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Friday, November 08, 2002

What's Good For Spider-Man? -- You see a lot of Spider-Man DVDs these days. Displays in seemingly every store push hundreds and hundreds of copies of the webhead's film debut at you. Buy. Me. Now!!

Is it good for consumers? Well, it makes a desired film easy to find.

Is it good for comics? I don't see how it can't be, considering how much more intertwined with the industry this movie is than any previous comics film. I wish Ghost World had had as much information related to Dan Clowes and Eightball as the Spider-Man DVD has stuff about John Romita, Stan Lee and the other people who contributed to the book over the decades. It's impossible to view the DVD without having an acute awareness that this is a character with a rich history, and hey, in case you want to see more, there's a coupon for three free issues right in the DVD case.

My six-year-old son recognized Spider-Man on sight before we took him to the movie, but he didn't really care about him one way or the other. Since the film, the character has captured his imagination and I've never seen him so interested in devouring everything he can about a fictional character. Action figures, t-shirts, comics, hats, snow boots, all are plastered with Spider-Man, and he loves it. As a comics reader with a full 30 years invested in reading and enjoying comics, it's extremely gratifying to see him take such delight in Spider-Man. I don't care too much for any of the current comics series, but you know, when I was my son's age, I did. Today I think From Hell, Ghost World, Forlorn Funnies and other great comics show the vast potential for a medium that I fell into partly because of -- Spider-Man (and thanks, Gerry Conway and Ross Andru -- they were there when I discovered the book and you know how that is). So maybe 30 years from now my son will have similarly matured and refined tastes. Maybe he'll move on to something else. Who cares? Right now he's deliriously happy with something that won't hurt him, and that's good for him.

Is it good for Spider-Man? I don't really know what that means. Marvel's characters have lagged behind DC's for decades in terms of becoming genuine cultural icons. To the vast, uncaring public whose known for decades that Clark Kent was Superman and Bruce Wayne was Batman, 15 years ago only real fans knew who Peter Parker was. Now everyone knows.

The Spider-Man movie has pushed the character over the edge into full-fledged cultural icon status.

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