Comic Book: JMS' Spider-Man
, created in the Silver Age
by Stan Lee
has been written by various writers over the years. One of them was J. Michael Straczynski
, who wrote over seventy issues of our favorite wall-crawler's adventures. His run was one of the most acclaimed by critics, controversial among fans and... screwed by Executive Meddling
in the history of Marvel Comics
publishing, despite the fact that Joe Quesada
promised JMS very large creative freedom at the beginning.
This run, along with Ultimate Spider-Man
, helped remake Spider-Man into one of the flagship characters of Marvel Comics in the early 2000s after the confusing and turbulent storylines of the mid-to-late '90s. Until confusing and turbulent storylines overtook the title again... Roughly about half of the complete run was a retool of the traditional Spider-Man
mythos and character dynamics, the other half being ever more outlandish crossover events between other titles, and gigantic wrestling matches between "new and edgy" plot developments and the status quo of earlier.
Notable concepts brought about during the JMS run include: Spider-Man's (and many of his rogues') animal motif having potential supernatural origins, Spider-Man as a permanent and visible member of the Avengers (really a case of Brian Michael Bendis
' New Avengers
title bleeding over), organic web-shooters (to link up with the Sam Raimi films
), "Iron Spider
", and the public reveal of Spider-Man being Peter Parker.
Followed by One More Day
and Brand New Day
JMS' Spider-Man provides examples of following tropes:
- And I Must Scream: Charlie's fate, although another writer eventually freed him.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: One of the more notable additions to JMS' Spider-Man is the addition of possible supernatural influences on the very odd coincidence that Spidey and a lot of his enemies are themed after animals.
- Author Tract: Mostly well-handled as JMS made Peter a teacher, which allowed him to introduce many social problems he wanted to talk about. Not so good during the Civil War, through. Well, the Civil War in general was full of confused Aesops, but Captain America quoting Mark Twain's "river of truth" speech to Spidey is undeniably awesome.
- Bad Future: During time travel Peter saw one when his future self has been prosecuted by police (strongly hinting that he killed somebody) and shot to the death, while fighting policemen.
- Beware the Nice Ones: In JMS' opinion, the entire reason Peter received his powers.
Spider Totem: Who could be a better hunter then one who had been prey? Someone who would be driven to fight back against the dark forces sent by the world, who would never stop, even though they were bigger and more and perhaps even stronger than he was. Because once having been prey, he would never allow himself to become such again. Would never surrender. Would take death before submission.
- Canon Discontinuity: The 9/11 issue, as it happens in the middle of a different story and is never mentioned again. Justified in that Marvel wanted to address the disaster, and for obvious reasons could not have planned the issue to fit into the current storyline.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Morwen, goddess of chaos. She actually wanted to ally herself with Peter, rather than Loki, because the former has chaotic character, while the latter wants to control others.
- Character Development: All Parkers got a lot of it. Peter and Mary Jane got big amount of it with getting back together, Aunt May got a lot when she found out Peter is Spider-Man... and Joe Quesada removed all of it because of his stupid idea to make One More Day.
- Characterization Marches On: JMS based his version of Aunt May on the more intelligent, sensible May glimpsed in stories by writers like Roger Stern and J.M. De Matteis, along with the fiery May seen in the Ultimate title. He also quietly let the "goofy old gal" characterization brought back by the Byrne run lapse into the past.
- Cool Old Guy: Ezekiel. Right after they meet, Peter compares him to Uncle Ben.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Luke Carlyle seems to be a little of a deconstruction as he found out that being one is too much effort and trouble and decided that becoming a typical supervillain is much easier.
- Corrupt the Cutie: Digger was trying to convince Spider-Man that gangster he was protecting is trying to do this to him. Spidey, fortunately, is in a completely different mindset.
- Crazy-Prepared: It's a bit of something superheroes don't talk about amongst each other, but apparently every time they meet up, most of them look for weaknesses the other has in case they would ever turn evil or something like that and have to be stopped.
- Deadpan Snarker: JMS had a good handle on Spider-Man's well-known sense of humor.
- Doing In the Scientist: Ezekiel tries to do this by revealing it wasn't the radiation that gave Peter his powers, but a totemic spider-god called the Great Weaver.
- The Dog Bites Back: After Spider-Man defeated Morlun the first time, his servant, Dex, shot him to death as revenge for bad treatment.
- Enemy Mine: Spidey and Octopus during a fight with Carlyle.
Spider-Man: Wait, you are helping me?
Dr. Octopus: No. Hurting him.
- Even Nerds Have Standards: In high school Charlie Weiderman was such a big nerd that even Peter once picked on him.
- Evil Counterpart: Ezekiel is essentially this. Whereas Spider-Man used his powers to help others and fight evil, he rejected his task and used his powers for selfish purposes. Ultimately he realizes this and sacrifices himself to save Spider-Man.
- Eye Scream: "The Other" has Morlun pluck out one of Spidey's eyes and eats it as he beats Spider-Man to close to death. Of course, Spider-Man got better.
