Spider-Man Moves to Brooklyn to Fight Bedbugs and Eviction

“You know what I wanted? The only thing I really wanted?… to sit in that chair and drink tea with my friends. With the trucks honkin’ in the background and that cool fishy chemical smell blowing off the canal.”

Story by Vincent M. Mallozzi - Source: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/

Photo ©Earl Wilson

Stuart Moore and his hero, Spider-Man, were both born in 1962.

“I guess you could say I grew up with him,” said Mr. Moore, a 50-year-old freelance writer and editor of comic books who lives in Brooklyn. “I always loved reading about superheroes, especially about the transformation of Peter Parker, who turned into Spider-Man. He was this wiseguy kid from Queens who had adult enemies like Dr. Octopus and Kingpin, and yet he always got the best of them.”

Mr. Moore had a colorful transformation of his own in the early 1990s, leaving his job as an editor at St. Martin’s Press to become an editor at DC Comics. He later took a freelance editing job at Marvel Comics, which first introduced Spider-Man in the 1962 comic book “Amazing Fantasy.”

“It was very exciting to be able to work with all of these characters I had read about growing up, including Spider-Man,” said Mr. Moore, who has continued to freelance in the industry, writing more than 100 comic books for Marvel and DC — including two Spider-Man comic books — as well as independent publishers. “When you’re dealing with all of these characters whose stories have been told for years,” he said, “you’re always on the lookout for a new angle.”

About a year ago, Mr. Moore’s spider sense began tingling.

“That’s when I started thinking about bringing Spider-Man to Brooklyn,” he said. “I’ve lived in Brooklyn my whole adult life and I love the place.”

Mr. Moore sold his latest Spider-Man idea to Marvel, which is celebrating the wall-crawler’s 50th anniversary. In an effort to spin a colorful tale that relates to the everyday lives of everyday New Yorkers, Marvel teamed Mr. Moore with Damion Scott, an illustrator and artist from Flatbush, Brooklyn.

“The people at Marvel knew that I was also from Brooklyn so they thought I was perfect for it,” said Mr. Scott, 35. “Having grown up on comics, I know that Spider-Man was a kid who grew up in Queens, so it was a real thrill to be able to help bring such an iconic character to the place where I live.”

In their two-part saga published last month as a part of the “Web of Spider-Man” series, the web-slinger swings into action as a member of the Brooklyn Avengers, a band of misfit crime-fighters living in a Brooklyn brownstone. (In the comic book world, Spider-Man famously turned down a chance to become a real Avenger early in his career, but in more recent years he has joined forces with them, though not in the movie versions.)

“Both comic books have gotten wonderful feedback, especially from people here in Brooklyn,” Mr. Scott said. “Spider-Man is famous worldwide, and people within the community, including myself, are proud to be associated with him.”

Having fought crime briefly with the Brooklyn Avengers during a more awkward and embarrassing stage earlier in his career, Spider-Man reluctantly decides to rejoin forces with the likes of Psi and Fi, brothers who share telepathic and telekinetic powers; the Hypst’r, who possesses hypnotic and mesmeric powers, and Mints, who can transform candy into deadly weapons. A woman named Boilermaker, who can fix any mechanical device, is their super.

While the Brooklyn Avengers could never be confused with the real Avengers, they deal with the kind of issues shared by their fellow Brooklynites — bedbugs, air pollution and eviction due to eminent domain — that would keep even Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk awake nights in their Manhattan headquarters.

“Look, it all got out of hand, but you gotta understand how much money was at stake,” the Brooklyn Avengers’ landlord tells Spider-Man in explaining why he wants to toss his super tenants into the street. “They’re gonna turn this block into a giant strip mall. Maybe even a sports arena, if the zoning goes through.”

As the story goes, it was their landlord who accidentally gave the Brooklyn Avengers their super powers after reading about a bedbug infestation plaguing New York City.

“He panicked, decided to have the place fumigated,” Spider-Man tells readers. “Only two problems. One, he forgot to tell his tenants first. And two, he used radioactive bug spray.”

Mr. Moore and Mr. Scott, who collaborated for five months on their Spider-Man story, met in Brooklyn one recent evening to discuss new ideas. They chose to do so at the foot of the tiny Carroll Street Bridge — a short walk from Mr. Moore’s home — which looks over the Gowanus Canal. It is the setting for a key meeting between Spider-Man and some members of the Brooklyn Avengers, and the very place that the Hypst’r could be making reference to when doing battle with the villain Red Hook:

“You know what I wanted? The only thing I really wanted?” the Hypst’r asks. “To sit in that chair and drink tea with my friends. With the trucks honkin’ in the background and that cool fishy chemical smell blowing off the canal.”

Mr. Moore, who acknowledged that he had relocated Spider-Man from Queens to Brooklyn “because I am from Brooklyn and wanted it to be a story about Brooklyn,” said that in the end, his story is really a love letter to his hometown.

“I know it’s an unusual way to pen a love letter,” he said, “but I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 30 years and have seen a collection of very different people and neighborhoods during my time here. Even though Brooklyn has become a very trendy place to live, it is still fraught with everyday problems like rent increases, evictions and pollution, and those are some of the same problems that the Brooklyn Avengers have to deal with.”

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