Monthly Archives: September 2011

In Defense of Peter Parker

Peter Parker gets no respect.

This should come as no surprise to people who are familiar with Spider-Man and his alter ego–whether it’s the original Marvel comics, Sam Raimi’s blockbuster trilogy, or the myriad of animated series that have popped up on television from time to time. In every iteration, Peter’s constantly having problems with bullies, bosses, and potential paramours. So, yes, within the fictional world of the Marvel Universe, Peter Parker gets no respect. However, I was somewhat shocked to find out that poor Pete doesn’t get much respect among comic fans, either.

Maybe it’s just the inevitable backlash from almost fifty years of marketing Peter Parker as the “everyman” of the Marvel Universe. I get that comic fans might be turned off by the notion that the publisher equates them with a socially awkward, pathetic mess. I understand why a reader would rather identify with someone flashy like Tony Stark, take-charge like Hal Jordan, or majestic like Wonder Woman. I’ve heard people say things along the lines of “Marvel thinks that Peter Parker reflects who their readers are, well that’s not me.” I understand. I do.

I’ll get the obvious projection-y stuff out of the way. When Spider-Man first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15, Peter Parker was a shy teenager who was more comfortable with his chemistry set than he was with his classmates. The powers he gained from the bite of that radioactive spider not only allowed Peter to swing through the concrete canyons of New York City fighting crime, but they also gave him a boost in confidence, especially while in costume. Out of his mask and booties (yes, he calls them “booties”…what would you call them?), Peter still retained a bit of the shy, socially awkward science geek that he had been in high school. Confession Warning! Yes, I was the shy, quiet kid. I was the kid who got good grades but was (was?) always too shy to ask a girl out. And, like Peter, I was a closet smart-ass. So, on the most basic level, I identify with who Peter Parker is as a person. But, the reason I respect him has more to do with the oft-repeated power-and-responsibility shtick.

Yes, Peter’s life is crap, but it’s crap because he willingly sacrifices the private side of his life to help others. I think this is a very important part of who Peter Parker is, even if it often gets overshadowed by “Uh-oh…Peter’s late with the rent again” and “Oops, Peter missed his date with MJ.” But, these unfortunate things don’t just happen to Peter, he makes the conscious decision to put his life on hold for others. Guys like Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark have an army of employees to handle the day-to-day business of running their multi-million dollar corporations while they’re off fighting crime. Clark Kent can fly to Tokyo, pound a giant killer robot into a pile of used pinball machine parts and still have time to finish that article for the evening edition (and meet Lois for dinner–guess they don’t call him Superman for nothing). But Peter Parker? He can’t do it all. He has to choose. He has to make sacrifices. He has to decide what’s more important: his social life or saving complete strangers from a burning building. And, almost without fail, he’ll choose the latter.

Responsibility.

I don’t know about you, but I wish I had that kind of compassion, that kind of unwavering dedication to total strangers. For that reason, more than any other, I respect Peter Benjamin Parker.

How Do We Make Power Girl Part of the Titans? I Figured It Out!

So, it’s been bugging me that Dick Grayson, Wally West, and Donna Troy all got to hang out and grow up together, but poor Power Girl (who’s essentially Supergirl Version 1.0) never got to be a part of the Teen Titans.

Is this a big deal? No, not really…but it throws the generational balance out of whack. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are friends. Their sidekicks are friends. Their former sidekicks are friends. Power Girl, however, hangs out with the old WWII heroes of the Justice Society–which makes sense when you remember that Power Girl was the Supergirl of Earth-Two, the same world where the JSA lived prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline.

I really see no reason why Power Girl couldn’t have been a Supergirl back when Dick Grayson was Robin and Wally West was Kid Flash. It will require some rewriting of DC history and maybe borrowing a name here and there, but just hang in there. This is all in good fun. Sit back. Relax. Everything will be okay.

