Generally, I avoid writing about whatever is hugely popular at the moment to give some lesser known material a few words of support. Does anyone need more insight into the PS4 Spider-man game, or even Spider-man as a comic book character, given there are so many other amazing bits of pop-culture to discover?
Well, I guess so, because in this episode of VS, I’m comparing PS4 Spider-man to classic Spider-man ala the first 200 issues or so of Amazing Spider-man and its various companion books. My excuse is that Spider-man is near and dear to my hear. I’d not be who I am today without the guy. The four-color print original who swung around NYC between 1964 and the early 80’s, is arguably my moral foundation. I know, that may seem sad, but I could do a lot worse.
My earliest memory of a Spiderman comic was #125 of Amazing. I was five. It had a werewolf! It wasn’t like anything else I’d read. It was aimed at kids, yet it seemed like it was about the real world, more or less. It didn’t seem unreasonable that a person could get spider powers from a radioactive spider bite, but I was pretty sure Santa was an insidious fabrication of adult society created solely to keep kids in line.
Of course, that silver age version of Spider-man is the one true Spider-man in my mind. Yet, even then, there was already a variation of the character in the Spider-man cartoon Ralph Bakshi had going in ’67, and the Electric Company (PBS kids show. Google it) teamed up with Marvel on another version soon after. So, what I’m saying is that, while I have a preference, Spider-man was getting spin offs and variations three years after he was born.
It seems part of the tradition of Spider-man has always been to experiment with different spins on the character…which I only just realized a second ago. Writing! It’s good for your brain!
The latest spin, Spiderman on PS4, is not the foundation of my moral compass. Not that he’s not a nice guy, but my moral development slowed to a halt in the late 90’s, and I haven’t progressed an inch since. That said, to a lot of kids, this Spider-man could be the hero from their childhood that matters.
So, how different are they? Let’s look at original flavor Spider-man first. He’s a creature of guilt. He feels guilty over a single moment of self-indulgence when he ignored a runaway thief who later killed his uncle Ben. He feels guilty over never being able to balance his life as Spider-man with commitments to his friends and family. He feels guilty over not feeling guilty enough.
He was also super smart, always short of cash, had perpetually bad luck, yet somehow dated extraordinary women all the damn time.
My take away was that growing up to be a smarty-pants under-achiever who means well might land me Spider Powers and would almost certainly lead to a string of awesome girlfriends. So, guess how I’ve spent my life. I gotta say, it’s worked out pretty well.
Another interesting detail, back in those early days, Marvel was letting Spiderman age. Readers got to grow up with Peter Parker going from high-school kid to grad student. I wish they’d stuck with that. We’d have a third or fourth generation Spider-man by now.
Spider-man was also funny, confident in a self-deprecating sort of way, and always tried to do what was right even though no one appreciated it. Did I mention yet that the police were always shooting at him?
Now, PS4 Spider-man is a different kind of guy. For one thing, he has a big white spider on his suit instead of a small black one. That right there should let you know this is not your father’s Spider-man. Also, for the record, I am not you father.
There’s no origin story for PS4 Spider-man, but he seems less guilty. Uncle Ben is dead. Was Pete involved? Probably, but he just doesn’t seem to be carrying the emotional baggage of his predecessor.
He seems nice, I guess, but he comes off like he’s doing everyone a favor by letting them bask in his niceness. He’s so nice, he’s not only letting his life as Spider-man destroy his relationships and leave him impoverished, he’s chosen a job with his scientific mentor (Otto Octavius in this world) that also destroys his relationships and leaves him impoverished when he could be working for some serious cash.
This Spider-man also seems oddly cozy with the police. Not to get into the complexities of real-world life, but Spider-man getting along with police is, well, it’s quite a shift from them shooting at him.
Of course, as a middle-aged man, I no longer want to grow up to be Spider-man. Nope. Not at all. But I do love a chance to pretend to be him that won’t upset the neighbors or confuse the dog. So, I truly appreciate the PS4 giving me the chance to swing on webs and find out just how very NOT bullet-proof Spider-man is. Really, all the years reading comics, it never fully occurred to me that Spider-man could be killed by some random jerk with a gun, but he really can.
On the other hand, classic Spider-man could fall to his doom if he ran out of web fluid, which always made him seem a little bad-ass and a little dumb-ass to me, a cocktail I could relate to in my youth. PS4 Spider-man not only has endless webs, but he can jump off the highest point in the city and land just fine. Huh. Well, okay.
Now, as the world will soon learn when “Spider-Man, Into the Spiderverse” comes out next month, there are a few kergillion Spider-men. How that happened I do not know. Why this one peculiar spider-themed hero from 1964 got so many freaking versions it warrants a “verse” seems to be proof that there are forces in this universe that we are not meant to understand. But he’s got one. My point being, I’m just writing about two of the many Spider-men, women, boys, girls, and various anthropomorphic animals. If neither appeal, I’m sure there’s one out there that will.
In any case, go read the early adventures of Spider-man. Most of them are on Marvel Unlimited. If nothing else, you could probably use a better moral compass. Then, go play on your PS4 and enjoy the swinging lifestyle.
See ya soon.