So, as many of you can tell, I usually do not review super-hero books. Personally, I enjoy hero books, but I feel that, for the classroom, there is much more substance in non-hero books. However, as I did some research for Banned Books Week, I noticed that this Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2: Revelations book appeared on a few lists, mainly for being challenged by a grade-school parent in 2009. Apparently, the book contained “sexual overtones.” I was intrigued and shocked that a collection of four issues of The Amazing Spider-Man would be challenged, so I sought it out, and after a 29-minute trip to the nearest library that had this out-of-print book on-shelf, I had it in my hands, and as a big Spider-Man fan, I was excited to spend the evening with the wall-crawler and see what all the fuss was about.
The issues collected originally appeared in 2001-02, and the time period is apparent from the first two-page spread containing Spider-Man watching the Twin-Towers fall to the ground. No sexual overtones noticeable.
The first issue in the collection takes the reader on a journey showing Marvel heroes and villains helping sift through the wreckage of 9-11 as beautifully scripted narration allows the reader to remember and re-experience the tragic events of that day, ending with Spider-Man holding a young boy as his deceased father is carried from the ruins. No sexual overtones noticeable.
The next issue in the collection focuses on Peter Parker, the high school teacher, and his quest to help an orphaned struggling student dealing with homelessness and her brother’s dangerous decisions. The reality of teenage poverty is heart-breaking. No sexual overtones noticeable.
The story then shifts to an issue titled “The Conversation” in which Peter Parker finally has the very difficult discussion, with his Aunt May, about his decision and motivations behind becoming Spider-Man. The heart-felt conversation leads both characters to revelations and enforces the bonds that only truth and honesty can create. Definitely no sexual overtones noticeable.
The final chapter of this relatively short collection is a series of images that represent Spider-Man’s life and is artfully done with no word or though bubbles for the duration of the entire issue. We see Spider-Man saving lives and fighting crimes; we see Spider-Man obsessing over Mary Jane as well as Mary Jane obsessing over him; and we see Aunt May attempting to mend New York’s relationship with the web-slinger in her own unique ways. I guess slightly sexual overtones as Mary Jane is drawn scantily-clad in a few panels.
In the end, this book is fantastically thought-provoking, and the mature themes of love, loss, helplessness, honestly, and bravery create a much more passionate response from me than the scantily-clad Mary Jane. Apparently, the parent that had an issue with the book had a six-year-old child at the school bring the book home. I cannot say that the parent did not have a reason to be upset. If you do not want your child to see those images, you have that right. I would not obtain this book for younger kids either, mainly because the adult nature of the themes would be miles above them.
This book could open up magnificent discussions in the high school classroom, but it’s not the Spider-Man book to check out to six-year-olds; there are kid Spider-Man books that would be much more appropriate. But, this controversy did land this title on a bunch of banned/questioned comic/graphic novel lists, and without those lists, and Banned Books Week, I might have never come across Revelations. I guess it supports the idea that all press is good press. This book might be hard to find, but if you are a Spider-Man fan and have not read it, please check it out; it’s one of the best hero books that I have read in a while. A class set might be hard to acquire, but if you do end up having classroom discussions on this book, please let me know, invite me in, Skype me in, or just email me and tell me how it goes.
Enjoy this one, and I hope it catches you off-guard as it did me.
Happy reading, everyone!