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…
Slott & McNiven’s Mr. Negative Arc
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.
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?!”
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.
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.