Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Superior Spider-Man - New Direction Or Return To Status Quo?

This is a general opinion which has been brought up a few times elsewhere but is worth repeating here. It relates to the direction Superior Spider-Man is taking and the actual purpose of the comic itself. Many have called it a total reboot, but issues featuring the Avengers have begun to suggest otherwise.

Besides the disaster that is Avengers Academy, All New X-Men and the sheer number Avengers titles Marvel is making in an attempt to milk the success of the superhero film, Superior Spider-Man has met some of the most negative reactions among readers of late. Following some extremely bad ideas for the character in recent years, the decision to effectively murder Peter Parker has been met with vitriol to say the least.

The story focuses upon Doctor Octopus taking control of Peter Parker's body and proceeding to take over his life. Both that on a personal level and his role of Spider-Man in protecting New York, the latter point he seems to be doing far more successfully than Peter ever could. His success in taking down criminals has led to even J Johah Jameson changing his mind on the hero, even supporting him. Whatever remained of Parker himself was seemingly destroyed in an attempt to retake his body, leaving only Doc Ock inside his skull.

Whether or not the decisions in the storyline were a good move is up to you. There's certainly worse written books of late and at least some of the negativity extends from Dan Slott's behavior in aggravating fans rather than the comic's quality itself. Instead this is to discuss what the real role of the series is supposed to be. Many have called it a reboot but instead consider this: What if this is a long game intending to return things to Spider-Man's usual status quo as an outsider?

As a whole Marvel seems not to have really known quite what to do with him in recent years. He's not the Spider-Man he used to be and quite simply he has evolved, changed over time to the point where his previous role as an outsider means nothing to him. Marvel as a company seems to be unsure of what to do with him as a result, or how he plays into the rest of their universe. 
Think about this for a moment, JMS had Peter Parker's marriage develop, along with the potential origins for his powers and even become a teacher rather than a struggling photographer. Even those involved with him such as Aunt May found their lives changed as a result. He temporarily became a member of the Fantastic Four, even became a member of the Avengers at long last. A change which, for all the criticism i'll give Brian Bendis over his writing, was mostly well handled. The point is that he's evolved and developed, and that's something the heads of Marvel simply can't deal with.

We have seen at least once already how the company has tried to deal with this: One More Day. A move which tried to completely undo all development and return Peter to a character they recognised. Returning him to living with Aunt May, undoing his marriage, even bringing back characters who were long dead in an effort to make him more into the person the media knew the best. If you know anything about the book, you'll know it's universally reviled by everyone who actually understands Spider-Man and was hated by one of the authors involved to the point he wanted his name removed from the work. It was a single shot retcon intended to undo years of work overnight and as a result of this and poor handling is regarded as one of the worst Spider-Man tales ever written. The backlash between it and the new direction up to Spider Island was enough to make anyone recognise how badly it was done, so perhaps Marvel is taking a longer slightly more subtle route this time.

Think about what we've seen thus far with Superior Spider-Man:
We've seen Doc Ock do a better job with cleaning up the city, but is progressively burning more and more bridges. He has reached breaking point with the Avengers, much of his internal dialogue showing how poorly he regards them. He has damaged his relationship with MJ to a point where it's likely they'll be distanced once again and borderline strangers. He is showing increasing instability and arrogance, to the point where it's likely he'll begin lashing out at others more. By the end of this, it seems more likely that Spider-Man will once more be a loner within his world than the person he has evolved to become. Likely with all the damage done prior to Peter taking back his body, which let's hope does actually happen.

It wouldn't be the only time such a thing has happened over the years. Frank Miller's run on Daredevil had him effectively destroying the character's current status to bring him in line with his intended new direction. Brian Bendis' Avengers Disassembled has him casually murdering most of the team so he would be free to do whatever he wanted with them. You could even argue that in some respects the Death of Superman story-line can be seen here, with the hero dead and his replacements showing just how much he is truly needed in the world.

It seems very unlikely Marvel will keep with this current direction with Spider-Man forever, so there's surely some reason behind such a massive change. This is simply the most likely reason as I see it. 
What are your thoughts on the comic though? Please feel free to say so below with any speculation, reflection on events or even criticism with this theory. It's always good to hear what others thing on these matters.


  1. I personally hate retcons when there is no need to make them. One More Day, the New 52, and Marvel NOW being the worst ways to shake things up. Both DC and Marvel are so focused on keeping the status quo, that they have lost sight of what makes us enjoy reading about any character, not just in comics. We love watching them grow and develop. And to erase all that great development because you want them back where people are more familiar with is incredibly retarded. Both DC and Marvel just need to advertise and market their archives better. It is because of this bullshit that I refuse to pick up a comic about the main universe of some of my favorite characters, only relying on older works or out of canon stories.

    I'm not saying all retcons are bad. Some like Gwen Stacy getting knocked up with twins by Norman Osborn during a night of pity sex from Gwen, are examples of things that should be burned from canon. In fact Marvel should burn any and every shred of evidence that that storyline existed.

    But things like Crisis on Infinite Earths were a good way to modernize the characters, giving them an earth-shattering event, and give new readers an easier time to read without having to read a backlog of issues. Of course, this was before DC and Marvel published archive graphic novels.

    But what I really hate is when a reboot takes place, and all the great titles we once had are now replaced with okay titles with terrible ideas that ruin our favorite characters. A lot have poor characterization, and some have continuity confusions that would confuse even the most die-hard comic fan. The New 52 and Marvel NOW are the worst to blame. I really wish I could walk into both the DC and Marvel home offices and smack some sense into their editors-in-chief for a while. Cause they seriously need it. They are out of control.

  2. I kinda blame the Marvel movie industry. Not that I hate them or anything- Far from it! If anything, the Avengers is my favorite movie of all time!

    But that's just the major problem here. The movies are so good and keep within something of a status quo (at least Marvel thinks that, anyway.) So Marvel THINKS that they need to try to find a way to get everything back to a status quo in a respectful manner, while at the same time milking the ever living hell out of the deal. And they don't just use things like OMD anymore because they think that's too fast for the readers to enjoy.

    Really, outside of Iron Man until IM3, there really IS no status quo in the movies. Everything changes in the movies. Constantly. And we don't read comics to see the same shit we can see in theatres.

    The movies and the comics should REALLY be their own thing. And if this article is accurate, chances are that they are trying to make them the same.

    The movies are the adaptation of the comics. Not the comics that are the adaptation of the movies.

    I'll get back to reading comics after Marvel is done having its slow, painful reboot. But on the off chance that Marvel sees this, remember: you can HAVE a status quo. That's fine. But remember to have your characters moving forwards instead of backwards. Because a character having consistencies in their life should not stop their life from ever changing.

  3. I really hope they go back to the old peter parker because I'm getting sick of the dialogue. Spiderman kills people now. Really?? Doc is abusing spideys powers not coming to grasps with the responsibility of it. I'm especially annoyed at how marvel responds to readers with comments like "if you dont like it then read something else" be careful whatyiou wish for because you just might get it.