Spider-Brain

While leafing through Amazing Spider-man #536, I was struck by something that hadn't really occurred to me. This lead to an interesting conclusion, which I thought I might share. I was noticing the banter back and forth, during the Iron Man/Spider-man beat-down, when Iron Man shut down the Iron Spider outfit with a verbal command. Yeah, we all figured that was going to happen. And then, lo and behold, Spidey has his own command to re-power the suit. Good for you, Pete!

Spidey then trades his barbs right back to Tony, and says he wouldn't be any kind of a technie if he hadn't forseen the shut-down. Which is where I paused.

Spider-man -- a techie.

Yeah, we all accept that Peter Parker is a brilliant scientist. He's a little science nerd who only got his powers because of a school science field trip, and constantly outwits much more powerful opponents through his scientific know-how. Fighting Hydro-Man? Better use electricity. Fighting Sand-Man? Throw some cement in with him. Electro? Thank god you found some rubber insulators.

In reality, in the last little while (and by that, I mean years), Spidey has come off as more of a science fanboy then an actual scientist. He's used as sort of a Trivial Pursuit level of genius. His role of late in the New Avengers is to explain Tony's jargon to the layperson. But he hasn't invented or tweaked anything brilliant in years. All he does is do a good job of keeping that bottom rung warm in the "big brains" of the Marvel U.

I remember the old cartoon from the 60's, where Spidey was seen almost as often in a lab coat with a couple of stereotypical beakers in his mitts, trying to blend something to take out the menace of the week. And I got a kick out of that. It meant learning something about science in school might actually bring us one step closer to super-heroism at one point in our life.

Okay, so I was depressed now. I mean, that was the main reason I liked the whole "Iron Man takes Spider-man under his wing" thing in the first place. Peter actually got to show his brains, rather than his fists.

But -- I then managed to hurt my head a little through my next line of thinking. I asked myself: Self, what was it that established Parker as an inventor in the first place?

And the answer to that, despite the fact that most people already know it, surprised me again. Peter Parker gets bit by a radiated spider, gaining the proportional speed and strength of a spider (also, the ability to sense danger -- we'll get to that). And so, in order to aid him in his crime-fighting, 15-year-old (am I right on that?) Peter Parker decides to invent the equivelant of spider webs! That's right. He can lift 15 tons, so he should have webbing that had the strength of steel. And to make it easier to deploy, he made it a liquid that fired from high-pressure nozzles, and solidify into the webbing. Oh, and also, it dissolved in about an hour.

So what little teen Parker did, based on necessity, was to invent spray-steel! That's right, the industrial equivalent of SPRAY-CHEESE was invented by a 15-year-old, who never came even close to demonstrating that level of genius prior. Or, for that matter, since.

And why hasn't the government picked up on this? Couldn't you alter this formula slightly, and use it to repair the holes in tanks, or battleships? Remember, this stuff is flexible steel, for all intents and purposes. He carries liquid polymers that can catch and hold vehicles, in compact shooters on his wrist!

How has Reed Richards not come out with his own version? How has Peter not managed to sell this to the army, or SHIELD, for military purposes? Shouldn't he be almost as rich as Stark now? Doesn't he own the patent on this stuff? Not to mention Ben Reilly's variations with impact webbing and his "stingers".

I have more tomorrow, as I was also very confused and curious about his "Spider Sense", and how that works. Stay tuned.

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2 Comments
Posted by Captain Cascader

I think of Peter Parker kind of how I think of how people classify sci-fi books. On one hand you've got hard sci-fi, stuff like the mars trilogy, that actually tells a story while trying to imagine the actual real science that would be involved in such an enviroment. And on the other side you have soft sc-fi, stories that are set in the future and depend on fantastic gizmos or concepts, but are never really explained in any detail. Comics of course have always been soft sci-fi, you can't exactly rationly explain how the hulk turns into the hulk, just that he got near an explosion and boom, he's the hulk.

Anyways, that's off on a tangent, but I agree with you about Peter. He really hasn't done anything worthy of the title scientist in a long time.

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Posted by valinorbob

What about the spider armor? Oh wait, that was a long time ago... nevermind.