Weblines: THE SLOTT MACHINE


Some personal history.

There were three distinguished moments in my Spider-Man comic book reading life in which I nearly gave up on his books for good:

  1. The short-lived Sensational Spider-Man, with Dan Jurgens helming the main title of a blonde Ben Reilly – ’nuff said;
  2. The Mackie-Byrne era, opening the 2000’s in desperate need of making the character relevant again for a new generation of readers, with lame attempts to bring back the old days excitement, by expanding the Stacy family and laying pointless secrets to each character of the supporting cast. As if Spider-Man Chapter One was not enough by making a Marvel comic sound and look like a DC’s, with its Year ones and Secret Origins;
  3. The Brand New Day era.

Though those aforementioned comics will not be read again in this lifetime, it frustrates me to acknowledge how much I remember them, due to the awful taste they left in my mind. To each his/her own, of course; and it’s up to one’s personal taste to enjoy such readings.

But to mine – after 30 years of Spider-Man continuous reading, Dan Slott has become one of the few Superhero comic book writers in the industry whom I have learned to accept, respect and enjoy.

In order to understand how he came to be the Spider-writer we deserve, some Spidey-history needs to be told. We return to charted territory – The Brand New Day storyline. After the One More Day story that rewrote Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship in a semi-Orwellian manner, the Brand New Day (BND) came to light, and what was old had become new again. It was as if the Peter Parker from the 80’s had been cloned to the new millennium: his secret identity was secret once more, he was single, living with Aunt May and unemployed. It felt like the clock had not only been reset for Peter, but also, for the long time readers such as myself. And for the first time in my life, without warning, I felt old by reading a Spider-Man comic book. As a fan, somehow cheated. How did that happen? From here onwards, it is important to stress the fact that Marvel’s flagship character and his book, is under editorial coordination – and therefore, it is a susceptible product to market demands and trends.

The Clone Saga is one of the best examples in the industry’s history of how much a book had to abide to management decisions (not creators’) in order to stay atop in the shelves.

As for Peter and MJ’s marriage, the then Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada promised us an unmarried Peter and he delivered it. With BND, it wasn’t different: enter Steve Wacker, fresh newcomer from DC Comics and the hands behind the wheel of the weekly published 52 series. Throughout a year without missing a beat, the book set up a newer, lighter and less gritty scenario for DC characters after the Infinite Crisis event. It is to my belief that he was drafted to Marvel to apply the same rule for the Webhead. After all, May Parker couldn’t stand the fact her quasi-son made a pact with the Devil to save her life.

Editorially-wise, a heavy page had to be turned. Nevertheless, a question lingered: had the page been turned back or forward? As the BND was spoonfed to us readers, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Amazing Spider-Man comic was no longer that amazing. A team of rotating writers and artists doesn’t help at all with a monthly comic book’s feeling of stability; in fact, it compromises it.
Hence the lack of consistence in the title – even being published three times a month, even with Mark Waid in the writing team, and even bringing J.M. DeMatteis back on for the Grim Hunt storyline to write a background story to support the main one (sigh).

Aside from Aunt May’s wedding, a decomposing Otto Octavius and a legless Flash Thompson as the new Venom, what has changed for Peter Parker? Not much.
As for the new characters in the supporting cast, no one will shed tears for the Gonzales siblings, that’s for sure. Most of them gave us no eagerness to invest in them emotionally and no reason whatsoever for any kind of attachment.

Overall, The Brand New Day became (Joe) Quesada and Wacker’s experiment to see what would happen to a Marvel comic when given a TV series treatment. None of the aforementioned events in the title propelled an evolution in Peter Parker, and nothing marked a definite moment worth remembering in Spider-Man’s mythos besides BND’s own infamy: for being the phase made with the sole purpose to erase some writers’ past choices infused in the Spider-Man mythos.
And since Bob Harras (Marvel’s EiC in the 90’s) had eyes only for Wizard Magazine’s Fan Awards with the X-Men and the ultimate damage they ended up causing to the Marvel Universe through a thing named Onslaught – leading to something called Heroes Reborn -, Spider-Fans witnessed “The Osborn Reborn” event and the demise of the unsensational Ben Reilly through the Revelations storyline.

For new readers, I get that there’s this product -a comic book – not only made for readers in their late thirties, but also for the young ones who needed a starting point to enjoy Spider-Man beyond the movies and the drawings on their lunchboxes and pajamas. I get it. For any longtime-reader-fan who grows older, the product must be renewed and yet, retain the same old formula, so the new readers can feel comfortable whenever they decide to pick an ASM issue up. Hence the renumberings and so forth. They need to know where Spidey comes from.
BND was indeed a good starting point for a new generation of readers; the strategy worked. Still, it doesn’t deserve this writer’s praise for its chronological achievements, due to the lack of any.

Nothing changed much for the old readers: the constant imposed secrets and imminent threats from each of the supporting characters around Peter’s Life; the same in his battles – when the moment of truth came, he had no choice but hold himself back, because the enemy is somehow related to someone else he knows.
Such stories became part of Spider-Man’s history and during BND, these battles were more of the same. Surely there were exceptions, such as the ones scripted by Mark Waid. And while the art for most of them was great, The Amazing Spider-Man comic book felt like a different one almost every issue; slowly feeling less enjoyable and consistent. But as a fan, I soldiered on.

Then a coincidence worth noticing came up: though Dan Slott didn’t write many arcs for that phase, it was his the first one for BND and the #600th anniversary issue; he got to write milestones, and that caught my attention.
If he’s written such turnover stories, then supposedly, he was the one with a good plan under Wacker’s watch, and the chosen one to carry the torch on.

So I did my homework on him.

After an analytical rereading of his work in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, She-Hulk, The Thing, Avengers: The Initiative, and all of his Spidey’s stories, the first conclusion drawn is that Dan Slott knows his comics – specially Marvel’s chronological history with great depth and respect. The Spider-Man and Human Torch mini-series is a beautiful hidden gem about the friendship of two young super-heroes developing their friendship along the years.

With that in mind, consider this: The Amazing Spider-Man might be the one super-hero title in the comic book market (and history) whose main character’s life has been growing and evolving ever since his first issue for more than fifty years now – continuously. It is the longest comic book soap opera ever made disguised as a super-hero story.

Though not immune to a number of hiccups along its way, of course. Anyways – it is to my belief that an ASM writer has two choices: either come up with something unique and pave a new way for Peter Parker, or follow the book’s template established (if not carved in stone) by Ditko / Lee / Romita and enjoy the ride.
Few made the former and many followed the latter, and just a handful accomplished both; I’d place Slott in this category.

Here’s why: one of the things that made Peter Parker so relatable and attractive to many readers since his conception was the very context he lived in, from High School to college – which super-hero went through that before? This guy had actual bills to pay in order to put food on the table and not to be evicted. And Despite the ever-bickering relationship with Flash Thompson (as Peter) and JJJ (as Spider-Man), Parker could always rely on his science skills to infuse his creativity, and the hero persona to unleash his funny side or even his frustration. But before the Avengers and the BND era, few times he had peers to share his life, and communicate with others openly. Because that was the rule: Spider-Man was supposed to be the loner with or without the mask. Professionally, he didn’t have colleagues but rivals, such as Lance Bannon and Nick Katzenberg. Whenever he teamed-up with either the Avengers or X-Men, there was always an initial friction between them before the main battle.

