The Burden of Tomorrow in Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spider-Man 303

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

More so than most superheroes, Spider-Man knows just how much of a sacrifice it takes to use his powers for good. In fact, the very reason he decided to become a hero at all revolves around the loss of his Uncle Ben. The list of hits doesn’t end there, though: Gwen Stacy, Aunt May, and and the sometimes friendly Osborns have all died at some point or another due to Spider-Man. This means that he’s a character as much defined by his tragic circumstances as he is by his superpowers, which begs the question: if he knew how terrible it is to be Spider-Man, would Peter Parker choose to be him anyway?

That questions is answered, or at least posed, in this issue. After rescuing Aunt May and Past-Peter from a crazed Norman Osborn, Future-Peter reflects on what it’s been like fighting alongside his younger self.

“…knowing how bad it gets,” he finishes. In effect, Peter is actually just being nostalgic here, even if it’s a weird nostalgia he’s reliving for real. He sees his younger self and remembers all the good times he had when he first began to understand his powers. Lost in that rosy-tinted view, however, is the knowledge that being Spider-Man was never easy for Peter. It’s always been a slog and will probably always be a slog. But that’s what makes Peter heroic. Despite the tragedy and hardships he continually faces, he perseveres.

Of course, Past-Peter overhears his future self and decides that he’ll avoid all the pain just quit being Spider-Man before anything too terrible can happen to him. Now, it’s almost certain he will inevitably decide to don his tights again, but it poses an interesting question to anyone who reads this comic. If you knew how hard some things in your future would be, would you still undertake them? It’s tempting to say yes and believe ourselves to be nobly heroic in the face of hardship. However, if I had known just how difficult getting married and moving to a different state in the same month was before I actually did it, I would probably rethink my plans. Past-Peter’s decision to throw away his Spider-Man costume is interesting not because I think he’ll never be a superhero again, but because it promises a different Peter who isn’t willing to face hardship like his character traditionally has.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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