Internet Super-Hero Challenge!

He may not be quite as recognizable as Mickey Mouse or Superman but the Amazing Spider-Man is a big enough part of popular culture to inspire take-offs, parodies, and jokes. I thought it might be fun to take an occasional look at some of these. Here's a recent example, from the December 10, 2000 issue of Parade, the Sunday newspaper supplement.

The joke is already a bit stale but creators Bunny Hoest and John Reiner certainly felt that the webhead was well-known enough to support this cartoon without explanation. That, in itself, strikes me as a good sign.

In fact, this sort of exposure serves as a good barometer to gauge the public recognition factor of Spider-Man, or any other fictional character. It's hard to know if people are talking about Spider-Man, but it's easy to get a feel for how much he appears in the print media, and how that recognition has changed over time.

The Internet, by contrast, gives you a different measure. The rapid growth of the 'net makes it impossible to get any feel for the change over time - but it does make it very simple to determine the relative popularities of different characters. Many search engines, like Altavista, give you the count of documents with the specified word matched - making it simple to compare the fan base for "Super-Man" vs. "Spider-Man" for example. In fact, next month, We'll bring you the results of the first Annual "Internet-Super-Hero" challenge!

Of course, when it comes to web-sites, we all know who's gonna be tops!