Thursday, October 20, 2011

ULTIMATE COMICS – All-New Spider-Man #2


An Apology

A number of people commented that my assessment of Brian Michael Bendis’s writing effort on All-New Spider-Man #1 was too harsh and too personal. I said that he phoned it in, relieving Marvel of “easy money.” I also referred to the Marvel editorial people involved as “bozos” who are “clueless.”

I’m sorry. I don’t know Bendis, and as Tom Brevoort pointed out, I wasn’t there. I don’t know how hard he tried and I don’t know if he was snickering when he cashed the checks. 

I also shouldn’t have said the editorial people were bozos. Clueless, yes, I’ll stick with that. I’ll stick with my unfavorable assessments made elsewhere of the creative management at both Marvel and DC (Didio/Lee, Fine/Buckley, et al), and my negative opinions of the tippy-top brass at both companies who inexplicably allow the madness below. 

But my remarks about Bendis? No excuse. It was over the top. But I offer this explanation.

I wanted to like that book. I really wanted to like that book. Bendis is Marvel’s top gun. I expected to like that book. But the writing really let me down. There wasn’t much of it, some of it was weak and there was not so much as a nod to the fact that the work was done for a serialized presentation.

And it was a Marvel book.

They—I almost typed “we”—should be better. 

Somewhere in my dark little heart of hearts, I still have some Marvel in me. I remember the days I was Editor in Chief when DC out-promoted us, out-advertised us, had better production values, had movies while we had none, had more household name characters and we still outsold them three to one. Why?  Because, in the words of our circulation V.P. Ed Shukin, we “beat ‘em between the covers.” We were better. We won with good stories, well told. Generally better than theirs, anyway.

On some level, irrationally, perhaps, I still expect Marvel to show superior creative acumen. It shocks and appalls me when the number one writer at Marvel on Spider-Man(!), given good art falls short.

So I was more emotional than is proper. Again, sorry. I’ll try not to let it happen again. 


All-New Spider-Man #2   

The Cover:

Another swinging through the city pin-up. Better than the last one, but if Marvel is dead-set on sticking to the Bill Jemas all-pin-ups-all-the-time philosophy, how about a different one?  How about sticking to a wall?  We haven’t seen that standard riff yet.


The Interior:

Art:

It’s still good.

JayJay the Blog Elf chastised me for not nit-picking the art more last issue. A specific thing she brought up was that Miles Morales appears to be very much a little kid when we first see him but morphs into a lanky, teen-looking guy later, in the scene with Uncle Aaron. She’s right. And there are more quibbles available to be quibbled, but, glorioski, if I got art up to this standard for my stories, I’d be very happy. 


The Story:

Better, I’m happy to say.

But….

They start us out with an introductory caption that says the following:

“Months ago, before the original Spider-Man died, grade-schooler Miles Morales was about to start a new chapter in his life in a new school—when he is suddenly bitten by a stolen, genetically altered spider that gave him incredible, arachnid-like powers.”

New reader me learns that the original Spider-Man is dead in an intro on the inside front cover. That wasn’t mentioned last issue, except in references made in the lettercolumn, which I don’t think you can count on everyone reading. 

Your average civilian these days has at least heard of Spider-Man. I think Spider-Man being dead is a newsy note significant enough to be included in the story. 

Wait a minute. Is he dead? This mixed verb-tense paragraph leaves me wondering. “Months ago, before the original Spider-Man died….(Miles) is suddenly bitten….” 

So…the original Spider-Man isn’t dead yet? I guess? This story is actually months ago…compared to some story in which Spider-Man dies, which I haven’t read and am unaware of? Oh, I don’t know.

I wonder if it’s relevant.

Little intros and mission statements, as in DC’s New 52 Preview, and such really ought to be written more carefully.

Anyway….

It begins with a boy running down the street. If you read last issue, you know it’s Miles, the “grade-schooler” referred to in the introduction. If not, it, well…some kid is running.

He makes an impossible leap over an obstacle. When people react to that, he turns invisible and slips away. He’s upset, apparently worried about the very things we’ve just witnessed.

Later, visible again, he is menaced by a big, mean teen. Miles grabs the guy’s arm and delivers some kind of electric shock or “zap.” I say electric shock because of the little lightning bolt “emanata” (a Mort Walker term) around Miles’ hand. Again, he gets away.
I have these questions:
  • How does Miles know he can make the impossible leap? Afterwards, he looks surprised. What prompted him to try it?  
  • How does Miles know he can electro-shock people? I suppose we can assume that instinct prompted the turning invisible thing when everyone was staring at him and the electric shock delivered when he was threatened. I guess.
And:
  • If I didn’t happen to read last issue, who is this kid?
  • If I did happen to read last issue, when is this taking place?
At the end of four pages, New Reader me is left with the impression that this kid is a mutant, which is what the mean teens and others call him, that he can make seven-foot high, 20-foot long (estimated) leaps, turn invisible, give electro-shocks…and all of that is apparently a new to him and troubling. 

There is no splash page. No title, except for “Part Two,” seen on the inside front cover. I miss those things. Maybe that’s just me being old-fashioned.

Page five, first panel, what to my wondering eyes should appear but LEGOS!

Hoo-hah! This story was written for me! Love those Lego blocks!
Miles takes his friend Ganke into his confidence. In the course of doing so, Miles demonstrates his new abilities. We also learn his name, Miles, and get the skinny on what happened last issue. We find out that what we’re seeing immediately follows the events of last issue.

Smoothly, elegantly, naturally done by Bendis. There’s the guy I’ve read before.

Miles father shows up.  He’s peeved.

In the ensuing conversation between Miles and dad, skillfully written, well drawn—make that brilliantly drawn—we learn a lot about dad and Uncle Aaron, who we saw last issue, well-established here in absentia. As a result of a confession of sorts by dad, father and son bond a bit.

Just as Miles is about to spill the beans to dad about what has happened to him, two shall we say unusual figures zoom by. One appears to be aflame. Miles mentions the “Human Torch.” New Reader me guesses the fiery-looking guy was him. Comics-savvy me knows the other one is Iceman, or some current iteration of same. I cannot guess what a not-in-the-know civilian would make of him. Would they even know that’s ice under him? 

Anyway, dad expresses disdain for such “mutants,” which effectively heads off Miles’ telling him he’s a mutant.

The Torch and Iceman's arrival is an incredibly convenient coincidence. 

That night, friend Ganke texts Miles his considered opinion of what Miles really has become—not a mutant, but like whatever Spider-Man is.

I (both of me) learn that Spider-Man, the old one, disclosed to a reporter that he’d gotten his super powers as a result of being bitten by a spider. Like Miles.

He points out that some spiders have “chameleon like powers” and a “venom strike” like Miles.

That’s nonsense, of course. The art shows Miles becoming transparent and invisible. Not chameleon-like, or chameleon-ish spider-like at all.

And, if you’re going to tell me that, no, he’s just blending in with his background so well that he seems invisible—from any angle, and 360º all at once, no matter how complex the background or how far away myriad background elements are, I say show me such a spider.

“Venom strike?” What?  That electric shock thing that makes a pirate ship built of Legos explode? You’re kidding me, Bendis. What does that have in common with a spider’s venom?

Whatever.

Ganke’s final text says “R U Spider-Man?!!

Miles ponders,

Out of nowhere there’s a panel of the Spider-Man New Reader me recognizes.  Comics-savvy me realizes that it represents Miles thinking about old Spider-Man. New Reader me doesn’t get it. A lot of new readers probably don’t get it. It’s a totally confusing, jarring element. They assume that old Spider-Man is there. Yeah, they do. Trust me. Or don’t, but yeah, they do.

I know it’s hard for you comics-savvy people out there to accept this, but things like that image of old Spider-Man, suddenly just there with no explanation other than Miles’ “pondering” expressions in panels thereabouts, throws many inexperienced readers off. Such things can ruin a story for the uninitiated. It gives them an expectation that Spider-Man is there, that something is going to happen with Spider-Man, and when it doesn’t, they sometimes toss the book away and never pick up another one because, to them, it’s a bunch of non-sequitur crap.

But we savvy types get it.

Miles is inspired to try crawling up the wall, Spider-Man-like, and succeeds. 

“Oh, no,” he says.

Here endeth the fascicle.

Here’s the good news.

More figurative, story-element Lego blocks have been provided, and some of the ones scattered about last issue are starting to fit together with these new ones. Bendis may yet build us a cute little Lego choo-choo, or maybe a pirate ship. My faith in him has been borne out to some extent.

One could pick up this issue, having missed the first, read it and understand it. Even new readers, except for that shot of old Spider-Man.

It’s interesting and engaging. I’m beginning to like the kid, Miles. Those who said he was introduced in those three pages last issue in which he wins the lottery to get into what must, per the intro caption on cover two, be a middle school, are wrong. Sorry, Tom Brevoort. That was no introduction. But in this issue, we do get to know him some. Nice kid.

It’s another decompressed issue. Two issues and eight bucks into this, not much has happened—but in this issue, the not much was engagingly presented. There are still lonely Lego blocks, like the Norman Osborn block and the Doctor Markus block that haven’t snapped in anywhere yet. 

And the old Spider-Man block.

And what happened to Spider #42?!

I’m not thrilled with this issue. But like I said, it’s better.

Enough of this for a while….  


NEXT:  Stan Meets a Mobster and Other Tales to Astonish 

THIS WEEKEND:  Uncanny Divinations and Premonitions

130 comments:

JayJayJackson said...

"Chastised" is perhaps too strong... I commented to Jim about some flaws that I found confusing and had wondered if he also found them so. Geez, some people are sooo sensitive.

Gary said...

Jim... unrelated to this post... But I read this tweet today from Andy Richter from Conan and I thought of you right away!

Andy_Richter: If you use the word "grok", I will judge you.

LOL!

JayJayJackson said...

Heinlein fans should really rise to defend "grok." Though perhaps Andy Richter would judge them as sci fi geeks. So be it. lol.

Anonymous said...

Every so often I feel like posting how much I enjoy visiting this blog. This is another of those occasions.

- Brent -

Matt Hawes said...

Another great review, Jim. I hope you don't hold back on your opinions just because some people think you are too harsh. I like that you tell it as you see it, and don't really care to read a watered down opinion to placate the easily offended.

Frankly, Marvel's editors these days could stand to learn a thing or two from you. Marvel's comics for the past decade-and-a-half, barring artificially-spiked and media-hyped-up event books, have not sold anywhere like they did back during your day.

Looking forward to the next blog! Yayy!!!

