The great sock weekender – loft

February 22nd, 2009

So you’ve skanked a hole in your Batsocks. It’s time to leave the basement. Head on up the stairs – feet light and stomach fluttering two steps ahead. Things go a bit strange and your head slides away into the ringing in your ears, just for a second, but when you pop out the top of the stairwell again, something very strange has happened. You’re not in the basement of some boring britshit revivalist toilet in an imaginary town in Northern England anymore. Like a fearless innovator of some time-tripping new dance move you’ve jumped up two storeys, spun through thirty three years, and flipped sideways three thousand odd miles. A downtown loft. New York. 197Something. It’s time to put your Spidey Socks on.


The Ramones – Spider-Man Theme


These are my next fave socks. Amazingly, they’re the first piece of superhero undy in my collection to be Spidey solo-branded (not counting the mighty Marvel trademark). Spidey Socks – just like I pictured them: Skyscrapers and everything.

Was a time when aparently the most important thing to say about Spidey was that he was the ‘Non-mutant Superhero’. It never quite made sense because it was obvious to me, with my degree in comic book science, that Spidey was a mutant of some kind, in that he was obviously mutated from the norm to some considerable degree, but that the aberrance in his DNA had been caused directly by the bite of a radioactive spider. Like ‘most’ (not really ‘most’, but it feels like it) the superheroes you can think of, Spidey’ super-uniqueness was triggered by an external intervention, a random accident. He’s ‘Non-mutant’ only in so far as his mutation isn’t a congenital complaint.

At the time the phrase was being bandied about though, ‘mutant’ had acquired a new meaning withn the way Marvel’s leading titles were structured and sold. The word signified a certain air of edgy violence and clawed hairiness that, while radder than Keanu solving a bank heist on a surfboard and popular like in the millions, was somehow also a bit at odds with Marvel’s brand image as a modern cornerstone of quality All American trash entertaiment. If you liked your superhero thrills to be a bit safer, with bright colours, non-fatal woundings and a guaranteed lesson in responsibility and good urban vigilanteism in each issue, the Spidey books were for you. That’s what the ‘Non-mutant’ slogan, with its implied Stannish wink, was telling you. Ultimately, the difference is merely political, and needn’t really concern us now. Because Spidey is fuck yes a mutant.

Like Kurtis Blow and David Mancuso and Richard Hell, he was a NY mutant, exploding spectacularly from the streets, fully adapted to enjoy a unique kind of glory in the greatest city on Earth.


As we’ve mentioned here before, one of the key things about the superhero is that s/he is a person uniquely developed for urban living. Skyscraper proof, a good superhero will always have a way of getting around town that is better than taking the bus. In this, as in all his other traits, with his webs and wall-running, fit for a cramped subway or corridor as he is for the great wide open skyline, Spidey is the perfect metahuman.

What? But the line you reel out about Spidey is always how he’s like the realest superhero, the average joe who suffers, just like you. It sounds good but it’s just not true. He’s the luckiest of the lot, blessed with a status quo that must be the envy of any of those special-school mutants.

He’s a teenager. Old enough to have a rounded sense of ethics, but young enough to be innocent of causing any of the trouble he sees in the world around him.

The costume. The perfect blend of style and anonymity.

The powers. No one gets to throw themselves at the city like Spidey does.

The social group. A pick of blonde, redhead, brunette. The bully with a heart of gold who doesn’t even realise he’s your biggest fan. A loaded best mate. Some amazing friends. A great, if a touch sickly, mother surrogate. Even a cool college professor.


The job: the pure and simple satisfaction of stopping crime and saving innocent lives. The knowledge that your asshole boss is reliant on you for the pictures he needs. The fact that you are your own drug and your best hit single. Every backflip you pull, every plot you bust, every dog you save from being crushed by a bus is a feather in your cap and money in the bank. No wonder he’s always so chipper in a scrap. Dance forth.

The angst. The beautiful, decadent freedom to go home every night, alive and victorious, battered but never beaten, and indulge the complex soap-operatics of human life, to sit alone in the corner of your web of human lives, social pressures and superpowered archenemies, and just wallow in the worry of it.

Sock notes:
Classic branding in evidence with the ‘Amazing…’ logo, and the separate, underlying prominence of the Marvel logo.

The web ofly random selection of panels. They don’t quite line up straight, so that when you have them on they are always running into each other – webswing and spideysense, webswing and spideysense. You never know which one comes first, and really these panels could have come from anywhere. This is what Spidey does – an endless sequence superpowered insight and otherworldly perceptions followed by exercises of the superpowered freedom to move at will about the urban maze. Life as a spider is good.

End notes:
Romita (Sr.), Buckingham, Macfarlane, Ditko. In that order.

The core Marvel line up is three groups and four individuals. Of the individuals, two (Strange & Fury) are adults, two are children. Of the kids, one is the good son, one the bad. These socks are the good child.

It’s all got a bit messy at the supersock weekender. Who will save us now?

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