She Can Fly: Why I’m Ready to Say Goodbye to Peter Parker

Dear Spider-Man,

No, wait:

Dear Peter Parker,

We’ve been friends for a while.

Sometimes our relationship is like hanging out with a good friend from high school. Someone I fell out of touch with, but, in reconnecting, I discover that, while we’ve both grown and changed, we still have a lot in common.

When I came back into comics in 2008, after a long absence, you were one of the first titles I picked up. I stuck with you until you were replaced by Doc Ock; at that point, I had to drop the title. I appreciated the story direction, but I just wasn’t interested in a megalomaniac Peter Parker with a penchant for being a jerk. I was always partial to Peter Parker because, despite the bad in his life, the struggle and sadness and turmoil, he still did the right thing, still stayed optimistic and fun and silly.

Peter Parker’s positive attitude got me through my own tough times.

My initial introduction to you was a mix of stealing my older brother’s comics and watching the 90’s Spider-Man cartoon. In everything I consumed, there was a sense of joy about being a hero and doing the right thing, even when it was hard.

You made me want to be a superhero.

Sometimes, our relationship borders on an intense love affair.

I first fell in love with you when I saw Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. I know, it’s a little before my time. What can I say? I was nostalgic from a young age. Anyway, as soon as I saw Spidey and his Amazing Friends, I tried to dye my Barbie’s hair red and pretend she was Firestar to an imaginary Peter Parker (needless to say, the dying process did not end well, and you can never really get nail polish out of doll hair once it’s been applied).

I fell in love with you again when Spider-Man came out; when Toby Maguire played you. He was the first celebrity I ever had a crush on, primarily because he was Peter Parker to me. He was vulnerable and fragile, but held within him this massive strength.

It wasn’t the spider powers that made you strong, it was your heart.

But, Pete, let’s be honest, the plight of the white nerd…that’s not really a thing anymore. Heck, you know that yourself: you’re the CEO of a successful technology company and that’s doing good in the world. Geek is chic. You’re actually (gasp) kind of a “cool” guy now. Yeah, you’re still a huge dork who loves puns a little too much, but that doesn’t put you at odds with anyone but villains who really hate bad jokes. Your high school bully is now on a superhero team (because of you); you may not have successful romantic relationships, but you’ve dated a bevvy of smart, strong, and beautiful women who all still love you (except Felicia, but hate isn’t really all that different from love); you’re best friends with the Fantastic Four, an amazingly rich and famous superhero family; heck, you’re an Avenger AND you’re the guy they all look up to.

So maybe you aren’t the right person to represent the disenfranchised. When you first came into existence, people who loved science and reading were typified as the “minority.” Though it may not have been as heavy handed as the X-Men as an analogy for racism, Spider-Man represented the every man. He wasn’t a superhero trying to be a real person (like Superman), he was a real person trying to be a superhero. He was the lower class, so capable, but the man was keeping him down.

But now you have money. You’re successful. Sure, you’re still a nerd, but you certainly aren’t disenfranchised or in a position without privilege.

So, Spidey, Pete, buddy; it’s time to step down. I still want you to hang out in comics and cartoons, but the Marvel movies? We all know that want to make you a teen (again). Let’s not go down the Andrew Garfield path of fake-ADHD, jerky Peter Parker.

Instead, let’s do something new:

Let Miles Morales take the lead.

Let’s see Spider-Man once again represent some who is facing oppression. Someone who is relevant to the images we see on the news of people fighting against the system, the man, racism. Someone who doesn’t have instant privilege.

Miles is going to be an Avenger soon, anyway. Why not give him a hand and a starring role. Maybe he can be the first superhero of color to get a new MCU solo movie (shout out to Blade, who was the first Marvel hero of color to get a solo movie). That would be pretty cool.

You can hang out on my water bottle on my desk every day at work, but it’s Miles Morales I want to see in my Marvel movies.

I hope you understand, Peter. I love you, but you just aren’t the guy who needs to be on the silver screen right now. Miles is.

