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Peter Parker, The Hysterical Spider-Man

Just the other day, Kirk Warren at The Weekly Crisis mentioned that he’d bought the name spiderfail.org after seeing it mentioned in Amazing Spider-Man #601 (there’s already a site up, and it’s funny!). All the Spider-Man talk inspired me to put together today’s post since it was one I had planned in the back of my mind anyway.

Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #27 is included in the Miller Daredevil Omnibus Companion and actually marks the first time he pencilled Daredevil who is the guest star of the two-parter “The Blind Leading the Blind.” The story is written by Bill Mantlo. I wish I could say that it’s a great story, but I must admit that the whole thing is pretty bizarre. I guess the concept is okay (the Masked Marauder blinds Spider-Man with his blinding ray and Daredevil has to help him out), but the delivery is characterized by amateurish pop psychology and Spider-Man going batshit insane. Of course, that also makes it pretty funny in ways that I don’t think were intentional. Let’s have a look…

Below (click to enlarge) is page two of this story which begins when Daredevil shows up at the scene to help a wildly out of control Spider-Man who’s just told him that he’s gone blind. Good of the Masked Marauder (also known as a former landlord of Nelson & Murdock’s) to use his blinding technology on someone who isn’t already blind though, don’t you think? Daredevil is doing his best to help out without going so far as to reveal that his is blind himself. Spidey, meanwhile isn’t being particularly co-operative…

“He can’t stand being handicapped! He’s got to prove to himself that he can cope! But he’s swinging in too low an arc!,” Daredevil thinks to himself at Spidey’s questionable decision to simply pretend that he’s not blind and just swing along anyway. Remember the stages of grief from high school psychology? Well, this must be the denial phase, mixed up with the anger that leads to one of those contrived hero vs hero fights on page four, when Daredevil finally catches up with Spider-Man…

This is the part where Peter goes into full tantrum mode. Sure, it’s reasonable to think that he’d be upset at the thought of being blind permanently, but these scenes feel as over-acted as a low budget Mexican soap opera. When Spidey starts taking it out on the bricks in the panel below, it’s clear that he’s completely lost it. I conjure up the image of a five-year-old kid punching the shit out of his teddy bear while crying and blowing one of those disgusting snot bubbles out of his nose. (Gross, I know, put a mask over it and it’s even worse.)

Thankfully, for Spider-Man and reader alike, Daredevil manages to talk some sense into him and takes him to the doctor…

This scene cracks me up for a different reason: the doctor saying “You sound as if you’ve had scientific training, my boy! If so, you are aware of the risks that such a severe neuro-shock entails!” Ha ha ha… Yeah, that one gave me quite a chuckle. Why? Well, I wonder which of the following words gave away young Peter’s scientific genius status: “Opti-blast,” “ray,” “paralyze” or “optic nerve.” Oh, wait, it was “Opti-blast” wasn’t it? I’ve had some scientific training myself and I must admit that even my sizable scientific vocabulary doesn’t include that one. 😉

As is indicated in the last panel, Peter quickly recovers his sight and all is well. As for this issue, I think the whole concept of Daredevil helping out a blinded Spider-Man would have been much more interesting if the story had taken place after Peter learned of Daredevil’s secret identity, in which case DD’s role could have been something a little more meaningful than avoiding Spidey’s wild thrashing and going “there, there, you’ll be all better soon.”

Christine Hanefalk

Christine Hanefalk

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Christine is a die-hard Daredevil fan who launched The Other Murdock Papers in 2007 to share her passion for Matt Murdock and his friends with other fans.

7 comments

  1. Besides that being such a cheesy story, I always wondered what that sock-like thing was that Peter pulled up over his face to keep his identity secret. It obviously only covers his chin and mouth, so it's not like it was a turtleneck shirt underneath the costume. Pretty silly.

  2. I think the "sock" is webbing actually. Which is pretty disgusting, but he's been known to make all kinds of things (including garments) out of that stuff.

  3. I really like this story. The end always struck me as very telling of the similarities between these two characters. In the end, just before (spoiler alert) Spidy gets his sight back, it’s implied that his spider sense is evolving into a radar sense, closing the gap between he and DD. Sorta’ cool. But, his sight was resorted, and the birth of Dare-Spider (or Spider-Devil) was averted. Sounds like a good What If? Set up to me…
    Go creators! Go!

  4. Maybe DD grabbed the webbing from under Spidey's armpits and used that to cover his face.

    Still gross though.

  5. Geez, Spider-man reacting that way, like a child, is so dumb…

  6. I think everyone is being way too harsh to Spider-Man here.

    Is he reacting like a child? If you take it purely on face value sure. But we should bear in mind 1970s writing standards which more often than not took things to an overly dramatic level.

    More poignantly…is this really an unreasonable reaction?

    No offence to Matt but it’s not the same thing to lose your sight as a kid vs. when you are an adult. Kids can adjust way better than adults. For Spider-Man this is going to totally change his whole life and forbid him from even being Spider-Man, which is a huge aspect of his self-identity (to say nothing of his primary source of income). This is to say nothing of how he is going to have to somehow come up with an explanation for everyone in his life and potentially cause much heartache to his frequently sickly Aunt May.

    This is to say nothing about how I’m sorry A LOT of people (probably most people) would be angry, hysterical and lashing out like this if they abruptly and violently lost their vision, the thing they utterly relied upon. This scene happens very, very, very shortly after he loses his vision.

    Let’s also remember this is a specifically harsh blow for Peter because he fiercely independent and becoming blind is going to compromise that especially in the context of the scenes depicted.

  7. @ XRE..
    I am not very well (now and for some time) read on the newer Spide-Man going ons regarding many but especially this developmental dillema plaguing Spidey.. Would it be easy enough for you to supply as concise, yet as brief as you wish so as for it to be at your convenience, summary of the major elements involved with this particular of the tale.. and.. if I may ask, are there given any underlying conjectures/hints as to whether or not Spidey may be able to elevate up to a level of adequate functionality bolstered by some serious attempts at cultivation of the Sider-Sense.. enough so as to eventually enable him to operate his business as usual?.. For the duration till some saving grace transpire’s (via Stark med-tech perhaps) at least?

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