His personal life couldn’t be fully shared, because Felicia Hardy didn’t want it and Aunt May would crack. He had friends and allies in different aspects of his life with Joe Robertson, Harry Osborn, Randy Robertson, Ben Urich, Johnny Storm, Matt Murdock, Jean DeWolff and Ezekiel – as the flawed spider totem/father figure who sacrificed his own life to save Peter after betraying him. But only Mary Jane to let himself be as the man and the hero altogether. Hence his sheer devotion for her. Nevertheless, he was still the hidden genius working as a freelance photographer and a teacher.

That was the established template for Spider-Man. Until the Civil War event.

Then, One More Day changed the rules of the game (or engagement) forever. Brand New Day threw the character back to the sixties in the 21st century. By its end, every single supporting character in Peter Parker’s life evolved, except him; even Aunt May moved on. The only real evolution in his life was – still – the Avenger status.

Slott absolutely knew where his was stepping into, and being this his dream gig, he did his homework on Spider-Man. And because of that, I placed my bet on him.

What I found was a pleasant and tight reading. Peter had the Horizon Labs and its coworkers – people he could be more friends with and intellectually engage on the same level through a natural aspect of his life: science.
He also took advantage of the hero’s affiliation with Earth’s Mightiest and Fantastic Heroes and think tank either with Tony Stark or Reed Richards; he learned Kung-Fu with Shang-Chi in order to enhance his combat skills.
Whatever he did, with or without the Spider-tights, he was no longer alone. By carefully establishing his new status in the Marvel Universe, Slott did not only recycle elements and characters, but renewed them. Thus, giving his cast of supporting characters a proper purpose, as opposed to only making his life difficult or hindering his actions.
From Big Time onwards, as each story arc progressed, Spider-Man (ad)ventured in many corners of the Marvel Universe, reaching new heights – from being a member of the Future Foundation, an Avenger and a scientist; regardless of the moment, Peter ceased to curse his life with and without the Spider-mask. Slott made us feel comfortable with such status making us believe that this hero couldn’t lose anymore. But the Parker luck is more powerful than any infinity stone – and somehow we knew this couldn’t last forever.

The writer’s second shift meant business: since the Marvel Universe was still recovering from an Osborn hangover (Dark Reign), Otto Octavius was the next in line to make Peter Parker suffer a defeat like never before: he dies.

The Superior Spider-Man title showed how DC’s Jean Paul-Valley as Batman in the Knightquest storyline should have been done: an unbounded Spider-Man unleashed into Peter Parker’s world with huge post-repercussions in the character’s life. The ultimate What if…? story taking place in the actual chronology, showing us this the hero’s descent from protagonist to antagonist. A story well conceived and executed to its very end. Issue #19 proved Slott’s skill and knowledge by creating Alchemax in the current Marvelverse, securing the very existence of the Marvel 2099 timeline and still developing a great cliffhanger to the Spider-Verse storyline. The title ended with the return of the real Peter Parker (obviously) during the Goblin Nation storyline – full of twists and turns and devoid of Norman Osborn’s face. The end of Superior showed that heroes like Peter Parker are made of harder stuff. And Octavius, despite having high-tech gadgets and spider-minions couldn’t handle Spider-Man’s greatest enemy: The Green Goblin. The brief dialogue between Osborn and Octavius at opposite sides of a chess table deserves praise for showing both Spider-Man’s nemesis clashing their madness disguised as egoes against each other.

Renew Your Vows is the writer’s Love letter to the time when Peter and Mary Jane were married, proving once more that good Spidey stories can be told, despite the situation he’s in. Once more, Slott shows his respect for Spider-Man’s chronology.

To a certain degree, his passion for the character’s mirrors Geoff Johns’ work for DC – who also has an extensive background knowledge of the characters, using specific ideas and concepts from the past, reintroducing and expanding them to craziest and unimaginable level.

Here’s a writer with a great sense of humor infused into his work, well versed in pacing and in-sync with his visual collaborators’ strengths to make all the elements of their story come together.
Kudos to Humberto Ramos with Victor Olazaba, Giuseppe Camuncoli with John Dell and Marcos Martin – who displayed perfect depictions of Spider-action, drama, speed, structure and depth. Mind you, this is a visual medium with words written on it, and not many writers and artists are able to provide a unique speech pattern with specific psychological and emotional traits for each character in every panel. Especially for Peter, whose logical decisions and conscious responses made sense, thus evolving the character. Slott knows how to use concepts, characters, ideas and details from the past and apply them into the story – not as clutch disguised as a trigger, but with purpose.

Of course, not every great idea of his is well-executed: sometimes villains shouting their masterplan in full detail verges embarrassement, or having Spider-Man literally explaining to his antagonist, in mid-battle no less, the very existence and functionality of his Spider-Sense.
We know that every comic book is someone’s first – not to mention that The Amazing Spider-Man is also meant for kids; because my 8-year old Godson reads and collects Spider-Man; and he loves Slott’s stories. Though I admit but sometimes a self-explainable story can be tiring for the old reader (me) as well.

From Big Time, Spider-Island, Ends of The Earth, Superior Spider-Man, the creation of Silk, Spider-Verse, The Clone Conspiracy, Superior (Hydra) Octopus to the current fall of Parker industries, one must admit it – there have been consistent shifts and events along this ride.

His take on the hero’s post-origin story with Learning to Crawl: an immediate sequel to Amazing Fantasy #15, depicting the first 60 days of Peter Parker right after Uncle Ben’s demise. Though the story overlaps Kurt Busiek’s same pitch with his Amazing Fantasy #16, 17 & 18 story, Slott left the origin story by Lee and Ditko untarnished, which is a great sign of respect.

Learning to Crawl is a great read and an exercise of what happens to a young man filled with great power without responsibility in the 21st century – featuring great art from Ramon Perez and covers by Alex Ross.

And by consistency I also mean that such things can only happen if a writer sticks to the book for the long haul. With that being said, Dan Slott joins the ranks of Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Chris Claremont, Dave Sim, Todd McFarlane, Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, Jason Aaron and Robert Kirkman as one of the writers who stick to the title for a long time, infusing new ideas and dynamics (with passion) to the title helmed, therefore raising the bar of how The Amazing Spider-Man comic book should be, shaping Peter Parker for the 21st century, without ignoring his core.

Because undeniably, Dan Slott is making Spider-history.

This is how a super-hero comic books for all ages should aspire to be. That’s why I’ll keep betting on the Slott Machine.

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(47) Comments

  1. hornacek

    Slott *can* write well. But it has been a looooong time since he has written more than one good issue in a row. It's not enough to say "Well, this one issue was pretty good." Looking back at his ASM work, I legitimately can't think of a series of consecutive issues where I can truthfully say "These ones were good." As for Superior, I recognize that some people liked it. Personally, I found the entire idea offensive and for the first time since the 80s I stopped buying Spider-Man since, as far as I was concerned, the character was no longer appearing in comics. I was hopeful when I could start buying ASM again when Peter returned. Then I read Slott's stories. Part of me wishes he had kept Superior going so at least I would be saving my money Unfortunately Marvel likes the way Slott writes Spider-Man, so no other title written by someone else is going to have a voice that is different from Slott's voice. So if ASM is crap with Slott writing it, any other book with Spider-Man in it by a different writer will have orders to write the character like Slott is.

