There’s not a lot in my life that’s managed to remain apolitical, but I would like to think my love of comic books and Spider-Man is one of last things that has more or less remained untainted by the cesspool that is Washington, DC, and the media punditocracy that obsesses over it. After working in newspapers for five years, I was up to my eyeballs in politics – always having to cover it “objectively” even though I’ve always maintained that objectivity doesn’t exist. When I visit my parents, despite my better judgement, the conversation always devolves into an argument about the president, congress, global warming, etc. But my comics are my comics. Spider-Man fights for good and his motives are generally ethically pure. While the storylines do tend to reflect the times on occasion – like in the Marvel Civil War storyline – it’s always been more allegorical. I prefer this, because like many other readers, comic books have always been a place of escape for me. Just a few minutes away from the high-pitched squealing that political debate almost always becomes.
And then the new Ultimate Spider-Man was revealed yesterday to be multiracial, – half-black, half-latino – and suddenly Spidey is in the news for all the reasons I dread. I read that Glen Beck is riling up his mouth-breathers by blaming Michelle Obama for essentially guilting Ultimate Spider-Man’s creators into breaking “tradition” and going with a more “diverse” Spider-Man. I read that the Daily Mail took a quote out of context and reported that it was suggested that Spider-Man could be gay – cue the “not that there’s anything wrong with that” jokes (and Bleeding Cool obliges).
I haven’t read Ultimate Fallout #4 yet which details the new Ultimate Spider-Man. Personally, I could care less what race Spidey. What I care about is how Marvel crafts this story and justifies their decision-making process. If they’re looking to break “tradition” and make a “new kind” of Spider-Man, I hope they take advantage of the comics that can be written with a half-latino, half-black Spider-Man as opposed to the a white male, age 18-35 Spider-Man. I would hope this new Spider-Man would give the Ultimate line even more of its own personality when compared with the “traditional” Amazing series.
Instead, the new Ultimate Spider-Man is just another entry in the shrill world of political debate and talk radio. Yesterday it was the debt ceiling, today it’s Spider-Man. There’s about a million things wrong with that sentence I just wrote as it pertains to our daily discourse, but sadly, it’s true.
Please, I beg of you world, move on from this story and fast. Let my comic books go back to being their 15-minutes of distraction. If I’m going to think too deeply about a new Spider-Man, let it be because I hate the direction Marvel is going with the storylines, not the cultural ramifications and the white noise created by the color of Spidey’s skin.