I may have to start reading comics again

While growing up one of my closest friends was Peter Parker. If you could translate into cold cash the investment of my youth into all things Spider-Man, Trump would raise an eyebrow. That’s a lotta dough.

I’ve long left the comics behind, but my affection for the character continues. So it was my eyebrow coming up as I read this news:

In the latest edition of the Marvel comic “Civil War” on sale, Spiderman does the unthinkable and removes his Spidey mask to publicly reveal his hidden identity.

“I’m proud of who I am, and I’m here right now to prove it,” the legendary webslinger tells a press conference called in New York’s Times Square, before pulling off his mask and standing before the massed ranks of reporters as newspaper photographer Peter Parker.

“Any questions?” Parker asks in the final panel of the issue, amid a barrage of camera flashes.

I may have to buy this issue. One of the primary themes of all things Spidey is the importance placed on keeping his identities separate and secret (Not even the Fantastic Four were confided with the knowledge). SpideyNoMaskIt was that aspect of the character that Sam Raimi so wonderfully captured in his two movies (though I could have done without the railway scene).

If you’re not appreciative of the comics genre, then this news means little. But if you’ve ever spent time in the two-dimensional world of paneled ink and letters, this is huge news. This is on the scale of Paris Hilton going celibate, Shaq becoming a three-point threat or a woman playing Augusta. This fundamentally changes the character of a super hero created 44 years ago.

I divorced Marvel back in the early 1990s. What drove me away was its sudden overindulgence in the shock value of intense and grotesque violence. “The Fall of the Mutants” series was but one of many Marvel story lines featuring blood, guts and Wolverine, way too much Wolverine. And Marvel has since suffered.

There are now signs of life in Marvel’s print empire. The House of M series has sparked some curiosity, but not enough for me to buy anything. This new Spidey twist has me jonesing though. It’s intriguing to read that the House of Ideas has developed a new tactic to attract readers – the shock of changing the nature of a character forever. Nice to see it can be done without claws.

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