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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 11/11/2008

Superheroes: Spidey Spins Into a New Direction: Sex

By Michael Cavna

Aside from establishing itself as one of Marvel's premier titles, Ultimate Spider-Man has become the definitive source for all things Spidey for at least one generation of fans. So you can imagine the hoopla when it was announced this month that in the Ultimate Spider-Man annual No. 3, Spidey and his girl, Mary Jane, will discuss a topic that the folks at Marvel have had them skirt since the title's debut in 2000.


Peter Parker tackles the introduction of a new force in "Spider-Man." (Marvel Comics)Enlarge Comic

Facebook dilemmas? iPhone issues? Nope. In this issue, Peter and MJ have a talk about sex.

So who's responsible for Ultimate Spidey discussing his teen-hormone urges? None other than the man partly responsible for the title being one of the best books in the biz: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, who has written Ultimate Spider-Man since the very first issue. Bendis took time to talk to 'Riffs contributing writer David Betancourt about whether Spidey would be making a trip to the drugstore anytime soon.

"It is Spider-Man. It's a multimedia icon," Bendis tells 'Riffs. "Here I was with this character who's 15, 16 years old. He's got a girlfriend. They've been through a lot together. Literally, life and death.

"As much as I got credit for the realism of the relationship, all I would think about whenever someone said that to me was that when I was 15, all I thought about was sex. As opposed to now. All I thought about was my girlfriend -- when will we? Can I? What can I do?

"It seemed false, not to have brought it up," he says. "I pitched it well -- Marvel told me to tread lightly because there are kids that read the book. "

So why bring the birds and the bees into Spidey's adolescent Web now? It's not like Ultimate Spider-Man needs help with sales. It remains the Ultimate Marvel universe's flagship title. "The reason I really wanted to do it ... was that Peter's whole philosophy on life is about responsibility," Bendis says. "And every teenager feels this as a responsibility in their life. Either one they hold on to, or they don't. It just seemed like a totally natural fit to the book."

One of the issue's twists is who initiates the talk of sex. "To me, it just seemed like Peter wouldn't approach the subject because of the way Aunt May raised him," Bendis says.

So what's the reaction been since the issue hit the stands?

"It seemed very positive," Bendis says. "I was happy that the honesty of it seemed to push past whatever people were looking at, as far as what they thought they [Peter and MJ] should do. That's the other side of writing these characters. That they're perceived by some people to be their characters as well -- people are very invested in them and they feel they know what's best for them.

And everyone has a right to voice that, but once you put it out there and put a definitive take on the subject, it's going to be debated."

By Michael Cavna  | November 11, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Superheroes  
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