I object to the Supermanification of Spider-Man and it's this basic attitude which underlies many of my more curmudgeonly posts.
Allow me to explain how I read Superman. I've read Action Comics #1 and "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" and some few random Superman stories in between. I've seen the Superman movies. I've read many random Superman comics here and there. My favorite is probably Superman For All Seasons by Loeb/Sale. I've always understood the status quo. There's the girlfriend, Lois. The pal, Jimmy. The enemy, Lex Luthor. And I understand that somebody can sit down and tell a Superman story against this backdrop. Details change and unchange within the comics themselves. Maybe Lois eventually learns his identity. Maybe they're eventually married. But maybe not. Depends on who's writing what where and when. There's a basic backdrop. It was clear from early on that Lois was his girl and that's the way it is. He and Luthor will be locked in endless mythological combat and that's they way it is.
Batman I see the same. He and Joker will fight from now until Doomsday, with no real need for their basic relationship to ever change, no real need for their battle to ever end. There is a basic backdrop against which to tell Batman stories and that's great.
Superman has continued for over seventy years now. It's not a novel; it's a myth. (More properly it's a franchise being milked; but less cynically, it's a myth, which cycles as myths do).
Spider-Man had a girl, Betty Brant. Spider-Man had an aunt, but she was always a step away from dying. There was a bully, Flash Thompson. He was a high school student. Guess what happened next? She went off with Ned. He graduated high school. His aunt survived.
Spider-Man had many great villains in those early days, including the Green Goblin.
Spider-Man went to college and met Harry and Gwen. Harry became his pal. Gwen eventually his girlfriend. It seemed like Spider-Man finally had his Lois. And like he finally had his Jimmy. Then Harry got addicted to drugs. And Gwen's father died. And Gwen died. And the Green Goblin died. And Harry became the Green Goblin.
And eventually Peter graduated college. Old friends moved on with their lives. Relationships changed. Flash grew up. Peter and Harry grew distant. Liz and Harry grew together. Peter and MJ started to date. And Peter and MJ broke up.
And there with other girls and other friends and other villains. And Spider-Man wasn't a character with a fixed status quo, an unchanging myth-like backdrop against which to set his stories. He was a guy, whose life changed.
It was like a novel. Just a very long one. Spider-Man wasn't Superman. He didn't have a Lois. His Lois died. He didn't have a Jimmy. His Jimmy went a bit crazy and they grew apart. He didn't have a Lex. His Lex died.
And the story was better for it.
To rewrite his history so that MJ is his Lois and and Norman is his Lex is what I call the Supermanification of Spider-Man and it annoys me. It began with MJ in Amazing Spider-Man #258, rewriting her history to make (a) a better character and (b) a better love interest more intrinsically tied to Spider-Man. It continued with the marriage, when a few issues earlier he was dating the Black Cat. It got solidified by alternate versions like Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, the movies... versions which made MJ seem like his girl from the beginning.
Until finally through clever marketing, Marvel made it so Spider-Man had a Lois, a girl the readers could identify with as the girl he was "meant" to be with.
Then he needed a Lex. So bring Norman back to life, ignore his old characterization and instead steal his entire identity verbatim of the '90s version of Lex Luthor and wa-la! You can do failed things like Chapter One that try to tie Spider-Man's origin into Norman. And then the movie and Ultimate-verse etc. can be used to solidify the idea of Norman as Spidey's Lex in the public mind. Then go about making Norman a big-name villain in the Marvel Universe with stories like Civil War and Siege. And Spider-Man has his Lex.
I think we're still working on making Harry his Jimmy, but we'll get there.
And I object. I object strongly. He doesn't need a Lois. Or a Lex.