Friday, October 24, 2014

Dipped My Toe In Spider-Verse And Nearly Got It Bitten Off

'When your mind is a blank, and you've got nothing to post on, you can always trust. . . Dan Slott!'

(sing it to "Downtown")

Not sure how he became the comic writer most likely to do something that causes me to roll my eyes, but here we are. Probably because while Millar is off doing his creator-owned stuff, and Bendis and Hickman are mucking about in sections of the Marvel Universe I can ignore, Slott's got his hand around Spider-Man's throat.

This week, the Spider-Verse event paid a visit to the Spider-Girl universe. One of Morlun's, cronies, cousins, whatever, killed Peter and Mary Jane (and possibly also Mayday's boyfriend Wes, I'm not sure about that), while Mayday took her baby brother Ben and ran. Two Spider-Guys from other universes showed up just in time to tell her it was too late to save her parents, and they escaped. But not before Mayday swore to the trenchcoated murderer that she'd forget everything her parents taught her about being a good person and hero to get revenge on him.

So yeah, Spider-Girl's about the DARK VENGEANCE now. Because a young hero vowing to avenge their dead parents hasn't been done a thousand times before.

The issue before this, Morlun personally paid a visit to the universe for the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon, and slaughtered the lot of them. Even had a nice chuckle about how that Spider-Man literally had no words for what was happening (since nobody ever got killed on the show, I guess, so murder didn't exist until Morlun arrived). I'm not sure what it was supposed to accomplish. I mean, I didn't know which Spider-Man it was until Morlun was leaving and we see Firestar and Iceman's corpses. This isn't even setting up cardboard cutouts just to immediately knock them down and hope for dramatic effect. It's just thrown in casually, after the fact. "Oh yeah, by the way. . ." At least Peter and MJ got to go down fighting together, albeit off-screen.

I don't see the percentage here. If you're someone who doesn't know anything about the characters, the couple of pages they get before their death probably aren't going to sway you. It's possible they could I suppose, I know Mightygodking once argued Marv Wolfman did a good job giving a minor hero (Sunburst) in Crisis on the Infinite Earths a little arc before his off-screen death, but I don't think Slott's putting in the effort to manage that here. If you're a fan of these versions of the characters, are you supposed to be happy about it? To want to keep reading, excited to see if Slott kills off some other alternate version of Spider-Man you like?

I've seen some suggestions among fans online Slott's doing it intentionally to piss people off, that he's said as much at conventions. I have to wonder if that's legit, or if he's just playing a heel. Get some talk going about his book, get people interested to see what everyone is yelling about. Or maybe he got tired of everyone yelling at him about Brand New Day/One More Day and decided, "Heck, if they're going to scream no matter what, I'll give 'em something to scream about." I'm not sure fostering a hate-filled and adversarial relationship with your audience is the best strategy, but history suggests that in the short-term, you can do worse than to write something that will piss everyone off, then count on the fans to buy the comic so they can rail on about how much they hate it. I don't think it's viable long-term, but maybe that's not his concern.

{Brief aside: I will admit I don't understand buying a book you expect to hate. I have bought a lot of comics I hated. If you've read my reviews for any length of time, you know this. But I'm not going into it wanting to hate it, I'm hoping it will be good. Even when I was buying Uncanny X-Men during the Austen run, because I was still very much a completionist and the idea of dropping a book just didn't register, I kept hoping the book would turn around. It never did, but I never stopped hoping. It's the same thing with Hawkeye now. For all I'm disappointed in it, I'm still hoping Fraction and Aja pull it out at the end. It's why I didn't buy Civil War, and why I dropped Amazing Spider-Man before One More Day started: I didn't see any way I'd enjoy either of them, so it was better to not spend money on them. Aside over.}

The funny thing is, as far as I go, Slott's strategy backfired. I had a certain curiosity about Spider-Verse, in no small part because Mayday was going to be involved. Except I had been expecting a couple of the Spider-Guys to show up and ask if she would accompany them to help with this threat. She agrees, hugs her parents, and off we go. She gets to meet 616-Parker, her dad at a younger age. She did this once before, early in her title, but it was during his high school days, so presumably this Parker would be a little more mature. And Parker could meet the daughter he could have had if he didn't reveal his identity to the world like a schmuck, setting a whole series of stupid events in motion that culminate in deals with Mephisto (where he even showed them the daughter they were losing for making the deal).

I'm not sure why Marvel works so hard to make me not want to read Spider-Man comics.

Anyway, I was not expecting Mayday to go on the run as an orphan to keep her baby brother from being eaten by the Douchebag Goth Brigade, to have to leave her parents' (and possibly her boyfriend's) bodies to burn in the remains of her home. I was not expecting her to be out for revenge. Also, I am really concerned at the idea of Spider-Ock being anywhere near a baby with spider-powers. There's no part about that I like. I know he can't die there, because he has to go back and finish the last 10 issues of his title, but he needs to.

I'm not angry, more annoyed he couldn't think of anything better to do. But he's not the first to go for the cheap pop with a quick death he didn't build properly, he won't be the last. I've long ago decided to pretty much ignore anything I don't like. If the writers, editors, and artists can do it, so can I.

The end result is, my interest in Spider-Verse evaporated like water on the highway in Death Valley at noon in July. Not only that, I had been planning to add the various older She-Hulk series to my back issues searches, including Slott's run, but now I'm wondering if I want to bother. It's possible he wasn't always this kind of lazy writer; I picked up Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. earlier this fall, so I know Geoff Johns wasn't always about dismemberment and gratuitous double-page splashes. Writers can change over time, or certain assignments just aren't suited for them. I'm not sure any longer I want to waste the money to find out if that's the case with Dan Slott.

On the plus side, that whole mess did make me want to reread all my Spider-Girl comics, and maybe track down some of the ones I missed or let go of previously. So, uh, thanks, Dan Slott?


SallyP said...

Marvel AND DC are doing a bang-up job of not making me want to read their comics, so I understand completely.

CalvinPitt said...

Thanks, Sally. At least it isn't just me.

I do wonder who he's aiming for as an audience with this. If I thought it was part of a plan to attract new readers, well that would be something at least. But I don't think that's the case.