-- Matt

Comic.Reviewer said...

Dear Jim
It is too late in your career to succumb to peer pressures.
I am not reading your blog to see the sexy pictures of the ladies in skimpy clothes.
I am not reading your blog to see how artists feel good about themselves.
I am not reading your blog to witness unwarranted adulation fall in the lap of overly-famous writers.
I am not reading your blog for Politically Correct comments.

If an artists is too emotionally immature to read criticism, he/she shouldn’t be working in the craft. He should be making a hobby out of it, and then show his/her work to friends and family, people who will always flatter him/her and never say a bad word.

Please, do not apologize again for being sarcastic, rude, or over-zelous in your comments.
This is your blog. YOUR BLOG.
If the people critized want a nice blog where they only say good things about them and their work, let them build one themselves.
I make a clear distinction between cruelty and lack of tact. You may be too direct and even make fun of some elements in the business, but as long as you are not insulting or have cruel intention, perception is in the eye of the beholder. I may call someone a poo-poo head and they may feel insulted. It’s their right. It is also my right to use language in a manner that I deem fit, and relects my personality, and I shouldn’t be too concerned with THE WRONG people taking things the WRONG WAY, as long as the RIGHT PEOPLE take my message the RIGHT WAY.
I have often complained that the comic book industry is like a minefield of artists egos, and you have to be very careful of where you thread. But lately I say BE DAMM with these overinflated egos.
Writing is hard work.
Drawing is hard work.
But no much effort you put into, the effort doesn’t guarantee a place in the hall of fame.
The effort doesn’t assure they are going to get recognition, nor that people will come in droves to their stand during the convention to get their autographs.
I don’t know what the solution is to achieve that, but it is not to treat these artists/writers like little spoiled ego-fragile children.

So, that apology, albeit very Politically Correct (PC) is not needed.

Gerald Dean, The ComicWatcher

jimshooter said...

I admire Heinlein's skill. Richter, grok you. You grok?

Anonymous said...

@Comic.Reviewer

I agree. When I saw Brevoot's posts, I had to wonder why Brevoort would even be hanging around reading Shooter's Web site.

Nicholas Yankovec said...

I read the first volume of Ultimate Spider-Man in trade, and I really think it is some of the best stuff Bendis has done. However, when I tried to read some single issues, they were awful on their own (and I'll wait for the trade on this one as well).

Ultimate Spider-Man is the very definition of "written for the trade". I really don't know why this isn't just released 2 or 3 times a year in a paperback format and just forget the single issue format (when Bendis was working with Bagley I think there was an average of 18 issues a year?)

Also, from what I understand, Ultimate Spider-Man has always done well in the direct market but it's an amazing seller in trade paperback format so I can understand why Bendis writes it this way; and many of your problems you've brought up so far won't be present in a collected edition.

Once again, why just not release this as a series of graphic novels?

jimshooter said...

Dear Matt,

No quarter asked, none given. I will, going forward, strive for civility, which is a commodity historically afforded to me in short supply.

Anonymous said...

Something I've noticed in a lot of new comics (not to say it didn't exist before) is the carbon copy repetition of characters (or large elements of characters) from one panel to another. In that section of the book you posted where the bully is grabbing Miles around the throat (I think?), it's the exact same set of figures from the shoulders down in the last two panels. Same ink strokes, hatching, etc. If someone were being choked by a bully, wouldn't their weight be shifting around a bit more? Putting aside questionable physics, it just looks cheap. How much more effort to reuse the pencils, but ink it differently in each panel, just provide a little more visual interest?

Randy

bmcmolo said...

I second Gerald Dean.

Chris Calloway said...

Dear Jim,

There are trends in comics in the past several years that I think have really hurt the business.
1)It seems like most comics have moved toward a decompressed story line, and I have to say it's quite frustrating for me as a reader. Sure there is more natural banter at times between characters and sometimes it allows for deeper development of a character. But how much story is there in 20 pages? Not much bang for the buck per issue, and there are only so many bucks to go around.

2)The re-numbering and re-booting is getting out of hand. Death/Reborn/Death. Changing reality. Ultimate versions. Some publishers might as well just publish mini-series. Dark Horse does a lot of minis for ongoing characters like Hell Boy, B.P.R.D. and it works pretty well. Good continuity and character development. No do-overs. Lately I've spent more time acquiring and reading Marvel titles from their runs in the 60-80s. Not all were great, but I certainly find the stories more satisfying. At least I don't spend $3.99 to "read" a book in 5 minutes.
3) The pin up covers are another problem. Why not tell us something related to the story inside? It's difficult to distinguish one cover from another when it's just another pose. No copy. Nothing to tease us about the content between the pages. You've written about what is wrong with a cover. What in your editorial experience are the fundamentals that make a good cover?

Thanks again for the blog, my favorite read day. I look at comics more critically now and with a new perspective.

Chris

Anonymous said...

Also, where can I buy Ganke's "Frog Man" t-shirt, with the figure straight from OHOTMU?

Randy

Jerry Novick said...

Way off the specific topic - but in line with Jim's overall theme of the decline in management quality inside the comic book industry...

An article that takes a look at how Perlmutter runs Marvel, including his rapidly shrinking their staff (with a fresh blood letting taking place today), and the crushing weight that is now on the shoulders of the remaining staff as work in all departments is spread out among fewer workers.

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/10/20/the-spinning-pennies-of-marvel%e2%80%99s-isaac-perlmutter/

Anonymous said...

I was enraptured by the jim Shooter unfiltered review of #1. Finally a professional of great (wink) stature describing the modern comic in without guarded tongue especially Bendis who does get lazy and does "write for the trade"--and that isn't itself a criticism, some folks love trade collections and writing for the trade rewards them-- but it was a weak individual comic for the reasons Mr Shooter describes.

Mr Shooter, I hope you remain candid in your assessments. Todays--either you really liked it more or you were intimidated by negative comments. I find it hard to believe the latter, but I also have trouble believing the former.

Thank you for your time and stories. They are wonderful.
---Ramage

Anonymous said...

@Jerry Novick

Marvel has had editorial problems for at least 10 years.

They are pumping out gimmicks and events, and letting their writers do anything they want with their characters

It's made for bad comics - unoriginal and uncreative.

jimshooter said...

Dear Chris,

Seems to me I've addressed cover theory along the way somewhere. I'll get into it in more depth soon.

Jerry Novick said...

No argument there, Anonymous. The state of editing in the entire comic book industry has been rolling down hill.

But this puts an interesting spin on things. Perlmutter is a brazen cost-cutter and we are seeing the effects of too much work being spread over too few people, along with the business side dictating content, even if editorial disagrees. So many big events these past few years... maybe more a problem of corporate mandate than editorial vision.

KintounKal said...

Nicholas Yankevic,

Releasing 6 comic books and then collecting them as a trade paperback or hardcover maximizes sales. It's not much different than debuting a film in theatres and then releasing it on DVD.

Dusty. said...

Jim, you certainly don't need to apologize for your opinion, and as far as Tom Brevoort goes, he has lost much credibility because he acts like the boys club writers at Marvel are perfect, and he runs to their defense over the most ridiculous things. Sales suck and have got progressively worse over the last few years, and all Bendis can do is shock value stunts and relaunched #1's to try to sell books because his writing isn't strong enough. He's allowed to do whatever he wants, use whatever characters he wants, characterizations and motivations be damned, and Brevoort always runs to his defense (as he does with Mark Millar and Warren Ellis) and refuses to own up to the drastic drop in sales and the reason for it.

Brevoort is somebody who made hyperbole claims that the Mark Millar's Fantastic Four was going to be a classic run for the ages, and he still tries to hype Warren Ellis's very average and middling selling Extremis story arc as something special. He allowed Bendis to let the heroes led by Iron Man to use a decoy of Captain America's corpse while the body was still warm, and his friends were still devastated, to try to trap and imprison them because they posed immediate danger to civilians, despite their history. You might say his story sense leaves quite a bit to be desired, and especially if one of the boys' club wrote it. And he'll defend it as good storytelling...

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Jim,

As much as I like the new Spider-Man costume and appreciate the attempt to give Miles a pose that isn't generic, I had to struggle to make sense out of the cover of Ultimate Spider-Man #2. Miles' left arm and right leg seem to fuse. They actually don't, but that's not obvious at first glance. Also, he seems to be flying. Neither hand is holding the strand of web spiraling behind him. I guess he's leaping at something, hurling the web behind him, but the pose seems too involved for a simple jump. Maybe he's spinning as he soars.

The story sounds awfully thin for $4. Could it be told in half the length? A quarter?

I love LEGO and I love how detailed the pirate ship drawing is. Makes me feel that this is really happening. That's no generic toy.

Ganke's Frog-Man shirt is a cute touch.

Does anyone know what kind of name "Ganke" is supposed to be?

I think the "venom strike" is a reference to the original Spider-Woman's bioelectric "venom blasts." I recall that Jessica Drew is one of Bendis' favorite characters.

I've been confused more than once by out-of-nowhere images like the one of the old Spider-Man, and I've been reading comics for 36 years. I'd use a different panel shape, different coloring, narration and/or dialogue to signal that the reader is seeing a character's thought.

"Here endeth the fascicle."

Again -- that's it?

At least this time the reader wasn't misled into thinking this was a comic about adult scientists. Much more Miles this time, including demonstrations of his power. But still not much Spider-Man.

Nicholas Yankovec said...

KintounKal, I understand that releasing it as singles first maximises the cost (in theory). And releasing it in 6 parts helps spread the costs, I get that. But I wonder, does that in some way reduce the actual overall sales? Do some people read one issue, think its a waste and then never bother buying the trade? I don't know, I'm no expert, but it is written for the trade and my personal belief is that if its written for one form then thats how it should be published.

I think your analogy is flawed somewhat, it would be like releasing 20 mins of a film every month at the cinema and buying the complete movie on DVD. I know what I'd rather spend my money on.

JayJayJackson said...

I don't know what kind of name Ganke is supposed to be, but it made me thinking of ganking in MMORPG's. Since I'm not a big fan of the PVP aspects, it has a negative connotation for me.

KintounKal said...

Marc Miyake,

I have a feeling one of Bendis's daughters is a LEGO fan because he also included a Bionicle reference in Ultimate Spider-Man #92 ("Deadpool: part 2"). In that issue, Peter Parker joked that perhaps the X-Men should wake one of these fallen Bionicles up and tickle them until they explain what’s going on.

