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The Problem with Death of Spider-Man

July 5th, 2011 Posted by guest article

Gavok note: For the past year or so in my This Week in Panels series, panels for Ultimate Spider-Man have been supplied every month by regular reader Michael Stangeland, otherwise known as Space Jawa. With Ultimate Peter Parker’s corpse still a bit fresh, Jawa wanted to touch on his perspective of the mini-event. Since we’re always open to reader guest articles, I was more than happy to oblige.

I’ll admit right off the bat that when I first heard about Bendis’ The Death of Spider-Man story arc, I was concerned. Initially, it was worry about the titular character actually biting it, in spite of how he’s been around since the launch of Marvel’s Ultimate line-up. So it’s entirely possible that my reaction to how the story actually went there and did what’s previously only been done in a few dozen different issues of What-If?.

However, I’d also like to be able to think that I’m not that close-minded. After all, I was willing to see the entirety of the story arc through before passing final judgment, and I recognize that sometimes, character death is for the best, and a lot of great things can come out of it. After all, look at what Brubaker did with killing off Steve Rogers (before he brought him back, of course).

And for a world to truly move forwards, sometimes the characters we know and love have to move on so the next generation of great characters can take their turn in the spotlight and provide new story opportunities. When I first read Lord of the Rings back when I was in grade school, my gut reaction was to be disappointed that Bilbo wouldn’t be the main character again. Fortunately, I moved past that quickly enough and was able to get through the entirety of JRR Tolkien’s masterpiece.

So I’m hoping that I’m being honest with myself that the real reason for my distaste for the whole Death of Spider-Man arc is truly in reaction to how it was carried out rather than the end result. If it looks otherwise after I’ve said my piece, I encourage you to call me out on it.


I wish I could say that the use of “proudly” wasn’t meant to be serious.

The first major problem with Death of Spider-Man shows up in the very first three pages of the story. The major driving force behind Ultimate Pete’s death is that Norman Osborn is back from the dead. Of course, characters coming back from the dead isn’t anything that comics are unfamiliar with.

Problem is, this is Marvel’s Ultimate Comics universe. And if I’m not mistaken, one of the major points that has been made about the UC is that when characters die, they stay dead. Something that brings it even closer to being set in the “real world” than the classic 616 universe.

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We Care a Lot Part 23: Red Jelly

June 11th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

I admit that I’ve been putting this one off for quite some time. It’s only natural, since it means having to read Maximum Carnage for the first time in about fifteen years. For a while, I didn’t even intend to review this story since it’s been covered to death across the internet, but then I realized that my take may have its own flavor. After all, I’m a guy who likes Spider-Man, loves Venom and tolerates Carnage. That last one already puts me on a different path from most reviewers.

Carnage falls into the category of, “It’s not the character that’s bad but the writing.” Carnage can be in a great story, I’m sure. We just haven’t seen it yet, though the Carnage miniseries (originally going to be called Astonishing Spider-Man and Iron Man until Marvel realized they could lure more readers in by naming it after the long-dead villain) has certainly had its moments. In preparation, I read through Carnage’s original story arc in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #361-363, which isn’t at all an offensive story. The Micheline/Bagley joint mostly acts as a way to both remove Venom from his status quo where he peacefully lived on an abandoned island while believing Spider-Man to be dead as well as giving Venom an excuse to fight alongside Spider-Man against a threat greater than both of them.

This idea, which I’m sure sold like gangbusters, was made fun of in the pages of the Ren and Stimpy Show #6 when Spider-Man made a guest appearance to fight a mind-controlled Powdered Toast Man.

This was written by Dan Slott, who would go on to create Anti-Venom and a bunch of gimmicky Spider-Man costumes. Pot and kettle.

So anyway, Carnage was a decent enough villain for his initial story. If they kept their cool about it, he’d probably be more accepted by your average comic fan. Instead, they went nuts over how this was the best idea Marvel’s come up with in years. The covers would literally say that Carnage was so awesome that they had to put his name on the cover twice! It was this thinking that made Marvel brass believe that a lengthy Spider-Man arc spanning all his books should be centered around this supervillain.

After reading Maximum Carnage, I felt that it had a lot of similarities to the Clone Saga. Part of it is the innocent idea of taking a character who’s been taken off the board in a previous story and bringing them back for the sake of telling a bigger, better story. Due to the hype behind the character, many issues are dedicated to telling this story. Too many issues.

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The Point One Collaboration Experiment

May 24th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Last Wednesday saw the release of Alpha Flight #0.1, the first in what appears to be a second wave of comics in Marvel’s Point One Initiative. Revealed first in late October and making its debut on the shelves in February, Marvel decided to start focusing on certain issues of their various series as jumping on points. It’s similar, at least to me, to DC’s One Year Later comics that existed after the events of Infinite Crisis half a decade ago, only without the shakeup factor of it all. They simply give us a bunch of $2.99 comic issues that claim to be a great place for a new reader to start with and move forward.

I’ve seen people review the Point One books in batches, comparing what worked and what didn’t. I even thought of doing that myself, but then I took a second to notice that it would be pretty unnecessary. What reason could I possibly have to review those? For instance, I read Jeff Parker’s Hulk as is and enjoy the hell out of it. So of course I would love Hulk #30.1. I’m already on board for the series. To me, it’s just another great issue. I’m not the intended audience for such a review.

But you know who would be good for this kind of thing? People who would read Hulk #30.1 despite never reading the 29 prior issues. Same for Avengers #12.1 and Wolverine #5.1 and so on. If this is Marvel’s attempt to bring in new readers, I need to get me a hold of some new readers! Namely, I need a crew from the DC side of the tracks. It was a long and tortuous search (fifteen seconds, give or take), but I figured on a perfect trio for this experiment.

