A word or two about Spider-Man, if you’ll indulge me.
Okay, I’m kidding. It’s a bearwall.
This one is so offtopic it’s off the map. Or is that off the chain? I get those two confused, I’m old.
Look, I think Joe Quesada has done a lot of positive things for the Marvel line-up. I really do.
I love the entire Ultimates concept that he supported, for example.
And if we take a look at what actually happened to the mainstream Spider-Man comics, it wasn’t all bad ideas.
For one thing, there were just too damn many Spider-Man monthlies with similar titles, different numbering schemes, and crossover storylines that you had to hop from series to series to try and piece together.
Blech. It’s stupid. If you’re gonna tell a serialized story, put all the pieces of the story under one title, OR do it rarely and then clearly label those seperate issues that are part of the crossover.
I’m gonna have a very limited amount of patience with trying to decide if an issue is a tie in from another series in the middle of a story arc if you’re not gonna clue me in on the cover. And no, I’m not just going to buy everything you ever publish in the hopes that THAT way I’ll get the whole story. Umm, /facepalm.
Now, if you’re in the comics industry, and all you do is think about and follow the comics industry, then I bet you’ve got no trouble whatsoever keeping it all straight. After all, it’s what you do. You read everything done by everybody, and follow it all, and read the authors blogs, and developer diaries, and whatsis.
If the people who do that are your intended demographic… well, okay, then I should shut up ’cause I ain’t who you’re marketing for.
But if, by some chance, you do hope to catch the marketshare of the ‘people who like to read comics along with other stuff’, well, I gots better stuff to be doing with my time than keep track of your entire publication lineup. No, I don’t follow the trades catalog to see if you’ve got a special one shot coming up that will have a critical part of the story from your normal series that I’ll miss otherwise.
NO, I will not pick up a comic purchase story arc card from the comic shop so I can plan wwhich issues come out which month so i don’t miss them (are you f’ing kidding me with this? I’m looking at you, World War Hulk).
No, wait, I can’t let that go. Seriously, LOOK AT THE CHECKLIST THEY GAVE OUT!!!!
That’s just asinine. Joe, I want to bitchslap you so hard your ancestors will be put off sex, that’s what I want to do.
Anyway, Spider-Man and multiple series simultaneously.
Joe Quesada, perhaps bowing to sales figure reality, collapsed all the various Spidey titles under one umbrella… and then made it a triple a month release.
Hey, that should’ve been done years ago. One series to follow, and you bring it out more often per month to catch the sales interest in that character. Good job. Even *I* can follow one series. At least, until you do one story arc across a bazillion other titles.
No, I’m not going to even try to pretend that Joe Quesada is some kind of evil, smelly demon-man. Nah. He’s done a lot I can agree with.
I’ll bring up that Ultimates thing again. Umm, Joe, thanks for helping bring about the single greatest pleasure I have had in comics as an adult… seeing a brilliant re-invention of my favorite comics lines, from the ground up, done by adults.
I know the Ultimates brands are referred to as marketed to the teen audience, but I beg to differ. I prefer to think they were targeted, in terms of story, towards people that like tight stories.
Brian Michael Bendis’ Spider-Man run is my favorite, by far, but a real close second is the Fantastic Four relaunch. I really loved the entire Cosmic Cube storyline, from seeds planted early to eventual conclusion.
Yes, I know that a ton of pop culture is embedded in them… hey, that’s one of the things I like about them. I can identify and relate. Spider-Man interrupting a film being shot in New York about him? His fight action getting recorded and included in the film… and since he can’t reveal his identity, his not making a dime on it? Oh, that was hilarious.
I won’t pretend to like or enjoy the Ultimatum Wave ending, it felt pretty half-assed compared to other aspects of the overall Ultimates storylines, but hey… At least Ultimate Spider-Man is still continuing on.
But let me get back to that Gutters comic, and Joe Quesada’s continuity retcon.
I really liked J. Michael Straczinski’s run on Spider-Man. I did. He brought a ton of great concepts and built them very well.
And then, and pardon me if I still choke a little, Joe Quesada kicked all us fans right in the nutsack.
Peter Parker, after decades of us growing up right alongside the smartassed, wisecracking little nerd trying his best to fight the good fight, the kid with all heart and no quit, married the woman of his dreams. A real marriage, hard times, problems, stress, and working through it. He decided to try and do more with his life than swing around looking for muggings to interrupt; he got a job teaching a class in a school. Just a regular class, trying to make a difference, a difference we could relate to, a damn hard task for anyone, making a difference in the lives of some real kids who need a mentor and understanding teacher more than they do a guy in spandex.
I for one grew up reading Spider-Man comics.
I wasn’t some idiot who tried to be Spider-Man when he grew up, but I could definitely relate to the underdog aspect, the trying your damndest and never giving up aspect of it.
Okay, so i also loved that he was a smartass. To EVERYONE.
Who else do you know that will be a smartass to Galactus? Yeah, ahuh.
People talk about inspirations and examples for our formative years. The importance of having something to look up to, someone to admire.
And then, for the most part, we’re told to look at politicians and sports athletes and rock stars and movie stars to seek that inspiration.
Umm, no. Athletes pretty much equals a desire to take any perfomance enhancing drug if they think they can get away with it, drunken wild orgies on boats on lakes in Minnesota, driving over policewomen in downtown Minneapolis, and flying personal jets to training camp after the actual ‘training’ part is over, blowing off practice because you’re apparently too good to need any of that teamwork building crap, and making me applaud one brave announcer who proclaimed “The Ego Has Landed” when Farve touched down.
Wait, what was I saying?
And politicians? If you use a politician as your role model, well, jeez. Anyone aspiring to be a politician when they grow up might as well just be a bank robber – it’s a less dishonest way of making a living. At least you’re stealing it all at once without pretension to a higher calling of public service.
Rock Stars? Umm… okay, I’m not gonna go there. And movie stars? Man, give me a target that takes at least SOME effort.
But you open up a comic book, and what do you have?
You have an attempt to depict, for the most part, people trying to do the right thing… and exploring what that means. Whether they be aliens from another planet, or normal people overcoming great personal tragedy, or anything in between, one of the most prevalent recurring themes in comics is struggling to do the right thing… even struggling to understand what the right thing even is.
It goes way beyond “with great power comes great responsibility”. Many modern storylines take serious looks at what it might be like if someone with godlike power but flawed concepts of morality or ethics tried to impose their will on various cultures.
One of my favorites was the recent Black Summer by Warren Ellis, who writes some damn fine pieces of speculative fiction hiding behind pretty pictures.
Getting back to Joe Quasada’s gutting of Spider-Man.
The Spider-Man had it. His life was hard, it wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t even fun most days. It was frequently bleak, long hours of dedicated back breaking work, trying to do the right thing.
But he had the most wonderful, vibrant marriage to the woman he loved above all else in his life. That, and knowing in his heart that he was doing his best to actually make a difference, in costume and in normal life. that, and the struggle, was enough.
And Joe Quesada not only broke up Pete’s marriage and dumped Peter back into the Daily Planet, but he also decided in his massive retcon that all of that grown up crap NEVER EVEN HAPPENED ANYMORE.
It didn’t exist. No marriage. He didn’t even get along on speaking terms with MJ. Just, slam! Didn’t like that, did ya Joe? It’s more fun to have a single, angsty, dating problems Spider-Man with crap tossed in his direction by old tired super-villains, and teaching? What, teaching kids in school? SPIDER-MAN? Hell, who can relate to THAT? Nah, make good old Peter a struggling kid out to make a buck taking photos, and hiding his secret from Aunty May.
That… that was a galactic level kick in the nuts.
Because, there are SO DAMN FEW GOOD EXAMPLES OF A NORMAL LIFE in the media!
I actually, mentally just did a Jesse Ventura “meee deee ahhh” there in my head. I knew I should have stopped for beer on the way home tonight.
Take a good, long look at comics, or television, or really any other form of media.
Just how many examples of a strong relationship that weathers any storm do you SEE out there?
Look, emotional turmoil makes for spicy drama, so I know, I KNOW that for a quick and cheap dramatic turn by a lazy writer, you build up a quicky relationship JUST so you have something to tear down later.
But it’s everywhere. That kind of writing, that relationship foundation is the norm out there. That is the most prevalent example you’ll ever see… nobody, but nobody has a stable relationship for long. They all fall apart eventually.
How many incidents of true love, true enduring ‘can’t touch this’ love can you name in comics or television media?
Relationships that lasted, and grew, and no matter what bullshit went on around them, just stayed strong because no matter what else, the two people loved each other and trusted each other, and no lazy writer came along and decided to shatter that trust by writing in a bullshit cheating or lying or deceiving moment?
Now… of those loves… how many were ended by the death of one or the other to provide some good old fashioned grief or revenge?
Don’t you think that such a relationship, depicted in fiction, and left alone to just keep going is a rare enough thing that it makes for an interesting story concept on it’s own?
Ahh, but it’s almost never done… so, for lazy writers, you’ve got to actually WORK to keep it interesting, don’t you? Nothing much to copy out there, is there?
But there was one. call it what you will, Peter and MJ finally had a strong, enduring relationship and marriage together.
And along came Joe Quesada, who saw nothing worth saving, nothing of value, in the enduring love of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Just tear it down, that stuff doesn’t make for gripping drama.
Hey Joe? Yeah, for that, and that alone, kiss my ass.
You know what I thought when I read that issue? The One More Day/Brand New Day arc?
I thought of the death of one other enduring, unbreakable love that really pissed me off.
I would be talking about the Willow Rosenberg/Tara Maclay relationship from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Now, episode after episode, once it got going, that was true, unshakeable love. It was hard at times, there were issues, there was some shaky writing in there, and there were moments of real high drama. But the drama was in our expectations… the episode where Tara’s got a group of, umm, ‘people’ who come to try and bring her back to their, umm, ‘home’ with them, in particular, was one of the most intensely worrying ones, because it really looked like there was an intentional storyarc building to show that Tara’s love and trust was a deception after all. The drama from that one came from the way you just can’t trust a storywriter to NOT write in a bullshit twist to cause a TV relationship to fall apart.
But no, that was a romance and a relationship that made me cheer what I hoped was a new age in TV writing. Writers daring to show a strong, trusting relationship that didn’t get betrayed by one damn thing or another, or by some stupid misunderstanding that could have been worked through if there was actual trust between the two. Damnit, I would have loved to have seen those two get married on top of a sealed Hellmouth as the series ending.
I’m not going to belabor the way that relationship ended. Aside from noting that, and I am not exaggerating, that moment, that exact moment when the relationship died in the backyard of their house stands out as one of the few moments in my life where I was truly pissed off and livid at a television show.
I mean, ‘choke the living shit out of the writer if he was in front of me’ livid.
But, that’s where they took it, and I guess a lot of people agreed it was a good direction to take the story, so whatever.
I’ve got a big middle finger for how they did it because i wanted it to keep going… but then again, if they started by wanting to get to ‘Dark Willow”, and were trying to find a way to do it, I’d rather they did what they did than that they cause some form of deception or failure of trust or messy bullshit breakup be the reason.
IF they really wanted to get to Dark Willow and were looking for a way while still treating their relationship with repsect, that is. And that’s what I think happened there. They wanted to get to a Dark Willow story arc, and wanted to find a way to do it while treating Willow’s relationship with Tara with respect.
Joe Quesada, from what I saw while reading those comics, simply wanted to destroy the marriage. He didn’t treat it with any respect, he treated it as something to shitcan for expedience in the name of a series reboot and as an attempt to boost sales.
Seriously, I honestly think that if I want to see a long lasting, enduring romantic relationship that withstands the test of time, two people that never lose faith in each other come what may, I’m going to have to write it myself.
Ahem… one shot movies like the Princess Bride, and Romeo and Juliet, don’t count. And R & J [spoiler] both die at the end, which cuts down on the recurring episode market for that one.
You know, even the most powerful on-screen recurring relationship I can think of, Beauty and the Beast, couldn’t maintain it without destroying it eventually in the name of ratings.
You’d think they could, considering the structure of the show… and if you stop watching after season two, and DO NOT WATCH season three, you can retain your blissful ignorance of any eventual tragedy, and prefer to believe, like I do, that Catherine and Vincent remain forever in love, sharing their lives in the Tunnels Below with their family.
Ahh, I miss that show, damnit.
Anyway, in the name of shining examples of actual, enduring love and trust and mutual respect, Joe Quesada, this middle finger’s for you!