For those unfamiliar with Bionicle, it's a portmanteau word for "biological" and "chronicle". In other words, Bendis' joke sounds kind of strange. It's almost as distracting as referring to Luke Skywalker as a Star Wars rather than a Jedi. If Ultimate Peter Parker was really a Bionicle fan, he'd call the Reavers "fallen Toa" instead.

Flying Tiger Comics said...

Sunshine spiderman is offensive because although it doesn't have to be "Good Times" with Disney powers (although it verges on that anyway) it's sickening to see the liberal agenda push the same tired old memes- fat friend, big white bully... What happened to the all big black bullies, and the thin friends (who are physically superior to the protagonist [minus superpowers])?

It really is Tales of the Expected at Disney now.

KintounKal said...

Nicholas Yankovec,

However, that analogy has no basis in reality. As far as I know, nobody has ever released a film in 20 minute increments. Double standards would soon raise like should a trilogy be finished before the first movie is shared with the public.

You're absolutely right that reducing the number of formats could have a big impact on sales but it's a very risky move. In some situations, creating a graphic novel has the opposite effect. I believe DC still plans to release Superman: Earth One as a mini-series with bonus content before eventually collecting it again in hardcover.

lpmiller said...

Flying Tiger.........what?

jimshooter said...

Dear Jerry,

Mike Marts, DC editor fresh from Marvel, told me that constraints on inventory, per Perlmutter, were so strict that an editor could not possibly build up any lead time on any issue of any book. Everything, all expenditures, were honed to the bone. The days of editors having "four in the drawer" were/are looong gone.

jimshooter said...

Dear Marc M.,

You are wise. I suspect that you walk by night and know many things. : )

Chris Arndt said...

I come for the cute girls in skimpy clothes.

bmcmolo said...

In the spirit of my first comment on this thread, I now second lpmiller. Huh?

JayJayJackson said...

Bleeding Cool reported:

"The criticism comes down to one this, Isaac Perlmutter continues to run Marvel as if he were still its owner and in the fashion he always has, like a start-up company, with skeleton crew for maximum profit. And there’s only so many times you can cut to the bone."

"As the only conduit to Marvel, Perlmutter has cemented himself amongst the Board of Directors at Disney. While back at the company he controls but no longer owns, people afraid for their jobs are staying ungodly amounts of hours to clear their workload and, in most cases, exempt from overtime pay."

Marvelcution 2011 – The Spinning Pennies Of Isaac Perlmutter
Thanks Jerry for posting that link earlier... very interesting stuff.

JayJayJackson said...

I also noticed this on the Bleeding Cool web site:

Isaac Perlmutter To Make $1,500,000,000 From Marvel Sale To Disney

It just makes me wonder, what has Isaac Perlmutter done in his entire life to deserve to make that amount of money? Really. Because I'm not terribly aware of his history.

bmcmolo said...

That Mad Men-era photo of him in that BC piece is sublime, though. Maybe not worth a billion and a half! But hilariously awesome.

Crummy news all around, tho, pic notwithstanding.

William said...

Wow! That was the whole issue? Really? I thought you were just getting to page 4 or 5 of the book with your critique and suddenly it was over. Man, talk about nothing happening in a comic. I would have been pretty pissed if I had already spent $6 on this so-called story and by the end of issue #2 basically nothing has happened except a kid gets bit by a spider and tells his friend about and then decides not to tell his dad. Wow! That's some exciting super-hero sh!# there.

I am literally a life-long Spider-Man fan. I would actually consider myself arguably the biggest Spider-Man fan on Earth, but I have not read this nor do I plan to. I do however have some cursory observations from what I have garnered in the press and from your reviews here.

As a casual observer, here are a couple of problems I already see with this version of "Spider-Man":

First, what's up with the stupid powers? Invisibility and electric shock? Yeah, that screams spider to me.

Second, I hope someone paid Alex Ross for his work, because that costume is a blatant rip-off of the "prototype Spider-Man movie costume" he designed back in 2000 or so. (I apologize in advance if Ross was in fact consulted and compensated and I just didn't know it).

Third, what's up with the STUPID POWERS! Any slim chance that I might have checked this book out (and possibly become a reader) has been totally squashed by the ridiculous decision to basically make up new "spider" powers for the "new" Spider-Man. Screw the fact that they are totally illogical, plus the fact that they are really uninteresting and idiotic powers for someone called Spider-Man. Just another case of the writer overcomplicating what should be a relatively simple concept. Fail!

Anonymous said...

Shooter: "They start us out with an introductory caption...."

[MikeAnon:] Anybody else absolutely loathe this recent convention as much as I do? Used to be, if there was something a comic book needed to tell you that happened in other issues, there were two vehicles for conveying that information: (1) flashbacks and (2) thought balloons (both of which were accompanied by editor's notes to let you know what issues to pick up to fill in the blanks beyond what you were given -- which I still think is a back-issue marketing tool par excellence). Now, instead of opening your comic to the first page and diving right into the meat of the story, you have to sit through bland exposition that sounds horribly dorky and makes you wonder why you read comics when all the stories amount to are dorky explanations like this. [--MikeAnon]

Shooter: "It's another decompressed issue."

[MikeAnon:] No kidding. When you got to the part about Miles climbing the wall and said, "Thus endeth...," I said, "That's it? I was waiting for the real story to start!" [--MikeAnon]

JayJay: "...what has Isaac Perlmutter done in his entire life to deserve to make that amount of money?"

[MikeAnon:] Bio from Forbes Magazine: "A veteran of Israel's 1967 Six-Day War, Isaac Perlmutter emigrated to the United States with just $250 to his name. Arriving in New York City, he put his knowledge of Hebrew to use presiding over Jewish funerals in Brooklyn. With partner Avi Arad, Perlmutter became the principal shareholder in Odd-Lot Trading Co., and eventually the owner of Toy Biz. In 1998 Perlmutter successfully merged Toy Biz with Marvel Entertainment Group, beating out Carl Icahn and Ron Perelman for control of the bankrupt company. In August 2009 Perlmutter sold Marvel Entertainment and the rights to use its comic book characters to Disney for $4 billion in cash and stock, with Perlmutter remaining onboard as CEO."

Essentially, he made good business choices, which is generally how rich people get that way. [--MikeAnon]

JediJones said...

Randy, that's a really, really great observation about how panel drawings are re-used in one frame after another, even to the point that the detail lines are direct copies of one another. Maybe this new artistic sensibility they're calling "decompression" is really just "cost-cutting" and the profit motive at work. Maybe the reason we're seeing "decompression" isn't because of some grand artistic principle, but simply because in the digital age it's so easy to cut and paste artwork just for the purposes of saving time and money. Not only does the writer get by easy with bigger panels and less plot points to write, but the artist can cut back on rendering time by cutting and pasting the same image over and over across all those slow-paced, repetitive panels.

This technique definitely helps both the writer and artist, but it probably also makes the editors happy. The creators meet their deadlines easier. And they have more time to produce more comics per month, so the editors don't have to worry about paying and managing a bigger staff or larger group of freelancers.

From an artistic standpoint, this is really abandoning an advantage that comic books have over other mediums in terms of visual shorthand. Why do we need to see someone being punched through 3 panels of the same shot, with just the character's fist moving closer to the other person's face each time? Couldn't comics show the action in one panel and put some speedlines in to indicate the direction of the action? To me that's even clearer than the decompressed way, because I end up having to look back and forth between both decompressed panels to see what object moved between each one. It's awkward and annoying. Comics are completely wrong to try to emulate film frames like this, because in film your eye can detect movement. No such advantage in comics. Using multiple panels just to show movement of objects is a waste of valuable storytelling space and leads to a less smooth, more confusing reading experience, in my opinion.

Marc, the "New 52" Aquaman #1 did a good job visually identifying its flashback scenes. They just changed the coloring to more of a sepia tone, an easily understood visual queue for a flashback.

KintounKal said...

William,

You might want to do some research on "Misumena vatia" before claiming invisibility is a stupid power for Spider-Man. Likewise, you do know that some spiderlings are born without color to hide from predators, right?

Jerry Novick said...

RE: "Four in the drawer" --

That's a shame, Jim, that they've lost such a valuable weapon in their arsenal. Having that 4 issue padding kept the work flow moving along. Plus it also was valuable for newcomers to place inventory work with Marvel - some editors would use one of those slots to give a place for new voices to develop. Don Daley was great at this; I benefited from his drawer inventory policy (though the story unfortunately never saw print due to the massacre of 1995).

ChrisFusco said...

Why is it whenever a comic character gains invisibility powers, it automatically extends to their clothing as well? :)

JediJones said...

KintounKal, that doesn't explain why his clothes disappear. As I've said before, the "Ultimate" comics seem like they were written by Hollywood screenwriters who take a comic book and "adapt" it into something completely different because they think they're smarter than the original creators. Why would I want to read that, especially when I can buy a comic with the real, original character instead? The fact that this character's even called Spider-Man seems like a cheap cash-in and a dilution of the brand name. Our only hope might be that Disney DOES step in and get Marvel under control.

As far as why Perlmutter made money, it seems like he did it in a fair and honest way to me. Toy Biz made great toys, arguably even better ones than what bigger company Hasbro is doing right now. Toy Biz created a lot of innovations. Sometimes you make money by adding just a little bit to the lives of a lot of people. It may not seem like a "big" thing, but a lot of small things add up.

The word "deserves" doesn't really apply, because there isn't a limited supply of money in the world. It's not something that has to be rationed out based on what someone thinks someone deserves. Wealth in the modern world is virtually unlimited. People only have to provide a product or service that other people want to create wealth. Every dollar you earn honestly means you contibuted a dollar's worth of benefits to someone else's life.

I can't explain the wheelings and dealings that helped him get a controlling stake in Marvel. It sounds like the guys in charge before him were more of the con artist type, trying to take advantage of other people more often than they actually contributed something. By putting money into Marvel, Perlmutter was taking a risk and keeping the company alive for others to enjoy. If no one wanted to buy Marvel, it would just go out of business. The person who invests their money into it takes a risk and deserves to reap the reward if things go well.

As for the real reason he made the big money? Because Disney thinks they can make even more money off Marvel than they paid for it.

Ultimately the value of the company comes down to Marvel's characters. We can debate all day long about who created them or popularized them and who deserves to profit from their image and likeness. I think it has to be judged on a case-by-case basis.

I don't take the knee-jerk position that we can identify a specific creator of a character and say that they really deserve the profits. Other creators went on to develop existing characters like Superman in comics and other media. Is the original creator of Daredevil more deserving of recognition than Frank Miller, who probably saved the character from being cancelled and forgotten?

