Thursday, August 14, 2008

Will Spidey Still Be Here Years From Now?

Yes. Yes, he will be. How do I know this? He's remained popular for over 40 years. He started out as a comic book character and while he's still a character in comics, many people recognize Spidey in other forms of media, like the movies and cartoons. The wall-crawler is a cash cow for selling merchandise. Pencils, coffee mugs, bed sheets, shoes; I honestly can't think of anything Spidey hasn't appeared on. To think he'd suddenly fall off the face of the Earth is ludicrous.

But something Joe Q said has me thinking that Marvel is concerned about the long term status of Spider-Man. Joe said this months ago and I'm not gonna post a direct link for a number of reasons: A. I'm too lazy. B. I really can't stomach digging for exact quotes from the man because after reading a five part interview with him about One More Day, I've had all the Joe Q I can stand. C. Enough people know how Joe Q works so you shouldn't have any reason to believe I'm putting words into his mouth. I'm going to paraphrase what Joe said.

"Its my job to make sure Spider-Man stays fresh for every fan that comes in the door and keep him that way for the next generation."

Joe Q said something to that effect. One side of my brain says that's a load of poppycock, but the rational side of my brain says he probably does believe in preserving the iconic status of Spidey in the comics. He's probably got good intentions, but hey, the road to Hell is also paved with good intentions.

I'm well aware of all the good stuff Joey has done for Marvel. Brought them out of bankruptcy, allowed for more trade paper back books to be published, getting more money to roll Marvel's way. From a business standpoint, Joe Q may be the best EiC Marvel has ever had. However, I really don't think Joe or anyone else at Marvel needs to worry about making sure Spidey sticks around (pun kinda intentional). As I already said, he's been here for over 40 years. No matter how bad they screw up the comics, Amazing Spider-Man will not be canceled and Spidey will not suddenly vanish.

I'd really like to stay away from the Brand New Day mess in this blog entry, but when talking about keeping Spidey "fresh", it's hard not to bring it up. Everything was done in OMD and BND was done to preserve the appeal of Spider-Man. He was made single again, he works at the Bugle again, and he once again has a string of near endless bad luck. That may sound like the good old days, but it really isn't keeping the character fresh, and the execution of the stories is actually a lot worse the era the writers are trying to emulate. Joe thinks Spidey works best stuck doing the same old, same old. Marvel's desire to keep Spidey vital is actually hurting the character more than anything else.

Personally, I think Joe Q and many others at Marvel have their priorities out of whack when it comes to Spidey. What Marvel needs to do is not focus on keeping Spidey fresh, but set their sights on telling good stories. Oh, sure someone will say "But they are focused on telling good stories!" Are they? Have you heard what Marvel says at comic cons and in interviews? There's so much talk about keeping Spidey "young" "fresh" that Marvel can't see the forest for the trees. When your character has been around for four decades, YOU DON'T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT KEEPING HIM FRESH! Have faith in the character and the writers to tell good stories. Spidey was still around during the Clone Saga and the debacle that was the '98 reboot. If the Earth is still here for another 40 years, Spidey will be here another 40 years. He isn't going anywhere no matter how badly Marvel mucks him up with their good intentions.


Tommy said...

Perhaps the odd thing with this keeping fresh stuff, is that I got into the book when Pete was just married.

I'm thinking things are getting skewed when 'fresh' means selling out the character's concepts and stepping backwards in a big way.

I think they need to keep sight of what makes Spidey work instead of making things too hackneyed with problems, mess-ups, etc.

Those things only work when they are not so blatantly bad. And knowing there is history, is what makes any current woes that much more painful to look at.

In all honesty, Marvel should habitually make something like Marvel Adventures to have a Spidey they can present without any specific history, and if they write him right, people will then seek out other Spidey-titles, and they, the consumer, can make their choice.

Otherwise, every single fan will at some point be incensed by what happens. New readers that don't care about continuity, but stick with things long enough, will eventually feel what they didn't before.

I'm thinking what Marvel will want to think about, is making sure 'Marvel time' is slow enough to not have their characters age 60 or higher, hehehe.

I think things will be weird in 2099 if they try to move the Marvel Universe into that time period instead of it being around the end of 20th Century/Beg. of the 21st due to how 2099's premise worked, with the Heroic Age originally ending about the end of 20th Century, but due to the events of Spidey meets Spidey 2099, that date was never firmly set.

Reggie White Jr. said...

Well said, Tommy. You should fire that off in an e-mail to Marvel.

Tommy said...

Sounds like a plan. I'll do that.