• Longform 

    Multiversity 101: The Actually Amazing Spider-Man

    By | April 4th, 2010
    Posted in Longform | % Comments

    Or: How I Learned To Stop Fanboy Crying And Learn To Love ‘One More Day’

    Yeah, you read the subtitle right: I openly support One More Day, which is easily the most maligned Spider-Man “event” of the past decade. I can’t even count the amount of times that I’ve walked into a comic store and overheard a conversation about this arc and how lame it is. It appears that so many people are just staring at the surface so hard and at the fact MJ and Peter aren’t together anymore that they refuse to acknowledge what One More Day really managed to do. Forget the fact that One More Day isn’t really that bad at all (it was written by J Michael Stracynzski, come on people!), but the fallout of One More Day and Brand New Day was absolutely fantastic an absolute boon for Spider-Man and Marvel Comics.

    Interested in finding out why? Alright, let’s get on with it then.

    Spider-Man: One More Day was a four issue crossover arc between Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Sensational Spider-Man, and Amazing Spider-Man. The story centered around Aunt May being accidentally shot in the aftermath of Civil War and Peter Parker being racked with guilt about it. While trying to find an option of how to stop this, the only thing he can do is make a deal with the devil to have his love life erased in exchange for his aunt. Because of this, Aunt May is healed and allowed to live and love and Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker never end up together, as well as everyone forgetting who Spider-Man is. It was time for a Brand New Day.

    Whether you like the story or not is irrelevant at this point. What’s done is done, and I honestly feel that rather than spend forever and a day obsessing about why making a deal with the devil is stupid, it happened. So let’s take a minute to get over it and move on, yes? Ok. Good.

    What happened with Brand New Day? Harry Osborn was alive again, Mary Jane was who knows where, and Spider-Man had been gone for about 3 months or so. Upon returning, we’re treated with a new status quo and a brand new direction. This includes things like new villains, such as Mister Negative and Menace, and new main characters, like Dexter Bennett and Vin Gonzales as well as Carlie Cooper. Essentially, Spider-Man – after 45 years of continuity – was given a comic book reboot. This type of thing is not often done and, unless it’s done right and done in a big way, most people rage on it (classic reboot examples include Crisis on Infinite Earths, obviously). However, what Brand New Day did was make Spider-Man one of the best books on the shelves again and propel the character back to a stardom level that I feel he was severely lacking.

    Let’s look at it this way – with characters today in comics, what are some oft heard complaints about the bigger ones? Characters like Batman and Wolverine, for example, who are obvious company staples? We hear that there are too many titles and that there are not enough new things being done with the characters! I believe Batman has 11 titles solicited for June, and I don’t even want to try and count the titles Wolverine has appeared in. Even Superman is getting guilty of too many books and not enough interesting new developments (this being said while Last Stand of New Krypton is going on to help illustrate a point with the word “interesting”). This is where you get people with fresh ideas to come and take a bold risk in order to bring in new readers and make a title interesting, and that’s exactly what the Spider-Team did.

    That’s right – the Spider-Team. Now not one writer and artist are pegged to a book for a certain amount of time. Instead, you have a group of people all working for the benefit of one title. Brand New Day alone had (and still has some of them) Dan Slott, Marc Guggenheim, and Zeb Wells writing with people like Steve McNiven, Salvador Larroca, Phil Jimenez, Chris Bachalo, Marcos Martin, and Barry Kitson in the artist corner. These are top notch writers and artists, all of whom have delivered great content in the past and present. Not only that, but they continue to push Peter Parker beyond what we have conventionally believed to be his limits. Yes, J Michael Straczynski had an epic run on Amazing Spider-Man with John Romita Jr, and I’m not denying the greatness of the book. But since allowing a team of Spider-Man writers and artists to work on a book, you enable a lot of positive changes.

