Life on Earth-616 is a relatively new series for the Word Salad blog by Derek Berry, inspired by Roy Seeger’s poetry. In these blogs, Derek considers life as a superhero. Earth-616 is a reference to the version of Earth that exists in the Marvel Universe.
SpiderMan must feel pretty lousy sometimes. Positively cheated. He possesses some of the coolest superpowers in the comic book canon, so no complaints there. Spidey senses, the ability to climb walls, the ability, to shoot string of sticky web from his wrist: Peter Parker doesn’t have things terribly bad compared to other orphans. Except that he’s an orphan too. Then again, so are Batman and Superman. Among costumed crime fighters, perhaps his sob story is not utterly unique.
Of course, Peter Parker is susceptible to more than just one sort of death. It might have served him a lot of use to only have one weakness in the form of a very rare mineral that glows green. Take away his suit and spider powers, and his weaknesses number highly. Bullets, malevolent spirits risen from Ouji boards, stabbings, bug poison, and gravity to name a few.
And when he’s done slinging web and saving the day, he has to return to an unsatisfying job as a fake celebrity photographer for a jerk boss. At least Iron Man and Batman, despite not having true super powers, get to return to being multi-millionaires when they take off their masks. Peter Parker has to deliver pizzas for extra cash and pay for his grandmother’s nursing home bills.
Spider Man is simply the every man. He is a superhero, but on the inside, an average guy. If not through fate or chance, he might have continued the life he had been leading. He would have turned out perfectly normal, but nothing special. Instead, greatness and responsibility were thrust upon him. This is not someone who went looking to defend the weak. He once WAS the weak, but then was given a unique opportunity which he felt he needed to use “for good.”
Spider Man lives only because Peter Parker does. He lives, he protects us, and he dies. He must die defending us, becoming a martyr for every man too weak to defend himself. Such is his fate, to be scorned yet necessary. To wear a costume to defend us, then wear another to hide his heroics. Suffering under the suffocation of two masks instead of one.