We Saw This Coming : The Unwelcome Return Of Peter Parker (Who I Still Don’t Miss)

Posted: January 16, 2014 in comics
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So — just a couple of short weeks after I write about , as the title of my piece stated, “Why I Don’t Miss Peter Parker,” and how we should enjoy the comparable “good times” we’re living through vis a vis the “Spider-Man” franchise right now while we can, along comes the inevitable announcement from Marvel that April will see (another) Spidey relaunch, this time bringing back the series’ original title of The Amazing Spider-Man with all-new numbering and ushering in a new era of Peter Parker doing, presumably, the same old thing — namely feeling sorry for himself for not getting every single think he wants all the fucking time despite having the power to do so.

Yawn. You knew it couldn’t last forever.

For a minute there the idea of a new Marvel “Infinite Comics” web series, written by regular Spidey-scribe Dan Slott in tandem with Joshua Hale Fialkov that purportedly features and amnesiac Parker putting his life back together and having no idea who he is or why he does what he does apart from what he reads in the heavily-slanted pages of The Daily Bugle sounded like at least the possibility for a new “wrinkle” in how the Wall-Crawler was depicted was at hand, but you can rest assured that particular plot contrivance probably won’t even last as long as Otto Octavius ensconcing his mind in Pete’s body.

In other words, it’s all going to be the “same old, same old” all over again, and probably sooner rather than later if the wanna-be-joyous (and, let’s be honest, positively awful) cover for the new Amazing Spider-Man #1 by Humberto Ramos (who will also be illustrating the interior of the Slott-scripted book) is anything to go by.  Oh well, at least Jerome Opena’s variant, as pictured below, is a lot less taxing on the eyes —



And so it’s come to pass that the entire “Marvel Now!” relaunch is already “Marvel Then!,” with all the dramatic and interesting changes to Spider-Man’s life presumably going by the wayside, the brief Wolverine re-launch from Paul Cornell and Alan Davis giving way to yet another re-launch of said character from Cornell (again) and Ryan Stegman, and all the other “Now!” books getting a fresh “.1” numbering system to mark their entry into something called, get this, “All-New Marvel Now!”

Oh, and you can bet all of these new “changes”  will, in turn,  be subjected to the editorial whims “necessitated” by the already-in-the-planning-stages -if-recent-trends-are-anything-to-go-by  “Even All-Newer Marvel Now!” —  or whatever — that we’ll be talking about come this same time next year.

And since the absolute best of the “Now!,” books, namely Young Avengers, wrapped up last week after a mere 15 issues,  I guess  it’s fair to assume that “Now!” probably means “Right Now!” more than anything else.

I’m also afraid that this nower version of “Now!” will probably mean the end of The Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, a genuinely unique, interesting, and dare I say even fun series that deserves much more time to find its audience amidst all the manufactured hype and hoopla the current comics marketplace is positively drowning in. So that’s a real bummer waiting to happen, as well.

Am I pissed off? Obviously. Am I unsurprised? Even more obviously. Am I bemused at the bald-faced hucksterism of Marvel and the disrespect, even disdain, it has for its readership and their apparently-quite-short attention spans? Sure, I guess so.

But here’s what genuinely concerns me above all else — “Superior” Spidey, and “Marvel Now!” in general, biting the dust so quickly is proof positive that marketing trumps everything else in mainstream comics right now — savvy salesmanship holds sway not just over quality writing and art (we always knew that), but apparently  over even basic human decency itself. Consider the following quote from Slott when he talks about how he dealt with little kids he met at comics conventions who were upset about the (cynical and short-lived) “death” of Peter Parker : “To do that for a solid year of my life, that’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do — to look small children in the eye at a convention and lie to them.”

If you listen really closely, you’ll hear the world’s smallest violin playing somewhere in the background here for Dan Slott. Talk about nerve. He’s begging for sympathy from the comics-reading public because he “had to” lie to little kids, when, in fact, he “had  to”  do no such thing. He chose to do it when he chose to play along with the editorial mandate, more than likely initiated by suits in the marketing department, that he “kill” Parker in order to give the Spidey books a temporary sales boost. If his conscience bothered him that much — if he knew that he would lose sleep over lying to kids for a year the way you or I probably would do — he could have quit the book, plain and simple, and refused to play along with this stunt. He didn’t. And now he’s asking for pity from the very same readership he was openly bullshitting? Please.

