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In one of my favorite single issues of all time, Doctor Strange #390 (hi, Ghost Dog!), there’s a two page spread in the middle of the issue written by Donny Cates and Chip Zdarsky called “Peter Talks to a Spider” and it is, as they say, Big 2020 Mood. In general, Peter Parker as Spider-Man is generally a hopeful character — it’s why his breaks from that hope are such a big deal in the canon. And likewise, this mini-comic detailing a nihilistic conversation between Spidey and a representative of his namesake, is a banger.
In it, the Spider dismantles Pete’s various super-attributes as decidedly un-Spider-like and in just 15 panels pulls Pete into the collective angst and ennui we’ve all been feeling for the last eight months.
The Spider tries to rally our favorite friendly neighborhood Not-Actually-A-Spider-Man by cheering on the fact that he’d accomplished so much in “under a year.”
“Under a year?” Spidey asks.
“Spiders only live a little over a year in ideal conditions, you seem to be well into your adult life cycle. So, yeah, your death is almost surely imminent.”
And, truly, I don’t know how two static panels effectively get across the sheer enormity of how terrible this year has been, but they do.
Just two blank-eyed masked faces coming to terms with mortality and time and pain and awfulness. “It me,” I whisper to myself, revisiting the pages for the first time in a long time.