  2. Paul

    There is a difference between a story not working and you not enjoying it. If you don't enjoy Slott's writing, well, that's totally valid. We each have our own personal tastes. I really enjoyed his Superior Spider-Man run, especially the issue with the return of Stunner. I also liked a lot of the Hobgoblin stuff. The fact is, that if Slott couldn't write, he wouldn't be writing Spider-Man (or for Marvel, at all). At least Marvel now has another Spider-Man title which is not written by Slott, so if you don't enjoy his writing, you can still get a regular dose of Spidey from elsewhere.

  3. hornacek

    "You can't get every story 100% right, all the time." I'm trying to remember the last time Slott got the story right at any time ... nope, still trying.

  4. Paul

    I think Slott is a great ideas man, who sometimes stumbles with execution. However, that's the case with many writers. You can't get every story 100% right, all the time. But, being on a flagship title like Amazing, any mistakes seem to get magnified by fans, which is more than a little unfair. Sometimes you just need to take a step back, breathe and appreciate the good stories Slott has told. Oh, and hope that he does better next time around. As for Slott's version of Peter Parker being a rather weak character, well, I do actually agree. But mainly because at an editorial level, Marvel doesn't want Peter Parker to progress, because they worry about the character getting older. In this situation, a writer has two choices. You either distract the reader, not developing the protagonist at all, focusing on other characters, and introducing plot developments which are only temporary and can be reset - - or - - you can explore the idea that your protagonist is weak and unable to move forward with his life. Make it part of the story. I think Slott has done both, and the fact is, longtime fans hate the idea that Peter isn't allowed to move forward and progress, which means that they're going to hate any characterization which reflects this. Still, it's really the only avenue Slott has open to him as an exploration of Peter's character. If Marvel as a company doesn't want Peter Parker to move forward and progress, well, it's your job as a writer to explore why the character can't move forward and progress. In that context, I think you begin to understand why Slott's Peter Parker acts as he does.

  5. Al

    @Michael Newell Part 3 5) Son...I’ll be straight with you. Aside from JR I’ve never met an Osborn fan bigger than myself. Norman was in my first ever Spider-Man comic. As a kid I LIKED the crappy 2002 movie costume. Norman Osborn is my favourite character in Spider-Man lore aside from Peter himself. Norman is in my top 3-5 villains in all media and my numero uno for comic book villains. I’m also a guy who likes to put the anal in analysis. I don’t claim to know everything but I know a lot and even made some money off that knowledge. I even got to write a draft of the Spider-Man entries in a new Marvel info book from this year, including Norman’s entry where I corrected the original author and editor to the timeline of his history. I straight up wrote MULTIPLE essays about Norman Osborn’s psychology even consulting a real life psychologist I know. Not for money, I just wanted to get it as right as possible. What I am saying is I really, really, really know and love me some Osborn. With that all said hopefully it will lend weight to what I am about to say. Slott’s take on Norman is garbage. Like...THE worst since the Gathering of Five and when Bendis wrote him out of Avengers. It’s that bad. He intrinsically doesn’t get the character. As in he legitimately wrote Norman as trying to run away from Spider-Man in Superior upon learning that he wasn’t fighting the Dock Ock Spider-Man anymore. Norman Osbonr’s relationship with Spider-Man is many things...fearful isn’t one of them. Norman at best kind of likes Spider-Man for the challenge of fighting him and trying to break his spirit. At worst he fucking despises him and wants to make him suffer endlessly. But at no point would he be goddam SCARED of him. Words cannot do justice to just how aggressively out of character that was. And it wasn’t the only time. Let’s put aside how Slott wasn’t even the first guy to take away Norman’s Goblin identity. Bendis already did that when he made him Iron Patriot. Let’s instead just ask ourselves...why is that a good thing? Why is removing the double identity of a character who’s thematic place in the series and connection to Spider-Man is intrinsically connected to him HAVING a double identity like Peter Parker a good thing? An connection so obvious that for over a year from his debut he was DEFINED by having a mysterious identity? Answer: It doesn’t. It doens’t belong in Spider-Man anymore than trips to outer space, other dimensions or international espionage crap does. It doesn’t belong with the character or in the series anymore than say...Peter Parker NOT being Spider-Man does. It doesn’t belong as part of the character anymore than him basing his abilities on magic does...oh wait they actually did that...before in the 90s as part of one of the worst Spider-Man stories ever...and before that in a crappy Saturday morning cartoon... Also Osborn being crazy before the formula also isn’t a new thing. It was hinted at in ASM #40 and then pretty much confirmed in Spec annual 1994. Shit, TWO of his three kids were also crazy WITHOUT any goblin formula, we have known this fact for goddam ever by this point. 6) Those aren’t winks and nods. That’s continuity porn. Bendis and Bagley’s references to the 1990s clone saga in the Ultimate Clone Saga. Those are winks and nods. Having Bambi (or Randi or Candi) show up for exactly no reason is continuity porn. And again...it’s not like he’s very good at it. When you can reference FACADE and remember Stunner from the 90s exist...but then write Mary Jane in a way that flies in the face of 20+ years of characterization your Easter eggs are rotten. As for his events, how the hell did Clone Conspiracy have a great start? “And he does seem to dumb Peter down a bit as far as common sense goes, but this is usually true of geniuses in real life anyway” Kid what you gotta understand is that Spider-Man has existed for 50+ years. He has an established characterization. So going against that by dumbing him down is never gonna be acceptable. Spider-Man has rarely been this dumb and immature and lacking in common sense and when he has he’s either been written OOC or it was the silver age where that was true of EVERYONE. Also in real life geniuses aren’t like that. geniuses are people. That’s a broadbrush generalization. “I just enjoy his book. It is usually unpredictable, but interesting. It has been a fun run in my opinion, and probably my favorite next to Stern's and Conway's runs.” We are talking about critically evaluating Slott’s work, not merely discussiong your personal preferences. You are entitled to your favs. Revenge of the Sith is my fav SW movie and always will be probably. But I don’t put it forward as good writing is all. Same is true of this book. This is an abominably bad Spider-Man run that’s wrought more damage to the series than arguably anyone else.

