Spider-Man was always there though. He'd crossover every now and then, but I still hadn't bought any of his books. Spider-Man seemed too vanilla. He was a hero for everybody, and at the time, because I was feeling like an outcast, I needed the X-Men.
When I started college in 1997, I stopped buying comics. I don't know why. Maybe I had enough? No, not that. Whatever the reason, my collection ended as the X-Men began the fight against Bastion during Operation: Zero Tolerance. I kept up with the X-Men as best I could by reading plot summaries on Wikipedia, but it just wasn't the same.
Over the years, I sated my thirst for comic books on the variety of movies and TV shows that appeared. One of my favorites was the first Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire. Something changed in me after seeing that movie. Maybe it was because I got to see the webslinger in action. Maybe it was the overall hype, how everyone suddenly knew who Spider-Man was. Maybe it was because during my first trip to New York City, I heard a tour guide explain how Spider-Man was real and the protector of the city. Maybe it was all of this that finally got me hooked on Spider-Man.
Not the comic. Not the movie. The idea of what Spider-Man is.
Even now, I don't profess to know much about Spider-Man. Most of what I know, I've picked up from forums and from the Marvel and Spider-Man wikis. I only just recently started reading the Spider-Man comics, beginning with issue #678, so I've missed a lot. But I know one thing about Spider-Man.
He's simply amazing. He's a hero for everybody, but he's more than that. He does what he does because he believes he has to. He rises above the obstacles thrown at him, both in his superhero life and his personal life, and when he doesn't, he bleeds. He has superpowers, but not the kind that allow him to do anything he wants. Sometimes, what he's up against is something far greater than his power alone, but somehow, he succeeds. He's not too proud to refuse help from friends, and he knows when to make a tactical retreat. And the thing that puts a smile on my face every time is that no task is above him, from saving the world to saving a kid from a bully.
We should all live like Spider-Man. He's an inspiration, and an amazing example of what it means to be human.