Since the end of the One More Day train wreck yours truly has boycotted Amazing Spider-Man.  For me, truthfully, Spider-Man’s ‘real’ saga ended sometime before One More Day and probably before Civil War.  The Peter Parker I’ve followed since the age of three (1975) wouldn’t make a deal with the Devil and I will always rightly maintain that no matter how many excuses Marvel throws out to justify Joe Quesada’s OMD folly.  And since then I’ve steadfastly refused to buy anything from Quesada’s Brandnewverse.

But for the last several months someone I’ve known for thirty years has been offering to let me read his copies – everything from 546 onward.  And ever since that time I refused, up until a few days ago.  Hell, I didn’t even want anything related to the Brandnewverse in my apartment.  ’616′ Spidey is anathema to me now.  It’s not Peter Parker.  It’s not Spider-Man.  Still, we’re coming up on Part Two of Quesada’s Spider-Man ‘reality slap’ – ‘One Moment in Time,’ or ‘OMIT’ as it’s oh-so-cleverly nicknamed.  Now since I’d read everything through One More Day it makes sense to at least look at Brand New Day critically for the sake of discussion on the eve of the Next Big Fail.

Plus, I’ve literally got nothing to do until school starts up again at the end of summer.  And starting with ‘OMIT’ I will be catching up with the book more currently via the same friend who has loaned me everything from Brand New Day onward.

I had originally posted this to the message board and had intended it to be something I would update there.  But the Admins of this site have asked me to post this to the front page as a new feature and so I shall, though it won’t be permanent as we already have one very good Spider-Man reviewer.

My dislike of Spider-Man’s current direction is well known here at this site and elsewhere.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I become a target in some corners by putting this out.  But honestly I’m old enough to not care what anyone else thinks of me and I’m armed with a big bucket of “don’t give a damn.”

Also, despite my outright loathing of everything tied to Quesada’s Brandnewverse I will be fair.  I will point out what I like as well as what I don’t like.  I’m already up through the end of ‘New Ways to Die’ and from time to time I’ve found myself liking some of them at least a bit.  Not enough to make me wish I’d ever bought them – the days of me buying ASM are long over – but at least enough to think “Huh.  That didn’t entirely suck.”

Alright then let’s get on with Berryman vs Brand New Day.  See you below the fold…

ASM #546 – #548

Slott & McNiven’s Mr. Negative Arc


Summary:


Peter’s a loser who stays with his Aunt, who wants him out of the house. A new bad guy shows up who looks like a human negative. They don’t get along. Everyone fights. Spidey runs out of web fluid. Jonah has a heart attack and his wife sells the Daily Bugle.

Specifics:


From the very start this arc suffers from trying to stage a production number instead of telling a story. Natural writing gives way to forced moments for the sake of trying to establish a new status quo with the subtly of a tornado hitting a train.

Some of the funny stuff works; some falls flat on its face. Like Spider-Man crashing through a skylight to drop in on Mr. Negative. He tells a lame joke that takes two panels, five sentences and four word balloons. We can thank Shakespeare’s Hamlet for the phrase ‘brevity is the soul of wit’ and there’s a damn god reason why it rings true.

The ‘Carlie Hammer’ starts slamming into your noggin right off the bat. She’s got Mary Sue tattooed on her forehead from the get-go. With a little Poochie D and cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch.

Lily: “OMG Carlie let’s go to the club! PETE will be there!”

Cops: “OMG she’s RAY COOPER’S daughter? WOW! You just know she comes from a legacy of awesome! You know, cause she’s RAY COOPER’S daughter! GTFO!”

Carlie: “Oh Peter! Fancy meeting you out here in the back of the club! You don’t like clubs either? OMG neither do I? Say, notice I’m wearing glasses? Did you ever wear glasses? Guess I’m just hot, smart and nerdy! What are the odds?!”

Jesus.

Dexter Bennett’s introduction is just as bad. The minute Dexter Bennett (whose initials are DB and he’s buying the Daily Bugle! GET IT? No for real – GET IT?!) shows up we get two awestruck Bugle staffers just gushing about the guy.

Staffer #1: “OMFG it’s HIM! It’s REALLY him!! He’s like on the cover of Forbes or something!!”

Staffer #2: “OMG forget that! PEREZ HILTON talked about him and other famous people!”

And in the back of my mind I hear Sally Floyd asking Captain America if he even knows who Perez Hilton is. Ugh.