Obviously, I don’t support the vitriol — even death threats — that Slott was receiving when he “killed”  Parker off , but his own actions show he’s as divorced from reality as those who threatened and berated him were. Nobody forced Dan Slott to play along with this charade anymore than anyone believed it would be permanent. Why go the the extent of lying in the first place, one must wonder, when pretty much everyone knew what the outcome of this whole Superior hustle was going to be, anyway? The only real “debate” going on was over what the timetable for Parker’s return would be.

So here we are again — one failed title reboot that’s part of a wider failed cross-company reboot gives rise to another reboot that will probably run out of gas even sooner than this one did. Spider-Man will slink back into its decades-long post-Ditko creative lethargy, and Marvel will immediately begin angling for the next idea to bump up interest in this and its other books on a  (very) temporary basis. Maybe the Vulture or the Hobgoblin or the Scorpion or Kraven will be the next to don the Spidey-suit. Hell, maybe it’ll be Aunt May. Maybe we can even rotate and let every single character that’s ever appeared in the book become the “new” Spider-Man for a month, complete with their own issue #1.

And maybe it’s high time we all stopped playing along with this nonsense and let Marvel know how we feel about their snide corporate cynicism by keeping our money in our wallets and refusing to play along with their stupid, shameful, sorry  little shell game.

  1. While I enjoy comics I never really kept up. I had no idea Peter Parker even died!!!!

    Have you heard of George Romero’s Empire of the Dead comic book? I think it just came out or is coming soon. That I’ll be buying.

  2. MojosWork says:

    Ryan C., let me say, I LOVE your venom.

    On Slott lying: I don’t see what the big deal is here (form his personal perspective and/or fans’). The guy writes fiction. None of it is real. Yes, he lied to children, but if he told them the truth, he unravels his serialized story. Get over yourself, Slotty. Or write a book where the beginning, middle and end are all readily available. This is just silly.

    On the comics equivalent of Cooler Ranch Doritos: The whole NOW!, ALL NEW NOW! and whatever comes next NOW! is a ham-fisted way of doing what I (not like I’m taking credit for this idea; I’m sure hundreds of others have thought the same thing) have been saying for years. Comics need to adapt the television model of seasons of programming. Marvel is obviously doing this with their recent initiatives, but it does seem… shady?

    Just come out and say, “Hey, Jason Aaron and Humerto Ramos have this kickass idea for a Fantastic Four story. Their season is going to run 12 issues, and then we’ll roll out with a new Fantastic Four-related story while our creators prep Season Two.” If nothing else, I do think this will attract new readers who are otherwise intimidated by seeing some of the numbering in triple digits (or at least spike sales of relaunches from every idiot who thinks a #1 is going to be worth something… enjoy those variants, dopes). I think it would also eliminate the dreaded filler issue. The downside is that decompressed storytelling is going to find all-new lows, in which Brian Michael Bendis manages to stretch out a single sentence over 57 panels and 9 pages, three of them splashes.

    • trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

      Your “seasons” idea isn’t a bad one, and Vertigo experimented with this very notion a bit on titles like “Army @ Love” and their latter-day run of “American Splendor.” The fact that we’re getting all-new “first” issues of titles like “Fantastic Four” and “Wolverine” (with the exact same writer in Wolvie’s case) would be so much less ridiculous if all of these stories were marketed as finite runs with definite beginnings, middles, and endings from the outset, but instead we get a steady stream of “reboots” instead. As much as I despise “The New 52” — and that’s quite a bit, trust me! — at least DC are doggedly sticking to the idea, no matter how badly it sucks. “Marvel Now!,” on the other hand, appears to have been designed with a limited shelf life from the get-go, and all of its supposed “long-term” changes have been undone in a year’s time — which is what Marvel has pretty much always done since Stan Lee’s infamous “don’t change anything, but always provide the illusion of change” editorial dictate was first handed down, the key difference being that at least in those days they didn’t have the temerity to re-set the numbering of their titles every time they changed things back to how they used to be. At this point it’s never going to end, and don’t worry — I’ll continue to spew forth all the “venom” I can muster as long as they continue to play us for suckers so openly.

  3. Victor De Leon says:

    I like Opena’s variant so much better. Not too crazy about Ramos. I still want to check this out and as far as I am concerned, I am still just a casual fan of these recent Marvel reboots and restarts. I get confused as shit as to what the hell is going on. Good post, Ryan!

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