Stan Lee Robin Green - Essay

Robin Green

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Marvelmania is a subculture, a living-breathing-changing-happening art form, a fantasy world in which millions live, some of them most of the time. The fans participate in the process of creating the comic fantasy world. They send in their ideas and criticisms and Stan listens to them. The comic world has a language and logic of its own, even a whole technology that works for it, and the books have to be consistent, letters will pour in about a mistake. (p. 31)

Stan Lee revolutionized the comic book industry ten years ago by deciding to let his superheroes live in the real world: his real world. He made Spiderman a neurotic, guilt-ridden, insecure superhero with romantic problems, financial problems, sinus attacks and fits of insecurity, embarrassed about appearing in public in a costume. Lately Spiderman's life has become almost unbearable. Peter Parker is committed to his role of Spiderman, fighter for justice and good, and yet it is this role which has alienated him from the world he seeks to help. His girl Gwen hates Spiderman for killing her father, and he's so busy playing "Web-Spinner" he hasn't time for anyone who really matters, like his Aunt May who smothers him with motherly attention and can't be told about his secret identity because she would die of a heart attack. The public thinks he is a thief and murderer. He can't win. If he should forsake his super-powers and try to be just Peter Parker, he feels guilty for not fighting crime and doing the good he knows he can do. (p. 34)

Robin Green, "Face Front Clap Your Hands! You're on the Winning Team!" in Rolling Stone (by Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. © 1971; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Issue 91, September 16, 1971, pp. 29-32, 34.