More often than that, though, I retreated to comic books.
It was the Dour Renaissance — thank you, Frank Miller — which I was certainly digging at the time. But there was a single omnibus from 1971 that stood out as my go-to source of escapism. From one of the 'Peg's seedier comic book stores I'd picked up a used, super-cheap, extra-large edition of Spider-Man's “Six-Arm Saga.”
Following a run of misfortunes, Peter Parker decides he's done being Spider-Man. He retreats to the lab and pours chemicals from one test-tube to the next, until he finally arrives at — the formula that will cure him of his spider-powers! Throwing caution to the wind, Peter gulps it down, takes an impromptu nap, and. . .
But then he climbs out his window and swings off to find a scientist who can help him tweak the formula to meet its proper function, and . . . he flies out of control because the extra weight of his (very muscular) arms throws him off his stride.
These little details matter.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse gets all the little details — and there are sooo many little details — exactly right. And it walks the fine line of batty cartoon caper/serious coming-of-age drama perfectly. When I left the theatre with my youngest, our first impulse was to dive into the many ways this film highlights just how woefully the Disney-Marvel universe has painted itself into a tiny, joyless corner.
I might yet get into that. But for now I'm just grateful to have this film resurrect the cartoon goofiness and emotional earnestness that only Stan Lee could bring to the bedrooms of alienated shut-ins and deadline-frazzled university students alike.
|"You know, this story could really use another pair of arms..."|