Letters : Spider-Oracle : 2009 : Spider-Oracle Petitions 18/05/2009

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From David

Hi, I was wondering if you could help me. I'm a writer who is looking to write a WHAT IF story that takes place after House of M: Spider-Man. But I'm not so up on the the continuity of Spider-Man around that event. So I was wondering of you could help me. Basically I just was wondering of you happen to know if anything at all changed in Spider-Man continuity as a result of House of M, or did everything just go back to normal for him and he forgot all about it.

The aftermath of this major Marvel Event are covered quite well in the wikipedia House of M article. The primary permanent impact of House of M after it's conclusion was, of course, the decimation of the mutant population. There were other permanent effects, as listed in that article.

However, specifically regarding Spider-Man's world, he appears to have been restored to his former existence with no changes - except that Spider-Man himself was one of the few characters who actually continued to remember the events of "House of M" after they were undone.

As I understand, each editor/writer was given some flexibility to decide if their character would remember their time in the House-of-M-verse or not. The writers of Spider-Man indicated that he was one of those who did remember (along with Ms. Marvel and a few others). However, nothing really seems to have come of that, and the consequences of Spider-Man struggling to live with memories of two conflicting lives are completely ignored.

If you were looking for a "no-prize", perhaps you might suggest that Peter's memories of his alternate, temporary existence quickly faded over time, much as his memories of his encounter with Drom, the Backwards Man during Marvel Team-Up #31.

From George

my name is George. I'm a great fan of spiderman. Stan Lee is one of the best in drawing spiderman comics and i enjoy reading them. Hello Mr. Jonathan Couper. You problably know more about spiderman and stan lee than me. By any chance, do you know when Stan lee ,at the time he created spiderman somewhere in early 1960's, when at the point Mr. Lee originated his ideas to create spiderman, did he bases upon someone he met that was a hero like captian america or someone he might have met in the service that was an isparation to him during his early career that made Mr. Lee to be a very sucessful comic book writer? If you do know something about Stan Lee early comic spiderman books career, what's your opinion? If you do not know, its o.k. I just want to ask someone this question to hear other point of view. Stan Lee is a guenius. thank you very much for your feedback.

The story of Stan and Steve's creation of Spider-Man has been retold on many occasions. It is summarized quite succinctly in the Spider-Man Wikipedia Article. For further reading try Stan's autobiography - Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee, Joe Simon's autobiography - The Comic Book Makers, or a "Marvel History" book such as Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades.

Also, one minor correction. Stan Lee is not one of the best in drawing Spider-Man comics. He's a writer and editor - I don't think he ever held a pencil in anger. But to answer your primary question, no I'm not aware of any soldier or serviceman (or servicewoman) having had any particularly strong influence in guiding Stan to create any of his famous Marvel Superheroes.

From RCB

I was just reading Spider-Man #5 "Marked For Destruction By DR. DOOM!" On page 5 of the story (1st panel top left) Dr. Doom is speaking to Spider-Man and says' "Friendship is for weaklings! What I offer you is Power! Together we could rule the World!"

Doesn't this sound a little bit like what Darth Vader said to Luke in "The Empire Strikes Back"?

Spider-Man #5 was published in October 1963
The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980

You mean of course...

"Join me, together we could rule the galaxy as father and son."

It's well know that popular culture obtains much of its sustenance through feeding off itself. When I think of classic cases of comic/movie "borrowing" the big one that always comes to my mind is "The Brood" from the X-Men, clearly a direct steal from the popular "Aliens" movie of the time.

However, given the seventeen year gap, I think the Doom/Darth link might be just two examples of separate stories sharing the common theme of power, temptation and corruption. You might as well suggest that both of them stole from classic spiritual sources such as the Bible (Mark 1:13), or Gustave Flaubert's "The Temptation of Saint Anthony", or "Lord of the Rings".

From Dwayne

I have a spider-man comic that I don't know anything about. The comic is in mint condition never opened. It has spider-man on a white cover swinging from barb wire. The cover says amazing first issue of a new ongoing series!, Spider-man adventures and baser on the upcoming animated series. If you can tell me anything about this I would appericate it.

This would be Spider-Man Adventures #1, specifically the white, foil variant cover. It was cover-dated December 1994, and features an original story based on the 1990's Cartoon. It might fetch as much as five bucks on the open market.

Normally, the Oracle does not stoop to answering such simple questions, however I was amused by your reference to "swinging on barbed wire". I believe that on closer inspection, you may decide that this was intended to depict webbing - in the style made popular by Todd McFarlane ten years earlier when he made his Spidey artist/creator debut in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #298.