    Continued below

    For example, we now have ONE Spider-Man title (kinda, sorta). Yes, he appears on other teams, and yes he has the occasional mini outside of the main books, but for all intents and purposes, you only have to read Amazing Spider-Man to get the Spider-Man stories now. There is a Web of Spider-Man book that just started, but it merely acts as a companion book and is ultimately ignorable if you don’t want to get into it. That’s such an important aspect – ONE TITLE. All my life, Spider-Man has been a multiple title character, leading to a lot of whacky continuity errors and general confusion as to what I should be reading and where. Web of, Spectacular, Amazing, Peter Parker:, Sensational … the list goes on and on. This is incredibly daunting as a reader, and asks a lot from us as fans. I can’t count the number of times something will happen in one of those titles and it has to be recognized and clearly effect the others – and that’s a practice that still goes on today (i.e. Superman and Action Comics, Batman and Detective Comics, etc). Ultimately, it was one of the more idiotic things for the character to have this many books – and the same goes for any character in this situation. A character only NEEDS one book if they’re going to have a solo title (in addition to any and all teams they may be on), and One More Day fixed this.

    On top of that, having a large group of writers all collaborating means that you can release the book weekly. There have been some books that have been pushed to come out in a short time period, such as bi-monthly (the upcoming Brightest Day promises to be), but there is NO large scale on-going comic book that has existed for over a decade that comes out on a weekly basis. Spider-Man is the only one. Not only that, it’s highly successful at it. We now get tons of different stories from even more writers, including Fred Van Lente, Joe Kelly and Mark Waid, and it enables us to more easily enjoy the comic book in it’s serialized format. No worrying about too many delays between issue #3 of a 4-part arc and issue #4. Now you get it a week away, keeping the story fresh in your mind and keeping yourself integrated in the story. This is the type of attack plan a lot of comic books could use in their strategies to tell compelling tales to readers. Yes, it’s always nice to have one main writer pushing the story forward, and that helps within writer continuity. However, Spider-Man is still a perfect example of a risky plan being executed well, considering how often the Spider-Team collaborate notes with one another to make sure that they’re all on the same page. Yes, I will contend that every now and then an issue will be a dud, but more often that not the Spider-Man book is of a high quality caliber, and I can think of a few books that would benefit from similar strategies.

    So what do we end up with? We have a book that comes out on a weekly basis, a large team writing consistently good stories, and a character revamp that allows him to fully move beyond a structural set-up that had been set-up assumedly years before these writers could even have the opportunity to write the character. Listen, I love Mary Jane as much as you fanboys do, but giving Spider-Man a new love life and a new set of villains? It’s the best possible thing that could have happened to the character so he didn’t become stagnant. On top of that, NOW we get the Gauntlet arc which allows for classic villains to be reintroduced by new means. So many villains in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery had become stale and overused, but now we have fresh new takes on everyone, all leading down a dark and dangerous path for the wall crawler. It’s not just the same “villain shows up, villain robs a bank, Spidey stops them.” Now it’s “villain shows up, villain shows new depth of character which could raise odd moral and ethical questions, Spidey has to figure out proper ways to deal with the situation” (see: the Sandman arc and Joe Kelly’s recent Rhino issues). In fact, reading Spider-Man today is like reading a brand new title just reintroducing the character, and I’d argue it is as successful a relaunch of the franchise as Green Lantern. Marvel realized what they were doing wrong with the character and created a new business model to feed the demands of the public – even if it was done with unconventional means.

    Continued below

    (And, as a note to ECCC attendees out there, telling Joe Quesada you’d willingly immolate yourself is not going to get this changed – not when the franchise is doing so well, anyway. Although, as a side note to that, there was that (Spider-Man teaser…)

    I am pretty proud to be a Spider-Man fan in this day and age because I have such a sharp book that I can recommend to friends now. Spider-Man is constantly moving in new directions with great new stories, and I’m proud to be reading along. Part of me pines for the days of my youth and what Spider-Man used to be then, but in all reality, we’re talking about things like the Clone Saga and Maximum Carnage. These aren’t exactly storylines that were met with the same amount of “praise” that One More Day has received (and generally, a lot of people frown about ’90s comics). I raged against One More Day at first, the same as the rest of you – but I’ve grown to have a new appreciation for the story so much so that I can re-read OMD and highly enjoy the tale. The aftermath and pay-off of Spider-Man has ended up being so incredibly rewarding, and I am still excited weekly to read Spider-Man, which is perfect considering I’m a long time fan of the title.

    Needless to say, One More Day and Brand New Day get thumbs up for yours truly. I am willing to give any book that takes a bold chance the opportunity to prove it’s worth to me, and Spider-Man has done that from multiple angles.


    //TAGS | Multiversity 101

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."

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