The creators aren't solely responsible for the value of a character. Without someone writing the checks for the publishing, marketing and other administration of those characters over the years, the characters might have faded into obscurity and never earned their valuable Q-scores. Arguably the Iron Man movie added more brand name value to that character than he ever had from the comics alone. Not to mention you can take a character like Captain America and make a lousy movie like the one from the early '90s or you can make a good one like we got this year. The creation of the character itself is where things start, but the financial people and other creative people who keep them alive and kicking in good projects year after year deserve their share of credit.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jim Shooter,

I realize your queue is long but . . .

We all witnessed the death of advertising in comics in the 90s. How hurtful has that been to the industry?

When you were in charge, how important was the revenue from those candy bar, bicycle, cartoon and toy ads? How much of a book's overhead was covered by those ads?

Was it like with magazines, where I've always heard that the books could be given away and still make money from the ads?

I know that Valiant/Defiant/Broadway didn't seem to have many outside ads either. Had the market shifted away from kids so much that nobody wanted to advertise in comics?

thanks,

-- Jay C

Anonymous said...

Jim - speaking of "inventory stories," I remember reading that either during your tenure as EIC or one of the ones before you, there was a regularly scheduled book called something like MARVEL FILL IN, that was produced monthly, often using multiple heroes so that it could serve as a fill in for more than one book - for example, a Hulk/Iron Man/Captain America team up could fill in for any one of those three characters' books, or, in a pinch, for an issue of THE AVENGERS. Can you comment on this?

JediJones said...

I actually think that's a much better cover than any of the first three. The cityscape background is nicely stylized with all those attractive shades of green and they make a nice contrast against the Spider costume. The pose is pretty spidery and looks like Miles (I won't ever call this one "Spidey") is just letting go of his webline after getting to the top of the arc. The spot where his knee crosses over his elbow is awkward though, and does make it difficult to interpret the image at first glance.

Of course I'd love to see an image on the cover that actually represents something that happens in the story. I guess now that the stories develop so slowly and don't promise any action within the 22 pages, they can't always find something interesting to put onto the cover.

It's funny how they can't see that they're actually indicting themselves long before the critics get to by using these dishonest covers. If they're really confident that slow-paced, dialogue-heavy stories where not much happens are what the audience wants, why don't their covers reflect what's inside the book? Isn't this false advertising? They put Spider-Man on the cover and he doesn't even appear in costume in the issue. It's never a good idea for your marketing to represent one thing while your product is something completely different. If they really believe that Spider-Man action is going to sell the book, why don't they actually put some inside it instead of just on the cover?

KintounKal said...

Jedi Jones,

I already made that remark myself in yesterday's Spider-Man thread. Does Sue Richards' costume going invisible bother you?

If you have trouble accepting the fact that Miles can blend in with his background, that's fine. I just find it silly when people insist Bendis is providing him with random powers.

Cousin Vinny said...

Nicholas Yankovec-

Your comment nailed it. Bendis 'writes for the trades'. Now I understand the decompressed style of storytelling that is currently in vogue with the comic book industry. In this case, Bendis is a literary genius, as he is writing what his intended audience wants. (i.e., the people who buy TPB's.)

Just one little problem... Not only decompression hurts sales of monthly comics, not a whole lot of people are buying the TPB's either. I could be mistaken. Are the sales volumes of TPB's vastly superior to the monthlies? If a creative team is going to go via the decompression route, perhaps the publisher would see fit to simply publish it all at once in a 100+ page graphic novel?

Also, allow me one more brief observation. Today's comic books are hampered by years and years of continuity and character development. Multiple creative teams have lent their imprint on such comic books over the years. Yet, the same characters, heroes, villains, story lines, etc. all continue ad nauseam.

I mean, Superman must have battled with Lex Luthor at least 50 times. Ditto Batman and The Joker. Capt. America and Red Skull. Spiderman vs. Sandman. Fantastic Four matching wits with Dr. Doom. All of this going on for 70+ years.

I know this isn't an accurate analogy, but I believe the current comic books are the palimpsest of our times. (Look it up in Wikipedia.) This is due to an aversion to new ideas and new formats, not a scarcity of ideas and materials. There is plenty of creative talent that can revitalize the comics industry with a new pantheon of characters and stories.

Figuratively speaking, every month, a creative team is staring at a digital canvas that has 30, 40, 50 years of history faintly drawn/written in the background. The reader is also faced with the same difficulties, as he/she is trying to 'grok' the latest issue of a comic book, and juggling the continuities and characters in his/her mind.

Jim Shooter-

Again, thank you for another review. Feel free to shoot from the hip. (pun intended.) I do find them educational.

barbabravo said...

William said... "First, what's up with the stupid powers? Invisibility and electric shock? Yeah, that screams spider to me."

I'm not really seeing how super strength and a 'sudden danger sense' shout spider any louder...

JediJones said... "The word "deserves" doesn't really apply, because there isn't a limited supply of money in the world. It's not something that has to be rationed out based on what someone thinks someone deserves. Wealth in the modern world is virtually unlimited. People only have to provide a product or service that other people want to create wealth."

Wow. You're not a student of economics, are you?

Dusty. said...

I'd like to add one more thing to Tom Brevoort, who I actually do like a lot, despite how unreasonably frustrating he can be to me, as I'm sure I am to him. Tom, if you are so interested in what Jim Shooter's opinions are on your new Marvel comics, as you said, and you're obviously interested in how he tells his stories in this blog, as you personally told me that "he knows how to spin a good yarn", then why not ask the man point blank right here if he'd like to write something for Marvel?

Who the hell wouldn't want that? That's called a win! You see how popular the guy's blog has become in a very short period of time, and there is no doubting that he knows his shit, both with Marvel characters, and with the craft of writing. I'd say he's the man, but Stan has more than earned that, but he's definitely the Shooter, and he needs to be writing something at Marvel ASAP.

You guys seek out creators all the time, but you always act as if creators have to come to you and let you know they want to do something when customers make requests to get the Jim Shooters or John Byrnes on a project. I call bullshit on that! He's great, you know he's great, we all know he's great, but none of us understand why you or anybody at Marvel wouldn't be beating his door down to work on a project! Who do you really think people would rather read writing a Marvel comic, Jim Shooter or Warren Ellis?

Be the hero for once and make it happen, Tom!

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Jim,

Thanks, but you can't possibly be referring to me. I don't know how to whistle. :)

Dear Jerry,

Thanks for the Bleeding Cool article on Marvel. Have you seen the earlier one on DC? Tough times. Weak products make them tougher.

In the Marvel article, Rich Johnston wrote that "Jim Sokolowski, Marvel's COO, was let go." I wouldn't have known who he was if not for Jim's reproduction of a letter of Sokolowski's in "Something Groovy."

Dear JediJones,

I suspect the covers just don't matter much anymore except for variants (must make more of 'em!) because a lot of people, myself included, go into a comic store or to a comic store website already knowing which number of which title we're going to buy.

The last time I bought a comic just for its cover was three years ago. The interior of the variant edition of Ms. Marvel #31 had nothing to do with the cover, though fortunately for me the story was a done-in-one that I could still mostly understand and appreciate. (I last read Ms. Marvel when Dave Cockrum was drawing it!)

I'm still a bit annoyed by the irrelevant cover three years later. I used to be bothered by Silver Age covers that didn't quite fit what was inside -- especially since I bought back issues on the basis of their covers -- but those covers are models of relevance compared to this one! Or the nonvariant cover which features a generic pose that in no way represents the nonviolent, psychologically driven story inside.

Ms. Marvel wears her costume in only two interior panels (flashbacks to the moment when Rogue stole her powers). She doesn't use any powers in the story and if you blink, you'll miss one panel in which Ms. Marvel thinks, "before I had super-powers" ... that we never actually see! It's not even clear Rogue stole her powers. In the first flashback, Ms. Marvel's mother refers to stolen "memories" and "emotions"; in the second, Ms. Marvel thinks, "Rogue took them away from me years ago." The referent of "them" is not specified.

Looking back at this issue, I'm realizing how much I took for granted, and I'm no Ms. Marvel expert. It's hard to truly step out of one's shoes and think like a new reader. I've been reading comics since 1975 and even I have no idea why at the end, Ms. Marvel suddenly declares, "And what I need to do ... is kill Norman Osborn." Huh? Osborn isn't in the issue at all, not counting an ad for Amazing Spider-Man #573 showing the Green Goblin (and the new reader won't guess that GG is Osborn, unless he remembers the movie). I didn't buy Ms. Marvel #32. Or any later issue. 'Nuff said.

techberry said...

I like my 'Jim' unfiltered, thank you very much.

Were you blunt about Brian Michael Bendis’s writing? Yep. But I like to pull the bandaid off rather than prolonging the agony.

Brian Michael Bendis has written some stellar shit. I expect he'll write more.

But when writing a book about a 'new' Spider-Man, the death of Peter Parker (a character whom is engrained in the mythos and mind of readers new and old), the bar is set high.

Having said that, I love the idea of passing the torch. I look forward to 'what is old is new again', to getting Spider-Man back to his values, to unload some baggage and to be fearless in innovation. But the story needs to be solid, paced over a number of issues. I want to be introduced, no "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am". I want to believe that this character is worthy of the mantle of Spider-Man. I enjoy nothing more than getting to last page of a well crafted story and knowing before even reading the last panel that I'll be rushing to get that next issue.

Keep it coming and keep it raw, Jim. Its why I keep coming back for more...

Shawn James said...

It seems to me a lot of the comic book people want to do novels but are just too scared to step out and give it a try, so they try to shoehorn novel approaches in a comic. The padding is like writing individual chapters. Each chapter focuses on a few scenes relevant to a plot point. While that approach works for a novel, it doesn't work for a comic. A comic is a fast pace. The entire story has to be done in 21 pages or the reader isn't satisfied enough to pick up the next issue. I wish comic book writers would learn that each medium has its own structure and form, and to work within those parameters. No one is going to spend $24 to see Spider-Man in costume fighting crime. If it's not done in the first issue, the reader is done with the series.

That's why this USM just doesn't work for me.

Shawn James said...

And I'd have to say Jim was being very sensitive in calling editors Bozos and clueless. I feel that way about them myself. Editorial at Marvel and DC have allowed writers and artists to get away with too much if you ask me.