  6. Al

    @Michael Newell Part 2 3) Dude...please... Superior Spider-Man is an objective piece of shit story. Where to begin. FIRST of all...it’s a Spider-Man story that as it’s wholesale status quo isn’t actually ABOUT Spider-Man. It’s about Doctor Octopus. In case ya’ll didn’t notice this series isn’t called the Amazing Doc Ock or the Maazing whoever the fuck is wearing web-spandex this issue. It’s SPECFICALLY the story of Peter Parker’s life. Switching that out for Doc Ock is tantamount to agreeing you have nothing more to say about this character so instead lets talk about this OTHER character instead. And then he did it piss poorly. Straight up we learned NOTHING new about Doc Ock in Superior that we didn’t already know apart from apparently he’s aokay with rape (which is what he tried to do to MJ and DID do to Anna Maria Marconi) and likes kids. Except no, he doesn’t because of all those times he blatantly endangered them and gave exactly zero fucks. As for the rape thing, that was straight up OOC for Doc Ock. What did we learn from Doc ock in superior? That he had an ego? That he wasn’t ALL bad? That he was capable of loving someone who wasn’t conventionally attractive? Been there done that and did it better btw. And all this served as one gigantic mean spirted fuck you to Peter Parker who lost his body like a chump, then got erased like a chump and didn’t even get to win his body BACK. Doc Ock just escaped all accountability for his actions. Those actions barely paying lip service to the idea that Peter is better than him because most of the time the story was pushing Otto as better and continued to do so even after Superior ended. See Secret Empire for just one example. When you are denigrating the main character of the series in favour of a new protagonist you are objectively fucking up. In much the same way you are objectively fucking up by doing a story that makes no sense and falls apart if any recurring character were allowed to act in character. An in character Aunt May, Mary Jane, J. Jonah Jameson, Kaine or Avengers team would cause the entire premise of the book to unravel. So instead they are given a repeat prescription to stupid pills which is, say it with me now...bad storytelling...objectively so... When your premise is so inherently broken your series is intrinsically bad. And it all climaxes with the big reveal to a year long mystery wherein we learnt he Green Goblin this whole time had really been...NORMAN OSBORN! *gasp* Next you will tell me Bruce Wayne is Batman! Speaking of which, Knightfall for all it’s faults was a million times better than Superior because it didn’t destroy a good character like Doc Ock, took out Bruce Wayne in a justified way and it’s essential points about Batman as a character were both valid and celebrated his character. Jean-Paul Valley was never given cheat code plot armour and made to look legitimately better than the original guy he was replacing and that was proven when the OG hero returned and deconstructed his warped misinterpretation of him by being himself. Knightfall’s essential message was that Batman isn’t about the uber gadgets and violence nor should he be like the grimdark armoured up, muscly, murderous psycho anti-heroes of the day. DAFQ did Superior do that even resembled that for Spider-Man? Nada that’s what. 4) Again...please. Let’s put aside how Phil Urich was way more unique and interesting as the ONLY heroic Goblin character ever than he was as the...shit I’ve lost count...tenth(?) evil Goblin villain in the mythos. Instead lets consider how utterly unneceaarry it was to take him and the Hobgoblin mantle in this direction. Hobgoblin was an established character and a bad ass one at that, one of the best Spidey villains of all time. So we traded him in for...another evil Goblin. Like...Unless your Norman or Kingsley, Spidey needs NO OTHER Goblin villains much as he needs NO OTHER symbiotes beyond Venom and Carnage. But okay...now we have ANOTHER Hobgoblin denying us the real version of the character who’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more awesome, but it’s cool because he’s...got an Uncle Ben too? Couldn’t this have been achieved by just making him a new original villain? Why did he need to be ANOTHER Goblin?

  7. Al

    @Michael Newell Part 1 1) Okay...he connected a character with AL in their name with something else with AL in their name. That is cool I guess...not that big of a deal though 2) Slott wasn’t the first person to put Peter in the role of a scientist. He wasn’t even the second. Peter was a lab assisatant in the 1980s in Michelinie’s run. He was working a 9-5 job in the Clone Saga during the Final Adventure mini-series. And of course Mackie did Tri-corp which HORIZON is a rip off of. HORIZON like Tri-Corp also fails as a creative concept because it’s overidealzed as a dream job. Spider-Man is supposed to be relatively grounded and yet he’s got this well paying job where he works with time machines people pulled outta their asses that gives him access to the resources to solve more or less any problem as a crime fighter and BTW works on flexi-hours so no conflict with him being Spidey. It’s fanfiction...of the worse kind. When Peter worked as a scientist in the clone saga the mad science was distinctly less mad and well within reasonable limits of human achievement (the story even had a legit scientific consultant I believe) and overall felt far more grounded and like a regular job Peter had to work...you know...almost like he was an everyman or something... So Slott didn’t pioneer anything and he, like Mackie, executed it badely. In fact he maybe executed it WORSE than Mackie because under Mackie we rarely indulged in the fanfiction dream job whereas Slott used that to straight up supplant the supporting cast we knew and loved for ones who with 2 execptions were forgettable. One of those was memorable because she was basically a villain by the end of volume 3 and the other one was memorable because he appeared the most and was gay. I’m not even saying the last part as a diss. It’s a GREAT thing to get more queer characters into the series and it wasn’t like that was made the be all and end all of Max Modell. But at the same time...what was Max Modell beyond head of HORIZOn labs, smart and..father figure...I guess? Whatever he was...there was a lot less to him than there was to Jameson, Robbie, Betty, Ben Urich, et al. Similarly....spider-tech...Yeah...this isn’t an Iron Man or Batman book. Spider-Man tech is restrained to a few cobbled together pieces of gadgetry he made from stuff he grabbed at the local radio shack. Not uber high tech armour suits. That ain’t Spider-Man. Never was. Never should be. Spider-Man is the normal guy.

  8. Michael Newell

    @hornacek @Al Perhaps I overreacted a bit. You are both correct. It was more of a challenge to the article, not the author. I apologize.

  9. Michael Newell

    @Cheesedique I thought that the Peter Parker Spiderman v1 run from 75-98 was pretty good as well in the late 90s. Really liked the whole dynamic of a returned Osborne that was the focus of the book.

  10. Michael Newell

    @Al Hmmm...best things Slott has done (in my opinion.) 1) Alchemax connection to Osborn Industries 2) Horizon Labs (seeing Peter as a scientist and unleashing his abilities to create new spider-tech) 3) Superior Spiderman (this was the way DC should have done Knightfall back in the 90s. Really loved the insight into how SpOck approached and viewed super-heroing.) 4) New Hobgoblin (nice parallel to Peter's early days as a hero, and the confrontation with Kingsley was great as well) (don't like the whole goblin knight/king transformation of Urich) 5) His take on Osborn (changing his identity and then taking away is powers was cool, but always suspected that the madness was there BEFORE the goblin serum. Nice to see this corroborated in ASM32) 6) Slotts winks and nods to Spiderman continuity, bringing back easter eggs and references from 30-40 years ago. I will admit that his events are usually over the top. They almost always start great, but have weak finishes. And he does seem to dumb Peter down a bit as far as common sense goes, but this is usually true of geniuses in real life anyway.... I just enjoy his book. It is usually unpredictable, but interesting. It has been a fun run in my opinion, and probably my favorite next to Stern's and Conway's runs.

  11. Mark Alford

    @Borvac - Go to the back issues and find Peter David's run in Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man. It starts somewhere around 107. Awesome reading.

  12. Evan

    I am glad that the Crawlspace can demonstrate how to have an impassioned, yet rational discussion about the content of writing without impugning the character of the author, even if the subject of said article cannot. Is that irony?

  13. Al

    @Michael Newell Neither I nor anyone on this thread caled the author stupid or a bad person or anything like that. The most I went was questioning his knowledge of the character which isn't a personal attack in this context. Everyone is entitled to enjoy whatever they want. It's totally involuntary. I LOVE Revenge of the Sith and enjoy it more than Empire Strikes Back. ...Doesn't mean I don't unpack those feelings to recognize my personal feelings vs the objective quality. And I'm sorry...there were a lot of points made in this article that do not hold up to scrutiny when we examine the objective facts surrounding the book. But you and the author enjoy the book, more power to you. But for the record the length of your reading only counts for so much. Joe Quesada began reading when the Drug Trilogy was published in like 1971 or whatever and he has the weakest grasp of Spider-man of anyone on Earth other than newborns "I understand that a lot of people hate Dan Slott's writing, but I feel that it is causing them to ignore all of the good that he has done on this book." Do me a favour my man. List for me some of the 'good' Slott has done. Because from where I'm sitting the only good he's done amounts to: -Been less bad than BND...sometimes -Launched much better spin-off titles like Scarlet Spider, 2099, Spider Woman, Silk and RYV -The Alchamax connection which was admitedly cool -Increased representation in the book which fair cop that is a good thing -Made Doc Ock NOT suck by being a background joke character the way he usually was before 2009. But he did it by making him suck in worse ways

  14. Chase the Blues Away

    There is an enormous difference between disagreeing with the premise of an opinion piece and attacking the writer of the opinion piece. Huge.