Harry’s brought back and the “bad boy” image is played up. Already gone through three marriages? So he’s got a problem with commitment? Weird, cause that absolutely doesn’t jive with how he was even prior to Peter and MJ getting married and his death. But oh well, it’s a Brand New Day! and everything’s the same except the marriage didn’t happen cause it was selfish & bad! What was even more laughable about this was the way the Quesada Regime starts moving away from it and nudging Harry back to being the more sensible cat (well as sensible as an Osborn Goblin can be) he was before he “died” as the Brandnewverse chugs along in later issues.

So that’s three character introductions – two new, one supposed to be dead – and they were done in a hurried, slipshot fashion. Here’s the thing, kids. When characters get shoe-horned in like this it’s awkward and it feels like a cheat. For several years under Quesada, Marvel Publishing has operated under the delusion that it is a movie studio producing movies. It is not. Marvel Entertainment makes movies. Publishing needs to make, you know, comics. With movies being a time-restricted medium for storytelling these kinds of cheats are more natural and even expected. But with serialized fiction? Especially serialized fiction coming out three times per month? Yeah you need to hit the brakes and spend more time introducing the new characters (or in Harry’s case the supposed-to-be-dead-ones, too) instead of trying to force them into their new roles.

It wouldn’t have made Obvious Carlie any less of a Mary Sue but it at least wouldn’t have felt shoe-horned. All we had by way of a meeting between her and Peter was one panel from the end of the thrice-damned finale of OMD. But it would’ve at least felt natural.

How ironic is it that Aunt May decides to work at a homeless shelter when she’s getting onto her loser nephew about getting out of bed, getting a job and getting out of her house? She actually tells him “just cause you can crash her doesn’t mean you should.” And then turns around and volunteers at a homeless shelter.

When our resident Spider-Yoda, J.R. Fettinger, wrote ‘Bland New Day’ he made the following point:

And then there’s the “Parker Luck” which we get hammered with more than once. Strangely enough, the “Parker Luck” is relative. After all, it’s supposed to be bad, particularly where getting laid is concerned, but what’s so hard luck about being part of the Harry Osborn Entourage, where Harry is dragging you to hip clubs with hot women, buying everyone drinks, and then loaning hundreds of dollars to you without blinking an eye. This opens up opportunities that many nerds simply don’t have – I’d say the Parker luck is pretty good! Johnny Storm once did, remember? But Peter was unrelatable because he was married to a model. Yeah.

And he’s 100% right. That observation is smothered in truth the way mashed potatoes bathe in gravy. But then the whole “readers can’t relate to a hard luck guy married to a model” was always bogus to begin with. Readers did exactly that for 20 years. Then again while Spidey’s my favorite hero I’ve never felt like I had to “relate” to him. No more than, say, I feel like I have to “relate” to Thor or Dr. Strange. I guess the big thing keeping me from relating to Spidey was, you know, the fact I can’t pick up a city bus and hit someone with it.

Overall:


Good Stuff? Some characters made it through the Quesada Event Horizon fairly unscathed. Betty and Robbie came through the reboot fiasco fairly well and Jonah was still properly bombastic. Mr. Negative’s a fairly interesting villain over all, even if some of his dialogue’s Villain Cliche 101. Steve McNiven’s art was very good though on the splash page where Peter’s giving CPR to Jonah Peter looks like an old Charlie Chaplin wearing cake make-up to look young. I wonder if Tom Brevoort winced at that, since his ‘Brevoort Manifesto’ proclaims that Spider-Man’s “all about youth.”

Other Bad Stuff? Aside from the obvious (i.e. it’s the Brandnewverse) Peter comes across as stumbling and clueless at times. Lily’s a yawner.

And other than flirting with *insert random girl’s name here* (which is the sum of “lost stories” due to the marriage) all of this could be told with a married Spidey.


–George Berryman

30 Responses to “Berryman vs Brand New Day: ASM #546-548”

  1. #1 Thrawn says:

    Between Friday and Tuesday Night Fights and now this, I think it’s safe to say the front page belongs to George Berryman. I salute you sir. Please continue to entertain me. Thank you Spider-Man Crawlspace.

  2. #2 Dalkeil says:

    I’m not going to read the review, mainly because it’s so old a story to me now that I can’t even remember what happened. But I am curious, knowing that OMIT is pretty much going to erase this (again), why would you want to read something that you know isn’t going to matter? Isnt that why the majority of the BND haters hate it to begin with, because they have “wasted the past 20x years of their lives” on stories that didnt count? Everyone has an opinion and that’s completely understandable…but what I dont understand is why someone who has been so vocal about not reading BNDASM is now doing so when the retcon is going to be retconned? Just to point out the flaws maybe? We know, we get it.

