The best Spider-Man story ever told.
Let's just cut to it. My favourite superhero is Spider-Man. There is so many serious, brow furrowing, total deep dive looks into the character of Peter Parker and how different he and the persona of Spider-Man are compared to the superheroes before him and after him. He had pathos, his problems were smaller, rather than saving the world he had to save New York. But in between his heroics he was tortured by school assignments, rent, debt, girlfriends and his ever crushing neurosis.
Spider-Man: Blue does not really concern itself with supervillain antics (it has a kinda trite team up thing but it's just there for spirit) instead it focuses on Peter Parker and his relationships and dealing with the changes that come from moving from teenage life to adult life. Written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Tim Sale Spider-Man: Blue delivers a more emotional story than what has been offered by the widely available MCU and if you let it, it will just make you well up and cry until it becomes kinda gross and sad.
Now just to be clear I cannot talk about Spider-Man: Blue without spoiling it and as much as I hate that term it applies, so go read it or don't, but just be forewarned that I am going to discuss it.
The framework of the story is built that it's Valentines Day and Peter is swinging around narrating how the day makes him feel. He places a single rose at the top of the George Washington Bridge and swings back home to record how he met Gwen Stacy into his Uncle Ben's old tape recorder. It goes through the growing attraction Peter has for Gwen, how Mary Jane became his friend while also finding herself growing attracted to Peter herself. What we read during the story is how Peter is trying to navigate his feelings on the situation along with his self imposed responsibility to be Spider-Man and how that negatively impacts his social life and how every time he goes out to save the day is a time he has lost to spend with those that want to know him. He misses dates and parties, has to disappear to deal with threats and puts his possible relationships at risk.
The communication between Peter and Gwen is really what drives the story and for a comic it is amazing how they managed to nail the silent communication people have when they are falling in love. If you've ever been dumb enough to do such a dangerous thing yourself, you will know that you don't do that with overwrought declarations of interest and love (you do that in your head) you do it with small smiles, by glances, by observing them and showing with your whole body how they affect you. Gwen wants Peter to make a move and show his affection for her and each time he fails, her smile falters and her posture drops. Her counter is MJ who throws up a wall of indifference or nonchalance when Peter fails to pick up on a que, her every action is bouncy and flirtatious when trying to get his attention. The attention of these two women is something he notices but he feels so powerless as Peter Parker that he can never act on it. This feeling adds further tragedy to the story as he is telling the story in the form of a tape as a way for him to reflect on feeling 'blue', showing that he looks on these events with sadness, aware of his own failures.
The final pages are really what sell the entire piece, as we see Peter talking about Gwen's death into the tape recorder relating how everybody changed after this. How he and MJ pursued a loving, stable relationship and that they are happily married. But the act of recording a valentine to a deceased lover shows something which comics never mind more "mature" media have struggled which is dealing with old love. Peter still loves and misses Gwen but he also loves MJ, he like many real people cannot stop loving someone and he does not want to get over her. When MJ comes up behind him to check on him and does not get angry but understands him and even joins him in his grief, it is honestly one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking scenes in comics.
Few comics have ever reached the same level of emotional maturity Spider-Man: Blue has and reading it will get to you. The final two pages are so powerful that these stills do not do it justice, get a copy, have a read and have a cry. You deserve it.
So there we go another comic looked at and hopefully praised appropriately, Spider-Man: Blue does more in just a few pages than so many overwrought and melodramatic shows and movies fail to. It shows a mature understanding of love and longing, grief and sadness and honestly who would have thought we would get that from Spider-Man?
© 2019 JM