Gerry Conway Returns To Write Spider-Man Mini-Series

The writer who killed Gwen Stacy is returning with a Spider-Man mini-series.

According to our friends at Conway hasn’t written a Spidey comic in nearly 20 years. He first wrote Spidey back in May 1972 with Marvel Team Up # 2.He then had a run on Amazing Spider-Man from # 111-149.  His last book was a 1994 Dr Strange/ Spider-Man graphic novel. Before that he returned to write Web of Spider-Man in 1988-1990. He also wrote Spectacular Spider-Man from 1988 to 1991. He also wrote on of Dan Slott’s least favorite stories called Parallel Lives.  He also edited a book of short Spider-Man essay’s which had  a great entry from our own J.R.


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(72) Comments

  1. Scarlet Spider

    @62 - If a retcon is done right, then I think they can be useful. I've always loved the ASM #2 Aliens retcon because it got rid of one of the silliest moments in Spidey's early history, and the change is perfectly in character for Quentin Beck.

  2. RDMacQ

    @#63- But the problem with your definition of "Good" retcons and "bad" retcons is that the terms used to define them can be arbitrarily applied to either example you provide. How do the retcons you dislike, in your own words "don't care about the facts" when laying down "new continuity," where the good ones supposedly do? What is the criteria you are using? What examples can you provide, devoid of your own definition of "good" and "bad?" Because if you are the one judging which retcons are "good" and "bad," then the question becomes why should we accept you as an authority on the subject matter? Why do you get to pass judgement down upon what is a "good" retcon or a "bad" retcon, based solely on your moral compass? What have you done to actually prove your position, other than just sit back and say "That one was good, this one is bad, because 'reasons'"? And in regards to Parallel Lives, can you prove that it was Gerry Conway's intention to show MJ as Peter's "perfect match?" Do you have any evidence to show that was his goal in the story? What he wanted to accomplish? Any interviews he conducted or behind the scenes stories? Because again it just goes back to you standing as a judge and authority over the subject matter, which goes back to the question of why should we accept your interpretation of the story over others? What have you done to show that you do understand the material moreso than others, and are more in line with what Conway intended and others aren't? You don't get to say that you will "accept" that Gerry Conway "Mary Sueing" Mary Jane in that story, because that's no different from your initial premise in the first place. There's no concession on your part to another point of view. It again goes back to the notion that you are setting yourself up as an authority on the subject matter, and we have to disprove your position when in reality it is the other way around. You need to prove your position first, which you haven't. You don't get to "accept" that notion if we offer it. You have to PROVE that argument first, otherwise it can be simply be dismissed as a biased argument.

  3. Al

    @#68-I am not going to comment on whether her positive reception has anything to do with her being a minority one way or the other, but I think it is fair to say she is one of the more down to Earth and more realistically played characters in Slott's run, whether you're looking at characters Slott created himself or established characters like Jameson or MJ. I think that the fact that we got something of genuine merit amidst the medicre/crappy characters and stories Slott put out, served to make Anna Maria shine more brightly than she otherwise would. As in, she is a good character but not like the best thing ever. It's like saying something everyone calls a 10/10 is really more like a 7 or an 8, but it's a 7 or an 8/10 when everything else is like a 0-2/10 so it comes off better than it is. Again, nowdays I don't think Anna-Maria is a Mary Sue as she's shown an overly defending nature towards otto despite his crimes and also some moral ambiguity in recent issues. Um...I dunno man, isn't a Mary Sue or a Gary Stu character by their nature written badly. Okay, but who were Dickens and Stevensons' Gary Stus? But writing a Wesley Crusher story that's good would entail giving him some flaws and problems in the first place which undermines him being a Gary Stu.

  4. Jack

    @66 -- It came from me, though my opinion is only tentative, and I'm open-minded. I think the fact that she's written in a charming way softens up the character's perfectness; and she being a little person also clouds it a bit. I also think, for some reason, that Dan Slott has written her quite well, in contrast to how he cartoonizes all the other female characters. If Slott wrote Peter Parker with the same level of sympathy and heroic gumption as he's written Anna Marie, I imagine a lot of us would have a lot less to complain about. I don't think Mary Sue or Gary Stu characters always have to be written badly. I imagine Charles Dickens or Robert Louis Stevenson must have had some Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters, but they were genius writers, and their characters were powerful and memorable in spite of those cliches. E.g., there is no reason, in theory, why someone couldn't write a very good Wesley Crusher story (ST:TNG). But even so, it's still true that Wesley was a Mary-Sue type character.