First up is Esther Inglis-Arkell, the Clobberella of the 4thletter! New Justice Team. Since she and I have had shockingly minimal interaction over the years on this site and she stands firm on DC ground, Esther was ideal for this. Joining Esther is Was Taters, a friend to this site for all the work she regularly does for This Week in Panels. Lastly, I introduce my real life good buddy Andrew, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with for the past five and a half years.

Before we get started, let’s hear from our guinea pigs.

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This Week in Panels: Week 79

March 27th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Good evening or morning or whenever you’re reading this. This week I’m helped out by David Brothers and Space Jawa.

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #5
Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert

Batman Incorporated #4
Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham

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The Spider-Man Musical Review: Treat Or Menace?

March 23rd, 2011 Posted by Gavok

On Friday night, I journeyed into New York City to see the show that I was destined to see. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been the butt of many jokes and it’s hard not to join in. David Uzumeri summed it up for me nicely with the term “spiderfreude”. The whole broadway show concept, the inflated budget, the head-scratching reviews and the laundry list of injuries and mishaps has made it a phenomenon for absurdity-loving comic fans such as myself. The whole thing is too strange to exist and I knew I had to get on the train before it crashes for good.

Lo and behold my amazing, spectacular Christmas gift of tickets to see the show.

And it’s a good thing, too! The show is being closed down in a few weeks for the sake of being retooled. Best case scenario, they’re going to change a lot of stuff and I got to see the rougher draft of the Broadway show. Worst case scenario, they’re going to deep six the entire production and I got to look into God’s eyes before it was too late.

It also makes me feel less bad about going into full spoiler mode. For those who don’t want to muck through the spoilers and want the gist of my experience, I didn’t think it was bad. There are parts that are pretty awful and kind of embarrassing, but it really starts to gain steam. The performances are really good, especially Patrick Page as the Green Goblin and the set designs are so extravagant that at no point do you wonder where all those millions of dollars went. The music… I’m not really qualified to comment on. I’m no theater expert and I’m sure if I listened to them in one more go I’d have more impressions, but my main reaction was mostly, “Yes, that is most certainly something inspired by Bono.”

I should also get the obvious out of the way. No, nobody died or got horribly injured from what I saw. The only mishaps were few:

1) One of the Spider-Man stuntman guys swung around over the crowd, bounced around and ended up on a high platform where the right side of the stage cuts off. Noticed by some, he could be seen momentarily strangled by his cables before getting free.

2) The obligatory “Spider-Man: NO MORE!” scene lost a little oomph when Peter’s tights bounced out of the garbage can and fell on the floor.

3) There was a part in the second act where the curtain wasn’t closed all the way and some could get a pretty good look at one of the actresses during a costume change. Actually, scratch everything I said. This show was awesome.

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This Week in Panels: Week 75

February 27th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

It’s the ThWiP 75th Week Double-Sized Spectacular! …Okay, it isn’t double-sized. It differs from week to week, so you can’t even define what single-sized is anyway. But I do have Was Taters and Space Jawa helping me out, so that’s neat.

Plus Deadpool Team-Up has the most Gavokian panel in the history of panels.

Avengers #10
Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.

Captain America #615
Ed Brubaker, Butch Guice, Sean McKeever and Filipe Andrade

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This Week in Panels: Week 73

February 13th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

“HEY, EVERYBODY!”

Louie!

“WHO’S GOT SOMETHIN’ FOR ME?!”

I do!

“WHAT IS IT?!”

A bunch of panels from comics that that me, David Brothers, Was Taters, Space Jawa and David Uzumeri read this week!

“…eh, what the hell. I WANNA DIP MY BALLS IN IT!”

Amazing Spider-Man #654
Dan Slott, Paulo Siqueira, Ronan Cliquet de Oliveira and others

Batgirl #18
Bryan Q. Miller and Dustin Nguyen

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This Week in Panels: Week 65

December 20th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

This week I’m joined by Was Taters and Luis. Luis insists on sharing a panel of Amazing Spider-Man, which he most certainly hated.

As for that Avengers Academy panel, I can assure you that that is not Metamorpho.

Amazing Spider-Man #650
Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos and Neil Edwards

Avengers Academy #7
Christos Gage and Tom Raney

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This Week in Panels: Week 59

November 7th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to another great week of ThWiP! Lot of fun comic stuff this week. Bruce Wayne made a major announcement that’s going to shake up the DC status quo. Frank Castle met up with a woman whose unmasking is likely to piss off SO MANY hardcore Punisher fans, more so than the Frankenstein fiasco. And panel contributor Was Taters believes the Red Hood image shows that it’s only a matter of time before some crap writer tries to retcon Damian Wayne’s heritage even further.

Amazing Spider-Man #647
Fred Van Lente, Max Fiumara and Various

Avengers Academy #6
Christos Gage and Mike McKone

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This Week in Panels: Week 56

October 17th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Whew! Big week this time around, thanks mostly to TEAMWORK! I got a bunch of panels in, David threw in a couple, as did readers Was Taters and Space Jawa. Even David Uzumeri made me use a damned Superman panel here.

In other news, our very own Esther now has her own Twitter. Start following and she might start Tweeting stuff!

Amazing Spider-Man #645
Mark Waid, Paul Azaceta, Matthew Southworth, Stan Lee and Marcos Martin

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: New World #3
Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Guy Davis

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