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Friday, January 4, 2013

Spider-Man Is Dead, Long Live Spider-Man

A. David Lewis. (WBUR/Jesse Costa)

A. David Lewis. (WBUR/Jesse Costa)

The 700th issue of "The Amazing Spider-Man." (Photo Courtesy)

The 700th issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man.” (Photo Courtesy)

You may have heard that Spider-Man is dead.

But actually Peter Parker, his alter ego, is. In the latest edition of the Amazing Spider-Man, Parker’s mind dies in his arch-rival Doctor Octopus’ body and the evil doctor’s mind takes over Spider-Man’s body.

Parker’s death has prompted an uproar among fans. But Spider-Man and other superhero alter egos have died before. So what’s really going on here? Comic book scholar A. David Lewis says these superhero deaths help allay our fears of death and help us understand that we can recreate ourselves and/or come back from any failure.

“There are two messages that I take away from all these superhero deaths,” says Lewis. “The first is that Americans are pretty scared of death… the second idea is that no one is beyond redemption.”

Lewis points the myriad superheroes who started as super-villains.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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