Jamie Hernandez’s joyful salute to Jack Kirby, as printed in Amazing Heroes #100, 1986.
When he pulls the mask on, however, Parker becomes The Amazing Spider-Man. “Becomes” is the most important word in that sentence. He doesn’t have the innate goodness of Superman, but he does have some idea of how superheroes are supposed to act. It’s easy to miss, but the Spider-Man persona is an act. He’s a teenage boy’s swashbuckling, one-liner-tossing idea of what a hero is supposed to be like. He is suave, he is fearless, he is daring, he is cool, he is everything that Peter Parker wishes he was.
That performance element is vital to understanding Spider-Man, and an inversion of the relationship between Clark Kent and Superman. Superman plays Clark Kent as square and uncool as he can possibly be in an attempt to secure his secret identity, but Kent and Superman have the same righteous nature at their core. (Kent is often portrayed as an investigative journalist, after all.) Peter Parker, on the other hand, is a teenager first and a superhero last. He has to work for his heroism. He has to remind himself why he fights. When his faith cracks and he quits, he returns out of guilt. He eventually grows into his own righteous nature and to embody the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility,” but it takes some time.
I’ve seen comics that have run two different timestreams on the same page. Recursive comics. Pages containing flashbacks to three different timeframes as well as moving forward in the present while making complete sense. Chris Ware did a famous short comic in RAW that featured several different historical periods in the same room in the same page while maintaining a linear story flow. Kevin Huizenga will turn a suburban stroll into a multi-linear history tour and then tie all the lines back together without losing you for a moment.
The point being: you’re not locked to one minute per page, like a screenplay. You can make time run so fast that the reader thinks that your comic has been injected into their eyeball, or so slow and heavy that the reader feels like you’ve boiled a doorstop novel into some condensed informational substrate.