  5. Al

    @#65-#66-In fairness I think every character should be given a little time before they’re labelled as idealised. I mean realtivly early in thier development or if they’re minor enough there is neither much time nor need to give them flaws. Anna Maria was I think scating the boundary until recent developments which have reavled a more morally ambiguous side to her. I think Anna-Maria is Slott’s best character (at least in recent memory). I don’t think she’s AS good as everyone seems to think she is, because at times it comes off as though she’s the best thing since sliced bread and people want to give her her own series. Like, okay you like her but....calm down. I will give Slott major props though for having a minority character but doing it in a positive way. Anna-Maria is a character unto herself, she isn’t defined by the fact that she’s a minority. I think that was genuinely good writing from a writer who (as far as Spider-Man goes) I think generally does a poor job. I equally give him credit for how he handled Max Modell as a gay character. It wasn’t treated as a big deal and that’s right and proper because it’s not a big deal in real life, but in terms of representation it is a big deal so credit where credit is due. In fact most of the HORIZON labs characters aren’t offensive or horrible or anything. I think the problem with them arises more from them being both underused, probably unrealistic with their magic science and how they sort of make things too easy for Peter a lot of the time (plus we miss the old supporting cast).

  6. DCMarvelFanGuy

    Where did this "Ana Maria is a Mary-Sue" thing come from? I thought everyone agreed she is Slott's best character?

  7. Jack Brooks

    MJ has never been a Mary Sue. She has never been flawless, or always charming and delightful, or universally praised and beloved by other characters, or better than the main protagonist at every task. Now, compare Anna Marie Marconi to those markers.

  8. Al

    @#59-That’s not necessarily true. Something can be objectively good in terms of it’s story structure and depth of themes and psychology, or originality. @#60-I think there is more than one type of retcon and more than one way to be good. Again you can trample on past history but if the change is beneficial what’s the problem @#61&#62-Again I disagree because I think a retcon being good or being likable are not one and the same. People can enjoy Harry’s resurrection, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a detrimental retcon because it undermines Harry and Norman’s relationships with Peter which is the whole point of them as characters within Spider-Man’s narrative. If someone says OMD is in character they don’t understand the character period. @#63-Again, no those are NOT good retcons. There are more than one type of retcon and there are a plethora of examples of retcons which DO alter the original meaning and change the facts which are good retcons. I listed several but you’ve ignored them, again. How the Hell is saying Felicia PRETENDED to be crazy to get out of jail (especially when turning her into a crushing fangirl in her prev appearece which undermined her as a tough and dangerous villainess) a BAD retcon? For the love of....dude....I’ve explained this to you TWICE now, other people have explained it. You are misunderstanding a Mary Sue. MJ having flaws which make her a more ideal match for Peter is not a Mary Sue. It’s good character writing. A Mary Sue is someone who in and of themselves is overly perfect and ideal and lacks significant flaws of any kind. If a character has issues about respecting responsibility that make them an ideal match for Peter that isn’t a Mary Sue. A Mary Sue would be someone who can do anything and everything without much difficulty and is perfectly stable and content. Again, you are misunderstanding what a Mary Sue is and merely focussing upon the word ‘ideal’ whilst removing it from the context of how it is being applied. Except Conway didn’t ‘Mary Sued’ the couple at all. Whether you’re willing to accept that fine tuning or not is irrelevant because it’s fine tuning upon a label which objectively doesn’t apply to what we’re discussing.

  9. Ozymandias

    My apologies, when explaining "trample" (crush), I made a confusing reference to the "original meaning". My bad, all retcons change the meaning. "Trampling history" means that the retcon in question, doesn't care about the facts, when laying down the new continuity. Good retcons are the one which surgically insert new information, without changing old facts. You can like a bad retcon, you can dislike a good one. The other two combinations are also possible. For example, I liked Black Cat's retcon in ASM #226, even though it's a bad one. I liked the good retcons I've pointed out, and disliked the bad one. As for MJ being a Mary Sue in PL, if the comic was meant to establish her as the perfect match for Peter, her imperfections helping towards that goal make her imperfect, but don't really make her less ideal for Peter. You could say that Conway "Mary Sued" the couple, by retconning MJ. I'm willing to accept that fine tuning.

