I had Friday night dinner with Son of Red and his beautiful bride. At one point I admired the 2-year-old grandson’s Spider-Man suit. (Actually the 10-year-old grandson is the real Spider-Man fan in their family.)
I remembered that when I was 10 years old, almost nobody in the world knew who Spider-Man is. But I did. Three months after my 10th birthday, I found a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #4 among the new comics at the IGA in Milton, Vermont, during our family vacation, and overnight I changed from an occasional reader of comic books into a diehard fan.
Now that I’ve navigated a few more birthdays, you can find Spider-Man merch in just about any store that sells clothing or backpacks or you name it. Most folks have at least a passing knowledge of Peter Parker and M.J. and all his friends, and the dastardly villains he’s faced along the way.
It’s fun to have been on the ground floor of a global phenomenon. I kind of get to know what it was like for those first kids who bought Action Comics #1 back in 1938 and discovered this new hero called Superman, or the first kids who bought The All-Story magazine in 1912 and read the story of the son of a lost English lord named Greystoke and how he turned into Tarzan of the Apes.
When you discover something wonderful, you want to share it with the world. And so one of the coolest moments of my life was sitting in a movie theater in 2002 and watching the now-familiar story of a teenager, a radioactive spider, and the tragedy that befalls his Uncle Ben unfold on the big screen almost exactly as it appeared in the original comics.
All of those thoughts and memories flooded in as I held the 2-year-old’s Spider-Man suit. Peter Parker and I have come a very long way together.