  15. hornacek

    @Michael Newell I think most/all of the comments disagreeing with this comment have just disagreeing with the article, not attacking the author. Not sure that there's a lot of hostility flying around towards him.

  16. Cheesedique

    I have to say, as much as I disliked the 90's Clone Saga, outside of DeMatteis' work, Dan Jurgens Sensational Spider-Man was the best thing about the era. When Jurgens left, I quit reading the books altogether.

  17. Michael Newell

    I am truly amazed at all of the hostility that is flying about this article. I think the author put a lot of work into it and it does make sense. I understand that a lot of people hate Dan Slott's writing, but I feel that it is causing them to ignore all of the good that he has done on this book. Personally, I really liked this article, and over the last 10 years, I have looked forward to ASM every month because of Slott's writing. And that is coming from a Spider-man Fan who has been reading loyally since 1976...

  18. Borvoc

    I really want to like Mr. Slott's writing. I'm old enough to have started reading several writers ago, but even thought Spider-Man was always my favorite superhero, my first experience with him outside of the cartoons and films was a digital Spider-Island collection I got on sale, and from there I went back to Big Time and eventually Brand New Day and read all of Slott's work on the book starting from there (worth noting, at the time, I was always disappointed when it wasn't Humberto Ramos on pencils). This was during the time that Peter was dead in both the Ultimate and 616 universes, and at the time, I could have cared less about anyone holding his mantle; I wanted me some Pete, so back-issue reading it was! Mr. Slott's run was very smooth and enjoyable for me the first time through, but after a while or many after some reflection, it started feeling a little loose? It missed the power and responsibility I had come to expect from the character from the cartoons and films. I wanted a Spider-Man who was steadfast and moral—not one who slept around and didn't really seem to have any character underpinning. But maybe that's all editorial mandate as opposed to being Mr. Slott's fault. In the end, I think Mr. Slott has a lot of great ideas, even if his execution could use help at times, and I love the passion he obviously has for the book, whether or not you like his interpretation of the eponymous character. I guess It's hard for me to explain exactly what I feel is missing from the character or what's there that doesn't feel right. Or maybe it isn't—take out the fake, loose romance that detracts from his character and give him back his real relationship and responsibilities. For me, that would be a good start. Or maybe I'm the only one who thinks that. Either way, I wish Mr. Slott well, and I hope he continues to improve. Maybe he'll reach into something that I find I can enjoy as well, or maybe it's just never going to be for me, and maybe that's okay too. I'll always have the Raimi films and the 90's cartoon along with several other media interpretations and any old books people want to recommend. I still hear Stern was pretty good.

  19. George Berryman

    Upon a second read-through this morning... RE: Superior Spider-Man. "A story well conceived and executed to its very end." The end of Superior Spider-Man fell apart like a wet paper bag. Goblin Nation was an idiotic trainwreck of story. Norman's finally gone so nuts he has plastic surgery to look like some random guy. One of the two biggest egotists in Spidey's stable, and in his "moment of triumph" he has plastic surgery to look like some random dude. "He's sane now!" Spidey declares, and when Norman pops up again he's so sane he's still doing the plastic surgery schtick. "Issue #19 proved Slott’s skill and knowledge by creating Alchemax, securing the very existence of the Marvel 2099 timeline and still creating a great Cliffhanger to the Spider-Verse storyline." No, Alechemax was created by Peter David in 1992. Slott taking anther writer's creation from an alternate timeline is by no means "skilled or knowledgeable." Neither is Horizon Labs; it was already done way before Slott. The 2099 timeline was already well established before you claim Slott "secured" it. How was it in danger of not being "secure?" "Especially for Peter, whose logical decisions and conscious responses made sense, thus evolving the character. " Nothing is given in the piece to flesh that out. What logicial decisions has Peter made under Slott? What 'conscious responses?' And how has that led to character evolution? If you're a fan of Peter making stupid decisions like leaving Mary Jane behind to fight a bad guy powerful enough to have taken down many prominent superheroes (running away and letting other people finish a fight is something this character does a lot now) then yeah, ASM's for you. If you like watching Peter take a back seat to any number of other characters in his own damn book then yeah, Slott's your guy. If you like following a hero who is mishandled so badly that you eventually start pulling for the super villain (looking right at you now, "Fall of Parker Industries!") then definitely, Slott is your champion. If you like stories where Peter isn't even aware that his own aunt and best friend are on the same international flight with him, then yes - Slott's the writer you deserve.

  20. AndrewC

    * that’s supposed to be a ‘greater than’ sign below as in I think Jurgens Ben Reilly is more like the Spidey I know than Slott’s interpretation of Peter Parker.

  21. hornacek

    "Brand New Day threw the character back to the sixties in the 21st century. By its end, every single supporting character in Peter Parker’s life evolved, except him; even Aunt May moved on. The only real evolution in his life was – still – the Avenger status." If you reread the 60s Spidey stories, it's evident that in BND, the character of Peter/Spidey had de-evolved back further than he was in the Lee/Ditko days. That version of Peter/Spidey is *so* much more mature and responsible than he has been since OMD. "Here’s a writer with a great sense of humor infused into his work," Haha, it's so funny for the writer to verbally attack the readers (i.e. his customers) online, what a great sense of humor he has. "Especially for Peter, whose logical decisions and conscious responses made sense, thus evolving the character." Uh, what?

  22. hornacek

    I think this was well written, even though I disagree with almost all of it. "In order to understand how he came to be the Spider-writer we deserve ..." No, just ... no. And Jurgens short run was one of the best parts of the Clone Sage. Ben dying his hair blonde was necessary as was described in the issue, as people kept recognizing him as "Peter" - he had to do something to make himself look different.

  23. AndrewC

    ““Because undeniably, Dan Slott is making Spider-history.” Are we talking great in the Donald Trump sense of the word because then sure. “ Killing two horrible birds with one stone. I love it! :D Can we give Al a regular column? Or pit these two against each other like those talking-head shows on cable news?

  24. Al

    Part 7 “With that being said, Dan Slott joins the ranks of Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Chris Claremont, Dave Sim, Todd McFarlane, Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, Jason Aaron and Robert Kirkman as one of the writers who infuse new ideas and dynamics (with passion) to the title helmed, therefore raising the bar of how The Amazing Spider-Man comic book should be, and shape Peter Parker for the 21st century, without ignoring his core.” I literally gagged at this. No lie. I don’t think you get what Spider-Man at his core is actually supposed to be and I don’t think you grasp just how incompetent Slott is as a writing craftsman. Shit, I don’t even get why McFalrane is on the list and I LIKE McFarlane! Hell bendis has literally NEVER written 616 Spider-Man in his life, so what is this raising the bar nonsense with him? “Because undeniably, Dan Slott is making Spider-history.” Are we talking great in the Donald Trump sense of the word because then sure. “This is how a super-hero comic books for all ages should aspire to be. That’s why I’ll keep betting on the Slott Machine.” You need to go to gamblers anonymous then. A good all ages Spider-Man book looks like Untold Tales or Spider-Girl. Not Slott’s schlock. This was…dear lord. I’ve never aggressively disagreed so hard with anything on this site before in my life.