  10. QuilSniv

    If I may come in arguably late, from what little life experience I've had compared to everybody else here, I think that retcons can be good or bad depending on tastes in media (such as enjoying a more obscure story that forces you to ask questions about it, or one that spells everything out clearly for you in order to help new readers on board), and it's more of a subjective term depending on, again, taste. Retcons can be both good and bad (trampling history, thank you @58), but it falls upon the reader to interpret whether they think it is a good retcon or a bad one. No side is more right than the other, because it falls down to individualism and what experiences you've had with the characters to come up with your own opinion. For example, I have no real problem with Carlie Cooper (I know, traitorous, right?), but that's because I came into comics a little bit later than people that grew up with these already established characters, since I came into comics as Civil War was coming to a close, and OMD was coming into the spotlight. However, knowing Spider-Man's character from back issues, I can see the other side of the argument, that Carlie is portrayed as a bit too perfect, and that BND was a disaster (though that was pretty clear from the moment that arc was released, even a newbie like me could point that out), but the opinion of whether the comic was good or bad falls upon your perspective, and what you've grown up with and know from your experiences. I don't really think anybody here is wrong, but I think that there is a matter of perspective that divides us and always will. Just my two cents on the whole debate.

  11. RDMacQ

    @#60- But at the end of the day, I think that the acceptance or not of retcons really seems to come down to whether or not someone agrees or just simply likes the outcome. I doubt it has anything to do with "trampling history." I think it more has to do with the notion that a retcon implements or removes a change they liked or dislike. I've seen people praise OMD for being "Perfectly in character" for someone like Spider-Man, but damn the Parallax retcon in Green Lantern because "Yellow Fear Demon" (And, no, that's not me exaggerating. That was the only reason I saw someone give for that retcon being "bad.") In the end, it's less the semantics of the retcon and moreso the person evaluating it. If it does something they like or have no problem with, it's a "good" retcon. If it does something they dislike, it's "bad."

  12. hornacek

    @58 - I think by definition, any retcon is "trampling history" because it's changing a story's original intention. The best retcons add something you didn't even know was missing or something that makes a past event better. The ASM #2 aliens retcon was good because I always thought it silly that Spidey fought an alien invasion. Yes it was the 60s, but still. And even Byrne admits that explaining why the burglar went to Ben and May's house is a good retcon (although apparently he slept through Wolfman's run and thought his retcon of this in Chapter One was completely original).

  13. Francisco

    @46 I disagree that anything related to ART (I'm not talking science where objective facts matter and the role of observer has to be minimal) is objective, but whatever. This isn't leading anywhere, so let's call it a day.

  14. RDMacQ

    @#57- And- more confusingly- the examples cited as "good retcons," like the Tinkerer reveal or the revelation for the Burglars "real" intentions for invading the Parker household that fateful night- also meet the criteria used to diminish "bad retons" (i.e. "trampling history"). I guess the real thing to take from this is that for a lot of people, the "good" retcons are the ones that do something you like or change something you don't care about, while the "bad" ones institute a development in the mythos that you dislike.

  15. hornacek

    Wow, I leave a thread for a day and it explodes. @24 - "You don’t need confirmation for something you know." - No matter how sure MJ was, and she was probably 99% sure, there was always that 1% of doubt in her mind, that little voice that said "Forget what you saw, you're wrong, Peter isn't Spider-Man." This was the first time she ever confronted Peter about it. A little bit of her was probably hoping to be proven wrong even though she knew she was right. @31 - "I never liked Romita’s MJ" - I ... I don't know how to respond to that. I guess the point it, retcons are nothing new in Spider-Man. There are good ones and bad ones.

