We have been arguing about why Peter Parker needs to retire as Spider-Man for as long as I can remember. I don’t disagree that Miles needs some time in the spotlight and that Peter could be temporarily sidelined, or even retired.
However, I do feel that Peter Parker is one of the most important characters to have ever come out of Marvel.
Peter Parker is the best example of an ‘everyman’ character. He is the gateway drug to comics for so many. He was a millennial before millennials were a thing. He is browbeaten, working menial jobs despite his education, struggling to make ends meet, living at home with his Aunt after suffering terrible losses, and generally taking care his family and friends before himself, and then losing trust and shattering relationships when his duties as Spider-Man take him away from said relationships. We have seen him overcome so many life-changing, soul-crushing, impossible odds to rise up (mostly) triumphant. He gets back up when anyone else would want to give up and lie down and accept defeat.
And this is why it’s still relevant to have a Peter Parker.
The 30-something Peter B Parker in Into the Spider-Verse was a testament to how relatable and entry-level his character is. His pizza-inhaling, broke, depressed ass is more relatable to a lot of comics fans than almost every other superhero. He struggles, where Tony Stark is playing with his billions of dollars, despite knowing that Peter exists and could use some help. Peter is the embodiment of “elder millennials” – the late 20- and early 30-year-olds who were promised the world and did everything they could to get that 90s promise of greatness only to be screwed by the older generations and left living with nothing and barely scraping by. His struggles are our struggles. He is a power fantasy but so grounded in the drudgery of being human that we can see ourselves more easily in his shoes than we can with Iron Man or Captain America or even Daredevil.
Asking Peter Parker to retire as Spider-Man so that Miles can have the spotlight as Spider-Man is necessary. I don’t disagree that we should pass the namesake on to Miles, to let Peter have some well-earned time off. We always have the older comics to go back and read. Parker is just always going to be the Spider-Man that I love, that I relate to, that I grew up with and that inspires me to get up against all odds.
No one is taking that away from me, or from the other people who love him and are or were inspired by him. I think Pete needs a holiday. I think Pete needs to mentor the younger generation of Superheroes. I think that Peter Parker needs to be present in the universe but needs to hang up his suit and stop fighting crime and let Miles be Spidey for a while.