  25. Al

    Part 6 “Kudos to Humberto Ramos” The man cannot draw anatomy. Please can we stop praising the guy who draws stylized inhuman looking renditions of the character who’s supposed to be relatively realistic. “who displayed perfect depictions of Spider-action, drama, speed, structure and depth. ” Look at anything by Bagley, Frenz or the Romitas. That fits what you just said. Now compare them to the guys you listed. See anything different? “Mind you, this is a visual medium with words written on it, and not many writers and artists are able to provide a unique speech pattern with specific psychological and emotional traits for each character in every panel.” Correct and Slott is one of those writers incapable of this. He writes dialogue as if it was still the 1970s. And as for psychology…sir…I know a thing or two about psychology. I’ve grown up exposed to the subject. Someoen I grew up with wrote a national curriculum on psychology. Dan Slott sucks shit at psychology. I don’t say that as an opinion, but a fact. I say that not as ‘I think chocolate is the best ice cream’. I say that as ‘water WILL freeze at zero degrees centigrade’. “ Especially for Peter, whose logical decisions and conscious responses made sense, thus evolving the character. ” You mean like skipping out on a business meeting to go play with Miles Morales? Or letting some one who assaulted Betty Brant walk free? Or continuing to lie to Aunt May? Or not telling the Avengers his mind had been swapped with Doc Ock’s? Or thinking briefly endangering a child’s life but not really made him as bad as someone who tried to commit global genocide? Or not realizing it’s wrong to interfere with the politics of a foreign nation and in fact INVADING one is okay? I’m not kidding, when I read that sentence I honestly started to question if I’d missed the point of this article and it was actually some big joke not meant to be taken seriously. “lott knows how to use concepts, characters, ideas and details from the past and apply them in the story – not as clutch disguised as a trigger, but with purpose.” Repeat Princess Bride line here. “Of course, not every great idea of his is well-executed:” No, MOST of his ideas aren’t well executed. “We know that every comic book is someone’s first – not to mention that The Amazing Spider-Man is also meant for kids; because my 8-year old Godson reads and collects Spider-Man; and he loves Slott’s stories.” Spider-Man was created specifically to appeal to teens and college students. He CAN appeal to kids but they are literally not his natural audience. Your godson should enjoy whatever he wants but fair warning I’m from a generation who adored Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Pokemon anime when we were 8 years old. When I was a bit older I was dead sure Phantom menace and Spider-Man Torment were the shizzle dizzle. Then I got older and wiser and relized 8 year olds tend to not be able to distinguish critical quality.

  26. Al

    Part 5 “an unbounded Spider-Man unleashed into Peter Parker’s world with huge post-repercussions in the character’s life” Yeah. I mean because of Superior Spider-Man Black Cat turned evil and pestered him for less than half the total running time of 3 arcs. And he got a docorate degree and a whole successful company handed to him for doing fuck all. HUGE repercussions! “The ultimate What if…? story taking place in the actual chronology, showing us this the hero’s descent from protagonist to antagonist.” First of all Ben Reilly and Kaine were already in-universe what if scenarios. And they were egregiously better written, developed and layered as they did something that honestly could only otherwise work in a What if. They are Peter Parker with his life going in drastically different directions but they exist in-universe. Otto was a freaky Friday story that outstayed it’s welcome. Worse it’s not even what you described. It’s not showing the hero tunr from hero to villain because it’s literally removing the hero and replacing them with the villain. That’s NOT a transformation story, it’s a substitution story. “The title ended with the return of the real Peter Parker (obviously) during the Goblin Nation storyline – full of twists and turns and devoid of Norman Osborn’s face” Yeah. Remember that great twist where we had over a year’s worth of build up in the identity of the Green Goblin only to reveal he was NORMAN OSBORN. The only way there could’ve been a bigger twist is if Clark Kent turned out to be SUPERMAN! “Renew Your Vows is the writer’s Love letter to the time when Peter and Mary Jane were married, proving once more that good Spidey stories can be told, despite the situation he’s in. Once more, Slott shows his respect for Spider-Man’s chronology.” Again I laugh at this. First of all, I liked RYV but that story was less about the marriage or being a love letter to it as it was about Peter as a Dad. Cool story, but it didn’t make the marital relationship the POINT of the story, just giving us a few nice moments. Also no. Some situations are anethma to good Spidey stories. See Spider-Man Unlimited the tv show. And respect for Spider-Man’s chronology? You mean like how he fucking IGNORED everything in Mary Jane’s established history multiple times in how he wrote her during Superior, her ‘break up’ with Peter in Superior #31 being the worst offender. “Here’s a writer with a great sense of humor infused into his work” Yeah. Remember when he made a joke about the Rhino’s dead wife. Or had Spider-Man mock Kaine for being an experiment despite that being a source of immense pain for him (and something that drove Peter insane when he believed it of himself)? Or how he made a joke at MJ’s expense when Peter and Carlie talked science and it was intended ot make her look like a shallow idiot bimbo? GREAT HUMOUR!

  27. Al

    Part 3 “The Superior Spider-Man title showed how DC’s Jean Paul-Valley as Batman in the Knightquest storyline should have been done: ” It should have sucked instead of being an awesome showcasing of the things people mistakenly think make the hero the hero and instead reveal that the heart and soul of the character is what really makes them the hero? You know….all those things Superior completely failed to do because Slott clearly loved otto more than peter and gave him cheat code powers to win and make things easier for him most of the time. Or how his suit and gadgetry evolved except gadgets have never been part of Spider-Man’s core concept like it is for Batman so distorting his costume like that actually lacks most of it’s thematic resonance. Oh…and how the story pays mere lip service to the idea that Peter is actually better when it actually in it’s substance hard sells you the idea Otto is way better and has the cheapest and most nonsensical of resolutions to prove that point, that involves Otto being 100% out of character, evading true justice and never allowing Peter the chance to actually defeat him.

  28. AndrewC

    I just want to say I love the term “sunsetting” for retiring an unpopular character. I also want to say this comment thread is far more entertaining than the actual post it’s replying to. I’m still smarting from Al’s double-punch lol.

  29. George Berryman

    Airworthy makes some really important points about "renewing" characters, especially Black Cat. Slott really screwed her up. And when it was unpopular she quietly went away to other books. While the deck was a little stacked against Carlie Cooper at the start, and rightfully so, Slott continued mangling her and making her even more unpopular. And she was sunsetted because of it - though in that regard we should probably be grateful. Mary Jane is one of the most popular supporting characters in comic history and Slott couldn't even give her anything worthy of that character. He didn't know what to do with her, at all. Like Carlie and Felicia, she too was shuffled off. Except in MJ's case it was worse because she was shuffled off to another character's book. The only effective, organic relationship Slott has written in ASM was for Otto.

