Spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man #700 ahead.
As you probably already know, Peter Parker recently died in Amazing Spider-Man #700, leaving Doc Octopus to take up the mantle as the new Spider-Man.
Basically, Peter and Doc Ock switch bodies only to have Doc Ock’s body die with Peter’s mind trapped inside. This leaves Doc Ock in control of Peter’s body as Spider-Man.
I can’t help but be reminded of the last time a new Spider-Man took over after the death of another Peter Parker. If you’ll recall back in June 2011, Peter Parker died in the Ultimate Universe, only to be succeed by Miles Morales, a teenager of black and Latino descent.
As expected, the then new addition of a superhero of color sent certain media elements into a frenzy.
Fox New’s Rick Folbaum accused Marvel Comics of taking “a radical left turn to extreme political correctness by killing off a traditional American hero and replacing him with Miles Morales.” Of course the implication is that a non-white hero can’t be a traditional hero.
The news also prompted conservative radio host Glen Beck to babble incoherently on the subject for a couple minutes (despite stating several times that he really doesn’t care about “a stupid comic book”). During Beck’s racist and homophobic rant, he suggests that the mere inclusion of a superhero of color is indicative of a radical left-wing takeover.
Fox News’ Lou Dobbs also had some unkind words about the new biracial superhero, words which were brilliantly mocked by John Stewart on The Daily Show.
So why do I bring up these pundits’ outrage to a comic event that took place over a year ago? Well, I thought if they were upset about Marvel replacing a “traditional American hero” with a person of color, they’d be even more pissed about Marvel replacing that same “traditional American hero” with a would-be rapist.
Unsurprisingly, this has not elicited the same kind of media backlash. Neither Folbaum, Beck, nor Dobbs has expressed any outrage about Doc Ock taking over as Spider-Man. It seems that the violation of a female character’s bodily autonomy is not nearly as scary to them as a positive depiction of a biracial middle schooler.
So, is a Spider-Man of color more upsetting than a white, attempted rapist Spider-Man? Folbaum’s, Beck’s, and Dobb’s outrage at Miles and subsequent silence on Doc Ock seems to say, that to them, yes it is.
I guess they don’t care, as long as there’s a white face under the mask.