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status update (still alive, working, reading Spider-Man comics)

http://sweethomepolitics.com/opinion/whats-it-like-being-jewish-in-alabama spiderman.jpgI haven’t been updating this here blog much lately, and the reason is as lame as can be — I don’t have a computer at home. One of the less glamorous aspects of my otherwise totally sexy Yaletown start-up job is that, if I want to work on OS X instead of Linux (which I very, very much do want), I have to supply my own computer. And so Coconino, my ageing-but-beloved 12″ G4 PowerBook, stays semi-permanently in the office.

However, that just gives me more time to get caught up on my geek reading. Reading like The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, 1088 pages of sheer 1960s Spider-Man awesomeness in a volume the size and weight of a cinderblock. My own Marvel comics reading was mostly confined to the late 1980s, as the comics industry was beginning to be slowly ground to death between the Scylla of an overheated speculator market and the Charybdis of an incredibly convoluted continuity. We’re talking plot-twists, rewriting, retconning, editorial fiat, and the steady metronome of character death and resurrection. Though on the plus side, chronicling the Marvel continuity makes for some hilariously deadpan wikipedia articles:

Despite the obvious obstacles, Octavius was for a time on good terms with Peter Parker’s Aunt May, whom he first met in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964) when he abducted her and Peter’s then-girlfriend Betty Brant to attract Spider-Man’s attention. In fact, in later years May Parker and Otto Octavius were briefly engaged to be married. Their wedding was interrupted by Hammerhead.

During the Clone Saga, Doctor Octopus saved Spider-Man from certain death due to a poison injected by the Vulture. During the healing process he discovered the identity of Spider-Man and then allowed himself to be taken in by police, expecting to be saved by his accomplice/lover Stunner. But Stunner was knocked out and Doc Ock was murdered by the insane Peter Parker clone named Kaine. Octavius’ student Carolyn Trainer took over as “Doctor Octopus” until the original was resurrected by a branch of the mystical ninja cult known as the Hand. Upon his resurrection, it was revealed that he had no knowledge of Spider-Man’s identity. The reason was that the memories he gained came from a computer chip provided by Carolyn Trainer with his recorded memories; that recent memory had not been recorded at the time of his death.

Oops, spoiler alert!

In reading the original 1960s Spider-Man, it’s hard not to be impressed with how fresh and imaginative those early issues were. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were clearly firing on all cylinders and every issue is practically bursting with a kind of inmates-taking-over-the-asylum enthusiasm and cockiness. It’s like they woke up one morning, decided they were going to reinvent superhero comics overnight, and then did just that, one guilt-ridden teenaged nerd/crimefighter at a time.

(I’ve also been slowly working my way through the more recent buy nuvigil and provigil Y: The Last Man, which is an altogether different kind of comic-book goodness…)