Love,
Ellie

She Can Fly: How Lois Lane Became Nancy Drew

Next month, Lois Lane—who’s starred in comics, cartoons, the silver screen, and small screen—will be gracing the pages of YA Fiction. May 1, 2015 will see the debut of what is implied to be an ongoing Young Adult series starring Lois Lane; Lois Lane: Fallout, by Gwenda Bond. The series focuses on a high school age Lois Lane who just moved to Metropolis, and ends up out to solve a mystery for the school newspaper.

Bond’s own autobiography cites Lois Lane as the inspiration for her getting a degree in journalism, and the book embraces the “girl detective” concept popularized by Nancy Drew, but adds its own modern, Veronica Mars-inspired edge, according to early praise from Entertainment Weekly. The book’s blurb also implies that Lois has already established a connection with Clark Kent (probably the only person who would actually have the screenname “SmallvilleGuy”), not only through her online chatting with him, but also through her survival or a “near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.”

Lois Lane: Fallout promises a more modern take on the classic teen girl-based mystery novels, like the Sweetbriar Twins and the Babysitter’s Club, with a less restrictively “feminine” plot. Lois is trying to find out about a high-tech, immersive videogame (perhaps made by a lil’ Lex Luthor) which seems to be able to mess with the minds of people who may not even be playing the game. Instead of having Lois try to solve relationship drama or save cute animals, the book is pushing her in the direction of a medium that has recently been under fire for its treatment of women.

Lois Lane has often been portrayed as a woman who denies conventions and pushes past the female stereotype, so setting up young Lois in a position where she can question both a medium, as well as, potentially, a genre, is brilliant. Early praise for the book has complimented Lois as a well-rounded, witty, and determined young woman, and Bond’s inherent connection with the character is promising in terms of how Lois is written.

But Lois Lane isn’t the only superheroine to be making her way to YA. Black Widow will also be the star of a Young Adult book to be released later in 2015, Black Widow: Forever Red. Taking the same high school-age slant as Fallout, Forever Red will feature a young Natasha and the Red Room of (possibly Soviet?) Russia. The details on the novel, which was first announced at NYCC 2014, have yet to be released, but it will be written by Margaret Stohl, who has co-written a number of Beautiful Creatures titles.

This trend of comic heroines making their way to the pages of books started back in 2013 with Marvel’s She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch. Each book took an individualized slant on the characters:  the She-Hulk Diaries, by Marta Acosta, taking a modern chicklit twist on the character, in a similar vein to the Princess Diaries’ Meg Cabot’s adult novels. Rogue Touch, by Christine Woodward, came off as an edgier Young Adult novel, with heavy science fiction influences.

These novels from Marvel, as well as DC’s upcoming Lois Lane book 1, are an amazing acknowledgment of female fans from companies that have been traditionally seen as only catering towards male fans. While Marvel’s first two books received some praise, they didn’t receive much fanfare, and were regarded by many as pandering to women who didn’t read comics to begin with. The books, though they could be easily categorized as “chicklit,” were fun, unique takes on two of the most well-loved heroines in the Marvel Universe.  The diminution of these titles, just because they embrace the inherently female aspect of the characters, speaks to a great sense of misogyny in fans, internalized and not.

Much like Marvel Divas, an amazing miniseries that failed mainly because of the title and sales pitch (“Sex and the City with superheroes!”), these books come off like they’re being advertised as a “lowest common denominator” of female-directed content. But they are actually much more complex than that. Look at it this way, while Sex in the City is now much maligned for a handful of poorly written, clichéd movies, the first season of Sex in the City was actually a subversive, fourth wall-breaking comedy that touched on female topics that were never spoken about on television before: menstruation, female orgasms, multiple partners, vibrators. These titles, if they are like Sex in the City, are like the first season: unexpected, feminist, and exciting.

These upcoming books promise similar content, and with the current rise in the popularity of Young Adult fiction, if Lois Lane: Fallout becomes well received (and sells well), there’s a potential that the book could lead to a lot more for the character:

A solo comic.

Maybe a starring role on the CW’s upcoming Supergirl, or a television show of her own.

Perhaps it could even lead to Lois Lane movie?

 

 

Full solicitation for Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond below:

Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight.

As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy…