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¿Quien Es Mas Doom?

By fnord12 | January 26, 2008, 6:42 PM | Comics & Star Wars | Comments (2)| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

I've been delaying putting this up because someone hasn't gotten around to reading them yet, but i can delay no further!

Incredible Hulk Hercules #113: I'm really enjoying seeing Ares as a bad guy in a good guy role, which is given more play here than in Mighty Avengers. Ares was an Avengers villain for a long time, and it doesn't make sense that he would suddenly become heroic (not saying that Bendis' stories are illogical, just that he hasn't devoted time to this aspect). Pak writes Hercules and Wonder Man well, and i'd like to see him doing more in the mainstream Marvel Universe. I also think he's setting up his supposed Mary Sue character up a bit. Clearly Cho should be helping the refugees at this point. His obsession with attacking SHIELD instead is showing a flaw in his character, something we haven't seen before, and a good move from a character development perspective. Also, should it bother me that this version of the Hercules and Nessus the Centaur myth is different than the way it was depicted in the little-read Hulk: Hercules Unleashed one shot from 1996? This website says "the trauma at the time and the millennia that have passed since have dulled Hercules' memory. He has told differing versions as the mood suited him." I guess that covers it.

Iron Fist #12 - While this is very good, it's a shame that they keep needing to bring in art help. Although i want to say very loudly that I'D RATHER HAVE FILL-IN ART THAN WAIT 3 MONTHS FOR EACH ISSUE! I'm having enough trouble remembering the intricacies of the intrigue and the history as it is. I'm looking forward to re-reading this as a whole when it's all done.

By fnord12 | January 23, 2008, 11:10 AM | Comics | Comments (6)| Link

Do you find my economic rants too long?

Do you plod as you read?

By fnord12 | January 22, 2008, 5:06 PM | Comics & Ummm... Other? | Comments (5)| Link

Going for the easy joke.

Galactus shorts

By fnord12 | January 22, 2008, 4:35 PM | Comics | Comments (1)| Link

So Stan didn't let Mr. Fantastic stretch his neck, eh?

This Tom Brevoort guy [Update: link has rotted away] just isn't looking very credible these days (kidding!). Image is from Lee & Kirby's Fantastic Four #19, Oct 1963.

Update: Here's another from FF #28, Jul 1964, also by Lee/Kirby:

By fnord12 | January 17, 2008, 2:15 PM | Comics | Link

Where's Cosmo?

Nova without a talking dog just isn't Nova anymore.

By fnord12 | January 14, 2008, 9:58 AM | Comics | Comments (2)| Link

Is Mad Magazine actually funny nowadays?

This is a good satirical article about One More Day, anyway.

By fnord12 | January 11, 2008, 4:23 PM | Comics | Link

Retailer reaction to One more Day


Regardless of my opinion of the story, it's too bad that Marvel sort of changed two variables at once here. For one thing, they rebooted the continuity in a way that long term fans don't like in an effort to attract new readers. At the same time, they've changed the publishing schedule so that Amazing Spider-Man comes out three times a month. I'd be interested in how either of those two elements affected the sales, but now it's not possible to determine which change is attributable.

Writing this, i now wonder if the entire thing is planned so that Marvel can collect the three issues into a larger monthly book that can be sold in a magazine rack in a non-comic store - a goal that has been a long term desire for Marvel. Wanting to go to a simpler continuity makes more sense if you are trying to attract casual buyers.

By fnord12 | January 11, 2008, 1:14 PM | Comics | Link

One More Day - reaction

There has been a faction at Marvel for a long time that has hated the marriage between Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson. The Clone Saga was an attempt to wipe away that marriage by saying the Spider-Man who married MJ wasn't the real Spider-Man. John Byrne and Howard Mackie's killing off of MJ was another attempt at getting rid of the marriage, but having Peter as a widower or a divorcee was eventually determined to be just as bad as being married. The Ultimate Spider-Man book was an attempt to start over with Spider-Man so that he wouldn't have all the "baggage" he had in the original books.

Was the marriage a good idea? I really don't know. It happened twenty years ago, about 3 years after i started collecting comics, so to me it's just the status quo. The argument is that because he's married, Peter appears "older" and therefore doesn't appeal to kids any more, and it also makes all the love triangle stuff that made the 70s books so popular among teen-agers no longer possible. I suppose it's a valid argument.

It's also true that there hasn't really been a good writer on Spider-Man in 20 years. Is that because Marvel can't attract good writers to a married Spider-Man? Is it because Spider-Man's current situation just didn't inspire the writers on the book? Or is it completely unrelated to the marriage.

In any event, One More Day is the latest attempt at reversing the marriage. It was done in a four part story that was supposed to come out once a week but instead came out over the course of, oh let's just say 6 and a half years. It was written by J. Michael Straczynski (JMS), who is a writer who played fast and loose with Spider-Man's history in ways i didn't like on a few occasions but is generally very good, especially with characterization and dialogue. It was drawn by Joe Quesada, who is also the Editor in Chief at Marvel. As the second to last issue came out, JMS put out a note on the internet saying the Quesada had re-written large parts of JMS's story, but that turned out to be something of a sideshow since each creator intended to reverse the marriage, it was only a question of how.

On its own merits, the story wasn't very good. It was extremely "decompressed", meaning very little happened in each issue, and it was painfully obvious where the story was going, leading most readers to expect some sort of twist ending, which never happened. Additionally, the dialogue and characterization wasn't up to JMS's best, the art was ugly, and it just generally wasn't very enjoyable to read.

The end result of the story is that Peter Parker and Mary Jane make a deal with Satan in order to keep Peter's Aunt May from dying from a bullet wound. In return, they give up their marriage.

As bewildering as that all of that was, it isn't really any more awful than a lot of dreck that gets put out by Marvel on occasion. Sure, Peter would never make a deal with Satan, and we all know that deals with Satan never work well. Sure, it doesn't make sense to give up your wife for an 80 year old woman who will probably die tomorrow of natural causes anyway. Sure, it doesn't make any sense that Satan would be interested in taking someone's marriage. All of that is CRAZY and damaging to the threadwork of the Marvel Universe, but it's Howard Mackie/Chuck Austen level crazy.

But the execution of the marriage reversal is what's really damaging. The marriage isn't just annulled, it is instead retroactively wiped out. Meaning it never happened. And Marvel threw in a few freebies for itself as well, so in addition to the marriage being gone, Peter's friend Harry Osborn, who's been dead since 1993, is alive again. And Peter's organic web-shooters, which he developed a few years ago to make him more in line with the movie version of Spider-Man, are gone again. And who knows what else; by all appearances, the end of One More Day places Peter into a status quo of around 1974.

This has of course invalidated many, many Marvel stories. And fan reaction has not been positive.

Tom Brevoort posted this on his blog about One More Day, in an attempt to get people to read the follow-up, Brand New Day: [Update: as of right now it appears that Brevoort has taken down the post. Following this link shows only the comments reacting to it, and the post itself does not appear on the main page. It's back now.]

It's amazing to me that no matter how long I'm in this business, the fans can always surprise me. Not that they're upset about the end of the Spider-marriage--no, that I expected. But the fact that you guys in general are so mad that you'll pick at any possibility for a fight, sling any insult at any person whether they're involved with the book or not, throw around hyperbole so bombastic that it would make Stan Lee himself blush, and just generally be looking so desperately hard for reasons to vent your ire took me completely aback.

I mean, I know you guys are intelligent, and you're all well-versed enough in how comic book universes work to be able to figure out simple things like the fact that Norman Osborn doesn't remember who Spider-Man is now doesn't have any effect on him throwing Gwen Stacy off a bridge years ago (and just how many times has Norman forgotten that Pete was Spidey and that he was the Goblin over the years?)

Maybe it's just because it's Spider-Man, who seems to inspire this sort of devotion-to-the-point-of fundamentalism from his fans. There was one poster who uploaded letters that appeared in the books right after Gwen's death that were very much of-a-kind (one can only imagine what the letters they didn't or couldn't print looked like at that point.)

But I know that the discussion isn't really over Spidey making a deal with the devil, or about whether Little Normie Osborn is alive or dead, or how the Jonathan Caesar story - a character who hasn't appeared in the strip in well over fifteen years - can possibly work. That's all the cloud cover. This is a break-up, a funeral for something that you loved. It's grief and pain, funneled into rage.

