Friday, February 09, 2007

Feed Your Web Head

Just got my contributor's copy of Webslinger: Unauthorized Essays on Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, the latest book in BenBella's Smart Pop series. This was a fun one, in that I got to talk to Doctor Paula Hammond of MIT's Institute of Soldiering Technology about the real world attempts to synthesize spider silk. We're not there yet, but some of the developments are fascinating. The book is edited by Gerry Conway, and has essays by the likes of Keith R. A. Decandido, Michael A. Burstein, Joseph McCabe and others.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Anders:

How do you do? As a fellow contributor to BenBella's WEBSLINGER anthology, I just wished to state that I found your essay very troubling, as I'm sure was your intention.

You're right, of course... we're losing our pop culture scientist heroes. This has been bothering me quite a bit of late, as perhaps most damning of all, Ray Palmer is no longer The Atom (some punk-ass brat is), which, quite frankly, ticks me off as a). Palmer was one of the few Jewish superheroes (aside from Ragman and Ben Grimm, I can't think of anybody else) and b.) he was foremost a scientist, which made hero antics all the more fun--as when he's shrink down to an inch or two while retaining his full weight so he could land with full force on the heads of bad guys, as when he'd jury-rig air tanks so he could breathe when he shrank down smaller than oxygen molecules, as when he'd reason that the way to get through an invisible force field was to ride a photon through it, since light could pass through it.... and so on.

Palmer was also filthy rich, with dozens of patents. Not a bad incentive to get kids to study physics, if you think about it.

I'm willing to forgive the de-emphasis of Peter's scientific resources in the movies (what lab-time could he get?), as the second film does at least show Peter's love of science in his talks with Octavius and Dr. Connors. But the de-emphasis in the comic books is pretty dire. I'm also willing to forgive Batman Begins, as, give Wayne's biography in that film, I'm not sure when he'd be able to study physics, chemistry, etc., though now that he's settled into his existence as Batman, he'll be sort of obliged to learn science in the next films. Ah, well... at we still have a few scientist heroes: Mr. Terrific, Dr. Mid-Nite, Tony Stark. Maybe not all is lost.


Michael Marano

Lou Anders said...

Hi Michael,
Yes, in Wayne's case it was justified by the switch from Bruce as determined young man who was self-taught from age of 8 onward to confused/angry young man who didn't find focus until training with Ras al Ghul. I was enormously happy with all aspects of the film - including the alteration with Ghul - though I'd love to see Lucius coaching him on chemistry or somesuch in movie two. I just recently watched about half of the 1949 serial, and as bad as that was, every time someone calls Wayne Manor, we see Bruce and Dick in white smocks and rubber gloves, doing something nondescriminate with beakers and vials. Looks like they are just running lab experiements round the clock when not in the tights!