Observance of Superhero

Are You There, God? It's Me, Spider-Man Pt. 1

by Andy Smith

24 June 2010

Despite being an avowed atheist, J Michael Straczynski renders a powerful and moving depiction of a devout Spider-Man.

J. Michael Straczynski’s prolific, six-year run on Amazing Spider-Man was marked not only by its bold narrative but also frequent conversations between a broken Peter Parker and God. Though Straczynski’s time with the book ended with the regrettable, forcibly shattering arc One More Day the Spider-Man provided is one of the most heroic and spiritual depictions of the Wall Crawler to date.

Straczynski, a self-professed atheist, took the classically Protestant description of Peter Parker to a more compelling and personal manner. Displaying that one’s own ideals need not interfere with your character’s, the scribe pulled no punches or prayers in the series.

Whether being chased by the life-consuming Morlun the first, second or third time or combating danger dealt to the ones he holds most dear, Parker breaks out in devotion on a regular basis. It’s a brilliant plot device, adding a touch of humor and a dash of poignancy. Before “One More Day” put an abrupt end to Straczynski’s run, there was this running, engulfing sense of urgency and importance to the character. It felt desperate. It felt about as realistic as a comic book about a colorful superhero given powers by a radioactive spider’s bite.

Whether a character is a Norse god, devout Catholic or Atlantean monarch, it simply comes down to the respect a writer has for this fictional individual that defines a series. Many writers may want to shake things up—give the character some new ideals, a change of pace or complete overhaul. But if JMS’s Spider-Man is indicative of anything, it shows the impact of the great power that one wields in penning those familiar, flagship characters and the great responsibility of simply writing great comicbooks. No Mephisto required.

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