Thursday, November 13, 2008

What have they done to you, Spider-Man?

Back in the 90's, Marvel published a Spider-Man crossover that was arguably so bad, that to this day the mere mention of it causes some fans of Spider-Man to begin to suddenly shout out almost incomprehensible obscenities. The name of this hated Spidey event was called the Clone Saga.

The idea basically revolved around the idea that the Peter Parker we had been reading about for some 15-20 years was actually a clone created by the Jackal, under the direction of Norman Osborn, I think... I too tried to block much of this storyline out. Anyway, the Spider-Man comics were taken over by Ben Reilly, who Marvel wanted us to believe was the real Spider-Man, who had been travelling the country with amnesia. To make a LOOOOOONG story kind of short, Peter and Ben had their blood tested, and it was reviled that Ben was the true Spider-Man, and Peter was the clone.

Peter winds up moving out of New York, I think to Seattle(?), while Ben then takes over the mantle of Spider-Man. Well, needless to say, Spidey's fans began to nearly froth at the mouth upon learning this revelation, and bombarded Marvel with enraged letters, demanding the return of Peter Parker. Marvel bowed to public pressure, and killed of Ben, revealing that all along he was the clone, and returning Peter to the role of Spider-Man.

Why in God's name would I bring up the hated Clone Saga? You'll see in a moment. In the early 2000's, Marvel decided that since their main heroes had been around for a good 40 years, it was difficult for newer fans to start to read comic books. In other words, Marvel figured the average new comic book reader wouldn't be able to get into Spider-Man, because there was so much history behind the character, and too much to learn. To rectify this perceived problem, Marvel started up the "Ultimate" line of comic books, starting with Ultimate Spider-Man.

Ultimate Spider-Man, dealt with Peter Parker as an adolescent, just like when he first appeared in the 1960's, but updated for today. The idea at the time was actually brilliant, because Ultimate Spider-Man was more accessible to newer fans, and older fans like myself were able to read about Young Spidey, as well as his older, married, with a job counter part in the main Spider-Man comics. This all changed when Marvel made the worst decision since the Clone Saga, and concocted the Brand New Day storyline.

Before I rip into the Brand New Day story, let me give some background into why Marvel decided to follow through with this terrible idea. During the Marvel comics crossover, Civil War, Marvel made the WORST decision in comic book history, in my opinion, when they had Spider-Man unmask publicly at a news conference. Peter Parker's entire life revolved around keeping his identity secret, and revealing himself in such a manner was the absolute last thing in the world Peter would have ever done.

Anyway, Marvel sold thousands of comics based on Spidey unmasking, but after the initial shock of the unmasking was over, then what? Spider-Man was no longer some mysterious vigilante, he was a man like every one else, and his foes decided to strike at his family, gunning down his elderly Aunt May. Aunt May lingered on life support for a while , but was headed towards the pearly gates. So what does Spidey do? He makes a deal with Mephisto, Marvel's version of the devil, to save Aunt May's life, and remove all public knowledge of his identity, but it would come at the expense of Peter's marriage to Mary Jane.

Mephisto would basically retcon everything that had happened in the Spider-Man comics for the past 15 years or so. So, in other words, to save Aunt May, who is like 100 years old anyway, Peter decides to throw his marriage to Mary Jane away, since it would have never happened. Peter takes the bargain, and thus begins the Brand New Day story line... Now, we have an unmarried Peter Parker STILL living with Aunt May, while working at the Daily Bugle, barely making ends meet. Sound familiar? It should, because it is practically the same damn premise that Ultimate Spider-Man is all about! So now we have two comic books about a young, unmarried Spider-man living with his Aunt May...

Why? Marvel ####ed up when they revealed Spidey's identity, they must have realised that, but to retcon 15 years of Spider-Man comics, to me is the height of unacceptability! So basically, all the time I spent buying and reading the Spider-Man comics of the 90's, Amazing, Spectacular, Web of, and adjective less Spider-Man, meant ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I might as well run outside and start a bonfire with these comic books, since Marvel, and by Marvel, I mean Joe Quesada, has decided that all those Spidey comics never happened, and therefore don't matter.

I love the character of Peter Parker. Stan Lee created him as one of the deepest comic book characters of all time. I love the way Peter uses Spider-Man as his outlet to act and do things he would never do as the bookish Peter Parker. Spider-Man, is the wise cracking, tough guy that Peter himself never really was. Now though, even though Peter is one of my all time favorite comic book characters, I can't bring myself to read the disgrace that is now Amazing Spider-Man.

The only time I will ever pick up a Spider-Man comic book is when Marvel comes to their senses, and undoes the effects of the Brand New Day storyline. Until that day comes, I will never spend another penny on any Spider-Man related comic book. I'm sure in the grand scheme of things, Marvel could care less if they lose one reader, but hopefully I'm not alone in my disappointment, and others will also boycott Amazing Spider-Man. Yeah, I know, that will never happen, but a guy can dream can't he?

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