I had heard Bendis came up with this Miles Morales nonsense because he said he couldn't write any more Peter Parker stories. I feel that's insubordination plain and simple. If he did this at any other company he'd be shown the door and a new writer who COULD write Peter Parker stories would be hired. To me, that's just disrespectful. I don't care who you are, the characters come FIRST and you the talent come second. As a writer, if I were working with commercial characters like Spidey and Captain America, I know my place is to make the characters look strong, and create quality entertainment for the reader, not push my own personal agenda through the character.
I feel a lot of these comic writers and artists today are a little full of themselves and need to check their egoes at the door.

Dan said...

Take your favorite movie... slow down the speed to about 2 frames per second... spend 12 hours trying to watch it all...--oh, and pay 3 times the retail price--and that's how it feels reading a Bendis book.

It might be a great story, but when stretched out so thin the experience becomes AGONY.

Diacanu said...

So, to summarize these...

Issue #1- Eeet's steenky weenky.

Issue #2- Ehhh...gettin' better..kinda, sorta...

JediJones said...

Dusty, I hear that! It sounds like Tom Brevoort and Jim discussed a new Avengers story a couple years ago, but they had a disagreement and it didn't work out. I say that enough time has passed since then that Marvel should try to work out the details on a new project for Jim. I think he should get some extra consideration from the current Marvel staff because they might not have their jobs today if not for him. Jim may not be a founding father of Marvel, but he was in charge of the comics for 10 years during a big rebound for the company and the industry, a lot of innovation in the business, and well-regarded and remembered stories. Any comics company should realize that an unemployed Jim Shooter represents a major untapped resource for comic books. I couldn't really guess what the project could be. Maybe even something under the Ultimates banner?

KintounKal, Invisible Woman has the power to change other objects to be invisible, not just herself. That's not a power that exists in a spider. The bottom line here is that this is not an interesting power, no matter how you explain it. When Spider-Man came out in 1962, he had new, interesting, original powers. Now we get a character who copies the name of Spider-Man and copies the superpowers of someone else. How is this character supposed to get anyone excited about comic books? There's nothing new or innovative here.

Barbabravo, that's quite a condescending comment. You're free to disagree, but there's nothing uncommon, unreasonable, uninformed or uneducated about what I said. It didn't take me long to find a video that completely explains my position in economic terms. Wealth (NOT money, which is just a paper or electronic record with no intrinsic value) is the product of human effort and ingenuity. That resource is virtually unlimited in our world, or at least severely untapped and underutilized. How else would you explain innovation? When people innovate, they create something new or improved that others find useful, desirable or valuable, in other words something that makes us wealthier.

jimshooter said...

Dear Jay C,

Ads, ad revenue, etc. It's in the queue. Thanks.

jimshooter said...

Anonymous commented:

"Jim - speaking of "inventory stories," I remember reading that either during your tenure as EIC or one of the ones before you, there was a regularly scheduled book called something like MARVEL FILL IN, that was produced monthly, often using multiple heroes so that it could serve as a fill in for more than one book - for example, a Hulk/Iron Man/Captain America team up could fill in for any one of those three characters' books, or, in a pinch, for an issue of THE AVENGERS. Can you comment on this?"

Answer:
Not true. That's a myth.

KintounKal said...

Jedi Jones,

That's just a weak double standard. If it's plausible for Sue's powers to work that way, there's nothing far fetched about Miles' powers working like that too. Besides, you keep dodging the question of how a spider sense is more believable.

Diacanu said...

If a human being can be implausibly sub-atomically discombobulated to warp light around themselves, then why can't a spider be implausibly sub-atomically discombobulated to warp light around themselves, and then, is it really such of a leap that this discombobulation be passed along in its fluids?

Diacanu said...

In fact, sub-atomic discombobulation would have to help out for Classic Original Non-Ultimate Spidey's powers to work.

Plain old gamma rays just aren't going to do the trick, the ray that zapped the spider must be ret-conned to be leaking off some extra frinky-frat particles that old-fangled 60's Geiger meters couldn't read.

Well, ditto the Hulk.

Ditto a bunch of 'em.

Pierre Villeneuve said...

William; "I would have been pretty pissed if I had already spent $6 on this so-called story"

Not $6... $8... form what I understand... Ultimate Spider-man is $3.99 for a 20 pages comic.

But I may be misinformed.

Pierre Villeneuve said...

JediJones; "Couldn't comics show the action in one panel and put some speedlines in to indicate the direction of the action?"

Speedlines are on their way out... like thought ballons and footnotes.

Less and less artists use them in comics because.... it looks too "silly".... too much like a comic book.

More and more.... artists are doing illustrations... or think that they are working on a TV show.

So no silly speed line in their illustrations/TV shows now. :(

Yeah... it makes no sense to me either.

barbabravo said...

JediJones, OK I apologise for the tone of my last post, but still... wow.

I watched just enough of that video to know the guy was talking absolute nonsense. Wealth is a relative term, it doesn't exist without some people having more than others.

Using the current capitalism model, you'd be hard pushed to find many examples of people that have become wealthy without the exploitation of people in some part of the world living at or below the poverty line.

"Every dollar you earn honestly means you contibuted a dollar's worth of benefits to someone else's life"? Really? I suppose it depends on what you call honestly, it's certainly not interchangeable with legally - bankers, lawyers, politicians, stock brokers, Jeph Loeb, need I go on?

Sorry for going so OT, I'll bow out now.

Anonymous said...

I really like the art in #2 ... will be good to see how the artists handle a super-hero story, when this finally becomes one.

Pete Marco

Anonymous said...

Tom Breevort is the same person who says they won't use thought balloons because of what that signifys to readers and that they are "embarassing". I believe Tom Breevort is in the wrong industry. Clearly, comic books, with all of their escapism and magic, aren't good enough for Tom, who suffers from the rest of comicdom's collective chip on their shoulder about that elusive mainstream acceptance. -L.B

Diacanu said...

If thought balloons are "embarrasing", then...invent a less embarrassing thought balloon!!

They don't HAVE to look like happy clouds!

Innovate!

Bozos!
Yeah, I'll say it, and stick by it.

Bo-fuggin'-zos!

Anonymous said...

4 dollars for 20 pages to get to what amounts to a preview of a collected edition is too much. I won't buy these.

Thank you Mr. Shooter for your blog!

JL

ja said...

Diacanu said: "If a human being can be implausibly sub-atomically discombobulated to warp light around themselves, then why can't a spider be implausibly sub-atomically discombobulated to warp light around themselves, and then, is it really such of a leap that this discombobulation be passed along in its fluids?"

Why not have irradiated butt sweat turn into multi-directional beads of stinky death? How about the power to emanate light from one's nipples? What about the power of accuracy, so whenever a mutant works the claw machine at a carnival, he can always grab that expensive watch no one else can ever get?

Maybe the power to absorb others' annoying personalities? The power to fly only 4 feet in the air at a time? How about a human being who can teleport, but only from one phone booth to another, which really screws up his abilities with the lack of phone booths. He can only teleport from the very few phone booths left in England.

The power to communicate totally through old show tunes? Accelerated Acid Reflux? How about the power to sense when other people are about to get a migraine?

Nah. Not really such a leap at all, really.

=P

Diacanu said...

Ja-

(Heath Ledger Joker voice)
Now you're talkin!

Jacob said...

JediJones:

As I've said before, the "Ultimate" comics seem like they were written by Hollywood screenwriters who take a comic book and "adapt" it into something completely different because they think they're smarter than the original creators.

I think this is silly and pointlessly nasty. Why can't it just be a creator - you know, a creative person - going "hmmm, I wonder what would happen if we did this." Where does this sense of anger and resentment come from?

The Ultimate line of comics has done some good work, some forgettable work, and some terrible work, but the good stuff has given us some innovative, interesting new takes on classic characters, while the bad stuff can be painlessly forgotten. Either way, I don't think anyone working on those books, good or bad, is cacklingly rubbing their hands together at the thought of "ruining" your favorite characters.

Generally speaking, I think there's a fine line between legitimately criticizing the execution of a concept versus rampaging and getting really weird and territorial about the mere existence of the idea in the first place, and it's reaffirmed my high opinion of him that Jim has gone to pains to stick with the former. Conversely, it's kind of depressing to read his careful, craft-based explanations of why a page or a sequence doesn't work and then come in here and see people going "oh my god a black Spider-Man, the world is ending!"

Defiant1 said...

When the direct market began, comic shops could order in abundance because back issues were collectible and comics shops were guaranteed to eventually sell the comics to back issue collectors. Publishing 6 issue story arcs in TPB form mere months after the individual comics sell out pretty much sabotages most back issue sales. It seemingly helps the publisher because they get a higher dollar reprinting comics that already have the art paid for. In the long run it hurts them because it means 1) Comic shops have to order as conservatively as possible so they don't get stuck with unsaleable back issues. 2) Any dead inventory that a shop gets stuck with means their money is tied up on inventory that devalues itself at an accelerated rate. I recall one retailer that never made a healthy profit on his business until he shut it down and flushed all his inventory out at wholesale rates. A healthy back issue market is 1) a sign that collectors actually take pride in and want what a publisher has done in the past and 2) a positive cash flow that provides a comic store with the available cash to order aggressively on new products. Going straight to TPB is really not wise in the grand scheme of things. Collectors are far more loyal buyers than readers. Ideally a comic should appeal to both the collector and the reader, but in all honestly, many of the comics sold never get read at all. They are bought out of nostalgia so that a collector can take pride in an unbroken run of issues from a series. Publishers have sabotaged themselves on that front also by releasing so many variants that collectors can't afford to maintain a complete set of anything. If one person was actually making decisions like this, I'd call him an idiot. As it is, the industry is a bunch of people incapable of seeing 5 minutes into the future with regards to the consequences of their actions. Rather than steer the winds of change and progress, they flap like a flag in the wind with little control of what happens next. Gimmick only last so long.

As someone once told me in the past... "Trick me once, shame on you. Trick me twice, shame on me."

Tue Sørensen said...

Jim, I love these reviews. It's absolutely the right thing to do to show current Marvel and DC how editorially and creatively deficient they are, and hold them to a better standard. About time someone did exactly that. Thanks for this blog, and thanks for confirming most of my prejudice about current comics (which I read maybe one or two titles of - dropped almost entirely out of collecting new stuff several years ago. It's just been one disappointment after the other since the early '90s).

Defiant1 said...

I have no interest in a black Spider-Man. Spider-Man is an established character with recognition outside of the comics community. He's been around for almost 50 years. Non-comic fans are even aware that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. If Marvel has a great idea for a black character with Spider related superpowers, publish the character, but don't be so dirty as to use bait-and-switch tactics to pass him off as a character that already has 50 years behind him. That's a little bit like your mom remarrying another man and having her insist you call him the same name as your real father. I consider it deceptive. I consider it the equivalent of fraud. If I stepped in on this title as a fan not knowing Peter Parker was dead, I'd really be pissed. I'd be looking for Peter Parker in the comic and want my money back. As it is, I knew in advance of the switch and I can just steer clear of the debacle.

