Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

From the April 1, 1965 edition of The Village Voice, the first "mainstream" coverage of modern superhero comics, by Sally Kempton:

The fact is that Marvel Comics are the first comic books in history in which a post-adolescent escapist can get personally involved. For Marvel Comics are the first comic books to evoke, even metaphorically, the Real World.

As benefits pop literature in a pop-mad world, the Marvel books are highly self-conscious. Their covers announce adventures dedicated: "The New Breed of Comic Reader," and two pages on the inside of each magazine are given over to advertisements for the Marvel fan club, the Merry Marvel Marching Society. All the stories are signed ("Earth-shaking Script by Stan Lee, Breath-taking' illustrations by Jack Kirby; Epoch-making delineation by Chick [sic] Stone); and the heroes, who range in style from traditional action types like Captain America to tragic, ambiguous figures like the Hulk, seem continually bemused by the way in which their apparently normal lives keep melting into fantasy. "This is so stupid it could only happen in a comic book" says the wise cracking monster, The Thing as he and his friend the Human Torch flee across a collapsing dam with a deadly iron ball in hot pursuit.

Recognizing that life has begun to imitate fantasy to such a degree that the public is most comfortable with fantasy which imitates life, the creators of Marvel comics have invented superheroes wish discernible personalities and relatively complex emotions. Further, they have given the heroes a recognizable geography.

Spider-Man, unlike other superheroes, has never yet saved the human race from annihilation. His battles are unfailingly personal, hand-to-hand combats between a young man of precarious courage and the powerful social forces which threaten to destroy his hard-won security. He has no reassuring sense of fighting for a noble purpose, nor has he any outside support. Even the public which cries up his victories invariably deserts him in the clinches. Spider-Man is, God save us, an absurd hero, fighting with purely defensive weapons against foes he cannot understand. And, in last month's issue, he was finally sabotaged at home: Aunt May burned his Spider-Man costume so that he is now unable to venture out of doors.

How can a character as hopelessly healthy as Superman compete with this living symbol of the modern dilemma, this neurotic's neurotic, Spider-Man, the super-anti-hero of our time.


Read the whole thing here. I found about it through Sean Howe's essential Marvel tumblr, which features scans of the original article here, with vintage ads.

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