So, as I'm sure you all know by now, here on What Were They Thinking, we take a look at the stupidest, most ill-advised things from comic book history and we make fun of their idiocy. Some of the things we cover aren't exactly the most comfortable of subjects but they get covered because of the ridiculousness of it all. I usually cover the stuff that when I find out about it makes me laugh and say "I can't believe they actually did that!" And I do that because I love comics, I love the characters and I love the stories.
However, this week we are covering something that I am legitimately angry about. And of course it would be something Marvel have done because gosh darn it aren't they the absolute best at being the worst sometimes. So, buckle up ladies and gentlemen, JR is about to go off on a rant about the current Spider-Man crossover, Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy.
Now, I was originally going to wait until this story had finished before I covered it. I haven't actively read any of the Spider-Man titles since the beginning of the Superior Spider-Man (although I have read the Spider-Gwen title that spun out of the Spider-Verse), but I got wind of this one and it piqued my interest. Not in a good way however. I've always had the idea to do one of these where it's literally just a scream for the entire article, a short explanation of the story and then just AHHHHHHHHH stretched out to cover 40 lines and I very nearly did it for this one, but I'm not going to because I feel compelled to talk about this.
Lets start of with the obvious. This story is basically a rehash of The Clone Saga from the 90's but with an added "twist" in that the Jackal can apparently now resurrect the dead rather than cloning them (I put quotation marks there because at the moment I'm undecided whether I believe that he is actually resurrecting them or not). Few problems there. Firstly, anyone remember the Clone Saga? WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO A REHASH OF THAT? It made number 3 on my worst Spider-Man storylines for a reason; it was absolutely [censored] terrible. Secondly, who actually likes the resurrection trope? NO-ONE BUT LAZY WRITERS! Fans hate it when you bring back characters, it cheapens the impact of the story that they originally died in (do I need to give any examples here?). And which Spider-Man character do you choose to resurrect? Of course it's Gwen Stacy. I mean, on the plus side at least it wasn't freaking Uncle Ben, but it's the next worst thing. See, Spider-Gwen is alright because it was a parallel universe and she didn't stick around past that event (plus her comic's great, love it), but actual Earth-616 Gwen? Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, Nope! Every time you do anything with her in a story other than mention her, it seems you're just trying to tarnish the legacy of one of your finest moments. Why would you do that? Do your shareholders have a lemming instinct where they must run at the cliff to certain death or something and the only way you can possibly stop them is by doing the thing that will most piss off fans? I guess there's another upside in that Doc Ock is back, but that is still annoying because it renders the whole Superior Spider-Man thing pointless and whilst I detest that episode with every fibre of my being, it's now like Civil War in that you pissed everyone off for no reason. Marvel, why do you keep doing this? What did we do to deserve this? Who hurt you Marvel? Is it something we did? Look I'm sorry everyone liked The Dark Knight so much and I'm sorry I put it above Avengers on my greatest superhero movies of all time list? Will you stop punishing us now Marvel? Please?
So, time to calm down a bit.
What I would like to talk to you all about now is One More Day. The storyline that I put as my worst Spider-Man storyline ever when I did that list a while back. The reason-de-etre for that storylines existence was to return Spider-Man to the way he was before he married MJ. The character had changed to drastically from what fans loved and something had to change. That seems fair enough right? Well...
So, Peter and MJ got married in '88 right? Look at Spider-Man before that year. He starred in a few bi-monthly titles, he'd had a team-up book as well and had featured in the companies first crossover and their biggest crossover with DC, having two stand-alone stories with Superman that were non-cannon for either character. However, his stories were short, often going no longer than 2 issues maybe 3. The team-up book was only ever one issue stories and they were small scale stuff and often humorous (like him teaming up with a Red Sonja possessed MJ) and certainly the crossovers hadn't become as prevalent as they would become. Now look at what happened after, between the marriage and One More Day. Well, the 90's happened and everything went out of control. You had Maximum Carnage, Clones, Prophecies, Rebirths, Civil Wars, the works. Spider-Man joined the Avengers, which he'd never been a major member of but was suddenly thrust front and centre. His crossovers became bigger and he'd team up with more powerful and more important characters. Hell, he was even given the power cosmic at one point. The character was pushed to a position of major importance within the Marvel Universe continuity and whilst in the real world Spider-Man is hugely important to Marvel and its fans, in the actual continuity of the comics? Spider-Man is small fry, he should take on street level crime not world threatening menaces. He's not Batman, he shouldn't do both. So a reset, however badly handled and unpopular, was not a bad idea. However...
Marvel are repeating the exact same mistakes. Green Goblin went from being a Spider-centric villain to THE BIGGEST BAD GUY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD straight after One More Day. Spider-Man was still in the Avengers (albeit an off-shoot branch) and he was still getting majorly involved in the huge events. And then the Spider-centric crossovers happened. Spider-Island affected everyone in Manhattan, which is only the home of LITERALLY EVERY CHARACTER IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE WHO ISN'T IN EITHER THE X-MEN OR ALPHA FLIGHT! He joined the Fantastic Four and the X-Men (despite not being a mutant) and then Superior Spider-Man became a thing. That abomination finished and then BAMN Spider-Verse. And now this [censored].
Ok, calming down again. Anyway, the point I was trying to make is, Marvel needs to stop relying on events to sell their comics. If you think about the most highly regarded comic Marvel have done in the last 5 years, it sure as hell ain't going to be a Spider-Man title. It will be something like the first run of Ms. Marvel, or the more recent Vision series, stuff that was short concise character driven storytelling, not a huge over-the-top "we must shock and swerve everyone to keep up interest" events. Focus on the characters. At the moment, you're the literary equivalent of a Michael Bay film, just massive explosions to cover up the fact your story belongs in the toilet of a truck stop in Iowa. Don't be Michael Bay, at least try to be Christopher Nolan if you can't be Stanley Kubrick or Orson Wells. Because then you might put out a Dark Knight or Inception every once and a while. Although, maybe don't do the Dark Knight because Batman belongs to DC. Wait, where was I? That metaphor might have gotten away from me there. Oh yeah. Stop doing events.