My gripes have nothing to do with race and color. I work with people all over the world. I enjoy connecting with people and understanding cultural differences. I do have a problem with someone handing me an orange when I fully expected to buy an apple. There are thousands of well written comics and characters. Of the well written ones, I pick up the ones that appeal to me. I don't buy generic comics and think nothing else matters simply because it's well written. If I buy a Hulk comic, I want to read about Hulk, not Scarlett Witch calling herself Hulk. To me, this whole series is disrespectful to Steve Ditko and everyone who followed that tried to stay true to the original concepts of the character.

Regardless, I've voted with my dollars by not giving Marvel any of my money. I wasn't deceived by Marvel's attempt to milk off of an established character's name.

I honestly hope Marvel ceases to publish comics. I'd rather see nothing than see unimaginative minds bastardizing characters I once found inspiring.

Ole M. Olsen said...

Dear Jim,

Surely you cannot be blamed for still having a bit of Marvel in you and wanting Marvel to make good stuff. After all, you "were" Marvel for about ten years. You were EIC during Marvel's most succesful time since Stan's revolution in the 60s. While you were EIC, Marvel arguably produced some of its greatest stuff ever. And "your" Marvel was the Marvel that many of us grew up with and long for.

I think that many of us are glad that you're still tempted to say "we" when you talk about Marvel. :-)

For various reasons *) I have only been buying the odd TPB (with a few backissue binges now and then) for the better part of the the past twenty years. I'm presently in the process of trying to get back to regular monthly comic book reading again. Just on a moderate scale - a handful of enjoyable titles, I thought.

Turns out it isn't all that easy to FIND a handful of enjoyable books. I had read that this new Ultimate Spider-Man title was enjoyable, and thought I might give it a try. It seems I can save my money.

You see, ideally I like my comics to be enjoyable from one month to the next, to make me want to come back the next month, to take more than a few minutes to read (and longer to read than to recap)...

...and to even feature a more or less complete story - or at least a more or less complete PART of a story - each month. But I guess THAT is a Utopian dream these days.

I live in Norway, where there (to my knowledge) are no "proper" comic shops left that sell "loose" issues of US comics, so it takes a bit of planning (and overseas shipping rates) to get hold of them. Trade paperbacks are much easier to get hold of, and yesterday I picked up the rather new "Magnus, Robot Fighter: Metal Mob" and "Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom: Troublemaker" from Dark Horse Comics, featuring two old favourite characters of mine from two decades ago, written by the same guy.

Real comics! Real stories! And while I think the artwork was better twenty years ago (your mileage may vary), I've always said that the story - and not least how it is written - is more important than the artwork. And yeah, this is how I like my comics!!

It's sad that these titles are rather newly cancelled as well...

Yes, it does bring a smile to my face when you admit to almost writing "we" about Marvel. It tells me that you're still proud of the work you and Marvel did while you were there, and that you still want Marvel to be the best they CAN be and make the most of the potential of their wealth of characters.

And I really wish that you COULD say "we" about Marvel again. Now, THAT would be a dream come true!

*) A few of the reasons: The decline of quality at Marvel after Jim Shooter got fired; history repeating itself and Jim Shooter getting fired from my new favourite Valiant; getting tired of the speculator boom, hollow hypes, multiple variant gimmick covers and little content, too much dark and gritty and too little FUN.

William said...

"KintounKal said...
William,
You might want to do some research on "Misumena vatia" before claiming invisibility is a stupid power for Spider-Man. Likewise, you do know that some spiderlings are born without color to hide from predators, right?"

Gee K-Dog thanks, I didn't know you cared. Sorry, but I'm a little behind on my arachnology studies at the moment, but I did, in fact, look it up and strangely I could find nothing mentioned about a spider that can turn INVISIBLE!!!

Now, you may want to research the difference between "camouflage" and "invisibility". Because what the character (Miles) is doing in that comic is turning invisible (like the Invisible Man, Invisible Woman, Invisible Kid, etc.) not merely camouflaging himself like the "Goldenrod Crab Spider" does for example. (FYI, Jim also pointed this out in his review).

BTW, you may not mean to, but I've read a lot of your posts on this forum and you really come across as a pompous jackass. You might want to work on that in the future. Just saying.

Suzanne de Nimes (suedenim) said...

Re: the hypothetical existence of "MARVEL FILL IN", the book "that was produced monthly, often using multiple heroes so that it could serve as a fill in for more than one book - for example, a Hulk/Iron Man/Captain America team up could fill in for any one of those three characters' books, or, in a pinch, for an issue of THE AVENGERS."

I've read this too, but it would have been in the mid-'70s, before Jim's tenure as EIC. I think I read this either in the "tribute/fundraiser" book about and on behalf of Bill Mantlo book that came out several years ago, or maybe in TwoMorrows' BACK ISSUE.

Anyway, the gist of it was that Bill Mantlo had a gig as the "regular writer" of this hypothetical title, where all stories would be team-ups of some sort that could be slotted into several possible books if they were off schedule. IIRC, this "title" didn't last all that long, though - maybe less than a year.

Diacanu said...

William-

"BTW, you may not mean to, but I've read a lot of your posts on this forum and you really come across as a pompous jackass. You might want to work on that in the future. Just saying".

Ooo!! Do me next! Do me next!!

Will said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will said...

@ William

Thank you very much! Glad to know its not just me!

Decompressed stories have their place, I just hate to see them become the standard.

Hard to see Marvel delivering a Spider-man story like ASM 238 - "The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man!" anytime soon. That one was a treasure.

Brian said...

I admit, new reader me is a long time in the past. But current comic-savy me? I LOVE this book. So well written, so well drawn, so compelling, and so many fun parallels back to the original Ultimate Spider-man from a decade or so back.

gn6196 said...

I attended the Baltimore comic con this year and it was filled with people cosplaying. The NYCcon was packed with people who are enjoying the characters from the big two. There is no shortage of potential comic customers. It will always go back to the way comics are failing to make themselves a value to these people. No one is waiting 4 issues to get one story when it could be done in one issue.

Jerry Novick said...

gn6196 said...

"No one is waiting 4 issues to get one story when it could be done in one issue."

Especially with the $2.99/$3.99 price point.

Firestone said...

You know what I'd like Mr. Shooter to review?
One of those new Stan Lee Presents titles. I've been enjoying them. They're a little decompressed, but not horribly so.
I'd suggest The Traveler or Soldier One by preference.

New universe, new title, Stan Lee concept. Just to compare it to DC and Marvel's versions of their issue 1s.

Chris Hlady said...

Ultimate Marvel: I got the impression it was for kids with the attention span of a gnat, raised on video-games, (kids of the upper-middle class). -- not that there is anything wrong with that.

So do we have here the case of criticizing an apple for not being an orange? Mind you, my impressions may be way off base.

By the way, I was kind of visualizing Jim on Dr. Phil: so did all that criticism as a young boy-genius writer eventually turn the bullied into the bullier? What is the impact of comics on seemingly mature adults? ROFLOL - - HULK SMASH!!

Yeah, I got no time for Ultimate Marvel. Reminds me of Batman Odyssey, which was a complete waste of time, talent, and space.

In the video-game culture, there is something that gets off on all that. Reminds me of the video of killing Gaddafi, or a hockey game. It's all emotion. Does it grip the participant?? Sure, but it's something primal and base. May even be popular and profitable, but not full of redeemable value.

Anyway, does bullying work? Or at least to a degree. Does the creator need a bully to rally against, and would they be lost without one?

Anonymous said...

Hey Jim, I don't know if this more recent article on Marvel's upper management has been mentioned but it does explain a lot these days.

[URL="http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/10/20/the-spinning-pennies-of-marvel%e2%80%99s-isaac-perlmutter/"]the-spinning-pennies-of-marvel[/URL]

Sincerely, Hamdinger.

Teddy said...

I've been a comic book reader my whole life. I actually learned how to read from comics. It was the only thing I remember wanting to actually look at. this was the 80's of course. He used to share his collection with his friend and they'd go over and read the books and there was this huge wall. I couldn't tell you what books there were but I remember a few and I sought them out over time. That was magic to me, pure and simple. As I'm considerably older, I look at the books now and I wonder where is the same magic that enthralled me as a young boy? I wouldn't say it's gone, but just neglected. Like I wouldn't try to be negative against Brian Bendis because his name sells books and people generally like them. But I would say something about what has happened to the characters in the books that he was written. In the 8 years since he has taken over writing of the avengers titles, nothing has changed, nothing has happened. I don't know if it's because I don't read for the trade but I'm a monthly reader. A good serial to me is something that keeps me firmly in the issue i'm reading while still advancing the story. A complaint of mine is that each issue isn't meaty enough for me to remember from one month to the next. Right now there are three avengers books, two of which fail to really push anything along except a trade. I don't know what's going on and I'm not in the know enough to have a solution, I simply want to have a wall like my brother did and have stories in them like I had when I was a kid. I know this is a common complaint against both companies but I'm only 29 years old. I just want the magic back in between the covers. I know this isn't the place for it but maybe somebody would see this here more than anywhere else. But my point is, that magic came from when Jim was an editor and I read his books and that magic is still there. I frequent his blog because there is a true passion in every single word he writes. And he's been doing this for almost twice as long as I've been alive. that's a testament to something here. I think the world needs more people like Jim and quite Frankly, these books need more writers like him too.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jim:

Bendis is completely overrated. I am sure that if you would read his comics written the last few years you would feel the same as you did reading this issue. You will not say anything else, being the gentleman you have proved to be; but I am sure you would hate most of his full of decompressed shock-value and non-sense stories.

I like his Daredevil, and he came with the original Ultimate Spider-man in a time when the regular titles were just bad. His Sam & Twich for Image is worth-reading. But anything else? Just bad writing hyped.

-Freyes2011

Bosch Fawstin said...

Well, in addition to Jim, Steve Jobs used the word grok, and I grokked what the word meant the first time I heard it used in a sentence.

Dan said...

Bendis is killing the artform. Yes, he is selling to the "I'll buy comics till I die" crowd. But he is NOT appealing to casual consumers.

In the 70s/80s, I was dedicated to a few titles, but I was a casual consumer of many titles. A few Superman here, a few Spider-Man there, a Hulk and a Conan there. I was able to jump in and out of many titles. And sometimes, I'd stick around for a year or so.

