Saturday, December 29, 2007

Geez, He Must Have REALLY Hated That Marriage!

(Spoilers ahead!!!)

When last we left our intrepid couple, Peter (Spider-Man) Parker and his wife Mary Jane Watson-Parker, they were on the verge of making a deal with Mephisto to save Peter's dying Aunt May. Mephisto's price? The complete erasure of Pete and MJ's marriage.

And the resolution? Pretty much everything you feared it would be. The fools took the deal. The unexpected upside for them? Pete's secret ID is secret again, so he doesn't have to worry about everyone and his brother trying to kill his family and friends. The unexpected downside? It looks like the future with Spider-Girl will now never happen. Straczynski and Quesada put in some scenes to leave some wiggle-room to reverse this whole mess, specifically MJ whispering to Mephisto as well as the big "if we're meant to be we'll find each other again...yadda yadda yadda...nothing will keep us apart..yadda yadda yadda" farewell speech.

And then---Bibbity Bobbity Boo!--- the marriage is undone. Pete and MJ's reality has completely changed.

My reaction? *Yawwwn!* Been there, done that.

The whole damn thing struck me as a bizarre hodge-podge of rehashed DC/Marvel plotlines from the last 15 years or so thrown together in a blender set on "puree". Everything there gave me a sense of deja vu. The book even ended up with Peter.....wait for it.....waking up in the morning to the new status quo, including the twist ending introduction of.....wait for it again....a long-dead character who, in this new reality, it comes..... ALIVE.

Sound familiar? That was the ending of HOUSE OF M#1.

The exact ending.

And that's just the start of the rehashes. I was catching a whole "Heroes Reborn" vibe from this thing, minus the bad art from Rob Liefeld.

The whole "we'll find each other again even if our memories are erased" schtick? Holy "Eternal Sunshine of the spotless Mind", Batman!

More significantly, I saw a lot of flashes of, well, THE FLASH, particularly the Mark Waid and Geoff Johns eras.

Both eras contained storylines where the relationship between Wally West and his lady love, Linda Park, was wiped out of existence. Johns' "Ignition" arc even arose from Wally making a similar deal with a supernatural being (the Hal Jordan Spectre). In Waid's case, not only did he take their relationship away; he took Linda away. However, both he and Johns (and their editors) had the sense to make these storylines short-lived; they restored the pairing (marriage in Johns' case) back to normal in each case.

Maybe Joe Q. will be just as sensible. Maybe the Pete/MJ status quo will be restored in a year. But even so, the whole thing was not worth the logistical nightmare with which Quesada is saddling not only the Spidey writers and editors but all the writers and editors handling the mainstream Marvel Universe. Think about it. Spidey's one of Marvel's most high-profile characters. He's also a member of the New Avengers. And that's not including the books he guest-stars in. It's not Sleepwalker or Night Nurse that Quesada is messing with here. This has repercussions. If this lasts more than a year, I predict a lot of continuity gaffes.

And for what? For the chance to see a single Peter Parker? Newsflash, Joe: There were already at least 3 other lines where a single Pete was represented (the Ultimate books, the Marvel Adventures books, and SPIDEY LOVES MARY JANE come to mind). Or was it to recapture the halcyon days of the early 80's Spidey books? I'm only a few years younger than Joey Q. Was there REALLY that big a demand for the days of Deb Whitman and Marcy Kane?

If those were Quesada's objectives, he reached them in the lamest, most rehashed and ill-conceived manner possible. Bill Maher once claimed that all the planning for the Iraq war had been done on the back of a cocktail napkin at Applebee's. If that's the case, Quesada's plan for dissolving the Spider-Marriage must have been written on the napkin paper that was left over.

And the worst part is the Spidey-books didn't need this "big event" to create buzz. They have talented new teams with people like Dan Slott and Steve McNiven coming on board. As is, I would have checked out Slott's Spidey just out of curiosity. But now he's saddled with Quesada's continuity clusterfuck. That puts the new Spidey books behind the 8-ball before they've even been released.

Who knows? Maybe there will be some good stories that will come out of this. Hell, even the Clone Saga had some good individual stories. But the important question is: Why should I care?

In his "In One Ear" blog, Thom Wade once asked us to name a comic character we loved but whose comic(s) we just couldn't get into. A lot of posters (including me) said "Spider-Man".

Editorially-mandated "event" storylines like this are the reason why.

Not the marriage.

No matter HOW much Joe Q. hated it.

And to end it with such slapdash execution, he must have hated it a lot.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wishing You All A Happenin' Christmas...

...and a Haney New Year!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Finally, something good came out of "Countdown"...

...And it was this comic.

For those of you old enough to remember, the comic above reprints a storyline originally presented in a book called SUPER-TEAM FAMILY just over 30 years ago.

The story, originally featured in SUPER-TEAM FAMILY #'s 11-14, featured some nice 70's art by Arvel Jones as well as Alan Weiss (inked beautifully by premier inker Joe Rubinstein), and was conceived and written by Mr. "Law And Order: Criminal Intent" himself, Gerry Conway. (I guarantee that if Detective Bobby Goren had been involved in the search, it would have only lasted 2 issues.)