We all know that Clark Kent was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton. We also know that, when his planet was about to explode, his parents placed him in a rocket and launched him into the vast unknown of space. That rocket eventually crashes in Smallville, the baby is found and raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent and grows up to become Superman.

What you may not know is, long before Krypton exploded, Kryptonians established a colony on the planet Daxam. Daxamites, like their Kryptonian cousins, develop super powers under the light from a yellow sun. (Unlike Kryptonians, Daxamites were not weakened by kryptonite–a trait that Power Girl shares.)

So, I propose that Power Girl should be a Daxamite–which would make her similar to Superman, but still unique, which is why we love Pee Gee in the first place. The Justice League would be off in some distant part of the galaxy, trying to help the oppressed or whatever, when they come across a derelict Daxamite ship. Investigating, they discover a sole survivor, a young girl named Cara Zel. When they return to Earth, they find that the yellow sun grants her powers similar to Superman. Taking the name Supergirl, Cara learns about her new home while also honing her powers. After several years, Cara decides to change her name to Power Girl and takes a new Earth identity: Karen Starr.

 

That brings us to the next generation of young heroes. Tim Drake becomes the new Robin; Cassie Sandsmark becomes the next Wonder Girl; Bart Allen becomes the new Kid Flash. What about a new Supergirl? This is where the Supergirl that most people are familiar with comes into play: Kara Zor-El, Clark Kent’s cousin. Kara was a teenager when Krypton exploded, but due to a cosmic incident, her ship crashes on Earth over twenty years later and, emerging from suspended animation, Kara learns that her baby cousin is now an adult and the planet’s premiere superhero.

 

There. Done. We get a current Supergirl, but we also give Power Girl a past that’s connected to heroes her own age, like Dick Grayson and Donna Troy.

More Assembly Required: Looking at Possible Additions for Avengers 2

Look, I know The Avengers doesn’t open until next summer, but that shouldn’t stop me from thinking about possible sequels…mainly which Avengers I’d love to see added over time.

Ant-Man/Hank Pym 

Along with Wasp, Ant-Man was there from the start in the comic. Now, I understand why they didn’t want to include them in the first movie–opting instead to introduce easier-to-explain characters like Hawkeye and Maria Hill–but there’s no reason why they couldn’t be introduced later. I’ve always kind of wanted Alan Tudyk to play Hank Pym. I don’t know why, I just do.

   

Wasp/Janet van Dyne

I’ve never been a huge fan of Wasp–most of the versions I’ve seen in the comics have always come off as being kind of shallow and privileged. But, the Wasp on Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is a riot. She’s excited about being a hero because it’s the right thing to do. So, if Hank Pym is going to be the resident scientist, Janet could be his lab assistant (think the Astrid to Hank’s Walter) and Nicki Clyne showed a lot of pluck on Battlestar Galactica, so…

  

Luke Cage

Luke’s a fairly new addition to the Avengers, but serves an important role as a grounding influence for the team that includes a living legend and a god. If Omar Epps can hold his own against Hugh Laurie, going head to head with Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey, Jr. should be a piece of cake.

  

Power Woman/Jessica Jones Cage

Superhero. Private detective. Reporter. Like her husband, Jessica is a new, but extremely vital, addition to the Avengers. Michelle Monaghan has played tough and intelligent, which is the perfect mix for Jess. Also: she studied journalism before deciding to become an actress…which doesn’t mean anything, but is a cool tidbit.

  

Mockingbird/Bobbi Morse

I’m pretty sure they’ll decide to play up the Hawkeye/Black Widow relationship, but that’s no reason why Mockingbird can’t appear in a sequel. Bobbi’s a spy, a scientist, and all-around awesome, and only Anna Torv could do her justice.

  

Ms. Marvel/Carol Danvers

Danvers was a major in the U.S. Air Force and an operative with the C.I.A. long before she was an Avenger. Combining her natural skills with super strength, durability, and energy blasts makes Ms. Marvel a force to be reckoned with. Yvonne Strahovski pretty much plays a non-powered Carol Danvers every week on Chuck.