Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Decompression Project - Teenage Wasteland

Okay I guess I got a little bit confused between collections I was reading in yesterday's post.  It seems that the scene with Spider-man and the police officer was in the Hobgoblin collection and not the Superstars collection.  My comments still stand, that I think it is a solid bit of development and it's a refreshing change to see Peter being reluctant to accept a mentor, and more so that there is what appears to be a decent mentor figure being developed for him.  They're not quite colleagues but they certainly are aiming for the same goals and with somewhat similar attitudes although she is able to better express herself.


Now, I know the Harry Osborn story and most people had exposure to a version of it in Spiderman 3.  This Ultimate version is done exceptionally well.  Whenever Peter fought Norman it was completely one sided, in that one figure was superior in all regards but was constantly defeated because of his pride in his science.  Peter's strength isn't from his person or even from his belief in himself but his ability to consider others no matter the cost.  That is what helps him win the day, along with a few well timed kicks and webbings.


With Harry, things are different because Peter is being forced into a situation that isn't just personal but also one of equals.  Both Peter and Harry are victims of circumstance and end up clashing because of outside influences.  Neither of them want to do it, which makes the situation entirely tragic.  They are characters without the freedom to avoid this clash.  It is tragic because it is simply unavoidable no matter how hard both try to avoid the situation.


And there is major heartbreak here too as Peter starts to actually react to the death and violence that has occurred simply because he exists.  Yes, his actions ultimately led to Uncle Ben's death but it was his existence that led to Gwens, and really, in both cases he was never directly responsible.  Here we see a teenager begin to grieve by simply not being able to process his role or accept that he was entirely helpless.  He's terrified for his loved ones and the art and dialogue capture that sentiment note perfectly here.


Now the Harry Osborn story is also captured quite well in that it is never quite clear what is real and what isn't.  Yes there were hypnotherapy sessions, but what is S.H.I.E.L.D.'s role in all of this?  Did Harry bring it on himself or was he programmed by his father?  Was he exposed accidentally to be latently activated or did he experiment upon himself?  There are no answers here and while it helps enforce how scary dealing with mental illness can be it also makes Harry a sympathetic character as well.  He is dealing with demons just like Peter is, but this is the result of having (letting or being programmed to) the demons win.  It moves him to embody rage and destruction of anything connected to him, which is what Peter is feeling but he manages to embody the sadness and grief that is required to process these situations.


This collection ends with a MJ centric issue that manages to hit all the notes that the Aunt May issue flubbed.  She is given believable situations to react to, rather than talking to a therapist about seemingly random fears that have no bearing on her day to day existence.  It's about MJ and why she loves Peter and in the end it is a solid issue offering a fly on the wall point-of-view for a day in the life of a superhero's girlfriend.  Suddenly, I feel like MJ has a bit more depth, which is what I needed from the series quite a while ago so it was nice to see it here.
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