Spider-Man Uses A Fucking Toilet! by Sean Dillon

Note: This article was written prior to the release of SWORD #2. As such, the events of it, wherein Marvin Flumm is shown taking a dump has not been accounted for. Unlike Annihilus, he explicitly says he is taking a crap. However, given he is described as “a con artist or a second-story man” his word that he is in fact crapping can not be taken at face value. As such, the claims made in the article are still valid.

This is all Elizabeth Sandifer’s fault.

There are many moments in the history of Spider-Man that truly define the character. From lifting a pile of wreckage off his back in order to save one life to bringing himself back from the dead as part of a magical ritual to rambling to no end about Cowboy Bebop to a bemused woman on the subway. But perhaps one of the most fascinating of such moments comes in the pages of Secret Wars II, wherein the Beyonder uses the bathroom.

The implications of such a moment are not clear upon a mere reading of Secret Wars II. It’s only when one takes the entirety of the Marvel Universe into context that the implications of such a moment come into meaning. For the Beyonder is the first being to canonically use the toilet. Which is to say he is one of three beings who uses the toilet. (Irrelevant to this article is Big Bertha, who uses the toilet for its intended purpose in a rather unfortunate gag involving bulimia. The less said, the better.)

But who is the third being, I hear you ask. Which supremely handsome, loveable character could be tasked with the secret knowledge of using the toilet to take a massive fucking dump. Many have speculated that Annihilus is this being due to his appearance in FF #17, wherein he is presented using the toilet.

However, this is not the case. Nowhere in either this image or the preceding page are we given any proof that Annihilus is taking a dump here. Though from Johnny’s expressions, we are meant to see the room as being extremely stinky, it is highly likely that the Negative Zone smells like a dying rodent in a Tersuran sewer. Equally, given that there is no canonical proof that water or hygiene exists within the Negative Zone, it is likely that Annihilus has never, in his entire life, taken a shower, let alone cleansed himself of the Negative Zone’s natural musk. Indeed, it would be in character for such a being as Annihilus to be the kind of asshole who reads the Newspaper while taking off his pants. Which is to say Annihilus is reading noted conservative newspaper The Sun. Given Peter is an angry, working class (which is what people mean when they say he’s broke) joe who frequently fights against an opinionated (and, often, conservative) newspaper mogul, it stands to reason that he would be furious that a stinkin’ Sun reader would dare be allowed into his apartment. And given this is the guy who previously punched The Human Torch, Daredevil, and Superman because he was pissed, it stands to reason that Johnny Storm is getting off lightly here.

No, the person who uses the toilet for the purposes of removing excrement and bile from one’s own being (and not for reading and swirllies) is Peter Parker. Consider: How did the Beyonder know how to use the toilet? Indeed, noted TARDIS Eruditorum fanboy Al Ewing confirms this aspect of Peter Parker’s character in Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #6.

Traditionally, given no other superhero in the Marvel Universe has been shown to poop prior to the Beyonder, it has been assumed that pooping functions in much the same way noted comics critic, Grant Morrison speculated in their 26th and final issue of Animal Man.

However, by Peter teaching this skill to the Beyonder, we cannot assume this for Peter Parker. For Peter to know to direct the Beyonder to the toilet is to know how to use the toilet and to use it in the manner that it was designed for. Since Peter isn’t an asshole like Bean Daddy, it can be assumed that he taught the Beyonder how to poop via modeling. He must have taught the Beyonder how to poop as the Supreme Being taught him how to love, as demonstrated in one of the three good parts of Spider-Man 3. (Given the context of the moment, it is unclear if the Beyonder or Peter Parker know how to flush a toilet, given the lack of a flushing sound effect shortly after the Beyonder left the bathroom. It can only be assumed that they do not.)

But consider, for a moment, the implications of this moment on the rest of the universe. Indeed, consider this moment in the context of other moments of revolting bowels. In these moments (as is the case with Big Bertha) we are presented bowel movements as an act of pain and suffering. Laxatives being placed into someone’s coffee, is the often go-to for embarrassing punishment, as dictated by the seminal Darwyn Cooke classic, Spider-Man: Tangled Web #11.

For most citizens of the Marvel Universe, the toilet is a place of great suffering. A place where cruel jokes are delivered at the expense of those who need to use it. But Peter Parker does not react to the need to use the bathroom with the appropriate cosmic horror. Rather, he reacts with bemused embarrassment, as if he is ashamed of his need to use the toilet. For he is the only man to ever need to go to the bathroom. Everyone else goes in between panels.

It is here that we must consider why Peter would have such supernaturally bad luck. Indeed, it has already been given a name in the Marvel Universe: The Parker Luck. Though it is not luck that is experienced by May Parker or Ben Parker or even Richard and Mary Parker. It is a shade of bad luck exclusive to the loveable hero Spider-Man. Initially starting as merely teenage angst over not knowing how to manage a schedule, being trapped in a collapsing economic landscape that would see him moved from working class to working poor, and having to know J Jonah Jameson, the Parker luck mutated into something far more insidious. There are many places where it could have started, but the most likely source of the mutation is the moment when Gwen Stacy died because Gerry Conaway wanted to ship Peter/MJ. After this moment, the life of Peter Parker began to spiral into a cavalcade of cruelty and misery, each moment trying to top the last, be it the nervous breakdown of Harry Osborn, the various supporting characters killed for the sake of shock value, or having Dan Slott be your defining writer.

