Sunday, May 15, 2005

Looking To The Stars: Make Mine NOT Marvel

It’s been a long time in coming, but this week I finally did it. I removed all the Marvel Comics from my subscription. This decision was not made lightly, nor was it made completely without pain. But the sad fact is that my expenses are going to be very tight this summer as I enter my final semester of Graduate school and SOMETHING had to go. And that something was, I decided, the company that made up a mere four books on the list of twenty titles I read every month.

Why Marvel? Why now? Well, to be honest most of the books I have been reading either no longer thrill me as much as they used to or have become outright unreadable. Also, I came to a realization regarding the current tide at Marvel that also made this decision a lot easier. But first things first- let us discuss each title in detail.

Amazing Spider-Man

JMS. You’re the one who got me reading Spider-Man again but even you can’t keep me reading him. So far, you’re the only writer who seems to have done anything worthwhile with the idea of Peter Parker being a member of The Avengers and I commend you for that. But sadly, the new environment is not working for me.

I think of Spider-Man and I think crummy apartments, Aunt May unable to make the house payment and Mary Jane being out of work because nobody takes her seriously as an actress because of her modeling. Moving them all into Stark Tower just takes out a lot of the natural drama that has always been a part of the book.

In short, I leave Amazing Spider-Man behind me, not that I hate New Avengers less but that I love your take on Amazing Spider-Man unspoiled. If you were allowed to write the book without having to include The Avengers, I might stay. But since Marvel doesn’t have the greatest track record about not shoving “new and wonderful” things down our throat, I must, as Groucho Marx said, be going. “I came to say I cannot stay; I must be going.”


The one title I can gleefully remove from my list with no complaints whatsoever. Now lest I start getting complaints about being a Bendis-basher who is still bitter over Avengers, let me set a few things straight. I’ve been reading the book consistently since Kevin Smith rebooted the title. I read through the Mack, Gale & Bendis runs and I enjoyed them all. But lately, it seems to me that Bendis is not writing Daredevil. He is writing a book full of interesting dialogue and situations… but he isn’t writing Daredevil.

This is the biggest complaint I get from people who accuse me of being an uncultured philistine who does not get the wonderful artfulness of your average Bendis story. That because I actually expect to see a guy in a red costume kicking-butt and to see Matt Murdock in court doing the lawyer thing in a Daredevil comic, that I am stuck in the past and unable to see the beauty of true art.

Let me tell you folks something: it doesn’t take a master of “art” to take six months to tell a story where three of the books are issue-long fight scenes. It isn’t art to retell the same story twice from different character’s viewpoints in two different issues over a year-long span. (Besides, James Robinson did that better in Starman.)

How sad is it that the only story featuring Daredevil that has felt like a Daredevil story that I’ve read in recent memory is the overly melodramatic Daredevil: Redemption? On every level, I find it to be inferior to Bendis’ plots, dialogue and character (outside of Matt himself, of course). And yet, I found the book much more enjoyable because while it was overdone it felt truer to the spirit of what Stan Lee and Frank Miller did with the character than anything Bendis has ever written.

Fantastic Four

Another book that I had no complaints about but I just cannot stick around to read. Mark Waid all but drug this title back to greatness from mediocrity and proved popular enough to make a comeback after being removed from action by an editor who very quickly learned why Mark Waid is as popular as he is skillful. But with Waid on the book and even with JMS coming on… I feel it is best for me to move on for now.

Ultimate Spider-Man

Everything I said above about Daredevil? Repeat that. Twice.

Of course I haven’t sworn Marvel off completely. Though I have no interested whatsoever in the upcoming House of M storyline, there are still a few specials that are well worth-reading. Dan Slott’s GLA and Spider-Man/Human Torch have been two rare treasures that Marvel has released this year and I will check out any future projects he releases. And I suspect that once JMS’s Fantastic Four begins, I will somehow find my way back into reading that once a month.

Until then, the next person who asks me to “Make Mine Marvel” will get a very polite “No, thank you.”

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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