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> Thursday Morning QB
BOOK OF THE WEEK

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #545
Marvel Comics
J. Michael Straczynski (W)/Joe Quesada (A)

 

 
ANDY: “Okay, time for an editor’s note: Yeah, yeah, I know that this issue of Amazing came out last week, but let’s face it: We were all on vacation for the holidays and couldn’t review it, and there’s so much buzz around this thing we had to give it the full treatment. Kiel, take it away.”

KIEL: “[SINGS] ‘How do you like me now, Mr. Parker—I’m the dev-il!’ This is quite possibly the most controversial book of all time. If you’ve been on the Net at all the past few days, you’ve heard everything you need to know: Peter and MJ’s marriage is over, Harry Osborn’s brought back to life and Joe Q. and JMS are having some public, albeit gentlemanly, disagreements over the creative direction. But the sad thing is, from a pure art standpoint, this book is beautiful. It’s drawn well, the art looks great and this Splash of the Week is amazing. Check out this two-page spread of Peter and MJ. It’s gorgeous.”

 

 
KIEL: “You know why it’s good? It has a couple moments from the actual comics, but at the same time, it’s got some cute fill-ins and it’s a nice little recap of their history, even though up to this point the book has been very dark in tone. Then you get to the Brand New Day portion, and the book lightens up, the art gets cleaner, the cartooning even looks different. Joe Q. really stretches himself here.”

ANDY: “Not many guys can switch gears like that in the same book; when he’s doing those early, darker sequences, he reminded me of Gene Colan’s classic stuff, then in the Brand New Day portion, he does a complete 180 and reminded me of Terry Dodson, all while retaining his own signature look. I have to give him a lot of credit from an artistic standpoint.”

ALEX: “His Mephisto is scary as hell!”

KIEL: “However, there are so many levels of how the entire set up and execution just doesn’t make sense. Thematically, I don’t connect with the characters and understand why they’re making this choice. Marvel wants classic Spidey back, that’s the whole point of the story. But the question becomes, how do we set up the Spidey we want? Considering that, you can come in and expect a logically consistent story. Unfortunately, you don’t get one.”

ALEX: “If that’s all they were trying to do, the whole time travel aspect seems a throwaway. This is changing large portions of events in Marvel continuity; this is going to have an effect on a lot of books. What’s the fallout going to be?”

KIEL: “They’ve got to figure it out some way.”

ANDY: “Certainly, comic publishers are entitled to do whatever they want with their characters. If they want to reboot Spider-Man, that’s what they’re going to do. But seriously—it’s magic? That’s how they pull it off? A deal with the devil? That’s got to be the biggest cheat since ‘Dallas’ when J.R. getting shot was all a dream. Spider-Man’s not a magical character; he’s a science-based creation. ‘Whoops! All this genetic testing de-aged Peter, and now MJ doesn’t want to be married to a teenager. Let’s get an annulment; MJ goes to Europe to get over the heartbreak!” Bam, I just gave you a story that made more sense, that didn’t completely undermine 20 years of continuity and rebooted your character in the process. And I feel bad for JMS, because there are moments in this story that are really effective, especially with how anguished Peter and MJ are over this momentous decision. I’m not a big Spider-Man fan by any stretch, but I can understand why so many fanboys are incensed. But the biggest eff you of all is the reprint of the wedding story in the back. It’s like, “We just undid this; this doesn’t count!” I can’t recall another major release that’s garnered this much negative feedback in the eight years I’ve been at Wizard. And it’s too bad, because it seems like a downer for JMS to go out on, given all the stuff he’s done in the series.”

KIEL: “And the worst part? There’s an OUT! What did MJ whisper to Mephisto? Not only did that leave them an opening to undo this story if they need to, it comes off like even the creators aren’t sure about what to do. Here’s the problem: Marvel wants to make the REAL Spider-Man the teen-single Spidey, even though they have Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel Adventures, etc., and that thinking messes up a lot of superhero comics. Not everything needs to be in continuity. Let those be the stories that are like that, but because they’re trying to connect with the fanboy, they come up with a story to fit continuity that just doesn’t work.”

ALEX: “And the whole thing is, it keeps Peter the same age as when Mephisto steps in. So he’s like the 40-year-old Spider-virgin. And because he’s still the same age, he’s more loser-y and pathetic because he’s living with his old-ass Aunt May. I don’t see how that’s more relatable to fans.”

KIEL: “Lets look ahead. Generally, this story is leaving a bad taste in our mouths. But what are you looking forward to out of the thrice-weekly Spider-Man?”

ANDY: “You’re assuming I’m going to read them!”

[LAUGHS]

KIEL: “I understand the point of view that Joe Q. thinks fans want the ‘fun’ Spidey from his unfettered, youthful days, but so many people know the MJ-Peter dynamic now that the new characters and villains may make it harder for fans to get into it. But the first new writer, Dan Slott, is a legitimate up and comer, I expect big things from him; he’s the guy I’m looking at most of all. He’s got a great voice and great ideas; I think he’s got the specific tools necessary for this ‘Brand New Day.’”

ANDY: “While it may help the book stay on its pseudo-weekly schedule, I’m not convinced four different writers and artists is the way to tell a cohesive story. Too many cooks in the kitchen, and all that. I guess we’ll have to just wait and see. I just wonder what the fanboys and girls are going to do about their Spidey fix? This could either be a huge hit and a total shakeup, or a disaster on par with the Titanic. And if that’s how it plays out, how long till we get another reboot? My spider-sense is tingling, and that can’t be good.”

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