The Comic Book Club: “Batman & Robin” and “Amazing Spider-Man”

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EVAN: Man, I hated this comic. Now, I should start by saying that I’ve been one of those “Brand New Day” objectors. I basically took the overriding logic of the Spider-reboot as a tacit admission by Marvel PTB that they couldn’t write a married Spider-Man, that there weren’t enough story possibilities with the Spider-Man they inherited. (And I really thought that the Spidey secret identity reveal during Civil War was a incredibly bone-headed decision.) I’ve peeked at a few issues of Amazing in the past few years and, while some have been good, I never felt like the new status quo of Peter’s personal life generated the excitement or possibility that it was supposed to.

But I don’t want to talk continuity minutiae. Rather, it’s what the Spidey plot twists and events stand for that bother me. The Spider-Man stories that led to the painted-in-a-corner dilemma–Civil War, “One More Day”–were on Quesada’s watch. And this storyline’s felt like a poor attempt to address the decision-making process: let’s get the Marvel Universe’s potentates together so they can decide what to do about Spider-Man. (Just like we did!) Ultimately, it felt like just so much blathering on with empty platitudes. Spider-Man’s “the best of us”? Well, doesn’t he deserve better? Peter yanks MJ in to the magic don’t-forget bubble and it turns out to be the wrong thing in two ways. It screws his relationship with MJ in the text and metatextually feels wrong. It’s a super-selfish move for a character who’s embraced selflessness no matter what it’s cost him. The whole thing just feels muddy and self-indulgent.

It reminds me so much of what bothers me about superhero comics nowadays: creators who can talk the high-falutin’ talk about what makes a character but can’t execute it.

That sign-off at the end of the issue’s main story is laughably contradictory to me. A nod to the guys whose stories have your decisions have invalidated? Really?

That said, I agree with Douglas on the Marcos Martin love. Gotta find that Batgirl: Year One series somewhere…

GRAEME: Yeah, color me one of the guys with less-than-mixed feelings about “One Moment In Time.” It’s not because I’ve disliked the post-One More Day set-up for the character and series, because I think Spider-Man’s been more interesting and enjoyable to me as a reader in the last three years than he’d been for decades previously, but because “One Moment In Time” feels entirely unnecessary – A story needed only to wrinkle out continuity concerns created by a story created to create new continuity? It’s so backwards-looking and fanboyish – and so utterly shoddily done. I’ll agree with Douglas that Paolo Rivera’s art is very nice (although this issue is the weakest of his efforts on the story, I have to say), but the writing is just appallingly weak. Joe Quesada’s dialogue tries to imitate how regular people talk, but it comes out as soap opera cliche, and the final revelations about the new status quo’s big unknowns (How did Peter’s identity become secret again? What happened on his wedding day to Mary Jane?) really, disappointingly, mundane (and vague – The “Yeah, so we’re created a magic science virus that’ll make people forget and erase all the data” fix in this issue was comically shoddy).

Again, I’m with Douglas that it should’ve been done earlier, and I can’t help but wonder if it was MEANT for much earlier. That last page, with Spider-Man narrating that it “feels like a Brand New Day!,” even though that branding hasn’t been used for more than two and a half years, was jarring.

(More on Techland: The Comic Book Club: X-Men, Superman and Parker)

MIKE: I too, hate everything! Loud noises!

When Mephisto showed up a couple of years ago, I checked out. I’ve been sort of waiting in the wings and scanning every fifth or sixth issue of Spidey to get good again. Spider-Man leading up to Civil War was a good time to be a Web-Head fan. I didn’t even mind the Iron Spider suit. But then One More Day rolled along, and it wasn’t that I was offended by the almost casual way decades of story were tossed aside–I just didn’t care. Spider-Man without MJ doesn’t bother me. Peter Parker has so many facets of his personality that humanize him, what’s one less?

My point is that I agree that this story seems unnecessary, and I certainly won’t be re-reading it any time soon. One day, when I start reading Spidey again, I’d sooner hit the wiki articles rather than read the back issues to catch up. And I have no doubt that I will read Spider-Man again. Did you all read the recent “Shed: story-line with the revamped Lizard? Maybe it was just Bachalo’s art (I love it, but I know it’s not for everyone), but that was what I want from my Friendly Neighborhood. Slugfests, self sacrifice, a scientist’s mind behind the mask, and a hero that is protecting the city again. Tony, Reed, and Doc Strange having a seance for pages on end does not a Spider-Man comic make.

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