- Heel Realization: Ezekiel when he tries to sacrifice Spider-Man to save himself.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ezekiel.
- I'm a Humanitarian: As noted in Eye Scream, Morlun ate one of Spider-Man's eyes during their second battle. Possessed by the Other, Spidey then repays this and the beating by eating Morlun's face.
- Guile Hero: Spidey is not averse to defeating his opponents with traps and science-y stuff. When he needs to throw down though, he can.
- Last Stand: Peter witnesses an alternate self make a last stand against the police in a Bad Future.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Spider-Man in his final battle with Morlun. He was perfectly skilled before, but there he finally drops the jokes to focus on teaching Morlun a lesson.
- Implacable Man: Morlun — he's basically Spidey's Pyramid Head in the first story.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: The first act of Charlie Weiderman as a supervillain is to kill the Jerk Jock and Alpha Bitch who tormented him back at school.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe I Love Nuclear Power: The totemic motif is written in a way that allows fans to choose their favorite from multiple interpretations of how Peter got his powers. Was it all a Red Herring and his powers are caused by radioactivity? Is Peter a Chosen One of Anansi? And if he is, do his powers come from magic or is he the first one that got them from science? Did the spider bite him because he was scared, or because he wanted to pass his power on to a human before dying from radiation? Or maybe it was Ezekiel who was the Chosen One and because he refused the call, all his duties and status passed on Peter? And if so, did Anansi give him the power or are they two completely unrelated incidents and Peter could become the Chosen One because of already having the necessary personality and powers? You decide. The end of that story arc has Peter discussing this issue with a South American shaman, who answers that none of these possibilities are mutually exclusive. He says that a scientist would say that the sun rises in the morning because the Earth spins, while a mystic would say the sun rises because it is meant to, and they're both right.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover for Amazing Spider Man #36 is completely black, with white lettering and no artwork. It was about the September 11th attacks.
- Myth Arc: The search for answers about Spider-Man's powers, the "Spider-Totem", and the battle against Morlun. Sadly Executive Meddling resulted in the whole idea being screwed. At least until Arana/Spider-Girl's comic series tied into it, with the titular character working for a company founded by Ezekiel Sims and joining a cult worshipping the Spider-Totems, and Spider-Island brought back the Queen and Web of Life. It's come back with a vengeance in Spider-Verse, where Morlun's family and the Spider-Totems are central parts of the story.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Reed Richards used his device to stop Mindless Ones, he allowed Dormamu to escape from his prison.
- Nobody Poops: Averted, first thing Peter does coming back home after defeating Morlun is go to the bathroom. In another story we see him coming out of the bathroom pulling his pants on.
- One-Winged Angel: When Morlun goes to Stark Tower to finish Peter off and breaks Mary Jane's arm when she tries to stop him, Peter to wakes up, partially transforms into Man-Spider, and kills him.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Spider-Man delivered one to Doctor Doom. Doom responds by saying that Spidey still lives only because Doom owes him his life.
- Refusal of the Call: Because Ezekiel refused the call, Peter has to fight with all the supernatural villains he was originally destined to defeat.
- Self-Deprecation: One issue has two guards arguing that Babylon 5 sucks because you have to watch the last season for the previous ones to make sense. In another issue there is the annoying director of the "Lobster Man" movie, arguing that being bitten by a radioactive lobster is a lame origin and ordering the writer to change it to the main character being The Chosen One of a Lobster-God.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The way Dormammu was stopped.
- Shout-Out: Upon meeting the Gatekeeper, Spider-Man references Ghostbusters. JMS, of course, worked on The Real Ghostbusters.
- Survival Mantra: When Spidey faces off a few enemies who have proven to be far stronger than he is, he reminds himself that while he is a man, he is also part spider, and spiders are hunters.
- Thematic Rogues Gallery: Lampshaded, when Ezekiel pointed out that Spider-Man has many more animal-themed villains than any other superhero. After a few encounters with mystical villains, Ezekiel was trying to use this trope as a proof that Peter's powers are magical though it's implied at least some of those mystical enemies were actually after Ezekiel himself.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Spidey was very close to breaking this rule twice, with Morlun and Shathra both times he was spared from making the choice, because somebody or something else killed them. He actually killed Digger, but he was a zombie, so it doesn't count.
- Treacherous Advisor: Ezekiel, in Civil War tie-ins Iron Man become a sort of this.
- Tricksters: JMS pointed out in one story that both Spider-Man and Loki are different examples of tricksters and explored differences between them. Particularly since the Totem story arc set Peter up as a kind of successor to Anansi, the spider trickster from African mythology. Hence the parallel to Loki, the Norse trickster.
- Villains Out Shopping: When Ezekiel tells Peter about Morlun, he talks about what "dark rituals" he's probably using to get ready. We cut to Morlun getting a new suit for two panels.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Two. New Digger has a little bit of it, being shocked by how much the world changed when he was dead. Charlie Weiderman is second.