Last week, Civil War #2 arrived with the shocking moment of Spider-Man revealing his secret identity to the world (well, shocking if you don’t read Amazing Spider-Man or didn’t have Thunderbolts before Civil War in your reading order or don’t use the internet). And for the first time in a long time, I became angry reading a comic. Revealing Spider-Man’s secret ID is stupid and short-sighted, and could go down as one of the worst stunts in comics history. Here’s my beef:
1) It’s not undoable. Well, that’s not exactly true, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Iron Man can reveal his secret identity, no big deal. He’s just a guy in a suit. It could be any guy in there, because it’s the suit that’s the super part of the superhero. If Tony Stark wanted to take back his secret ID, all he’d have to do was put someone else in the suit for a little bit to convince everybody that he wasn’t Iron Man anymore. Same thing could work for Captain America, since he’s just a really fit guy in a flag suit. But Spider-Man can’t do that. There’s no one else in the superhero world with powers like his. You might be able to fool the public with Daredevil or someone in the webs, but eventually they’re not going to stick to a wall.
Speaking of Daredevil, that’s another case of an undoable secret ID reveal. Being exposed is one thing, because there will always be plausible deniability. Revealing yourself is another. The media isn’t going to see a guy wearing a Spider-Man costume and not make him prove he’s Spider-Man.
The thing is, even though it’s undoable, we all know Marvel will eventually give Spider-Man back his secret identity. It seems impossible that Peter would be able to convince the public that he was lying, and even if he did he’d be the biggest dick in the world for “lying” about being Spider-Man (and no Spidey fan wants to see that). So we’re left with a bevy of deus ex machinas (machini?): worldwide mindwipe courtesy of a member of the Grey family; “it was all a dream;” or a very special appearance by Wanda Maximoff, the Staus Quoer (© Colonel Doom).
And even if it does happen, and Spidey’s ID goes back to be secret, one thing will be left in it’s wake: proof positive that Marvel crossovers never (pardon me while I channel Chris Jericho)… eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever amount to anything in the grand scheme of things.
2) It goes against character. If one quality has driven Spider-Man throughout his entire career (besides that old “great power” schtick), it’s his desire to keep those he loves safe at all costs. All of his greatest failures have involved harm coming to his loved ones, be it physical (the comatizing of Flash Thompson, the deaths of Uncle Ben, Captain Stacy, Jean DeWolfe, and of course Gwen Stacy) or mental (Venom terrorizing Mary Jane, Norman Osborn kidnapping Aunt May at least twice). Of those failures, the ones he actually could have prevented would have been prevented if his enemies hadn’t discovered his secret ID.
But now any Joe Schmo with a computer can go online and find out where he lives, where his friends and family live, where his friends and family work. How is Spider-Man supposed to protect his loved ones if literally anyone that holds a grudge can find them? Not just supervillains like Electro and Vulture, but street thugs that Spider-Man put behind bars years ago could want a piece of him, and go through his loved ones since they know they can’t get to him directly. Someone could abduct Aunt May while she’s going to the library, or murder Mary Jane while she’s doing her play.
The only way Spider-Man can protect his family now is to keep them under 24-hour lockdown inside Avengers Tower. And who would his that sort of a life on those they love?
Don’t try to give me any of this “Aunt May told him to do it” crap, either. She said she wanted the whole world to be as proud of Peter as she was, but she failed to take one thing into account: a large section of the population does not consider Spider-Man a hero. In fact, a lot of people probably blame him for a lot of the bad things that happen in New York (look at Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5 if you don’t agree).
If MJ and May want to be prisoners in their own home, more power to them, but based on the 15 years or so I’ve been reading Spider-Man stories, that’s something Peter Parker simply would not do.
3) Joe Quesada is a hypocrite. About a month or so ago on Newsarama’s Joe Fridays, Joe Quesada was making a big brouhaha about Spider-Man’s marriage, and how it’s the worst thing to happen to Spider-Man in the history of the character. Besides the stupid idea that people won’t relate to a guy that’s married (I guess because comic fans are losers that never have any chance of getting laid, let alone married?), his main argument was this (and I’m paraphrasing as the old Joe Fridays links are down): you can tell better stories with a single Spider-Man than a married Spider-Man.
I’m not arguing that point, even though I could if I wanted to. But answer me this Joe: can’t the exact same chain of thought be applied to revealing Spider-Man’s secret identity? Could anyone argue that you can tell better stories with a Spider-Man without a secret ID than a Spider-Man with a secret ID? I sincerely doubt it.
Quesada criticized the Peter/MJ marriage as a publicity stunt that was done for the wrong reasons. But wasn’t the ID reveal a publicity stunt? Wasn’t it done to create an immediate interest with no concern for what this might mean to Spider-Man in the future?
Unless, of course, they already have the deus ex machina lined up. Which may actually be a record for the fastest Marvel has ever made a major story point meaningless (move over “Magneto is Xorn”). Congratulations Marvel, you’ve done it again.
Now give it a rest, okay?