Friday, September 11, 2009

Hero of the Week #15: Spider-man

Real Name: Peter Parker
First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15 (August, 1962)
Group Affiliation: Secret Avengers
Gaming Credentials: Questprobe #2 Spider-man (1978); Spider-man (1982); Spider-man & Captain America in Dr. Doom's Revenge (1989); The Amazing Spider-man (1990); Amazing Spider-man vs Kingpin (1990); Spider-man: The Video Game (1991); Punisher: The Ultimate Payback (1991); Spider-man: Return of the Sinister Six (1992); Spider-man & X-Men: Arcade's Revenge (1992); Spider-man & Venom: Maximum Carnage (1994); Amazing Spider-man: Lethal Foes (1994); Spider-man (1995); Spider-man & Venom: Separation Anxiety (1995); Marvel Super Heroes (1995); Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems (1996); Spider-man: Web of Fire (1996); Marvel vs Capcom (1998); Spider-man (2000); Marvel vs Capcom 2 (2000); Spider-man: Mysterio's Menace (2001); Spider-man 2: The Sinister Six (2001); Spider-man 2: Enter Electro (2001); Spider-man (2002); Spider-man 2 (2004); Ultimate Spider-man (2005); Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (2005); Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006)Spider-man: Battle for New York (2006)Spider-man 3 (2007); Spider-man: Friend or Foe (2007); Spider-man: Web of Shadows (2008); Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (TBR); Marvel Super Hero Squad (TBR)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #2

Coming off the announcement of Disney's intended acquisition of Marvel Comics, how could I not defer to the company mascot for this week's HOTW? Not only is Spider-man one of the most enduring and recognisable characters to come from comics, but he also has a rich pedigree in gaming, spanning four decades and a mammoth library of titles! [You might have noticed the absurd list of games, compiled above...]

There's a lot to like about Spider-man video games!... Maybe not quite THAT much, but still...

Batman: Arkham Asylum might have declared it's legitimate contention for "Game of the Year" by succeeding where previous Batman titles have failed, but hype might've twisted the perception of it's value to comics games as a whole. You simply cannot go past Spider-man for some of the boldest movements in comics licensed games, both for storytelling, and innovation in gameplay.

At their heart, most video game mascots are effectively super-heroes. Ergo, when it came to adapting comics characters into the medium, it was easy to slip them into existing conventions popular at the time. Most heroes translate easily into a basic system of jumping and fighting, with the odd trademark projectile thrown in for good measure. Spider-man, however, suggests a whole new set of expected abilities that are unique and inherent to the character.

Few games can claim to have tackled wall-crawling and web-swinging before Spidey jumped into platformers in the eighties and nineties, and even now, they remain trademarks of the character that are rarely repeated. They're the skills around which you might claim the modern Spider-man gaming dynasty was built. Just as they once provided a point of differentiation to rival platforming titles, so too did they provide a foundation for games that explored with expanding his movements around the iconic New York cityscape.

Spider-man (2000) might not have played as significant a role as the likes of GTA, but it made the first important step in establishing superheroes in a city. Though it only featured the tops of buildings, it provided a blueprint that was iterated upon until Spider-man 2 (2004), where an entire Manhattan was built for players to swing through!

Big City Nights: Swinging through the streets of NYC is a vital part of any Spider-man experience.

Like Mickey to Disney; Spider-man has been front-and-centre for the Marvel brand in video games, appearing in an expanding list of titles that boast larger chunks of the Marvel Universe. Capcom made an agile fighter out of the webhead with their Versus series of titles, while Ultimate Alliance made him party to a tour of the greatest evils alongside the greatest heroes! Even Spidey branded games, like the less notable, Friend or Foe, recall the classic Marvel Team-Up model!

As an indomitable pop culture icon, Spider-man has dominated not just comics and games, but also film, television, and just about any inanimate object you can think of. The Disney acqusition will no doubt take full advantage of this, particularly as the character angles for a fourth feature film, and who knows what else! That's why he's our HOTW!

Should you find yourself seeking more Spider-man, you'll find the web-slinger appearing three-times a month in Amazing Spider-man and monthly in New Avengers. In October, Marvel will relaunch Web of Spider-man with a new volume, and have recently done the same for Ultimate Spider-man. You can find more information from and good comics sites!

Secret Wars on Infinite Earths: The Comic Book Fight Club is updated with varying consistency, promising a feature fight for every Friday on the calendar (even if sometimes they're late). The site acts as an information resource, discussion site, review blog, and proportionate good time to that of a spider.

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