(There are many reasons why this is the case. Perhaps it’s a subconscious act of vengeance on the part of a generation of writers whose childhood ended when Peter failed to save Gwen Stacy. It could be because his lack of a status quo, as murdered by Lee and Ditko in the famous The Amazing Spider-Man #31-33. Mayhaps it’s because they assume that the natural state of life is suffering and to truly show ones character, they must suffer and die for the amusement of an uncaring god, never allowed to know happiness beyond fleeting moments. Or perhaps it’s because superhero writers can’t imagine their characters as anything other than 50 shades of Batman. Who can say?)

In this light, it is perhaps clear as to why Peter Parker of all people would know how to use the toilet to poop: who else would have such rotten luck?

I could end it there. That’s a terrific punchline to the thread I have been weaving. But it’s not enough, not quite. Because the moment, all of this, belies a deeper secret. Something that has only been sketched out by poop jokes. One that has been repressed about Peter Parker for over twenty, potentially thirty, years for many reasons (my personal favorite is because we all want to pretend Sam Rami’s Conservative Jesus take on the character is how he should be). An understanding of the character that has been misunderstood by generation after generation of writers, fans, and critics alike to such a degree that Al Ewing erroneously compared Peter Parker to Charlie Brown in an interview with Boom Studios head, Ross Richie.

Peter Parker is not a loveable loser. This is 90’s apocrypha created by John Byrne at a time where we were only beginning to realize that he was full of shit. Let us then reassess Spider-Man away from these base assumptions about his character. What do we know? He’s a working class kid with anger issues. He could have all the wealth in the world, but he’s rejected it. Indeed, his second best theme song (The Electric Company version is better) explicitly states this. He has rotten luck. Truly a supernaturally bad kind of luck. It’s the kind of luck that’s practically trying to kill him. And yet, it keeps him alive nevertheless. (For what is Spider Sense, if not a kind of luck?)

It is tempting to claim that he is a man about using great power responsibly, but then the phrase “With Great Power, There Must Also Come Great Responsibility” is true of literally every single superhero in existence. The relationship of Power and what to do with it has been at the core of the genre since Superman beat up a wife beater. To limit a character to the core tenets of the genre is like claiming that all detective fiction must place puzzle boxes and proceduralism at the core of its ambitions. To ignore the potential of the genre to be about the death of generations, the corruption at the heart of society, or how systems of power are kept running through the suffering and cruelty of others. It is this lack of willingness to look beyond the surface that has hurt Spider-Man as a character above all else.

Peter Parker is a loner, yes. But he’s the type of loner who has a cavalcade of friends, family, and work colleagues who will have his back no matter what, even if they get on each other’s nerves. He’s unlucky in love, while also being extremely lucky. He is certainly one capable of moments of melancholy, but that isn’t his base mode. His base mode is as a comedic lead going on adventures while caring for those he holds close. Because, perhaps most crucially of all, he will never stop, no matter what you throw at him. It could be invaders from the moon, weird billionaires who fuck with him for the kicks, or the literal, actual devil. No matter what you throw at him, Peter Parker will bounce back stronger than ever with a quick wit and a catchy one liner. He never gives up, no matter the odds, no matter how much it hurts, he will always fight for those he cares about.

In short, Peter Parker is not Charlie Brown. He is not a miserable sad sack whose suffering is the joke. Or, if it is, his response isn’t in the shape of a wistful melancholy. Rather, it’s to lash out because he fears that the world that is out to get him. That no one understands him. Quite literally. His tendency to lash out was wildly unfocused until a personal tragedy forced him to take on more responsibility. To care for other people. He started out as a shit who’s only in it for the money, who thought Ayn Rand was all that. In time, he channeled that anger into protective instincts. Every outburst is Peter wanting to protect those close and dear to him. Just look at what he did when Gwen Stacy died. The thought of anything bad happening infuriates him.


At the end of the day, there is but one character who Peter Parker most resembles, most empathizes with. Because for all that we wish him to be something other than this, and indeed for all that we wish him to be this, there is no one else it could be. Others come close, to be sure. There’s a reason why people misread him as merely Charlie Brown, as one could see him in Sento Kiryu, Doctor Who, or so many countless others. But there’s just one who fits the bill more perfectly than all the rest.

Peter Parker… is Donald Duck!

What other kind of man could find the raw determination to fight off not only the Juggernaut, but also Firelord, a Herald of Galactus, at full strength than Donald Duck? Who else could love so much, they would explode and destroy whatever was in their way if someone dared to hurt those they love? Who else frets about their own self-worth to such a degree that it causes supernaturally bad luck? And perhaps most of all, who else but Donald Duck would be so unlucky as to be the only mortal who needs to go to the bathroom?

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