Pop culture classics with Monica: The webslinger edition

The “Spider-Man Blue” series is among my favorite Spider-Man comic books. If you fancy yourself a fan of the webhead, this is one book you’ll want to check out.

Even if you don’t, or if you’re a casual fan with an interest in the comics but with no idea where to start, I’d very much recommend starting here! And I’m your friendly neighborhood Comics Chick here to tell you why this is such a good pick.

One of the least “superhero-y” and most, arguably, human aspects of the story of Spider-Man is, ironically, the story of Peter Parker “” the man behind the mask. Peter Parker was the first big hero to come from truly humble beginnings in just about every sense of the word.

Peter is an orphan, like Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, but he also comes from a lower middle class background, he suffers from bullying in school and he’s a nerd. Total, awkward, nervous nerd.

But when the extraordinary happens, he gains spider powers, and he learns that “with great power comes great responsibility,” Peter’s life changes,and not just because he’s spending some of his time fighting crime. Suddenly the fear he had felt in social situations began to dissipate.  Becoming a superpowered life-saver has its benefits.

Later on in the story, Peter goes off to college and befriends Harry Osborn, a rich kid with a creepy dad. A lot of his high school classmates are there too, including the girl next door, Mary Jane Watson, and a former bully of his, Flash Thompson. Perhaps you have heard of them.

Along with Harry, Peter begins to slowly socialize more. His world begins to open up.

He’s always been a funny, smart guy, but now he’s letting himself feel more comfortable and confident, and it’s getting him attention.

Enter Gwendolyn Stacey. Blonde, mysterious and completely enchanting. She’s basically the hottest and smartest girl in school. She’s perceptive, too, so her deep blue eyes notice Peter Parker coming out of his shell.

I think it doesn’t count as a spoiler to tell you that Peter and Gwen’s romance is ultimately doomed. Her death in the comics was such a shocker, it is often cited as THE event that effectively ended the Silver Age of comics. The saddest part is that Peter was ready to marry Gwen.

This comic basically tells us the story of how Peter and Gwen got together. It is exhilarating to see one of the greatest romantic relationships in comic book literature treated in such an innovative way.

The story is told in flashbacks; Peter swings around town as Spider-Man, telling the tale to a handheld recorder on Valentine’s Day, years later. He’s sad and wistful, but he brightens when he talks about Gwen and the series of events that ultimately led them to their first kiss, which is where this book sadly ends.

Spider-Man has been and always will be my favorite superhero for a whole host of reasons. I appreciate his struggles, his indecisions, his mistakes, his regrets; I think they all make him so relatable and human.

All of these qualities are written beautifully here by Jeph Loeb and carefully rendered by Tim Sale. This team also brought us “Captain America: White”, “Daredevil: Yellow” and “The Incredible Hulk: Grey.”

I highly suggest checking out this book. It’s a classic Spider-Man tale that, like Gwen, remains in our minds as a truly incredible thing.