It was part of a 4-part "Search For Jean Loring" arc, with the Atom (Ray Palmer), along with a cast of other heroes (Flash, Supergirl, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Captain Comet, Aquaman (WTF?), and Wonder Woman), which varied from issue to issue(??? - I'll get to that later), tracking Jean as she was being bounced around from planet to planet and universe to universe, thanks to a serendipitous combination of the residual energies from a living planet and Jean's own batshit psyche.

Ah, Ray. If only you could have known the crap she would later put you (and us readers) through, you might have just left her out there. At the very least, you could have spared us Dark Mary Marvel.

When I tell you that Ray and Jean are reunited at the end, I'm probably not spoiling the ending for anyone who hasn't finished reading that story arc.

That would include me. It was a four-issue story, you see.

I only read Part 2.

Being a kid with no access to comic book shops, I generally got my comic fix courtesy of local grocery stores, pharmacies, and 7-11's. Direct market was not an option, at least for me. So I never was able to find parts 1, 3, or 4, despite my interest in this storyline, and had given up hope of doing so.

Until now.

Now, 30 years later, because of some convoluted crossover "event" involving a still-unseen Ray Palmer being the key to saving the multiverse, I get to read the whole story. (Parts 3 and 4 come out in another volume.)
I'll finally resolve some unanswered questions.

Like why the heroes from each of the early parts apparently didn't stick around all the way through to help Ray with the search. I know it was because the format of the book was to feature different characters each issue, but in a four-part quest like this it strained credibility just a bit. I can just picture the exchanges:

Atom: "No matter what it takes or where I have to go, I'll find you, Jean! I swear it!"

Green Lantern: "Well, that's it for me. Got a date tonight."

Atom: "But what about Jean?"

Green Lantern: "Don't worry. Aquaman can fill in for me."

Atom: "WHAAAAT?????"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Havn't We Been Here Before?

I don't know what was was going through J. Michael Straczynski's mind when Joe Quesada pitched his idea for JMS' final Spider-Man storyline "One More Day", but I can guess:

Deja vu.

We've read over the past week how JMS had some strong objections to the final storyline in particular and to Quesada's ideas about Spidey in general. But what we haven't read much about is the likely reason why he was so against the idea of tampering with the Spider-Marriage:

He remembers the last time editorial separated Pete and MJ, and the problems that followed.

Because he was there.

Way back when Axel Alonso took over Spidey's editorial reigns and Straczynski came on board, one of the last lingering byproducts of the previous Howard Mackie run was the separation of Pete and Mary Jane.

JMS was one of the key architects in fixing this error at the start of his run. And whatever you can say about his run, he worked hard at developing the Pete-MJ marriage.

So imagine his dismay at ending his run on the character by having to flush all that down the toilet.

Remember the "Disassembled" storyline in AVENGERS, in which much of Kurt Busiek's previous strong character development during "Heroes Return" and forward, particularly in regard to the Scarlet Witch, was laid to waste?

Now, imagine if Busiek had been forced to write "Disassembled", exactly the same way Bendis actually did write it, as part of his final story arc.

That's essentially Straczynski's situation now.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Response To A Rant: I'm Not Gay Either, But.....

I just finished reading this rant. Here are a few excerpts:

"Here we go… I am soooooo friggin' sick of gay characters being shoved into my comic books I could scream."

"What started this rant? The Young Avengers trade. What did it do, you ask? Well, I finally got around to reading it, and it was wonderful. It was full of Avengers, Avenger wanna be's, time travel and Kang acting particularly nasty. It was great. UNTIL the last two pages when the writer slips in the fact that two of the characters are dating each other! WHAT? Why do I care? The second trade deals with a "coming out party." As with all comics, there are some pointless scenes but this is ridiculous. AND, this was on top of the Moon Knight trade where Frenchie is suddenly gay after 20 years of being straight. Let's add this to rumors of Nightwing being gay, a gay Batwoman, the new Question being gay… I'M SICK OF IT! "

"And, to make matters worse, it's being ret-con into all sorts of books. Frenchie wasn't gay in Moon Knight when I read about him in 1980! "

"Since I'm ranting anyway, when did it become a requirement that every superhero team have a gay character? When did it become a requirement that every book have a gay character?"

"Why is it in my face??????"

He has a partial point on the retcons. While I agree that retconning a long established straight character into a gay one can be an annoying hack move at times, doing the same thing with a long established character with a less established sexual history can work. Take Robinson's STARMAN series. Making Ted Knight or Will Payton gay wouldn't have worked because they were already solidly established heterosexuals. Making Jack Knight gay early on would have been an acceptable move because he was a new character; doing so after his relationship with Sadie would have been less so. Doing so with Mikaal Tomas worked perfectly.

As for the rest of his rant, I've only got three words to say, courtesy of CGI Livia Soprano:

"Oh, POOR YOU!!!"