Monday, February 14, 2011

Disasters to Marvel At, the Revenge: A Brief History in Comics.

(This post is dedicated to all of those comic book fans who are single this Valentine's Day. If you're interested in a romance-themed blog, check out last week here.)

We interrupt this week's blog post (originally on writing) to bring you this update.
Which reason do you like?

Thus far, the most read post this blog has been "Disasters to Marvel At: A Comic Discussion," where I reviewed about five years of Marvel comics' story lines, and came to the conclusion that they were gimmick-ridden, hackneyed plots, and that Disney should make Joe Quesada walk the plank off the top of 666 5th Avenue. 

I wrote it in November.

 In January, Joe Quesada was "promoted" from Chief Editor to "creative consultant." 

In the Catholic Church, the Vatican also has a tendency to "promote" certain bishops to come to Rome.  And they're never heard from again, because they're put into the deepest, darkest little cubicle the Vatican has.

So, Joe Q's promotion pretty much sounds like a way of saying "We'll put him someplace where he can't hurt anything."

Why would I say that?  Let's take a (very) brief look at the kind of stupidity coming out of Marvel lately.

As covered last time, lately, the Marvel machine has pulled out a lot of stories that are more gimmicks than anything else.  Plenty of style over substance.  Pick your cliche, Marvel has probably already used it.  Multi-colored Hulks?  Got 'em.   Turn a hero into Frankenstein's monster? Check.  Turn a character into a villain possessed by a demon?  Hello Daredevil.

And, as mentioned last time, there was Spider-Man, one more day, an idea that was purely Joe Quesada's ... J. Michael Straczynski, when asked about "writing" One More Day while at NYCC, merely answered with Joe Quesada's hotel room number, so I'll give Joe Q. the blame.  Peter Parker, due to circumstances covered in the first "Disasters" post, made a deal with the devil to save his Aunt May, by sacrificing his marriage to Mary Jane Watson...

Last time, I gave my own opinion on the matter of OMD.  I'll give the critique to professional kvetchers now.  Let's just say that the phrase "Editorial Mandate" popped up a lot.

Michael "Mookie" Terracciano, of the web comic "Dominic-Deegan: Oracle for Hire," at that year's I-Con scifi convention, said that he could only imagine that it was a guy in a suit who made THAT particular decision. "Yeah, I know, we'll do a deal with the devil, see? Yeah."  (Actually, it felt a little like an Edward G. Robinson gangster routine as done by Bugs Bunny, but it works.)

Joe Q gave a simple reason for breaking up the marriage, that had lasted nearly twenty years: he wanted to appeal to younger readers, who have no idea what it's like to be married, so young readers could sympathize to Parker better when he was young and single....

Forgetting for a moment that, at that time, there were two comic book lines covering a young, single Spider-Man, (Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel Adventures Spider-Man), Spider-Man has always been popular because he was one of the few superheroes with a mortgage, relationship problems, bills to pay, etc.  He had real world problems in addition to villain-level problems.  He even had, gasp, real world marriage problems.

But, nope, let's just chuck all that out the window so we can pander to anyone under the legal age of consent.

Oh, and the dumbest part of the actual "deal with the devil," was that Peter got (1) Aunt May all better (2) no one knew who he was anymore, but Marvel's Devil got to enjoy ... subconscious agony of the two of them being apart? 

Wait, so Joe Q. wants to shoot for the younger, angst-ridden reader...

Marvel is pandering to the Twilight crowd?

Looking at their recent X-Men movie trailer, I wonder.

Moving on....


Recently, other stupid crap that has come out of Marvel was that they fired Jon Favreau from Iron Man 3. 

To be honest, there are conflicting stories.  One version says that Marvel fired him to get someone cheaper.  Another says that Favreau left because Marvel wanted B-list super-heroes in Iron Man 3, whether they fit the story or not.

