I’ve been meaning to write about Mark Waid’s Daredevil series for a long time now. I feel like I shouldn’t even have to say this, but if you don’t already read Daredevil, you need to start right now. You can find people saying the exact same thing here, here, here, and here. Honestly, if you love comic books, there’s really no reason for you not to pick up this book. It easily competes with Thor: God of Thunder for Marvel’s powerhouse series. Issue #22 has all the elements that have made the series great so far, and it’s a perfect jumping-on point for anyone not already reading the book. This issue is also one of the first appearances of the highly controversial Superior Spider-Man, as well as the return of Daredevil’s most ridiculous enemy, Stilt-Man. And in true Mark Waid fashion, he manages to do the seemingly impossible by making Superior Spider-Man likeable and Stilt-Man menacing.
People die. It happens. But why can legacies only be passed along after death? The old hero dies and a new one rises to take their place. It happens all the time, but what’s wrong with doing it a little differently? Why can’t the old hero just move on? Super-heroics is a dangerous business and people will ultimately die, but is it impossible to simply retire, to live? How does killing the hero do anything but hurt the franchise?
Barry Allen died so that Wally West could become the Flash, Ted Kord was murdered and Jaime Reyes replaced him as Blue Beetle, (almost) every single character ever named Manhunter was killed so that Kate Spencer could step up to be the brand new Manhunter. This goes beyond just legacy characters too. It seems that in order to introduce a new concept, you must first destroy an old one. Ed Brubaker brought Bucky back from the dead as the Winter Soldier, but in the process he kills off Jack Monroe, the hero known as Nomad. Obviously, not many people cared one way or the other about Nomad, but now that character is off the board forever (I highly doubt anyone will be attempting to resurrect him, ever). Whatever potential he may have had in the future is now gone. Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man was brought back to life during Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, but then his daughter, Stature, and Vision are killed in the same series. Creators often talk about world building, but too often the elimination of characters are used to launch that idea of world building at the reader. It seems that in order to build you must first destroy.
Dan Slott’s series-ending Amazing Spider-Man #700 is really two superhero stories in one: the death of a superhero and the origin story of another. From the time I discovered the ending of this story in the spoiler leak several days ago, to actually sitting down to read the issue, I’ve been trying to piece together what exactly frustrates me so much about this storyline. Is it that Peter Parker dies a horrible death? Actually, no. Superhero deaths are nothing new, and with the comic book industry’s illustrious history of retconning and bringing characters back to life, I imagine we haven’t seen the last of Peter Parker. Not to mention, superhero death stories can be genuine works of art. It wasn’t so simple as just being an irate fan who doesn’t want to see his childhood hero’s demise. So why did this disappoint me so much? After all, it is just a comic book. These aren’t real people. They’re characters in a story. But no. It is more than just a story. There is a philosophy in every comic book. People don’t read comics merely for the fireworks of two emotionally damaged people in leotards beating the hell out of each other. No, we read comics for what the stories tell us about ourselves and the world around us. And my problem with Amazing Spider-Man #700 is that in attempting to show how a villain might be redeemed and rise to the challenge of heroism, instead, Slott has written an origin story which thoroughly misunderstands what makes a hero.
Let’s face it. The average, everyday comic is not much unlike a soap opera. Drama unfolds, bizarre elements are thrown in and the stories continue on in a never ending serialization. Of course, comics have the potential to be so much better, and they have been, but they’re normally the same. People even make fun of them for the same things. In soap operas everyone has an evil twin, people fight over who gave birth to what baby, everyone has amnesia, and people come back from the dead.
These gimmicks are trademarks to the soap opera genre and these gimmicks are what keep the general population from seeing them as anything other than a joke. In comics, people are cloned, babies come in and out of continuity, there’s amnesia and comas, and people come back from the dead. Those are the gimmicks that make many people think comic books are a joke.
