Brand New Day Retrospective, Part 3: “A Guy Named Peter Parker”

Amongst the readers that do not support the new direction, one of the biggest complaints lies with the character of Peter Parker himself.  While some laud Brand New Day as a return to form for the “swingin’ single Spidey,” others claim that this Peter Parker is barely recognizable at best – and those at the extreme describe him as an incompetent loser that, at times, is intended as a proxy for the writers themselves.

In this installment, we take a look at the man behind the mask: Peter Benjamin Parker.

Before we start … I goofed up with Brad’s commentary in the previous installment.  Go back and check out what he has to say about the thrice-monthly format HERE, and go ahead and pummel me for accidentally deleting his PM.  I deserve it!

And now, on with the show …

Kevin Cushing: The worst part of this Brand New Day is the character of Peter Parker.  After the first issue, I said he was being portrayed as a “creepy stupid loser,” and that hasn’t really changed.  He has great power, but takes no responsibility.  “My blood got sold, darn that Parker Luck!”  No, loser, you’re screwing a thief you won’t even show your face to.  “I lost my job, darn that Parker Luck!”  No, loser, you committed fraud with a photo.  “Harry yelled at me, darn that Parker Luck!”  No, loser, you’re acting like a jackass invading innocent people’s privacy for a buck.  “Mary Jane won’t give me the time of day and is shacking up with Harry, darn that Parker Luck!”  No, loser, YOU MADE A DEAL WITH THE FREAKING DEVIL! GROW UP!

Zach Joiner: God damn has this been mishandled. What’s Peter’s Mantra? Great Power Great Responsibility. What has happened in this brave new world of Spider-Man?

Irresponsibility .

I’ll let the whole room gasp on that one. I know what you’re saying: “So ‘Dude, how has this happened?” Well, it’s pretty simple. Add in one part Quesada, one part Breevort, a dash of Wacker and Brennan… Oh, you meant in the stories? Sorry. 1) Peter living with his Aunt. Now why would anyone who is 25 live with their mom when she’s been de-aged to the point of being in her 60s? (Yeah, don’t tell me it was just Gwen and MJ who got makeovers. May got one too. It started in the Romita Days) If you live with your mom, don’t answer that. But seriously… after living on his own since the mid-70s, he’s back in his home that he grew up in? Speaking of that home…. You rebuild it… just to burn it again? What about JJJ Sr? Doesn’t he have money? Yeah that’s just…. I don’t know what it is. Not only that, Peter sleeps with Black Cat in a stolen Hotel room, with the masks on, sleeps with Michele (My Belle) Gonzales on the same night that Mary Jane returns, drunk, but Marvel’s PR can’t stand it, so the PR is that he was high on Apple Juice. Much Better. This is only two examples, but you get my point. There seems to be this misguided notion that Peter is a about youth, when he always been about responsibility and although he falls short… Clone Saga I’m looking at you… he still is always doing the right thing. Not the selfish thing, but the right thing. Once the powers that be realize this, I believe that the quality of the stories will get better.

CrazyChris: How about I let Spider-Writer Joe Kelly describe Brand New Day Spidey in his own words, taken from a September 2009 Comic Book Resources article:

“I always think of him as in high school even though he’s not.  So whatever girl trouble he’s got, it’s always the high school version of it in my brain.  It may not manifest that way, but that’s his reaction.  It’s always like he’s this disaffected man-boy, and that’s why Norah calls him her ‘Man-Child.’  It’s because he’s not fully equipped to deal with all these romantic slings and arrows, particularly after being in such a long relationship with MJ.”

I couldn’t describe it more aptly myself.  Brand New Day Spider-Man is a teenager trapped in a man’s body, who will never mature past high school and or partake in adult romantic relationships.  The only difference between Kelly’s take and mine is that I don’t think that’s the way it should be.  I always thought Peter Parker was especially mature for his age, given that he takes care of his elderly aunt by himself and became the family bread-winner at age fifteen.  It boggles my mind that someone writing the character has it so off the mark that he would intentionally write Peter Parker as a “man-boy.”

In attempting to make Peter Parker relatable to an “everyman” audience, the writers have emphasized the worst in the common person instead of trying to figure out what makes his or her daily struggles heroic.  The “Web Heads,” or whatever they call themselves, see the “everyman” as someone defined by his faults.  Because of this philosophy, Peter became a paparazzo, had a drunken/not-drunken one night stand with his roommate, breaks into hotel rooms to have kinky mask sex with the Black Cat, violated Jackpot’s privacy by running a finger print scan on her, crashed a private funeral to take pictures of the guests for money without thinking twice, erased the memories of the people who trusted him the most, bargained with Marvel’s version of the Devil, and so on and so on.  The current regime loves to create watered-down tween soap opera drama by having Peter do reprehensible thing after reprehensible thing and justify it under the mantra of “the everyman makes mistakes.”  They miss the point.  Spider-Man isn’t defined by his faults; he’s defined by how he overcomes them.

Instead of a high schooler in a twenty-five-year-old’s body, I want Peter written like an actual twenty-five-year-old.  I’m a twenty-three-year-old comic reader and I, like the people my age that I know, am a college graduate, am in a long-term relationship, am training for a professional career, and have a good idea of what I want to do with my life.  I’m not trying to brag, just pointing out that, using their characterization of Peter Parker as indication, the “Web Trust” (or whatever) has a poor memory of how people at this stage of life, especially the people with whom they are trying so hard to “relate,” think and behave.

Jon Wilson: I have been paying a lot of attention to the Lee/Ditko books recently and the Peter Parker of that era is a big part of my childhood reading memories.  I will admit that this Peter Parker is a little different than that, but honestly it’s no greater a difference than I’d expect to see between the 15-year-old version and 25-year-old version of the same person.  Now, the argument may be made that his growth and change from that point to this isn’t organic, but my reading history has a lot of gaps between 1981 and 2006, so I can’t really speak to that.

Gerard Delatour II: I don’t know who this guy is, but he’s not Peter Parker.

Peter Parker is a very intelligent man, driven by a sense of responsibility, that struggles to maintain an ordinary life – a selfless man that gives everything he has to make things better for people he doesn’t even know, because it’s the right thing to do.  The dude in the Spider-Man suit since the start of Brand New Day is an exceedingly horny man-child – an unrecognizable schmuck that couldn’t think his way out of a basic situation.  He’s so selfish, he asked the Fantastic Four to pay him to help them on a mission.  I don’t know who this guy is, but he needs to get the hell out of here so Peter Parker can come back.

Spider-Man?  He’s more or less the same: he fights bad guys and makes jokes.  It’s kind of hard to screw that up.

Brad Douglas: Horny and irresponsible.  He’s relatable, but a bit directionless without MJ.

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