  16. RDMacQ

    @#53- Actually, I'd say that Anna Marie is a Mary Sue. She's amazingly competent, capable of running an entire corporation essentially by herself even though she is a recent college graduate herself. Everyone loves her, she has no flaws and everything she does is perfect. And she's so perfect, she's managed to even partially redeem Otto Octavius. I don't think that the reason Anna Marie has avoided being called a Mary Sue isn't because her character was "so well written." I'd argue that it's due to her being a minority that she's escaped such criticism. If she wasn't a visible minority, I think that fans would be more open with their criticism the same way they were with Carlie Cooper, who basically had the same things apply to her but didn't avoid having her character criticized.

  17. RDMacQ

    @#49- Problem is none of the stuff you mentioned (MJ being Peter's "perfect match," trying to idealize the character, retconning her history) actually happened in Parallel Lives, so it kind of ruins the argument. It really seems less like you think it's a poor retcon, and more that you just don't like MJ and a story that highlights her history with Peter. There's a difference between the narrative having a problem, and you having a problem with the narrative.

  18. Scarlet Spider

    Reading this thread is like being at some sort of Spider-Man debate conference. Good stuff guys.

  19. Nick MB

    @51 - I don't think Anna Maria is a Mary Sue - if anything, I think one big reason she's been a lot better received than Carlie or Cindy is because she isn't portrayed as overly perfect.

  20. Al

    @#51-I think based upon all we've seen Cindy already is a Mary Sue. MJ though to my recollection has never been a Mary Sue.

  21. Jack Brooks

    Yes, a Mary Sue is basically perfect, astonishingly competent, admired by all, sometimes with an endearing quirk or signifying physical feature. Carlie Cooper was a Mary Sue. Anna Marie is. Cindy Moon is shaping up to be.

  22. Al

    @#44-Thank You! @#46-You’re right. Some things are subjective and others are objective. And some things are maybe a bit of both. @49-I think you’re the one who’s confusing the use of the term. Yes MJ is idealised as Peter’s perfect partner BECAUSE she is flawed like he is. A Mary Sue is a character who lacks genuine personal character flaws. If you’re argument is that Mary Jane is depicted as being perfect as a love interest for Peter in PL because she is flawed, that’s like saying Spider-Man himself is a Mary Sue in the Lee/Ditko run because he’s flawed as a human being which makes him relatable and therefore the ‘IDEAL’ protagonist for readers to follow. He’s ‘idealised’ because he is IMPERFECT. Therefore he’s a Mary Sue. But that isn’t what the term means. The character of Silk from recent issues is a more accurate example of a Mary Sue. She is automatically better at being Spider-Man than Peter is even though she’s spent most of her life locked up! Despite being locked up and lacking a full education she can still get a high end job and she one flaw as a person is that she cannot help but want to have sex with Peter. THAT’S a Mary Sue. If you’re arguing that in having flaws and personality traits which make the ideal love interest for Spider-Man MJ is a Mary Sue then by that logic Silk and Carlie Cooper are not only better characters/love interests but basically anyone who actually isn’t a very good character in terms of dating Peter is a better love interest for him. a combination of similarities and differences as well as grounding human flaws which make her similar to the person she’s dating and therefore more realistic? That’s the ideal character to read about, especially when they’re in a relationship with our protagonist. Wait a minute, it’s ideal? Aw no...she’s a Mary Sue. No, Conway in depicting MJ as always knowing didn’t turn MJ into a Mary Sue. Did he enhance her character and make her better than before? Sure....that’s kinda called character development via flashback. Again it’s what happened with Harry Osborn. Stan Lee retconned in that he was a drug addict and it developed his character. By the same token MJ, was depicted as being profoundly conflicted over knowing Peter’s identity, not someone who just accepted it and was cool with it. It added more layers to her character thus making her better and also someone who was strong enough to keep that secret for him. Which is something DeFalco (and consequent writers like Michelinie) had already mostly done, Conway was just building on it by saying she’d been doing it from even earlier than we realised and was thus stronger than we realised. And it tied the two of them together more, which is perfectly legitimate to do in a love story (depending upon how you do it). Also how is MJ an author insert. I doubt Conway wants to be a redheaded party animal who dates Spider-Man, no matter how much he likes the character. Also whether a character is a Mary Sue or not does not in and of itself make something a bad retcon. You’ve not really proved anything.

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