  30. Airworthy

    "By carefully establishing his new status in the Marvel Universe, Slott did not only recycle elements and characters, but renewed them." In over a decade as the chief writer of Amazing Spider-Man, Slott has had plenty of opportunities to fiddle with storylines and characters. However, I strongly disagree with the statement he "renewed" original characters. The most egregious offense amongst them being Felicia Hardy. While I do not object to the reinvention or adaptation of characters, Slott's continued portrayal of the Black Cat is criminal (pun intended). Superior Spider-Man (2014) was quite awhile ago and the most lasting repercussion of the event is this adulterated portrayal of Felicia. Slott denatured one of the most appealing and enduring characters of Amazing Spider-Man into a marginal terrorist, remorseless killer, and mob boss. I was not averse to Slott or other writers utilizing the Black Cat in a renewed role and found her interactions with Spider-Man particularly intriguing. Despite this, the last notable interaction we have between Peter and Felicia was authored by Gerry Conway in Spiral (2015). Nothing has been furthered or resolved in their relationship. What are Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, and other characters to Mr Slott? Because from my perspective it appears they are nothing more than peripheral plot devices to be used and discarded. (Yes, I have seen the covers for Venom Inc. featuring the Black Cat. I remain unconvinced but hopeful.)

  31. Al

    Part 2 “With that in mind, consider this: The Amazing Spider-Man might be the one title in the comic book market whose main character’s life has been growing and evolving ever since his first issue for more than fifty years now – continuously. It is the longest soap opera ever made disguised as a super-hero story.” Yeah that’s inaccurate. Spider-Man’s life has paused numerous times, most notably in the Len Wein run and to a lesser extent the middle of Michelinie’s ASM run. It’s also REGRESSED (Mackie/Byrne, BND) and even tangented (Ben Reilly). “Though not immune to a number of hiccups along its way, of course. Anyways – it is to my belief that an ASM writer has two choices: either come up with something unique and pave a new way for Peter Parker, or follow the book’s template established (if not carved in stone) by Ditko / Lee / Romita and enjoy the ride.” OR maybe honour Lee’s original vision and allow the character to progress organically forward at a gradual pace hitting relatable life milestones along the way? “And Despite the ever-bickering relationship with Flash Thompson (as Peter) and JJJ (as Spider-Man), Parker could always rely on his science skills to infuse his creativity, and the hero side to unleash his funny side or even his frustration.” Peter and Flash’s enmity ended in the 1970s. “. But before the Avengers and the BND era, few times he had peers to share his life, and communicate with others openly.” You mean like Daredevil, the F4, Mary Jane, Aunt May, Ben Reilly, X-Man, Luke Cage and others? “Because that was the rule: Spider-Man was supposed to be the loner with or without the mask. ” Er...didn’t he have a tight knit social group of friends and acquanitences as early as the Romita era when you got the Coffee bean gang? “Professionally, he didn’t have colleagues but rivals, such as Lance Bannon and Nick Katzenberg.” What about Robbie, Ben Urich, Betty Brant, Glory Grant, and other Bugle people I’m forgetting. “His personal life couldn’t be shared, because Felicia Hardy didn’t want it and Aunt May would crack. ” But Aunt May knew who he was in the JMS run and she gave him comfort in life even before then outside of spider business. “Brand New Daythrew the character back to the sixties in the 21st century. ” Again, no it didn’t. The Spider-Man of the 1960s wasn’t the incompetent man-child the post-OMD Spidey is. “Slott absolutely knew where his was stepping into, and being this his dream gig, he his homework on Spider-Man. And because of that, I placed my bet on him.” You done gone crapped out then son. “What I found was a pleasant and tight reading.” ...er... “Peter had the Horizon Labs and its coworkers – people he could be more friends with and intellectually engage on the same level through a natural aspect of his life: science.” a) In THEORY that could’ve been the case. In practice not so much b) ...why is this a good thing? Surely Spider-Man not having science friends to talk science jargon with would be better storytelling. Otherwise it’s like pairing the Doctor up with another Time Lord. Who do we relate to when the science starts getting spouted? c) How friendly was he with them really? When did they just hang out together and shoot the shit? “He also took advantage of the hero’s affiliation with Earth’s Mightiest and Fantastic Heroes and think tank either with Tony Stark or Reed Richards; he learned Kung-Fu with Shang-Chi in order to enhance his combat skills.” So...more of Dan Slott doing Marvel team up as opposed to solo Spider-Man. More crowding the book about the down to earth reltable hero with super powered beings who detract from that conept and don’t allow Spider-Man to be the centre of the stage. “Whatever he did, with or without the Spider-tights, he was no longer alone.” See above for why this is bad...alongside the fact that when MJ became his confidant he ceased being alone in his personal life. He was also technically not alone as a hero when Felicia was with him and before Ben Reilly died. “By carefully establishing his new status in the Marvel Universe, Slott did not only recycle elements and characters, but renewed them. ” No...he broke them. “Thus, giving his cast of supporting characters a proper purpose, as opposed to only making his life difficult or hindering his actions.” They didn’t all have a purpose, they were all mostly underveloped and even before that Peter’s actions weren’t intrinsically hindered. Being Spider-Man was the hinderence. “From Big Time onwards, as each story arc progressed, Spider-Man properly interacted with the almost everything and reached new heights and adventures – from being a member of the Future Foundation to the Ends of The Earth -, filled with scientific extrapolations acting worldwide to another dimensions.” Yeah dude...you do realize that would be awesome if Spider-Man wasn’t intrinsically supposed to be a low science street crime fighter who’s scientific exploits don’t go much beyond mad scientist with this wacky weapon that helps him rob a bank...right? Like...if Spider-Man is worldwide, let alone pan-dimensional...you are literally doing him wrong. Also he clearly didn’t interact ‘with everything’ considering how the Bugle cast were barely present at all. “Then, Slott’s second shift meant business: since the Marvel Universe was still recovering from an Osborn hangover, Otto Octavius was the next in line to make Peter Parker suffer a defeat like never before: he dies.” I wish people would get the fact straight on this one. Where to start: a) Peter suffers a defeat like never before by dying huh? WTF was Kraven’s Last Hunt then? b) Peter didn’t die in Superior Spider-Man. Pay attention to the storyline. It’s very cleary explained that the nature of the ‘mind swap’ was effecivly like creating a backup of both of their minds and uploading it into one another’s bodies. The Peter who died in ASM #700 was NOT the real Peter Parker, he was a clone of his mind uploaded into Doc Ock’s dying body. GHOST PETER was the real Peter Parker c) Are you under some belief that DYING is the biggest defeat you could ever hand Spider-Man? Spider-Man risks his life everyday, he doesn’t like the idea of dying but he accepts the possibility of it. Killing him is infinitely worse than, off the top of my head, faking the death of his mother and abducting her for ages (twice), crippling his friend and putting him into a coma, murdering his girlfriend, murdering his brother, murdering his BABY...and making him live with all that pain.