But now? If I'm not all-in, I don't touch the series. Absolutely NO WAY I causally pick up ANYTHING Spider-Man or X-Men today (or any of the bigger names)--because I know automatically I won't get my money's worth.

How can Marvel or DC ever expect to draw in the curious fans when they keep getting burned?

Dan said...

Sorry I meant to say "no way I CASUALLY pick up..."

jimshooter said...

Dear Brian,

Absolutely nothing wrong with liking what you like. I'm trying to look at these books with publisher/editor eyes.

jimshooter said...

Dear Firestone,

Roger wilco. Coming up as soon as I get to it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big Bendis fan. He's my favorite writer currently producing comic books. I'm not a huge Spider-Man fan but his work on Ultimate Spider-Man along with Mark Bagley and a few of the other artists made the book not only a 'must buy' for me but one of my favorite if not my favorite comic to read month to month.

For Jim Shooter: I'm just wondering if you feel times change enough so that some creators are no longer relevant or their message just no longer interests the mass audience.

Thanks! - James Roberts

Dan said...

It must be added for fairness: a lot of the "magic" during Shooter's run was the talent that he oversaw. He hired COMIC BOOK writers, for one thing--not people who wish they were writing screenplays. (I know there's lost of overlap, but they're not interchangeable, not anymore than comic books vs comic strips.)

Shooter also enjoyed artists who were concerned with storytelling. A very dead art today.

So I liken Shooter to a pro football coach. When he was winning, he had good players. I don't believe Marvel or DC have very many good players. They have lots of tracers, but few artists. They have scene writers, but very few storytellers.

Shooter made good comic books. I really don't know what Marvel or DC are trying to make these days...

Daniel K said...

Didn't Bendis do a story where a character kicked Elektra in the vagina?

That's unspeakably poor.

Or was it some other writer-criminal?

Steven R. Stahl said...

Opining that someone "phoned it in" is less injurious and less insulting to the writer than opining that he did his best but is just a terrible, worthless writer. At least the writer who phoned it in is capable, in theory, of doing better.

If a writer regularly regurgitates material, without being pressured to be original or to improve, he won't be capable of assessing his own performance. Who's going to tell him his source material is deficient, except for his editor and analytical readers?

Mr. Shooter, you had no need to apologize.

SRS

Gregg H said...

Does anyone else think that in general the Marvel Ultimate line is kind of like the idea behing the movie HAMLET II? Just doing something that makes no sense, for no reason that could possibly seem good?
Mostly, I found the Ultimates to be what I would expect if I gave a 14yr old a copy of "The Official Marvel Index to the Avengers" (remember them?) and told them to replace all depth and subtlety with sex, gore, and swearing.

On topic, I will be in the minority here Jim and commend you on taking the high road in taking a step back from the comments that you think might have been a bit unfair to Bendis. It shows strong charachter and good judgement, as well as strengthening the overall impact of the rest of your critique.

Tue Sørensen said...

Yeah, Gregg H., I agree with you completely about the Ultimate line.

William said...

Hey Gregg H, don't forget to include:

Replace all the "action" with characters sitting around for page after page engaging in irritating, juvenile banter and replace all the "fun" with dark and depressing dreck.

ja said...

I thoroughly enjoyed The Ultimates 1 & 2 comic book series, primarily because of Bryan Hitch's beautiful illustrations and storytelling. I had no problems with the concept of giving us an alternate version of the Avengers, and I was really pleased with the characters and how they were handled.

I tried reading the Joe Madureira Ultimates book, and though I love Mad's beautiful work, the writing just laid there for me.

Ultimate FF, Ultimate Iron Man was tepid, I enjoyed the Gah Lak Tus stories. Overall a very hit-and-miss line of books for me.

It's been close to 5 years since I've read any of the subsequent stories from Marvel's Ultimate line. I had just reached a saturation level of comics that no longer engaged me the way they once had.

Picking something up here and there is fun, but when I do go into a comics shop, I see walls of color with very few standouts.

It feels like I'm witnessing desperate grabs for attention from an industry that doesn't seem to know how to produce/market significantly unique and/or strong-level stories and product.

Sigh.

ja said...

Dear Jim Shooter,

I'd love to get some perspective from you about what it would take to put together an independent comic book company today, like you did with Valiant?

Specifically how much money are we talking about - for talent, printing, etc. - for, say, a line of one dozen titles?

And I'm talking about a company that is NOT out to pay 10 cents on the dollar for talent. I'm talking about a company that could go toe-to-toe with Marvel & DC, with the resources to be able to attract the best talent out there.

I just wonder if there are any people out there with money, or have access to anyone else who has money, who might not know the specifics of what it would take to put together a company nowadays.

If they had a better idea of what it would take, maybe someone would/could see their way to investing in a new company, maybe with you at the helm?

Maybe it's a ridiculous question. But I think it'd be very interesting to know the answer. Maybe it would inspire someone to be able to visualize how they could start their own company...?

Defiant1 said...

I think it's a compliment to say the story was phoned in. If this is all he got after investing a lot of time, it's pretty sad.
Given the number of titles that Bendis writes (or has historically written in a month), I think everything he does for Marvel is phoned in. Out of curiosity, I checked out an old collected version of his AKA Goldfish work. It has whole pages without words, but other pages with sometimes 16 panels per page and full of words. I'd venture to say that an old EC comic has more story on one page than you get out of a whole comic from Bendis.

Teddy said...

@ Dan I agree completely. I remember when my pull went from a few key titles to almost everything on the rack. I had no problem buying the issues. (this is at Canadian pricing) at the time I found myself buying more to get the buzz. "A nice heady feeling when you've read a lot." I noticed the ratio slowly crept up more but then when I was putting down almost $40-50 bucks a week and not coming close to that satifisfied feeling when you've read something substantial. Then I just had to stop. Jim was a good QB. If for nothing else that despite whatever people said/say about him, it's in the books. they were on time and things happened. Reading comics these days kind of feels like being in a relationship with an alcoholic, you're promised changes and that things will be different, you buy into it and then you come home one day to find your lover passed out on the floor with a bottle of Jack.

I went on a bit of a ramble there, sorry.

Anonymous said...

So once again the Bendis apologists get their way. Ive never met a *writer* who was so thin skinned.

Jacob said...

Ultimate Marvel: I got the impression it was for kids with the attention span of a gnat, raised on video-games, (kids of the upper-middle class). -- not that there is anything wrong with that.

This is kind of obnoxious and awful and I think inadvertently speaks to the real reasons many people are reluctant to read comics - because it is a kind of toxic, hateful culture!

Jacob said...

"Oh, you're reading that comic? (sniff) That's not the real Spider-Man/Avengers/whatever."

If someone said that to me in a shop, they'd be in the market for a new jaw. Most people, however, would probably just turn around and leave and never come back.

Defiant1 said...

Jacob,

Assault is actually an illegal act. If someone defended themselves and seriously injured you as a result, the legal expense could cost more than a $3.99 comic is worth. Leaving your presence would be a quite intelligent thing to do.

That being said... The Bendis' Spider-Man in this story is NOT the real Spider-man.

Anonymous said...

It's sad that the dreck produced by Marvel and D.C. is so ridden with sex and gore that I'll never let my kids see new comics aside from Archie and whoever is publishing the Disney characters these days. I really wish someone would publish some kid-friendly adventure comics or superhero comics so I could share my love of the genre with my kids (they don't get excited by the black-and-white phone books and the color "Archives" and "Masterworks" are too expensive for sticky little fingers to tear apart).

Does anyone know if anyone produces superhero/adventure comics suitable for kids under 12?

jimshooter said...

Dear ja,

Here's the problem: The current state of the industry is so bad, despite DC's short-term "New 52" profits, that to start a new major requires engineering a significant change in the existent business model. I'm talking reinventing the industry.

That takes dough.

VALIANT was initially (under)capitalized at $1.2 million. Total investment before profitability was around $4 million, though more than half of that was wasted on Nintendo and WWF licenses. I resisted both of those licenses, which I believed were non-starters, but I was overruled. Those deals lined the pockets of Massarsky (who was the attorney for Nintendo and LCI, which repped WWF -- can you say conflict of interest?) and his bedmate/principal-of-our-venture-capital-investor Melanie Okun, who, together, controlled the board. Those deals were disastrous for the company.

DEFIANT was initially capitalized at $2.5 million but failed when Marvel's spurious and failed trademark suit nonetheless gutted us financially and killed a $9 million dollar guarantee license. This was coincident with a market crash the reduced industry volume 80%. We could not sustain.

Broadway Comics was capitalized at $4 million, but died when sold to Golden Books, which promptly went bankrupt.

All things considered, I believe it would take a $50 million ante just to sit down at the comics biz table these days. That, brilliant creative and a lot of luck.

Diacanu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diacanu said...

Hmm...what's the Powerball lottery pot up to these days, anyone know?

bloodyhell said...

DEFIANT1, you say that your dislike of the book has nothing to do with race or color, but youre lying.

"I have no interest in a black Spider-Man."

that right there is the cause for your dislike of the book.

JediJones said...

Please don't go on a racism witch hunt based on quoting one line in a person's post out of context. Take a step back before you carve the scarlet "R" for "racist" into his forehead. You misquoted him too. He said, "My gripes have nothing to do with race and color," which in the context of the post obviously meant he wasn't against black characters on principle. His point was completely explained. He didn't want Marvel to change the appearance of a well-established, recognizable superhero. People like yourself suppress free speech by turning innocent opinions into grave social offenses.

I guess that comic fans can criticize changing the color or appearance of a character's costume as much as they want, but if we criticize changing a character's race, gender or sexual orientation, we become bigoted liars. Sorry, but I don't want my favorite characters bastardized whether the change made happens to fall under a politically correct protected zone or not. No one has to agree on what change is good or bad for a character. But we have as much right to criticize changing a character's race, gender or hair color as we do their costume, origin or powers.

Do you think it'd be a good idea for Marvel to make a white version of Black Panther? How about they start a new Ultimate X-Men and turn Storm, Bishop and any other black characters white? If that happened, can I expect that you'll also suggest that anyone who criticizes changing the race of those characters is a racist liar?

Comic characters' appearances matter. Fans don't want to wake up one morning and find every character in a different colored costume or find a white Luke Cage, Asian Green Arrow, Hispanic Captain America, Arab Wonder Woman and black Superman and then be told that we're not allowed to criticize the changes because that means we're racists. Give me a break.