So, whether or not Favreau jumped, or was pushed, I would pretty much blame someone at Marvel for that stupidity.  When someone is making you lots and lots of money, don't interfere with them, don't blink funny at them--follow every reasonable demand they have.  When Jon Favreau was new, they could pay him peanuts for Iron Man ... for Iron Man 2, they needed to shell out ten million dollars.  Unless he asked for something as insane as a salary equal to the cost of the move, leave the man alone and let him work.

Hmm, who was in charge of Marvel in December of 2010? Oh, yeah, Joe Q.

Right now, Marvel may have a bigger problem in the wings.  Robert Downey Jr. has final directorial approval of Iron Man 3.  He liked Favreau.  But he'll be working on Avengers with Joss Whedon -- if he likes Whedon, Marvel may have issues trying to control another director (Grrr.  Arrgh).


I appreciate all sorts of innovation and attempts at creativity.  Too bad Joe Q. has neither.

Now, unless you live in a box, or insulate yourself against any and all Broadway news, you know that Marvel has a Spider-Man musical on Broadway.  They've spent over sixty-million dollars on it, and, right now, they would need to sell out to audiences for the next four or five years to recoup their losses. 

It includes a "Geek chorus," and Arachne from Greek mythology being deeply and intricately involved in Spider-Man's creation, down to giving him his costume, and drafting him to help her.  She comes complete with "Spider-Furies," and other elements that look like a train wreck of Bullfinch and Stan Lee.

Can we blame this on Joe Quesada too?


Joe Q. is gone now, but, obviously, someone wasn't paying attention to crap that he had left in the pipeline.  Like any book, comic books have to have things approved and written in advance, if only for promotional reasons, not to mention that they have to write it before they can draw the darn things (non-comic fans note: writers in comic books don't just come in after the artist is done, and fill in the words.  Honest.)

Let's start with the "New Venom."

Venom, as I understand the character, was first a bit of biotechnology, created for Peter Parker when his original suit was trashed on an alien world.  However, it was literally made for HIM.  When he discovered that it was not only alive, but about to bond with him permanently, he got it the hell off of him.  After several years of sitting in a jar in the Fantastic Four headquarters, the symbiotic suit developed an obsessive hatred for him.  Along the way, the suit found someone else who hated Spider-Man, Eddie Brock.  And the two set off to kill Spider-Man, repeatedly.

Both the symbiote, and Brock, were insane.  Even when Venom was a nominal good guy in the 1990s, he was still nuts, and every good deed he did was a side effect.  Brock / symbiote had a thing for protecting innocents, as "we were once innocent, until Spider-man corrupted us," yes precious.....

Yes, I do think the inside of Venom's brain should look like Gollum's, but that's for some other time.

Now, over time, the symbiote has jumped characters, and now it's landed on a new host.

Flash Thompson.....

The Spider-man character of Flash Thompson was, at the same time, Peter Parker's biggest bully and Spider-Man's biggest fan.  Then he was a high school Phys Ed. teacher.

Then there was One More Day ... somehow, Peter not getting married resulting in Flash Thompson joining the army.  Uh huh.

And then Thompson goes and gets his legs blown off. Okay....

And now Flash Thompson is the new Venom host ....

Say what?

This happened because, during the Siege, Venom was caught, the symbiote was removed from its then host, and put on Flash Thompson so he could be a "Black Ops" warrior.

While my opinion of politics is well known, that every politician is some sort of brain damaged, I am having issues with anyone in the entire Marvel universe being stupid enough to put the Venom symbiote on ANYBODY.  It has proven to drive people INSANE.

But, no, we'll just put this mass murdering, psychotic creature onto a war hero, give him an arsenal, and we'll see how that turns out.

Yes, because Venom has always been one of the biggest threats in the marvel universe because it always needed a gun.  Not.

Are we sure that this is Venom?  For all we know, this could be Deadpool "Back In Black" (see image on the left.)

And, for a moment, let's introduce a continuity problem.

One More Day made everyone forget who Spider-Man is, right? However: how do you do that with Venom?  Venom, whose very concept is so tied to it knowing Peter Parker, it lived on him, in him, and even linked to his brain.  Right now, this means that the US military should have a knowledge about Spider-Man.  But "it's maaagggiicccc."

