Before I start, I would like to give a heartfelt apology to J Michael Straczynski. Historically, I have held JMS in the highest esteem. I have loved his work on the Babylon television series and his past work in Amazing Spider-Man, but after reading ASM 512, I just have to let off some steam!
I’m not your typical comic fanboy. I’m a 33 year-old loving husband and father of three. Anyway, I’ve been a Marvel fan since I was in the hospital with pneumonia as a kid, and my dad bought me Spiderman comics to help me feel better. The life and times of Peter Parker have always been a constant in my life. I have always been able to find qualities in a fictional character that I was not able to find in real person. He was a regular guy given extraordinary powers to fight injustice and protect those that couldn’t protect themselves.
I can’t say that I’ve got an extensive collection. Typically, I go along for a couple of years and then have some sort of emotional downturn and have to seek solace and escape from my own world and jump into the Marvel Universe. At that point, I typically pick a TPB to catch up on a complete storyline. It’s been that way for the past 25 years or so. Until this week, that is…
I really hate when extremely talented authors try to improve on an idea that has withstood the test of thousands, even millions, of comics! I’ve said it, and I mean it. As an example, I really hated what they (the editors and writers at DC) did by killing Superman and then resurrecting him in a blatant marketing campaign to help sell more issues at the expense of fans everywhere who were pretty much “out of the loop.” Wolverine was another character that was just “ran through the mud” just to sell comics. Was it Len Wein who said “that a good character almost writes itself?” If that’s true, why are some of the most talented writers and editors allow success to go to their heads and begin #$(#-ing with the established legends that have inspired so many of us for so long?
The straw that broke the camel’s back is when JMS decided to craft a story about Peter Parker’s first love, Gwen Stacy. Let me just start this rant by saying that I know JMS is known for his expertly designed plot twists, and I’ve enjoyed almost everyone of them, but Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy were going to be married before the Green Goblin knocked her off the George Washington Bridge and fell to her death (ASM 121). We all know the story, but what we didn’t know is that Gwen Stacy secretly, and voluntarily, made love with/to Norman Osborne, got pregnant with a set of fraternal twins and raised them to hate Peter Parker/Spiderman. As offensive as my next statement is (and I’m not the only one of the SBC reviewers to express this either), it would have been truer to the essence of the established mythos of the Marvel Universe if Norman Osborne had raped Gwen. To top off the story, MJ knew all about it and didn’t tell P about it for all these years!
I survived the Clone “thing,” I endured the alien costume, I even stayed after Norman Osborne killed P and MJ’s child, I even liked the revisiting of the origin story with the “totem animal” twist, but I made a promise in one of my SBC reviews that if things went too far, I’d give up reading my hero’s adventures. “Let’s just hope this doesn’t turn into something as awful as the whole clone affair! If it does, I might just have to tear up my Spiderman fan club ID…”
As of ASM 513, I will not be buying any more of the non-Ultimate Spiderman titles! I hope the joy and satisfaction JMS got from the crafting of this storyline is enough to offset the guilt he should have by crushing P and all of his loyal fans! In my mind, the legend of the Spiderman is as complete as I can stand it without any further trauma…