From David Nickerson

I am writing a paper to express why comic books are a valuable form of media in our society. I thoroughly enjoy reading and collecting them. I love comic books period, so my college professor told me to write about something I love so I chose comics. I am having an issue with finding the right resources that A) explain and support my argument that Comics are generally good for people because ________. and B) argue against my belief that comics are good. Do you have any insight or suggestions that might be able to help me convince the world that they need to read comic books more?

here is a little brainstorming I have done if it helps to give you an idea of what I am trying to convey

David Nickerson
Eng 122-333
February 16th 2009 Brainstorming Paper #1

1. Thesis: Comics are good in society because __________.

2. Paper policy is a Claim of value

3. What i know before research:I know that comics stir the imagination in people. It gives me an outlet or an escape that's healthy and can be productive. I have read comics since I was a little kid and I relish in reading the stories and then getting lost in the drama and plots of other universes. I take ideals and situations out of comics and relate them to my own life, almost like "fuel" for the coming onslaught of reality that is life. It is easier to read, understand, comprehend, and absorb as far as a storyline or idea goes. Comic books give a sense of hope and faith in me, this in turn reflects how I see and act in the world, my positivity shows. I know detailed superheroes' lives and incidents that have structured them to become the superhero (or super villain) that they are. I can see what incidents occur to cause a human to become a certain way. It's almost like "cause and effect", I see something traumatic that happens to a fictional humanistic character and then I see possible ways that it can affect their lives based off of decisions they make. In a sense comic books are almost a life guide to right and wrong morals. Comic books also touch on the gray areas where the question is asked, does the end justify the means? When an action is taken by a fictional character, is it the right or just action or is it immoral? Reading comic books can help to interpret answers to questions like this in life.

4. What i know with little research: The first thing I learned is that there is a lot more complexity to something I merely enjoy at leisure. It seems as if I take it for granted when I read a comic. As I learn this I need to express this factor to my readers so they can also see the importance that I have overlooked regarding comic books.

5.Why do i believe this topic is important and should be argued? I think comic books are not given the credit or respect that they are due in any way shape or form. The career of a comic book artist or writer is not revered as it should be. It is almost as if it's a small joke in the business world. Whenever someone tells someone else that they like reading comic books, they are throwing themselves into a stereotype of immaturity in society's eyes. Comics do have a very positive and prominent impact on society. The impact isn't just in reading to escape or acquire hope or faith. Comic books and graphic novels (or Sequential Art Literature) also help to educate and learn.I believe comic books are an art of literature and brilliance in storytelling. There is a reason why comic books have worth value to them that can far exceed the original cost of the book both sentimentally and with figures and dollar signs.

6.What additional information will I need on my paper in order to make it successful? I need to find information from several books that famous artists have written to back up my arguments and beliefs about comics. I need this information because my credentials aren't as creditable as an artist that has had more to do with comics than just reading them. They have had more experiences and hands on interactions pertaining to life and comic books where as I have not.I need to earn the credentials that will give me credit or find other people's views that support mine that already have those credentials.

First, you might want to just double-check your approach to the topic. You seem to start with the assumption that "Comics are Good", and then aim proceed to gather information to support your premise. Are you sure that this is how research is supposed to work? Perhaps an alternative approach might be to ask "Are Comics Good?" and then gather facts and opinions to develop both sides of the argument.

Also, you conclude "[You] need to find information from several books that famous artists have written to back up [your] arguments and beliefs about comics." Apart from again implying a search for one-sided evidence to support your pre-determined cause, you also seem to be suggesting that you should not develop your own argument, but that instead your paper should be a montage of existing claims proposed by other more credible figures. Are you sure you are doing yourself justice here?

Imagine if you were tasked to create a comic book. Would you equally suggest that since you don't have a proven track-record, you should just cut-and-paste from existing comics rather than try and create something of your own? Is your goal to develop your critical analysis skills, or to prepare yourself for a job as a site administrator at "E Baum's World"?

But enough ad hominem asides. Let's look at the real question to hand - "Are Comics Good?"

While any analysis of quality (inherent or perceived) is fraught with danger, I think in this case we could get a general consensus to support the emphatic initial response that "No, Most Comics Are Crap."

It's sadly true that the majority of the titles produced by mainstream companies are repetitive, mass-produced drivel with little or no artistic integrity or merit. The super-hero genre rules most of the market, and most of it is little-mitigated garbage pandering to fan-boy teenagers and middle-aged nostalgics.

Without pigeon-holing the Spider-Fan staff into either camp, it is clear that they are intelligent, kind and thoughtful souls who love their Spidey comics and pay dearly for the privilege. But that doesn't provide any challenge to the overwhelming reality that probably 80% of comic books are just rubbish. Mind you, 95% of TV, 80% of movies, 60% of books and 95% of magazines are crap too. Figures estimated. Your mileage may vary.