I read marvel comics because i have an investment in the characters and the story of the marvel universe i've been reading since childhood. One More Day blew a lot of that away, and beyond that it signaled that *any* Marvel story could be blown away because Marvel Editorial doesn't think that stuff is important any longer (It also wasn't a very well written story, but that's not what's important here). So no, i have no interest in Brand New Day, because that's not "my" Spider-Man anymore (disclaimer: i wasn't planning on getting it initially anyway, due to the fact that i didn't like the creators involved). Without the rich history, Marvel doesn't really have any appeal. Imagine Civil War or World War Hulk with generic stand-ins instead of the characters we've grown to know and love. The stories would be almost pointless, maybe worth the attention one gives to a big dumb summer blockbuster except without the big screen special effects.

Along similar lines, Peter David recently wrote:

There are complaints because years worth of continuity has suddenly been rendered moot? Okay, well...did you enjoy the stories when you read them? Yes? Good: You got your money's worth. Can you still pull them out and re-read them? Yes? Good: Then OMD didn't somehow cause the previous comics to magically vanish from existence. I mean, I *wrote* a number of those stories that, in terms of plot and character development are no longer relevant, and I'm not cracking up over it. I wrote them, they were enjoyed for what they were (or disliked for what they were), and that to my mind is the end of it.

The fact that a lot of Marvel editors and writers seem incapable of grasping this basic concept bewilders me. Do they think that people buy their comics because they are great works of literature? We buy them because we are fans of these characters. Peter, i liked your stories about the merged Hulk because it took a look at the years of existing Hulk stories, analyzed them from an interesting new perspective, and gave us good stories about that character. You couldn't have *written* those stories if they didn't have all that backstory to build upon. And when i, and the army of geeks like me that keep the super-hero comic industry alive, dig out your Hulk story and re-read it, we're enjoying because yes, they're well-written, but also because they are important events that "actually happened" in the course of a larger story that we're interested/invested in. If one day that run is wiped out the way years of Spider-Man comics have been wiped out; if one day a marvel editor lazily decides that the Hulk has been a Skrull since 1985 so they can go back to telling "classic" Hulk stories without all this multiple-personality stuff, i'm no longer interested in it. Your Hulk run becomes as interesting to me as Soulsearchers or your novel about the werewolf.

Again, it amazes me that editors and writers at Marvel are so dismissive of the concept of 'continuity'. This is the basic concept of the Marvel Universe. This is its appeal. Brevoort writes, "there is something cool about the fact that these fictions that we spin can affect so many people this way", but he doesn't seem to understand why we care.

My suspicion is that once again the concerns of the current fanbase aren't important as Marvel once again attempts to bring in readers that aren't 30+ year old fanboys. "If only Spider-man wasn't married, then kids would put away their gameboys and start reading comic books again." We'll see. I suspect Brand New Day will have good sales, probably New Avengers level sales. I also suspect that if they had just put a Bendis level writer and equally good artist on Spider-Man without doing any of these retcons, they'd also have good sales. In neither case will the readership suddenly go up to the numbers they had in the 60s when comics were a primary form of entertainment for children.

So what does this mean for me? Well, i wasn't going to get Brand New Day, but with the rotating creator scheme they are switching to, i originally thought i would be in for some Spider-Man stories at some point in the future. As it stands i'll be avoiding that book for a long while. And like Brevoort suggests, as a long term super-hero comics fan, i can twist my brain around in such a way that i can believe that the stories still "happened" until they didn't, so i can keep going with my continuity project and whatever. I still think that Marvel is in a creative high point, with a number of good writers, so i do plan on continuing to read Marvel books. So basically it just means i'm a little angry (impotently), but i also think that if fan reaction continues to boil and if sales on Brand New Day and the subsequent Spider-Man book aren't amazing, it's a decent bet that this will be re-reversed in a few years. Either that or Marvel will drop continuity altogether and then i can stop collecting their books. That's a win-win situation for me in the long run.

By fnord12 | January 9, 2008, 2:17 PM | Comics | Comments (6)| Link

Marvel Sales


By fnord12 | January 7, 2008, 4:53 PM | Comics | Link

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