A writer at the awful Polygon website says Marvel’s got no idea what to do with Stan Lee’s famous web-slinger:
In the character’s 60-plus years of existence, there hasn’t been a better time to be into Spider-Man than right now. There’s an abundance of excellent Spidey-stories that take all kinds of shapes: a wonderful PlayStation game with a sequel on the way, a fantastic animated film (also with a sequel on the way), a popular live-action trilogy of films, and a deep bench of previous movies, animated series, and video games to enjoy. These are good stories that really show off why the character has been around for more than half a century. But there are also bad stories that kind of make you wonder how the good stories ever got here.
I’ve got a most interesting answer to that. The mainstream media’s ignorance and apologia for Marvel, ever since Joe Quesada was given the keys to the kingdom. Even the now defunct Wizard magazine has responsibility to shoulder, since they served as apologists, and did nothing to object to any poor steps taken with the material. Besides, if the comics proper aren’t really in good shape, then it does no good to say there hasn’t been a better time be a Spidey fan, because video games and movies do not replace the original source. And the real reason Spidey’s been around for over 60 years is because greedy profiteers would rather milk the remains dry with stories that do little more than recycle elements already used in the past, like the following:
One of these stories is called Dark Web. It just wrapped up at the start of this year. Here is what happens in it.
Ben Reilly, the clone of Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, has lost his memories of the life that he and Peter shared and as a result, he simply must become a supervillain. To that end, he obtains new, glowy, poorly defined powers, calls himself Chasm, and teams up with Madelyne Pryor, the Goblin Queen of the sorta-hell realm Limbo, to unleash demons on Manhattan in an effort to pressure Peter into giving up his memories by eating an infernal fruit, so Ben can have them back.
This is, as best as I can describe, what I’ve been watching one of the most beloved fictional characters on Earth do in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man, the flagship Marvel comic book that is largely the fuel for all those movies and video games and cartoons we all love so much. Believe it or not, it’s meant to be beginner-friendly! The main story in Amazing Spider-Man is something of a soft status quo reboot. In the first issue, we learn that Peter Parker has done something to piss off just about everyone in his life. Things are so dire these days that he’s hanging out with Norman Osborn, who has turned a new leaf on his villainous past as the Green Goblin after another villain known as the Sin-Eater literally blasted his sins away with a magic shotgun. It’s not clear what that means, but for the most part, Norman wants to be a good guy now, and he’s haunted by his illustrious career as a bad one.
Meanwhile, Norman’s sins have manifested as an entity known as Queen Goblin, the monstrous alter ego of cloned psychiatrist Dr. Ashley Kafka (a lot going on there), and Mary Jane dislikes Peter so much that she’s gone off and gotten engaged to a guy with two kids — not that she and Peter were going steady to begin with. And not once does anyone make use of the excellent pun “dark web.”
But the columnist isn’t really trying to write up a serious critique of how economy-based the structure is, nor does he seem particularly disappointed Mary Jane’s been forced into a different engagement by cynical writers and editors who couldn’t care less about Stan Lee drawing from some of his own life experiences (his wife Joan was a model too), all because they’ve decided that, for as long as there’s a Marvel comics brand, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson will never be married again till the end of time. At the end, he says:
It is hard to fathom the same being said about any given Amazing Spider-Man arc in recent memory. It is a listless series, a twice-monthly labor of brand maintenance that is continually kept from forming a beating heart. It has its fans — there is a real appeal in keeping track of these decades-running twists and turns and seeing the subtle ways they are repackaged and commented on by different generations of creators — but it’s hard to imagine it winning any new ones. That is now the work of other media: brilliant animated films that offer diverse new avatars to carry the Spider-Man legend onward, or lovingly rendered video games that let players vicariously experience the highs and lows of the iconic wall-crawler. It’s a shame, then, how likely these eager new fans are to turn to the comics being published now, only to find a series completely hostile to them.
Well at least here, he admits the current volume is a disappointment, but he makes no convincing effort to champion Lee’s visions by urging old and new readers to reject Marvel as it stands now, and avoid these current iterations of Spidey until the Spider-marriage is restored as it used to be. Nor does he suggest C.B. Cebulski be replaced as EIC just as Axel Alonso was, or that the publisher be sold to a business with more respect for the material. So what’s the columnist’s point? As I’ve said before, multimedia products don’t replace the original comics, and it’s shameful how so much more emphasis is lavished on video games and movies in their stead. It’s because of this absurd emphasis that I’d strongly recommend voting with our wallets in regards to the movies and video games just as much as the comics, and not buy merchandise based on Spidey any more than the brand new comics themselves. What’s the use when the comics aren’t genuinely being cared for?