(HEY: I’m about to spoil the last arc of The Amazing Spider-Man. At this point, though, I am approximately the 483,000th person/media outlet to do so going back at least three weeks, so if anything is spoiled for you at this point you should be less angry with me and more impressed with yourself. Whatever system you’ve got going is working for you. Either you had an amazing Christmas Blackout Extravodkaganza, or you really need to think about reading the paper more in 2013. Current events, informed citizenship, etc. Anyway: this was a spoiler warning.)
There is at least one good piece of news to come out of all of this: I guess there has been a huge influx of New Readers this year after all. No one who has bought more than two comic books in his life could possibly get upset about this Spider-Man storyline.
For those of you just now tuning in, The Amazing Spider-Man #700 and the issues leading up to it were about the death of Doctor Octopus. Otto’s demise has been much discussed in the last few years, but as the reaper finally drew near a couple issues ago the good doctor Shyamalanned us all and revealed that he’d swapped bodies with Spider-Man on his deathbed. Peter Parker was now trapped in the failing, imprisoned body of one of his most hated foes with mere hours left to set things right before his heart gave out and left his enemy with his family, his love life, and an extra fifty years on the clock. Against impossible odds, Peter pushed his mind and body to their limits, using all the wits and resources at his disposal, and in the end when all seemed lost double Shyamalan all was lost and he died on the asphalt. A character we had spent years hating was now Spider-Man. Peter Parker was dead.
Except… c’mon. Come now. Let’s get hold of ourselves for a moment.
Forget the fact that Marvel is trying to sell bedsheets and Underoos. Forget that there are cartoons and two lucrative film franchises starring Peter Parker that someone behind a very nice desk on a very high floor wants the comics’ stories to strongly resemble in the interest of market crossover. Forget that the company has already killed off one Peter Parker in the last eighteen months and is not about to go Peter Parker free the year the franchise turns fifty. You cannot believe– you cannot seriously believe– that Dan Slott, perhaps the biggest Spider-Man fan in the world, would be handed the reins of his lifelong dream job and then celebrate by murdering Spider-Man on the asphalt. Even if Slott himself were a sadistic criminal mastermind, Marvel would make it their mission to undo any damage the minute he left the book, perhaps even starting by helping him locate the exit. I promise, the people who make Spider-Man comics every day of their lives are sort of attached to him.
Now, those of you with long memories who notice my byline exists instead of leaving comments that begin “I agree with the author here” may be saying, “Jim, were you not the one who just a few months ago ranted that the standard ‘comic book death is a revolving door’ complaint is a bunch of hogwash, and that comic book deaths are mostly permanent these days?” Yes. I did rant that rant. I stand by everything I ranted when I was ranting it.
But… come on. Unless you’re new to fiction, you know this is going to be a unique, cockeyed look at who/what Spider-Man is by some of the best in the biz that lasts for a handful of arcs, resolves itself, and then ends. You probably still have your black armband from the Superman funeral in a drawer somewhere. Even if you don’t, I assure you the people at Marvel remember what happened the last time they replaced Spider-Man and didn’t know when to end the story. Ben Reilly: dead sixteen years and counting. (Wait, which of my points does that make?)
You may be saying by now– or may have been saying by four or five paragraphs ago– “We know. You don’t need to tell anyone this.” You wouldn’t think so, would you?
Did you happen to see the Twitter messages Dan Slott started getting when this news broke? He saw ‘em, and then he gave someone else his Twitter password and went offline until after the next book comes out.
People were all-capping him about ruining the book/ the character/ their childhoods (apparently still ongoing)/ all hope for the future. A guy promised to find him and jam a pencil in his eye. An anonymous stranger heard the news and threatened to kill him over it.
Threatened to kill the real man, you understand, in retaliation for the imaginary death of the fictional man. Plotting one of those deaths is reversible, and plotting the other is legally actionable. You may have heard Joe Quesada’s old observation that some fans treat the characters like they’re real people and treat the creators like they aren’t; this is that, taken to its logical conclusion.
Yes, I’m sure not a few of those angry tweets were from people who read the USA Today article online but haven’t seen a comic book since they outgrew Betty & Veronica. Something about that site sends out a homing frequency to people who like being mad at strangers. Still, there are somehow these people who hear about a shocking comic book plot point and, no matter how many times it ends up resolving itself, fall for it
There’s this guy (skip to 2:30) and this guy (“Steve Ditko is rolling over in his f***in’ grave!”) and this poor guy. They don’t look like young people. They seem to have been reading comics for a long while now.
They can’t… they can’t really think… can they really…?
The guy in that last video says he’s mad enough to stab a guy. I don’t laugh as hard at that stuff as I used to.
“The author here” is named right at the top of every article he writes. I mean, honestly.