By Mark Vitale
Arizona Daily Wildcat
It was certainly a surprise for both Marvel Comics and Spider-Man creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko that their story of a high school student gaining superpowers from an irradiated spider's bite could last for over 30 years. However, as Spider-Man's original comic book, The Amazing Spider-Man, nears issue number 400, the current creative team has even more surprises in store for the superhero.
In Amazing Spider-Man No. 400, available in comic book specialty shops on Wednesday, Spider-Man's Aunt May will die. Marvel Comics have not yet stated the cause of death.
According to Tom DeFalco, Marvel Comics editor in chief, after events in issue No. 400 "Spider-Man will never be the same again. The new beginning for Spidey starts here."
Bill Sommers, owner of Big Kids Comics, 8791 E. Broadway, says that the death of Aunt May, combined with other recent events, "have really boosted the character's popularity. People are coming back to Spider-Man because it's interesting and many more people are beginning to buy the book who hadn't before.
"Some of those recent events," Sommers continues "are the death of his (Spider-Man's) parents, the possibility of him being a clone, and his wife becoming pregnant. Overall, Marvel seems to be turning Spider-Man into a darker character."
Students exhibited a mixed reaction to the recent changes in Spider-Man's personality. Lee Tad, a violin performance sophomore, is not happy with the new direction for the character.
"I grew up on Spider-Man" Tad says. "Although what they're doing is keeping the character fresh and interesting, I don't like it Ä I like the old funny Spider-Man."
Jane LaMear said, "I used to read Spider-Man comics, but then they got expensive and boring. I got back into them recently because, even though they're still expensive, the stories are interesting. Life is change and what makes Spidey cool is his realism. If he was the same guy as 20 years ago, then it would be boring."
Sommers agrees, saying "Spider-Man has gathered a lot of emotional baggage over the years. When he started he was a teenager and now he's married and expecting a child. Marvel Comics should be commended for having the guts to change their most popular character like that."
To keep the interest of older fans though, Marvel has created a new character: the Scarlet Spider Ä a clone of Spider-Man. He is the embodiment of what Spider-Man used to be and Marvel Comics hopes that will help keep older fans reading the comic.
Issue No. 400 of the Amazing Spider-Man will be available at comic book speciality shops on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The cover price for the comic will be $3.95.
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