Spider-Man doesn’t help that image. Spider-Man is a gimmick. Not Spider-Man himself, but the stories he appears in. Think about the most well known Spider-Man stories in the last 20 years. The ones that got either a lot of attention from the media, or just stick out like sore thumbs in the ongoing story of Peter Parker. There was “the Clone Saga”, where Peter was cloned and a new character, Ben Reilly took his place for a time. That went on for several years during the ’90s. Then a few years later, with the release of Spider-Man in theaters, there was “The Other”, where Peter Parker was turned into a giant spider, died, and gave birth to himself just so he’d have organic web shooters like in the movie.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
If you’re a fan of comic books and you use the internet, which I think is likely given that you’re reading a comic book blog right now, you’ve probably already seen that the ending of Amazing Spider-Man #700 was leaked today and anyone who has seen the spoiler now knows who becomes the Superior Spider-Man, a plot point which has been shrouded in secrecy for months now.
Again, SPOILERS AHEAD!
If you’re curious, if you don’t care about spoilers, or if, like me, you are so fed up with Dan Slott and his shitty shitty oh so shitty Amazing Spider-Man stories and don’t care anymore, here is the link.
Of course, since this is a spoiler preceding even the release of advance copies, either it’s fake or some sneaky intern at Marvel (or Dan Slott, for all we know, given his track record of fucking with readers) took pictures of the actual book and posted it on 4chan. Now, I am pretty confident this is real, since I saw on Dan Slott’s Facebook page today that he wrote a post saying that ASM 700 had leaked and everyone should be careful if they don’t want it ruined for them. Plus, the leak isn’t just a plot description; there are actual pictures there, and the images are clearly Humberto Ramos’s penciling.
Story – Dan Slott
Art – Humberto Ramos
When I was a little kid, around middle school age, I had an almost sadistic fascination with destruction. I would often take old action figures I no longer used, place them in a plastic bowl filled with water, and put them in the freezer. The next day, Daredevil or Batman would be frozen in the ice, often with one limb awkwardly sticking out. I’d take these frozen action figures outside and hurl them into the air just to watch them shatter on the sidewalk. Dan Slott, as a writer, is like me as a bored middle school kid on a summer day. Dan Slott has taken Spider-Man, our Spider-Man, and hurled him into the air just to watch him shatter.
Maybe I’m being hyperbolic. But I have been so let down and angered over Slott’s stories and writing, that it truly does feel like more than just the end of The Amazing Spider-Man; it feels like destruction. Ruination. With each passing issue he does, I feel that he has taken one more brick out of Spider-Man’s foundation. My feeling right now is that next month’s last issue, #700, Slott will remove the keystone, and we’ll all have to suffer through Spider-Man’s destruction.
We decided to discuss what we felt was wrong about DC Comics’ New 52 and compare it to Marvel NOW! We talk about costumes, Jack Kirby, Superman, Spider-Man, Hulk, Daredevil and a lot more.
Jason: There’s nothing interesting happening in the New DCU. It’s all just repetition of old comics and stories we’ve already seen.
Johnnie: Yeah, that was my impression as well. I mean, ideally the New 52 was designed to bring in new readers. But what they’re doing with it is so uninteresting to me, I just didn’t bother with 99% of the revamp. The only one I’ve gotten into is Batman. And even then I was already interested in reading Batman. Plus those costumes. My God.
Jason: We could write an entire book about why every costume in the New 52 is absolutely horrible. Superman has so many lines going all over his body that it’s hard to know what to look at. It’s like they tried so hard to make the costumes look ‘real’ that they look so unbelievably overdrawn and unrealistic.
Johnnie: Yeah, I think Superman is probably the worst offender I’ve seen. But it goes beyond just those totally unnecessary, goofy lines. His suit is also not like, cloth. It’s this weird alien technology. Like, I don’t even know how to describe it. What is it exactly?
Jason: It’s some kind of technology that materializes when he wants it to. No more itchy costume under his business attire. He can just rip off his shirt and mentally command his suit to materialize! It’s so necessary!