than any world domination plan. Indeed, it’s how Spider-Man always wins over evil.

Peter shows how Doc Ock is undone, changed and transformed. His path towards redemption has begun while Peter dies. Doc Ock swears to be a hero, to obey Peter’s last dying wish and be a Superior Spider-Man. He fully embraces “With Great Power, comes Great Responsibility.”

Yes, Peter Parker dies, or does he?

In “Superior Spider-Man”issue 1 ($75 on ebay, weee!), we see Peter acting as a sort of “Holy Ghost” as Doc Ock starts to learn what it means to be a hero. As might be expected, Doc Ock has a bit of a problem with his transformation. On the hilarious side, we have Peter Parker speaking like an old man using terms like “dolt.” On the dark side, Doc Ock actually kills a villain, something Peter would never do. Yet, Peter’s ghost or memories or whatever you want to call them, intertwine with the Doc, teaching him, staying his hand and showing him restraint.

Doc doesn’t do it well. He stumbles. He falls. He kills. Yet, all the while, he is starting to become better than what he was, changed and being redeemed. In a powerful issue, number 3, Peter uses Doc Ock’s own memories of childhood abuse to change his perspective on what his past actions really have done; destroyed the lives of people and children.

In my mind, and this is just my humble opinion, I see the Gospel being played out. That is, a good man redeems a bad one. I’m always amazed at how my fellow Christians don’t seem to get the Gospel when it comes to their superheroes or movies. While I’m against the whole “anti-hero” movement, and dark comics like Watchmen, I also know heroes need complexity, because people are complex.

Even more, Slott now turns the redemptive elements on Peter; the supposed paragon of always doing the right thing.

And now, in “Superior Spider-Man” *Issue 9, we see how much Peter’s “redemption” of Doc Ock has gone.

(Major Spoilers Ahead)

As they battle inside Spider-Man’s brain for control, Doc Ock shows Peter he didn’t always follow his own ideals. In this, Doc Ock becomes the redeemer of Peter Parker, as he shows Parker his own selfishness. The issue is one of the best comics of the year in dealing with what makes us good and what makes us bad. It’s an amazingly biblical exploration of how a good man can do bad things at the turn of a hat.

We live in a complex world. Our heroes, we need to understand, while doing good, may also have a dark, sinful side. The Bible is one of the most realistic books in the world because it shows humanity for what it is, not what we wish it to be. This is why I’m also perplexed when my fellow Christians hoot and holler about showing a hero with defects. King David anyone?

“Superior Spider-Man” Issue 9 is available everywhere. Check it out.

About Jonathan Ryan

Jonathan Ryan is a novelist, blogger and columnist. His novel, 3 Gates of the Dead, will be released Fall 2013 in book outlets everywhere.

  • http://spidermanpodcast.com Rick Dean

    Great write-up Jonathan!

    • http://www.authorjonathanryan.com Jonathan Ryan

      Thanks very much, Rick! And thanks for stopping by!


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