Letters to Holly

Thursday, January 3

Spider Music

Because the snow delay kept me at home Wednesday, I was able to get in more Guitar Hero and unlock two encore songs: Sabbath's War Pigs and Guns N Roses's Sweet Child of Mine. And oh did my fingers cry for mercy.

We attended a surprise birthday party that night for a former student of Your Sister. Requests were made for dance CDs, and I chose to make her a mix CD of teen-girl dance songs. Some mash-ups, some stuff parents wouldn't like, but I didn't think they'd listen to the music much anyway. When we arrived, we heard the Disney soundtrack playing and saw the Disney-themed cake. This was a party for a younger mindset than I expected and I debated throwing away the CD. I did give it to her but warned her to play it when the old people go to sleep.

Picture of Chaos of the Day

Joe Quesada, the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, took over about eight years ago. He was a writer/artist who inherited the mantle during a massive editorial shakeup. His trench work prior to becoming the big cheese helped him draft big names to long-dormant comics, and sales shot up. A lot of good ideas came out of the new administration, and Marvel movies took off during this period.

But one idea that Quesada hated is a Spider-Man married to Mary Jane. This happened about 15 years ago to help stagnant sales. Quesada claimed younger readers couldn't relate to a married Spidey. Spidey evolved quite a bit in the last ten years. He developed organic webs (replacing the original mechanical web-shooters), Aunt May and MJ found out Peter was Spidey, his powers became magical in nature (kinda like the midichlorians in the first SW prequel), and, just last year, he went public with his identity.

Quesada decided that, of all these changes, the marriage had to be removed, but he didn't want to taint the character with a divorce. So here's what they did: Aunt May is again on her deathbed and MJ/Peter can't afford the bills. From nowhere appears Mephisto, Marvel's devil, and he makes Spidey a deal. May will be saved but Peter loses his relationship to MJ. In an issue that was just published, Peter and MJ agree, and Peter wakes up with no memory of the deal and finds himself with mechanical shooters and his long-dead pal Harry Osborn back as his roommate. Also his ID is secret again, removing the biggest moment of the 2007 comics. And oh how the shit has flown.

Here's how many people like the idea: Quesada.
Here's who hates the idea: Everyone else.

Even the writer of the comic wanted his name removed because Quesada altered his scripts. The fanbase is up in sweaty, virgin arms over it. Marvel, after promising there would be no magic reboot button to fix the marriage or the public identity, used just such a conceit. It also invalidated a decade of comic stories. This isn't the first time Marvel has done this with Spidey. About ten years ago, the company revealed that Peter had been a clone since the mid-'70s, and the real Peter was living under a different name. Catastrophe. Sales plummeted.

Marvel is following up the event with a brand new fleet of Spidey creators and has to hope the same sales disaster won't happen. But I don't see how they plan to keep loyal readers who are now jerked around again. I dropped the comic about three years back, but this change does nothing to bring me back as a consumer. Marvel presumes that consumers and readers are separate audiences and that the monthly customers won't alter their shopping no matter what happens in the regular titles. Maybe not. I know people who inexplicably buy comics they don't enjoy just to be completists. Not me. I don't have that kinda money. Well, I do, but I also have a wife and house.

Maybe I'm not the kind of reader Marvel considers in its equations, but as a longtime fan, I can't respect a Spider-Man who makes a deal with the devil. That's a stupid Spidey, no matter what benefit he thinks he'll earn. And I don't see why young readers would relate to a stupid bachelor Spidey more than a happily married one.

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