    Don’t take this the wrong way as insulting, it is not meant that way. Just curious is all…

  3. #3 George Berryman says:

    ! Thrawn: Glad ya like it and thanks for reading!

    @Dalkeil: The retcon isn’t getting retconned with OMIT as far as I know. I’ve seen nothing to indicate a reversal of OMD hinted at – just Quesada doubling down on the same economy-sized fail as OMD.

  4. #4 Heartburn says:

    To sum up all that I can say here is, “George Berryman, your awesome.” It seems you are slowly taking over the front page lol.

  5. #5 GregXB says:

    Great read, keep ‘em coming.

  6. #6 jvl1031 says:

    Thank you for doing this Mr. Berryman. I look forward to reading your opinion on these stories, as I feel the same way you do about the current direction of Spider-man. I too have stopped reading since OMD; actually “Back in Black” to be more specific. I didn’t bother picking up any of the issues of OMD because I knew what was coming. I also didn’t want to waste my money.

  7. #7 George McMillan says:

    me and my kind salut you

  8. #8 Two-Bit Specialist (formerly SuperChencho) says:

    So… you didn’t like those BND issues?

  9. #9 LUNI_TUNZ says:

    Don’t take this the wrong way or anything, but if you’re just gonna go into each story already with the pre-assumption that they all suck because it’s the “brandnewverse”, loaded into the gun, then what’s the point?

  10. #10 Spider-Girl says:

    Who are you and what have you done with Bear?!

  11. #11 Kevin Cushing says:

    Made of your customary heaping helping of WIN, sir!

  12. #12 drewr15 says:

    Great stuff George. I always laughed at the “he’s unrelatable because he was married to a gorgeous model” routine but everyone was ok with the Black Cat or Gwen – too completely unattractively drawn characters for sure.

  13. #13 Enigma_2099 says:

    … yeah, but did you like it?

  14. #14 George Berryman says:

    @Two-Bit, @Enigma – No I didn’t like this arc. Thought that would’ve been obvious! Had I bought this I’d have felt like I was buying window dressing and not a story.

    @LUNI – The point is to examine the things that work (which are few) and the things that fail (which are abundant). It’s why I’m listing the things that do seem to work or at least don’t stink as bad as everything else. And at least one arc surprised me by how much I didn’t outright hate it.

    @Everyone Else – Thanks!

  15. #15 AmFan15 says:

    Wow, GB, I haven’t even read the article yet, just the intro…Don’t worry, I’m going straight back up to the top to read it, I promise! Just had to say, if the rest of it is as entertaining as your regular articles, I’m in!
    So far so good, though! You had me at: “But honestly I’m old enough to not care what anyone else thinks of me and I’m armed with a big bucket of “don’t give a damn.”!

  16. #16 Wolfie says:

    I lurk on this site occasionally but I have to say that this is the BEST rant I’ve ever read. And I totally agree with everything you’ve said, George! Keep the rants coming!

    –Wolfie

  17. #17 Two-Bit Specialist (formerly SuperChencho) says:

    @Berryman – I know you didn’t like it. I was making an ironic comment. You only express your total distaste of BND in every other sentence! And I’m looking forward to more articles.

  18. #18 AmFan15 says:

    Brilliant! Thanks, GB, for throwing yourself to the wolves by reading this…well, I’ll be nice and call it “stuff”…Because Lord Stegron knows that I sure won’t be!

    And by the way, how exactly is it more relatable to have the characters make a DEAL WITH THE FREAKIN’ DEVIL, for Pete’s sake, than to just…oh, I dunno…get a divorce? See, that’s my main problem with this BND “stuff”. If they didn’t want the marriage anymore, fine, just divorce ‘em, have Peter be single for as long as you want, and still keep the continuity and fans happy…or at least TOLERANT! But, nope, deal with the devil, marriage never happened, memories are wiped, the dead are returning…yep! MUCH more relatable!

    I salute you, fellow Spider-Fogey! (No offense! I’m also a 70′s child!)