That's not to say that big changes in a character's appearance or identity never work. For every electric red/blue Superman misfire there's a slick black costume Spider-Man. The black Ultimate version of Nick Fury is a more interesting-looking character than the original. It's entirely subjective and we're entirely entitled to express our personal opinions on any and all changes to a character without it being implied that we're racist. Please don't come back and say you weren't implying that. Your implication was clear. If you were merely asking for clarification of a contradiction in his post, you wouldn't have used a loaded word like "lying."

Now you might say we're just talking about the "Ultimate" universe and the original Spider-Man is still being published. But who knows if this "Ultimate" version will end up in cartoons, movies, toys, etc., just as Nick Fury did. There is the risk that this becomes the dominant version of Spider-Man in the public eye, which would mean longtime fans never get to enjoy the character of Peter Parker again. There is also a risk that this wholesale changing of classic characters' looks and identities catches on and is eventually done in the "main" universe. I'm not in favor of popularizing bastardized versions of my favorite characters. It's fine to publish this new character, but he should never have been called Spider-Man, in the Ultimate universe or otherwise.

Tom Field said...

OK, so after reading your reviews of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, I sat down to (try to) enjoy NEW AVENGERS #16 -- the one written by Bendis and drawn by Neal Adams and Tom Palmer.

Adams and Palmer drawing the Avengers again? Cool. I was there as a kid 40 years ago, when they first drew the comic. What's not to like?

Turns out to be *plenty* not to like.

First of all, no complaints about the artwork. Adams' and Palmers' styles have evolved over 40 decades, and there some qualities I don't enjoy today as much as I did earlier. But they're still here, still producing fine work, and it's nice to see them reunited.

Now, the story on the other hand ...

I'm simply lost. I've read comics since the mid-1960s, and I've read the AVENGERS off and on for 40 years. But coming into this book cold, I have no idea why Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, the Thing and Wolverine are Avengers. And this 22-page story gives me nothing to care about these characters individually. Any other hero could have played their role.

Norman Osborn is the bad guy, and apparently he's a big deal. But if I'm a new reader, I have no idea why.

And I'm sorry, but why does it take the entire Avengers team to escort Osborn from Ryker's Island prison to elsewhere? Couldn't Dr. Strange, sorcerer supreme, just magically transport the villain from Point A to Point B? Oh, but then there wouldn't be a pointless story, would there?

I finished this 22-page story and was left with a feeling of "That's it ...?"

And I was so motivated by the empty after-taste that I went and dug out AVENGERS #94, from the initial Adams/Palmer run of exactly 40 years ago. It's not a favorable comparison for the new book. The old one, in its 23 pages, gives the reader so much story, so much plot, so many individual characters in action. It's a chapter of a greater storyline -- the Kree/Skrull War -- and yet it still is a decent entry point if this should happen to be your first issue of the AVENGERS. And you can't tell me it's because Roy Thomas had one extra page to write than did Bendis.

I could go on, but why? I'm preaching to the choir. The irony is that, when I bought this comic, the store clerk threw in a copy of the new Marvel Season One preview. In case you haven't heard, Marvel is producing a series of graphic novels about its famous characters' origins and early adventures. Because fans supposedly have been begging for an entry point into the Marvel Universe.

I agree: Marvel Comics today are inaccessible. Even to someone who's grown up on comics and has four decades of experience with the medium.

I disagree that Marvel Season One is the solution. That Marvel has to create entry points is, frankly, the problem. One of them. anyway.

Another is the seeming lack of respect that certain creators have for the medium and its audience. Y'know, it used to be that we'd complain about particular writers because it seemed they'd grown up reading nothing but comics. Today, it seems, too many writers have read anything *but* comics. The work has far too little respect the qualities that made the medium strong.

Thank God for Archives and Masterworks.

Defiant1 said...

Bloddyhell,

Thank you for injecting your biased spin on what I said. I have no interest in a black Spider-man because he was created as a white character and has a 50 year legacy as a white character. I have no interest in a white Black Panther, a white Falcon, or a Japanese Hitler. I think it is highly unimaginative to steal Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's original idea to pawn off some cheap copycat. In the retail world it is called bait-and-switch. They bait readers with an established character name that people want and then switch it up for a substitute. It's considered deceptive. The playboy model I dated was black and I currently date a girl that is Trinidad/Brazilian. I am Caucasian.

If the whole of comic fandom wants a black superhero with the notoriety and popularity of Spider-Man, by all means go out and create one. Nothing stop Marvel from developing a black superhero that fans admire to the same degree. Just do it. Don't change a superhero's skin color and expect to earn my respect.
Not one person in the womb was ever able to choose his skin color or the socioeconomic situation in which he/she was born. It's stupid to dislike someone based upon color alone.

Sonofspam said...

Jim can you recall what other books by Bendis you read and enjoyed? for me personally i can't stand 99% of his books but even tho this series has been slow as molasses i have been enjoying seeing this new kid.

And i never even really cared for Ultimate Spider-man before.

I think it's mostly to do with the art.

Teddy said...

As a black comic book fan, I don't care if this Spiderman is black or not. What I care most about is the character. Will he be interesting? It's far more harmful to have a black character that is misrepresenting blacks on a whole (not saying he is) than to have another black character. I'm still waiting to see if this works or not. If somebody wants Spiderman to be white, that's cool too. What we can all agree on is that we are all paying to be entertained and we all know that this glacial pacing isn't working.

Teddy said...

Also, we have to look at the investment the company and the creators have in creating newer character. Yes the bait and Switch is horrible, but if these creators didn't create a new Spiderman and happen to make him black. We wouldn't be talking about him at all. How many people are talking about Brilliant? I'm not saying it was easier back in the day where most stores had spinner racks, and you could engage a casual reader or a new fan. Most of the times when I go to the store, the comics are buried behind UFC and WWE magazines, and as hard as it is to create a good story ( btw I'm not defending Bendis here) it's harder to get people, those people who don't know who don't read every week, have a pull or whatever to get them to open and read. You have to get people talking these days, and it's unfortunate that with the bombardment that we all have. Comics are no longer the only thing out there for kids these days. Or lapsed readers. You have online games, specialty mags up the yang. Sometimes a gimmick can get people talking, buying and reading. It's sad but this is the world we live in right now.

jimshooter said...

Dear Sonofspam,

It was years ago. I'll try to dig one out. Avengers, I think. Also, did he write a Spider-Man story during that "Civil War" thing? Or am I confusing him with someone else?

Sonofspam said...

I don't think he has written any solo Spider-man except for Ultimate.

Defiant1 said...

Teddy, I actually talked about Spider-man more before they changed his skin color. The only reason I'm talking about him now is that Jim reviewed the comic.
The shock stories are wearing thin. That's all this is.. yet again. How many superheroes and supporting characters need to die before fans are sick of it. I was sick of it when Gwen Stacy died in the 70's. I'm not even a fan of super-heroes through time where a different person wears the costume every generation. To me that is just cheesy.

I never bought comics to read about losers. I bought comics to read about people that overcome. People with providence to overcome obstacles and setbacks. The characters are called superheroes, but they aren't too heroic anymore and they aren't too super either. They post their chest out and impose whatever personal philosophy the writer want to pawn off.

From what I can tell, the new black Spider-man has an Uncle that is a thief. Lovely. I'm sure this is supposed to be some clever reverse twist to the original Spider-Man origin. Yawn.

bloodyhell said...

defiant1, my opinion isnt biased.
my opinion is based on the words you typed.

you typed this:
It's stupid to dislike someone based upon color alone.

but the VERY FIRST SENTENCE YOU TYPED was:
I have no interest in a black Spider-Man.

now, contrary to what jedijones thinks, i am not making any remarks about racism or any allegations of the same, i am just saying you are being dishonest, or at best disingenuous when you say things like "It's stupid to dislike someone based upon color alone" or that "it's not about race or color".
because thats what it is about.
you think that because spider-man was created 60 years ago as a white peter parker, that spider-man must always be white.

i would more readily believe your claims that its not about color or race if you said something more along the lines of "im not interested in a non-peter parker spider-man" but you didnt.
you said youre not interested in a black spider-man.
as it stands, yes, your dislike of the new ultimate spider-man, never mind the fact that peter parker is still alive and well in the marvel universe proper white as ever, is because hes black.
you even go on to say "they changed spider-man's skin color" when they didnt.
this is an entirely different person. he is not in any way related to peter parker. peter parker is not now biracial or black.
he is dead.
this is a new spider-man.

bloodyhell said...

jedijones, your inflammatory remarks are completely meritless.
i never said or implied that defiant1 was racist.
i said he was lying about why he didnt like the new spiderman.
i never stifled anyones free speech, and for you to say that i did is completely retarded.
i also didnt turn it into a grave social offense, either.
i didnt even get upset about it, in fact, the only who seems to be getting bent out of shape here is you.
you make false comparisons to ororo munroe and luke cage, who are established characters, and not just superhero costumes.
you could absolutely have a white storm or powerman, and yyees, even a white black pan, although the latter almost certainly couldnt be the king of an african nation because it wouldnt make much sense, and it would be trickier to pull off.
but a white chick with the power to manipulate weather called storm, or a white dude with unbreakable skin and super strength name power man? of course those would be fine.
a costume is also not a character so comparing spideys black costume to a black spider-man is pointless and senseless.

"I'm not in favor of popularizing bastardized versions of my favorite characters"
waaaaaaaaaaaah.
there is no bastardization going on.
grow up.

lastly, if you think that "lying" is a loaded word, thin i sincerely suggest you invest in a dictionary.
it clearly means i didnt think he was telling the truth, and looking at his subsequent posts, he wasnt.

Diacanu said...

bloodyhell indeed...*eye roll*

This is where, if you guys were fighting in a comic shop, the owner would chase you out with a squirt bottle, and tell you to take it outside.

So...*quirt, squirt, squirt*

bloodyhell said...

diacanu, its so nice that when you cant actually counter an argument, you rely on nonsense. you have really contributed a lot, thanks!

Diacanu said...

Glad to be of service. *smirk*

Defiant1 said...

Actually, Diacanu two comic shops I frequented said I was their favorite customer. They said I had a knack for shutting people up that they didn't like. It was pretty consistent that if a customer had a problem with me, the store had a problem with them.

JayJayJackson said...

So far Bendis seems to be writing the character of Miles as a normal kid with a normal family and friends and pretty normal family problems no matter what anyone's skin color is. The writing seems very un-biased. I appreciate that.

Though I do still wonder how old he is. It's hard to tell from the comic. I'm guessing 11 or 12?

Sonofspam said...

I figured he was more 13 but your guess is as good as mine.