What else could go wrong?

Funny you should ask.


Fantastic Four team member Johnny Storm, brother of the Invisible Woman, has taken his turn at dying.  Give him time, he'll get better.  Probably. But, since Marvel can't stand odd numbers ... or change the title... they brought in a replacement.  

And what's with the costumes?
Are we shopping at the Apple Store

Yes, Spider-Man is now one of the Fantastic Four ...


Let us reflect upon this idea for a brief moment.

Spider-Man has four regular titles. 

Spider-Man is also on the Avengers. 

Spider-Man is now on the Fantastic Four.

Does anybody, and I mean anybody, at Marvel know about something called continuity?  Once upon a time, Spider-Man had to struggle to pay the bills.  Now he spends so much time in spandex, he must be pulling down a regular paycheck, since he's putting in full time hours as a superhero.

Not to mention the biggest problem Marvel has ever dealt with.

One More Day.  Again.

After OMD, no one knows who Spider-Man is is anymore.   So ... now ... what?  Is Spider-Man moving into the Baxter building?  Are the FF supposed to accept him as a replacement, let him join the team, without knowing his freaking name?

I can only assume they did this because someone decided that, when getting rid of a smart-mouth, addle-brained fool, you replace him with another smart-mouth.  This second smart-mouth can be one of Marvels top ten smartest characters, but what the heck, who'll notice?

In the spy trade, after they discover a traitor in an espionage organization, they go backwards through someone's history to see what sort of damage they've done.  It's called "Walking back the cat."

Five years of bad story lines, documented in November: Civil War, Back In Black, Siege, One More Day, Shadowlands, killing Captain America, and every other attempt to "event" their way to keep up with DC's Crisis of the Week.

Marvel has lost: writers J. Michael Straczynski and Joss Whedon, directors Jon Favreau and Sam Raimi.

Right now, I'm told there are a few, possible, saving graces in Marvel ...

Ed Brubaker, who writes Captain America, seems to have a fine grasp on the character, and has a strong fan base.

Brian Michael Benis, who writes Moon Knight, and practically all things Avengers, seems to be going well, but I've read his stuff: his heroes have some exposition that will bore the villains to death.

And there's Peter David, who practically owns X-Factor, and will write for any superhero.  Seriously, any of them.

Now that Joe Q. is gone, we can be hopeful that the plots of the last five years will be shoved down the memory hole of Marvel's readers. As with the years of Spider-Man's "Clone Wars," they will be retconned into another universe; these are not the issue numbers you're looking for, move along ... though Lord help them as far as the Spider-Man musical goes.  I've only heard one great, smashing review for it .... from radio talk show host Glenn Beck.  I don't see that as a good sign.

Hmm .... you know, given the bad writing, the cliches by the bushel, the angsty crap targeted at younger readers, and NO concept of continuity, Quesada probably was targeting Twilight fans.

Update: please note that this conclusion has been revised here.


  1. I completely stopped reading this when I got to the part about spiderman thowing over his -wife- for his step-mom/aunt. I really can't read any more. So they turned spiderman into a poor Oedipus clone? He obviously didn't love his wife, or pay any attention to his marriage vows! And I had no idea he wanted to (now obviously) sleep with his step-mom.

    Really, it I had worked at Marvel and a guy came up to me with that script he would have been fired instantly, and a restraining order would have been taken out against him. As well as a contract to have him beat to within an inch of his life!

    Only an evil bent person could even think of doing such a thing to what is supposed to be a wholesome man. I tell you, that is really pretty sick, and as someone who has had to write some nasty bad guys, I know sick when I see it.

    1. In this case, it was Joe Quesada, who "Wanted Peter Parker in comedic love triangles, and marriage is something that OLD people do." Because, you know, having people reading your comics for 30 years or more means that your customers haven't grown up, so neither should your characters, moron.

      Freaking Quesada.


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