  19. #19 Jonny says:

    I do worry about what this could do to the already perceived “negative” image of this site, like George you are one of the most vocal detractors of the current Spidey status quo and I could see people thinking to themselves that giving such a vocal detractor a massive editorial to himself could be a yet another sign of “negativity” without even reading the posts (which would be ironic because thats all they complain that the anti-bnd crowd do_

    However I must applaud you for keeping the criticism completely constructive and most importantly, listing what you actually liked about the stories. For all the pro-bnd whining that we look for nothing but bad stuff and ignore the good stuff in BND stories they seem to just eat everything up with a spoon and never acknowledge any of the crappy stuff, and it’d hard to take such both blanket positivity/negativity opinion seriously from a review perspective. I’m looking forward to seeing what stories you actually didn’t hate but I’m curious how many (if any)moments you’ll see that make you wanna stop and abandon this project.

  20. #20 Spidey Fan says:

    Great review George. Spot on!

  21. #21 Alex says:

    Hey I haven’t read this yet- I want to though- but I wanted to ask a question first. I’m way behind on ASM, I’m reading Part 5 of New Ways to Die and won’t get to current ASM issues in around 2 years or so. Is this review you’ve written spoiler free and only relating to the issues you review? If so I’ll gladly read it but I’m trying to avoid BND spoilers.
    Thanks and I hope I can read this at some point.

  22. #22 George Berryman says:

    Unfortunately Alex none of the Berryman vs BND articles will be spoiler free though I won’t always be talking about plot details all the time. A lot of the focus is how badly Marvel’s screwed up in regards to characterization and the inconsistency of having too many writers coupled with wayward editorial mandates. I hope you get caught up and get to read through them at some point though!

  23. #23 Mark says:

    George Berryman is made of win.

    “That observation is smothered in truth the way mashed potatoes bathe in gravy.”

  24. #24 Enigma_2099 says:

    My apologies, Bear… I should have added [/sarcasm]

  25. #25 arachknight says:

    *claps* I have nothing to say but well said sir, can’t wait to read your next post.

  26. #26 persian-spider says:

    Thank you thank you thank you Mr. Berryman! My sentiments exactly.
    I feel I am in love with you. I just wish those stupid reviewers at comics.ign.com who have been praising the hell outta the BND stories for being “fresh” could read your reviews. Since you are well-versed in spider-man history, you could also make comparisons between these so-called fresh stories and the ones in the past and show them just how unoriginal they are because tehy are simply rehashes of the old spider-man stories.
    Keep them coming, sir.

  27. #27 Farley Stillwell says:

    Pretty much what I was expecting…

  28. #28 musicfighter says:

    @Farley: I’m wondering, did you think that there were some illegitimate criticisms? Cause I think he always backed up his claims. I can’t see anything wrong with that.

  29. #29 Enigma_2099 says:

    Free country… let Farley have his say…

    … you don’t have to agree with him, but let him have his say…

    … BTW, I DON’T agree with him…

  30. #30 Sarahtdl says:

    As a woman who has read marvel for years I always admired the fact that they had Peter and MJ wed. As I’ve grown older, I’ve dropped some of my favorite titles from childhood simply because they started to seem very juvenile, without much there for an adult woman to read. I gravitate toward things like Sandman, and other Virtigo titles because those books were about PEOPLE. Real relationships, and problems that spoke to me as an adult. Still, I have a deep love for superheroes, and it seemed to me with some of their tittles, Marvel got the idea. X-men delves into prejudice and personal relationships, and of course the mother of them all: MJ and Peter. A married couple, one whom happens to be a superhero. With the same problems and triumphs of any married couple, only made bigger and more mythical with the superhero dressing.

    Then they pulled One more Day and I stopped reading. Dropped the book like a hot potato. For me, a 32 year old woman, the idea that a superhero is less attractive because he is in a committed loving marriage that echoes my own relationship is insulting. Manga is read by an overwhelmingly female group in the USA, and the comic books companies keep asking why girls don’t buy superhero comics (We do actually, but in lesser numbers.) and I point to this as a prime example why. Adults (particularly woman) need more than BIFF BAM POW and a splashy costume to make a story. Its fine when you’re 13, very lame when you’re 23. Manga has heroes (and Heroines) that are married, have lives that echo our own even when they are dressed up in fantasy or sci fi clothes.

    I was sad to see the great Stan Lee justify this crap. He of all people ought to know that great storytelling hinges on making a character real, making them able to get us to suspend disbelief. And a character needs to grow. Reconning the marriage (Especially in the way they did it.) betrayed the spirit of these characters, and only returned the book to its childhood state. Growing is not going backwards.