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Deconstructing Spider-Man with writer Paul Jenkins

Paul Jenkins shares his favorite memories from his time on Spider-Man.

Spider-Man and friends take a bow for the final issue of Paul Jenkins' run.
Image credit: Marvel

When it comes to Spider-Man, few people understand the heart of the character like Paul Jenkins. From 1999-2005 Jenkins wrote a series of classic stories exploring Peter Parker’s psyche. The run deconstructed Spider-Man’s relationship with humor and revealed the true motivation of his superhero banter. Jenkins wrote emotional stories about Uncle Ben, Peter’s parents, along with some other surprises. There were also oddball moments like Spider-Man battling a gang of mimes, a nude performance from Peter Parker, a suspicious dog, and a sentient piece of cheese named Kevin.

Popverse recently had a chance to sit down with Jenkins during a convention, and our conversation touched on his favorite memories from his six-year run, along with some behind-the-scenes insights. Jenkins spoke about Marvel’s early attempts to get rid of Spider-Man’s marriage to Mary Jane, and how they pressured him to give Peter organic web-shooters to match the Sam Raimi films. Throughout our interview, Jenkins couldn’t help but smile as he recalled his favorite stories. Jenkins had written these comics to touch readers’ hearts, and it was clear they still held a special place in his.

His first Spidey stories

Popverse: One of your earliest Spider-Man storylines was a Chameleon arc in Webspinners that I loved. It ends with the Chameleon telling Peter that he loves him, and then falling off the Brooklyn Bridge. Was this a romantic love or more of a twisted and chaotic love?

Paul Jenkins: It was neither. The point was that the Chameleon had found himself in a mental health crisis because he felt like as a person, he didn't exist. And so, he was tying himself to other people's lives. And he realized that Peter’s life was just so interesting. His aunt was perfect. She was cooking her meatloaf and all the stuff that she does. The Chameleon was living this life and kind of impersonating Peter Parker and Spider-Man. I mean, I think he was the first villain that Spider-Man fought if I'm not incorrect.

He said, ‘I was your first.’ He knows about the tragedy of Gwen, and he knows all these things. And so when he says, ‘I love you,’ it was almost like he misspoke. He didn't know how to articulate ‘I love what you are, I love what you do, everything that you are, and everything you've become. I love your tragedies, I love your romances. I love all of it.’

When that happens, they both realize what's been said. and it's got kind of a gay undertone in a sense. And it's not meant that way, and they both start chuckling. The Chameleon has already decided to throw himself off the bridge. He doesn't think that he has anything to offer personally. And so, he says, ‘I'm so glad I could see you smile.’ And then tragically just jumps off the bridge. I think it

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Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Joshua Lapin-Bertone: Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.


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