Friday, December 16, 2005

How could I dance with "The Other"?

Remember when I said I'd be buying "Spider-Man: The Other: Evolve or Die" in TPB form? Yeah, not so much.

See, here's my guilty little secret, folks. I spend a lot of time at Borders, just kind of bumming around. One of the things I like to do there is read Ultimate Spider-Man trades. I don't have the money to buy 'em in the TPB format, and I don't have enough interest to collect the hardcovers (though I'll get more of those giant Barnes & Noble hardcover collections if they make 'em), but I like the series enough to read it. I'll polish off book 12 on my next visit. Do I feel a little bad about this? Sure. Would I feel more bad if Bendis didn't take six issues to tell a two-issue story? Absolutely. That's the main reason I don't buy it in floppy form. That, and the fact that I couldn't get in on the super-rare early issues.

Anyway, I've taken to flipping through "The Other" while on these little Spider-jaunts. I haven't read a full issue yet, but I've skimmed the majority of them. Today, out of urgent morbid curiosity, I read the least friendly Spider-Man book I could imagine being published under the "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" banner.

I liked JMS on Amazing Spider-Man. He brought back MJ, he brought back the old title logo, and he let Aunt May in on the secret. I liked the totemistic stuff, too. I thought it was really interesting. Ezekiel fascinated me, though I thought Morlun was too close in name and design to Morbius. JMS was fantastic for Spider-Man. I even liked the weird killer moth chick. But eventually, the pacing and the constant disregard for continuity, as well as the pointlessly idiotic stories about undead Hulk gangsters and long-lost high school buddies who could have easily been replaced by the Molten Man, really soured me on the title. I dropped after they blew up Aunt May's house, but it had been a long time coming. Peter David would have drawn me back, if not for the garbage crossover that's going on.

So I flip through the issue today to find one-eyed Peter Parker dying, but also somehow becoming a killer spider creature, with stingers and sharp teeth and a red eye, who eats Morlun's head. In front of MJ. And then dies.

And this is supposed to be a good thing.

I realize that there's, like, five more parts to the story. I realize that Peter's not dead. But I think I see where this is going: idiotic new powers (I sense...spider-vision and spider-stingers, which were such a grand idea when Scarlet Spider came up with them), and maybe even a physical mutation to correspond with his change of costumes (i.e., he'd change forms when changing to Spider-Man, even if it were just that his eyes went red and teeth became sharp). I see perhaps Peter leaving MJ and Aunt May, having either become disgusted with himself, or become so different physically and emotionally (turning into a murderous spider-creature will do that to you) that he thinks it would be better that they belive him to be dead. I see a stupid new costume. I see a complete rejection of Spidey's science background, in favor of more retarded magical, mystical gobbledygook. I see the vampiric form of J. Michael Straczynski sucking every last ounce of fun out of the Spider-Man mythos, the same fun that Paul Jenkins tried to keep alive for awhile (with stories like the one where Pete and Ben go to the Mets game, or with the poor kid with an imaginary Spider-Man), and that Dan Slott and Mark Waid picked up on (in Spider-Man/Human Torch and She-Hulk, and Fantastic Four, respectively).

Here's what I want from Spider-Man:
*Give Dan Slott a major Spider-Man book. Give Peter David and Paul Jenkins the others. Forbid participation in ridiculous crossovers, and disregard all Straczynskian magical crap.
*Take Spider-Man out of the major Marvel Universe for a year. He rescinds his Avengers membership, sets Aunt May up in a nice part of the suburbs, and gets a plush apartment with MJ, somewhere quiet and in a decent school district, where Spidey naturally teaches.
*Get him the hell out of the New Avengers. I know I already said that, it deserves to be said twice. The line is "catches thieves just like flies" not "catches Thanos just like flies." Spider-Man does not battle large, world-conquering menaces. He cleans up the streets and cracks jokes against Stilt-Man and the Gibbon.
*Put him back into science. No more stingers, no more organic web-shooters, just a young man and his spider-sense and his prowess with an Erlenmyer flask.
*Make him happy again. Sure, Spider-Man's life is usually kind of a downer. He's all saddled with guilt, and whatnot. But at the end of the day he's an optimist, and despite everything on his shoulders, he has a wife that loves him and he gets to spend all day swinging from the rooftops. I've done it by proxy in video games, there's no denying how fun that is.
*Give him a supporting cast. Anyone seen Robbie Robertson lately? Liz Osborn? Flash Thompson?
*Make Spider-Man fun to read. The book should be fast-paced, suspenseful, heartwarming, and funny. Peter Parker's life is high drama; Spider-Man's life is action-comedy. Is that so much to ask for?

As for "The Other"? Looks like some more reading for that comfy chair in Borders. If that.


Ragnell said...

On the bright side, Kyle Rayner will be getting a series, so we'll at least have the DC version to read.

(I know, cheap shot, but someone was gonna go for it...)

Jhunt said...

I haven't read any of The Others, but it just sounds really, really terrible. Had the person who greenlit this story never read a Spider-Man book?

I wouldn't be surprised if there were a growing number of people like me who forgoe the regular Spider-Man books in favor of reading Ultimate Spider-Man exclusively.

Jon said...

Marvel Team-Up Spidey is great. Kirkman had him teaching (which I really don't mind. I like Pete in an academic setting, but I can't really suspend disbelief that he's still in, like, grad school, even. Brother's got to have a ton of student loans staring him in the face by now), cracking wise and having fun.

Him and Dan Slott write the best Spidey I've read in a long time, I think because they realize that Spider-Man isn't meant for dire, depressing shit like vampires eating his Goddamn eyes and magical new powers.

'Course, what do we know? We're not the elusive casual fans who suddenly appeared in comic shops after they saw the Spider-Man movie and got really excited to see that the writer of a canceled sci-fi TV show was moving the character even further away from the origin they showed on film.

Tom Foss said...

Nice one, Ragnell. It's too true...especially how close Ion was to Cosmic Spider-Man.

I forgot about Marvel Team-Up. I recently got the first trade, and I absolutely loved it. Kirkman would be fantastic for Spidey.

How about it, Marvel? Slott, David, and Kirkman on the Spider-Man titles. It'd be like a Spider-Man renaissance.

CalvinPitt said...

I'm in agreement that I really miss Paul Jenkins. He di some really great stories, when he was wasn't having to write crap "Disassembled" storylines where Peter gets organic webshooters because that's what he had in the movie.

I will say that I liked that the Scarlet Spider came up with stingers. It's not magic, it was still science, and I can't see the harm in giving Spidey a little extra.

But yeah, him getting red eyes and sharp teeth, JMS is pushing his whole mystic aspect farther than I'd like. And yet, I'll keep reading, because I like Spidey and I'll be hoping the book is good.

Tom Foss said...

Calvin, welcome to the world that Superman fans have lived in for the last...forever.

Although, recalling the time when I used to buy Spider-Man comics for similar reasons (i.e., right before the Clone saga), I should say "welcome back."