Thursday, September 10, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Superman vs. Spider-Man

"Hey Spidey - what's red and blue and faster than
a speeding bullet?" "Let me guess - YOU?!"
"Nope. Your face at the end of my fist - Parker."
It was Marvel Comics second decade and DC comics fourth. The suits at DC were aiming to bring Superman to the big screen and the crew at Marvel was setting up Spidey on the small screen. Though a joint movie was suggested earlier, it seemed better to have a company crossover in print. Big print in fact, as large as the original artwork.

The book was Superman Vs. The Amazing Spider-Man. Published in 1976, it was something to see sitting on the magazine rack - not the spinner rack - with all the serious magazines. It cost $2.00, but we had to have it, so we bought it anyway. [Equivalent to nearly $8.50 today. ]

Oh did it rock. It was amazing to see how Gerry Conway and Ross Andru who had worked on both books came together to make a seamless world for both heroes, keeping all their personality quirks and character flaws intact.

The whole reason the heroes end up fighting is that Luthor masquerading as Superman, and with his super-tech, flies in and "disintegrates" Lois Lane and Mary Jane Watson with "heat vision" [in actuality, he teleported them away to a secret location.]

Well, since Clark Kent was right there, he knows it's a fraud and changes into Superman to find out what in Krypton's name is going on. Parker on the other hand has no clue, so he changes into Spidey and upon seeing Superman goes at him.

Lex Luthor with Doc Ock are watching gleefully as the two heroes begin their confrontation. Unbeknownst to him, Spidey is then zapped by Lex with Red Sun radiation to make him sort of a temporary Kryptonian. So Peter starts the fight with a higher ground of certitude and with Luthor's little equalizer, starts pounding the holy crud out of Superman.

I mean, it is one epic beating - for about 30 seconds. It surprises even Peter. "Wow in all my years of web-slinging, I've never done that!" and "I cannot get over how overrated this guy is!"

Then Superman comes back and is about to punch Spidey.

In the face.

At full power.

This is seriously the closest Spider-Man gets to be killed. By Superman, of all people.

Thankfully, Superman realizes the danger at the last possible second. To his credit, he stops his punch.

But he cannot stop the shockwave.

Poor Spidey.

He is shot off the rooftop like a tennis ball, and ends up flying through a few buildings.

He's all ready to come back and dish it out on Supes, when the Red Sun radiation wears off.

And "at precisely that moment" he finds out how truly formidable Superman is.

His moment of power is gone and thankfully, Superman sees this sudden de-powerment as very telling: Spidey is no real threat, just a diversion - and that means he was set-up. He looks down paternally as Spidey pounds away futilely, hurting only himself.

So with a little added chagrin on Spidey's part, and some kind words from Superman, they agree to team up and find who just duped them and rescue their ladies. Classic, baby. Classic.


I don't think most people - most kids at that time - understood how perfect this was. This was a pretty high point in comics, with everyone trying to get out the best product, but had far less eyes and ears and accountants pushing at the creative process. Like many rock bands of the 70s, the art was first, and in capable hands. Sure they wanted to make money - but they did that by getting out a good product, not by hyping the crap out of it until you wished it would go away.

Everyone knew who Superman was. Everyone knew who Spider-Man was. The only reach was making them fight each other before working together. Gerry Conway pulled it off. My hat's off to him.

Now what spiritual or Christian lesson did we learn from this?

God forgives stupid. God does not forgive unrepentant evil.

Look, you and I fight God all the time if we do not know Him and listen to Him. We may even think we are getting ahead or "kicking ass and taking names" as the saying goes. You got a good job and are a rising star. You just sold a million albums or won a championship.

Yet the next day or the next year you seem to crash. You seem to have run up against a brick wall. Why?

I'm going to suggest because you were emboldened by your own power and abilities but forgot the Giver. He wants you to listen to Him and stop fighting, but you know what?

You already called Him weak. You already called Him useless. You already know He's bad.

The following verse has worried many Christians because it says there is an unforgivable sin. Murder, rape, child molestation, theft, adultery are all forgivable before God. This sin is not.

Let me repeat: this sin is not forgivable. Why?

It is when you call evil good. It is when you make God into an ogre and reject any light or love from Him.
Matthew 12:31,32 
31"Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.
32 "Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
The easiest way to understand this is that we Christians believe and accept we have been changed and are being changed by God's Spirit. Even friends and family see this: we behave better and are more willing to love and be forgiving. The Spirit empowers us. The Spirit works gently and kindly to reconcile us to God - to show us Jesus as our savior and let us experience God directly in a mysterious way.

It is very cool. It is like you get Heightened Senses or something.

But spitting upon the Spirit of God? It'd be better to spit in your mother's face. It be better to curb stomp Aunt May or hang Snoopy. It'd be better to drown puppies.

So when we see Spidey punching Superman we can smile. But if Superman decided to punch back?

There wouldn't have even been a face left. Superman had compassion and was forgiving.

God is just as kind to us. He is patient with our false accusations and dumb associations. He doesn't mind us being stupid. He knows we think He's wrong and we're right.  It is typical.

But once you realize that He's been patient with your anger and self-empowerment - once he puts an end to your plans, you should stop swinging. You're just going to hurt yourself.

It would be far better for you to stop, to talk to Him and become friends.

You'll be a better hero for it.

Amen.

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