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The Spider-Boy Backlash Proves Marvel Has Burnt Out Spider-Man Comics Readers

Contains spoilers for "Spider-Boy" #1

This week, Marvel Comics revealed the new character Spider-Boy would be getting a new ongoing series from Dan Slott and Pac Medina. Despite only first appearing in the comics a few months ago, Spider-Boy is already getting his own title, perplexing Spider-Man readers. The main criticisms from readers included confusion over a brand-new hero getting an ongoing series over several other established characters.

Usually, a new Spider-Man adjacent book would be exciting news. But, with the main "Amazing Spider-Man" title being maligned by both critics and audiences, Slott's continued return to a universe he's had ample opportunity to work in already, and Marvel seemingly not spotlighting other Spider-Heroes over Spider-Boy, who didn't exactly have a positive reception to begin with, the news frustrated many longtime readers who just want Spider-Man books to live up to their potential. But, whether readers like it or not, Spider-Boy is getting a new ongoing series.

Who is Spider-Boy?

Spider-Boy is a new addition to the Spider-Verse mythos, making his debut in Spider-Man #7 by Dan Slott, Mark Bagley, John Dell, Andrew Hennessy, Edgar Delgado, and VC's Joe Caramagna. In the issue, a young hero claims to be Spider-Man's sidekick. The teen, whose real name is Bailey Briggs, reveals his shared history with Peter Parker, but to his surprise, nobody remembers who he is.

In "Edge of Spider-Verse" #3 by Slott, Humberto Ramos, Wayne Faucher, Delgado, and Carmanga, readers followed Briggs as he realized Spider-Man didn't just forget him but the entire world. In the story, Spider-Boy tries to reconnect with several familiar faces from his past, including Aunt May, to no avail. Despite his odd place in the timeline, Spider-Boy continues being a hero, fighting Mr. Negative's goons, befriending a woman named Christina Xu, and finding temporary refuge at F.E.A.S.T.

Now, Marvel Comics revealed Spider-Boy's adventures would continue in a self-titled ongoing series, seeing him team up with Squirrel Girl and taking on a new villain, Madame Monstrosity. Slott told Marvel.com the Spider-Boy story will take wild storytelling swings with his hopes readers ask, "What in the hell did I just read?!' and 'When is the NEXT one coming out?!'" Despite Slott's enthusiasm about a Spider-Boy ongoing series, the general reaction online to the news of his series was met with frustration from readers and "Spider-Man" fans alike.

Reaction to Spider-Boy's ongoing series

While the reception of Spider-Boy originally was lukewarm when he debuted, readers were confused about the hero getting his ongoing series so quickly. One of the main criticisms echoed was the creation of more Spider-People, like Spider-Boy, leapfrogging already established characters that deserved ongoing series. There was also frustration Spider-Boy, a new white character, was getting an ongoing series when established POC characters struggled even to get five issues in a miniseries.

Another central point of aggravation was Dan Slott's dominance on Spider-Man titles. Slott, whose done some prolific and beloved work with Marvel Comics, had over a decade working on Marvel's main Spidey title. Since then, he's done multiple modern Spider-Verse minis, including the story that introduced Spider-Boy. Instead of handing off the world of "Spider-Man" to a new voice, Marvel seems all too happy giving Slott free reign with one of Marvel's most influential heroes.

Slott currently writes an in-continuity "Spider-Man" book, while Marvel has already teased the return of "Superior Spider-Man." While it's hard to deny Slott's importance in building the Spider-Verse mythos, giving him a new ongoing title featuring an original character deeply connected to Spider-Man feels more like a retread than something fresh. It's time for someone else besides Slott to get a chance to take on a meaningful role in the Spider-Verse.

Spider-Man- adjacent characters who deserve an ongoing book more

The most pointed criticism of the "Spider-Boy" ongoing series announcement wasn't aimed necessarily at the new hero but at how he was getting the spotlight over several spider-heroes who have long been sidelined.

Among the characters who haven't had an ongoing series for some time include Ben Reilly's Scarlet Spider, MayDay Parker's Spider-Girl, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Woman, Silk, Spider-Man 2099, Kaine Parker,  Spider-Punk, and Anya Corazon's Arana. Fans have been clamoring for books starring those characters for years, with Marvel rarely offering them more than a six-issue miniseries. Yet, somehow, Spider-Boy jumps in front of the line. It makes sense why that would leave a sour taste in reader's mouths.

The Spider-Boy series might be excellent. But the optics for Marvel decision making hasn't sat well with fans. Why not a miniseries? Or wait longer when there's more of a chance to establish Spider-Boy in other spider-titles instead of diving into the character's stories feet first. But, with Spider-Man editorial's bizarre mandate for Spider-Man's stories only being allowed to do so much, taking such a big swing with a new character seems like a missed opportunity for another web-slinger to finally get a chance in the limelight instead. For better or worse, Spider-Boy is getting a promotion, and it's hard to deny it's not in place of more deserving heroes.