That's the headline. But it doesn't end there. In fact, it's the exceptions to the general rule that are far more interesting.

For there are many examples of "Good" comics books. Art Spiegelman's "Maus", or pretty much anything written by Will Eisner and Alan Moore. There are also great titles like "Bone", "Sandman", "Hellboy", "Preacher", "Y, the Last Man" and many more series that began as semi-alternative and are now essentially mainstream. That's without even touching on questions such as the value of social messages in comics, or historical comics with general historical-anthropological interest, or erotic comics, historical comics, modern alternative comics and many more genres - to each of which we could assign "value" in its different aspects.

I think you could easily form a case that a subset of comics demonstrate great "merit", after first establishing a reasonable definition of "merit" in its various literary and cultural guises. It's your job to shape and support the final hypothesis, but personally I believe you could justify something like this:

"Most comic books are bad, but comics definitely can be good."

If you're interested in deconstructing comics and in arguments which demonstrate (very effectively) that comics are intrinsically every bit as valid and powerful an art form as books and movies, I strongly recommend Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics.

You allude to a second question, "Are comics good for you?" I think you might as well ask "Is Art Good For You?" or "Is Entertainment Good For You?" Answer those in general, and I believe your answer will hold equally as well for comics.

From J. Wilson

I found a couple more appearances.

Sub-Mariner (Vol. 1) #68 has a small Peter Parker cameo at the end, leading into his larger appearance in 69.

X-Men Unlimited (Vol. 1) #41 opens with a young alternate Peter Parker appearance in Story 1 "Dark and Scary Things".

Your contributions are appreciated. Truly, you have take the first small steps on the way of the righteous Spider-Fan.

From Ron

On [your current cover scan of] What If (Vol. 2) #4 the cover scan you have is actually the 1993 What If (Vol. 2) #4 (JC Penney Promo). The 1st print has a spidey face in the UPC box, and a TSR Games ad on back. The 1993 JCPenny reprints have a full Spidey in webs, a X-Men Video ad on the back.

And you, my friend Ron, are clearly another master in training. You are as I was, many years ago in my youth. Come, walk with me, and we will talk of variant covers, obscure commercial reprints, and other matters which are beyond the ken of mortal beings.

From Artimid

O Mighty Oracle, I stopped being able to read Spider-man for a long time, or any comics for that matter, and when I finally managed to picked one up it invovled Iron Man, and many... many.. many others knowing his secret identity (This was before the big reveal.)

I am wondering where a few of them found out who Spider-man is.

Reed Richards, I saw on one of the comic reviews that an answer might be found in DD v2 55, or 56 if I recall, but all it had was Strange, Richards, and Cage with Peter confronting Matt after he took over Hell's Kitchen.

I would like to know where Strange found out who he was, and Reed Richards. I saw in the Spider-man/Human Torch #4 that Reed knew by that point. All of the Avengers seemed to know, and weren't surprised by it but I can try to find more Avenger's comics to try to pin point those. Mostly I just wonder where Reed Richards, Cage, Strange, T'Challa learned his identity, as referrenced in Spidey/Torch #4. Since it seemed they knew before the Avengers comics started with Spidey in them.

If this is at all possible, I would appreciate it. I have seen the Oracle answer many difficult questions, and I am sure that if anyone can answer, Oracle can. The internet has failed me in searching, but I am sure the Oracle has much larger reservoir of information to pull from.

Ah... the Oracle is wiser than you know, and has for many years maintained a mostly-up-to-date list of People who knew Spider-Man's Identity. Of course, this was before the events of Civil War revealed his identity to all, and before Brand New Day subsequently un-revealed his identity.

To answer your specific questions - Reed Richards could have possibly learned when he discovered Peter's camera in Amazing Spider-Man #258. Of course, he was smart enough to figure it out any time he really wanted to. But he had on several occasions deliberately avoided looking at information and has acted to protect Peter's identity. In Daredevil (Vol. 2) #56 it seems he does now know. But it has never been explained exactly how and when he learned.

The powers of Doctor Strange could learn Spider-Man's identity with a mere thought - though after the recent Brand New Day ret-con he presumably would require some serious hard work to penetrate the magics of Mephisto. He originally learned at least in Marvel Team-Up Annual #5.

Luke Cage... apparently learned only recently. Again, this was first shown in Daredevil (Vol. 2) #56, but the how and where is not explicitly described. He presumably learned it while he and Spider-Man shared an apartment along with the rest of the New Avengers.

Regarding T'Challa, aka Black Panther, I am not convinced that he does indeed know. My reading of Spider-Man/Human Torch #4 does not lead me to believe that he knew Peter's identity. His exact words in that issue are "Forgive me, Spider-Man. Though we have been brief allies in the past... you remain a mystery to me."