Nostalgic to a T: Power and Responsibility


I had kinship with Peter Parker. I don’t mean the animated, stiff, always-wearing-the-same-clothing version I first discovered on Fox Kids. Nor do I mean the married-to-a-super-model adult who happened to have a few clones in the ’90s comics. I mean the Peter Parker Stan Lee and Steve Ditko originally envisioned.

Ditto's awkward yet fluid depiction of Spider-Man reflects the character's personality,
Ditko’s awkward yet fluid depiction of Spider-Man reflects the character’s personality.

I first truly met the guy, a down-on-his-luck teenager who resembled the “adult” Fenton Crackshell, around the eighth grade. I read about his exploits in the blandness of black and white reprints that didn’t do justice to Spider-Man’s four-color world. Still, the format had its charms and, more importantly, its affordability.

I’d stay up all night devouring a 400 to 600 page volume after discovering a new one at Borders. Lee and Ditko’s Peter was someone I understood. Although not quite in high school, I understood the 15-year-old protagonist’s struggle to fit in with a crowd. I dreamt about having the wit and confidence Parker gained whenever he put on his red, white, and black mask. Slowly I tried to be such a person, minus the mask. I don’t think the latter would’ve helped me too much in high school. The results still weren’t always perfect, but I did loosen up eventually.

Now I don’t need a masked vigilante to provide life lessons, but I can revisit the stories in glorious color. An omnibus of Lee and Ditko’s work lies in my future. Right after the original TMNT. And Bone. And…

Published by

Patrick Ridings

Patrick Ridings attempts to remain creative by writing whenever possible. His first published work appeared in Philly Beer Scene's June/July 2012 issue. Mr. Ridings believes all writer bios read like Stan Lee's Dr. Doom dialogue from 1962.

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