  32. Al

    Okay...I feel compelled to respond to this. To begin with...Mackie didn’t expand the Stacy family during his and Byrne’s reboot. That was a carry over of stuff from earlier on. Moreover there was never a need back then to make Spider-Man relevant. Spider-Man creatively speaking was in actually a very STRONG place prior to the Gathering of Five storyline. Not everything was gold but things were stable and doing what Spider-Man should be doing. “In order to understand how he came to be the Spider-writer we deserve...” ...*cracks knuckles in preparation* “ rewrote Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship in a semi-Orwellian manner” I think you mean semi-Oh FFS manner. “ It was as if the Peter Parker from the 80’s had been cloned to the new millennium: his secret identity was secret once more, he was single, living with Aunt May and unemployed.” I’ve heard this before. The problem is this. Putting aside how you know...pre-marriage Peter wasn’t living with Aunt May in the 1980s (and in fact hadn’t at all since like 1967) Peter in his PERSONALITY was not the Spider-Man of the 1980s. He wasn’t even a caricature of the Peter of the 1980s. Just some sort of weird horny caricature of what a ‘typical’ early 20s man would be in 2008 in accordance to like TMZ or something. The Peter we got post-OMD (and since then) has rarely if ever resembled any period of Spider-Man’s history before that point. No, not even his actual teen years or Ultimate Peter Parker. He was still more mature and sympathetic in both those iterations. “ After all, May Parker couldn’t stand the fact her quasi-son made a pact with the Devil to save her life.” I think you mean ‘wouldn’t have stood’. May never knew about what happened. “Editorially-wise, a heavy page had to be turned. Nevertheless, had the page been turned back or forward? ” ...back....The answer is it’d been turned back...that was literally the whole point and stated as such publically multiple times. “Mark Waid in the writing team, and even bringing J.M. DeMatteis back on for the Grim Huntstoryline.” Mark Waid was unqualified to write Spider-Man. A talented writer doesn’t translate necessarily to a good fit for any given character. Waid’s never been a fit for Spidey. Also DeMatteis never wrote any main stories for the main book, just back ups in Grim Hunt. “ ultimate damage they had caused to the Marvel Universe through a thing named Onslaught, leading to something called Heroes Reborn” *Rolls eyes* For goodness sake calm the heck down would you. ‘ultimate damage’. Onslaught was 1996. By 1998 literally everything Onslaught had put into motion, including Heroes Reborn and the retcons it presented for the Avengers and F4, had been undone. Picking up a 1998-1999 Avengers or F4 book was like not really knowing Onslaught had happened. Things went back to normal sans the debut of the Thunderbolts which was a GOOD thing. “Spider-Fans witnessed “The Osborn Reborn” event and the demise of the unsensational Ben Reilly through the Revelations storyline.” Yeah...the unsensational Ben Reilly. Remember how UNsensational it was when he owned Venom on his own? Or how unsensational it was that he dated the daughter of the burglar who by extension eveloped the burglar’s character and made the whole backstory more morally complex? Or how he gave us greater insight into Peter’s character by showing us an inunniverse what if version of him thus being a walking talking nature vs nurture experiment? Or how his stories asked deep questions about the nature of identity? Or how he was the lead character in Lost Years and Redemption, stories of such literary weight you could teach a class on them because they are THAT good. How utterly unsensational he was *rolls eyes again* “BND was indeed a good starting point for a new generation of readers; the strategy worked. Still, it doesn’t deserve this writer’s praise for its chronological achievements.” No it didn’t. Sales increased only because there were now 3 issues of ASm per month for addicted collectors to buy. When all was said and done sales were actually lower than they had been before. Marvel lost fans and didn’t get the onslaught of new ones they were hoping for. Nowdays the readership is chiefly made up of people who mostly began reading BEFORE BND with those who began after in the distinct minority. Moreover...it wasn’t like BD was necessary to form a jumping on point. In the 1960s-1990s virtually EVERY issue was a jumping on point. Hell ASM #298 and ASM vol 2 #30 are very good jumping on points. “Surely there were exceptions, such as the ones scripted by Mark Waid. ” Yeah, those tended to be extra shit when they weren’t ripping off the Master Planner Trilogy. “After an analytical rereading of his work in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, She-Hulk, The Thing, Avengers: The Initiative, and all of his Spidey’s stories, the first conclusion drawn is that Dan Slott knows his comics – specially Marvel’s chronological history with great depth and respect. ” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Slott knows certain events in Marvel’s history as matters of FACT (not half as comprehensively as he makes out he does though) but he rarely understands them. He knows as a matter of fact that Mary Jane closed the door in ASM #122. He utterly fails to grasp what it MEANT though, why it resonates, why it dictates how he should write the character in the here and the now. He knows as a matter of FACT that Spider-Girl wore Ben Reilly’s costume he doesn’t truly understand it’s importance, hence he tossed it aside casually in Spider-Verse. We are talking about the writer who’s first Spider-Man story ever was literally a story in 1995 which tried to claim that Jean DeWolff loved Spider-Man as a brother. I’m not making that up. That was literally the first Spider-Man story he ever wrote. How you fuck that up so badely I don’t know but my guess would be by not actually respecting or understanding the characters or their histories.

  33. AndrewC

    Sorry, but you lost me as soon as you threw Dan Jurgens' 'Sensational Spider-Man' run under the bus. Even if you dislike Ben Reilly (which I strongly disagree with- he's awesome btw), even clone-saga haters agree that Jurgens' run was solid with some great stories and never really got lost in the mythology of the saga. So I don't get that line at all. If you had said something like Maximum Clonage, that at least would've made sense.

  34. Danny

    Slott is a hack, both on a writing and personal level. He's hypocritical, oven contradicts his own past issues, often inserts his own personal issues into his work, and his behavior toward criticism is nothing short of disgusting. He's done nothing but drag this character down and turn him into a massive manchild.

  35. David Griffin

    "Homer Simpson is a brilliant man with a lot of well thought out practical ideas..." Not reading a word of this article without rolling my eyes. Slott is the worst and he's ignored the core of Peter Parker plenty of times

  36. Joshua Nelson

    While I think Slott is a weak writer who has stayed on the book for far too long with few good stories to show for it, this is a very well-written and thought out article. I'm glad you're enjoying his work when myself and many others cannot. Also, this article nicely contrasts the constant accusations Slott and his fans tend to make about the Crawlspace being "too negative" or "disliking everything post-2007", which is much appreciated. Good article and I look forward to your next.

  37. Jack

    I agree with Brad. You also put Slott's writing into a publishing context. CS is a refuge from the commercial corporate sites who enforce a pro-Slott policy, it has tried not to be a knee-jerk "We hate all things Slott" site either (participants on the message board who scathe on Slott aren't CS directors or staff). Also, you focused on Slott's work, not on his personality or behavior, which is good. Saying that Dan Slott ran way out of Spider-Man-steam a few years ago isn't saying that he always was where he is right now. Personally, I don't like most of his work. I mostly can no longer stand his depiction of Peter Parker. But your essay is still worth reading.

  38. Chase the Blues Away

    I disagree on nearly all fronts. Sltot is a stain on the craft of creative writing. He doesn't understand the first thing about plot structure, characterization or character arc. His dialogue is painfully on the nose and hamfisted. He relies on the lazy man's favorite literary devices, coincidence and deus ex machina, to move his stories along. His characters are nothing more than empty rubber action figures, twisted and pummeled to fit whatever story hole Slott needs to fill, and then they bounce back to factory settings in the next issue. There are no consequences to Slott's stories. The one story that might still be remembered twenty years from now is Superior, and that's only for its shock beginning (with the caveat that shocking the reader is not the same as telling a compelling story. Shock for shock's sake is lazy and ultimately distancing storytelling that will drive readers away once the shock wears off). Superior's ending was one of the worst punts ever put down on paper - although Spider-Verse rivals it - and it insults the reader by expecting them to suspend that much disbelief. Slott has zero understanding of Peter Parker is as a character. Slott makes of a mockery of "With great power must also come great responsibilty." His Peter does everything he can to avoid responsibility. He has the mentality of a five year old who doesn't want to go to kindergarten because it's work. His Peter makes Wade Wilson look mature, intellectual and ruled by reason by comparison. I do agree Slott is making Spider-history: as the most mediocre storyteller to ever have this long of a run on one character. Bravo, Marvel. Golf clap.

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