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Subj: Re: Spider-Man Revisited 31: John Byrne
Posted: Thu May 21, 2009 at 06:17:54 pm EDT (Viewed 10 times)
Reply Subj: Spider-Man Revisited 31: John Byrne
Posted: Tue May 19, 2009 at 07:40:34 pm EDT (Viewed 141 times)
Quote:Just focusing on the writing here, a lot of which was covered under Mackie as needed. By my standard rules, he belongs later in the program, but since his largest contribution to the Spider-mythos was with Mackie, Iâ€™ll take care of him here.
Original opinion: I liked Web of Spider-Man #73, and thought Chapter One was okay, but disjointed and, well, pointless.
Web #73 (Head Quest)
A sequel of sorts to Byrneâ€™s opening storyline for She-Hulkâ€™s solo book. The Headmen are looking for a new body for their friend Chondu, and he wants Spider-Manâ€™s. So they track him down to where he, MJ, Kristie and Aunt May have been invited by Willie Lumpkin (who was dating May at the time) to attend Alicia Stormâ€™s latest opening (post Torch marriage; pre-Skrull reveal of course). The whole thing turns into a massive free-for-all with Spidey and the Torch taking care of the Headmen, with special appearances from Namor and Peter Rasputin (post-Siege Perilous, so he didnâ€™t know who he was at the time). Lots of fun from start to finish.
Wasn't there some other cameos of note? I seem to remember an unofficial Lois Lane / Clark Kent appearance, and some celebrities of the day that I don't recognize but seemed to be there for topical reference. This really wasn't that bad, even though the overall story arc it was part of was on the lamer side.
According to Byrne, the purpose of this series was to be a â€œprimerâ€ for Spider-Man focusing on his first year, albeit with some costume changes and tweaks to the stories to bring them in line with modern sensibilities. But whatâ€™s the point of that? It fails as a proper introduction the character simply because Peter as he was in ASM #19 wasnâ€™t the same as he was in â€œASM #442.â€ So even if the series did its job and got people interested in the book, thereâ€™s a heck of â€œjumpâ€ to worry about.
But thatâ€™s all concept, which was developed before Byrne got asked to do the project. How about the execution?
Not great, but I donâ€™t think it deserves the critical shredding it frequently gets. Itâ€™s basically a reasonable set of adaptations of the Lee/Ditko run up to #19, with a Giant Man story tossed in for good measure. A lot of the flaws in Chapter One came from flaws in the original material.
The biggest problem Byrne had was that almost all of the major Peter Parker moments occurred in stories Byrne opted to skip in favor of getting as many of the classic villains in as possible: Peter convincing Liz to go out with him was in ASM #4 (first Sandman, but Byrne skipped to the second solo Sandman instead); he hooked up with Betty is ASM #7 (second Vulture); the rift that eventually drove them apart was the result of events in ASM #11 (second Doc Ock); and Liz started thinking of Peter as a romantic prospect because of events in ASM #12 (third Ock). So in Chapter One, Betty just shows up one day, Liz goes from running away screaming to being warm for his form for no apparent reason, etc.
Issue to issue flow was disjointed in that he frequently ended the previous issue with a cliffhanger, but then started the following issue off with the new cover featured villain. Sometimes it worked out â€“ introducing the Mysterio story while resolving the Electro one. Sometime it didnâ€™t â€“ the Lizard issue was all build-up and the next tied everything up in a brief flashback.
As for the more substantive changes madeâ€¦ Byrneâ€™s had better days with costume designing. I liked Electroâ€™s new outfit, but the others didnâ€™t turn out so well. Especially Vulture, who looked like he forgot his pants. While tying Peterâ€™s origin to Dr. Octopusâ€™ would have been fine in the movie, doing it in comics isnâ€™t a great idea. Spider-Man had the perfect origin story. Donâ€™t screw with it. (And I agree with Fred Hembeckâ€™s point that Peter was nowhere near well-adjusted enough to deal with the survivorâ€™s guilt from being the almost sole survivor of an accident.) Having Sandman and Norman as distant cousins was silly, but harmless.
In summaryâ€¦ Iâ€™ve said before that Byrneâ€™s greatest mistake in comics was agreeing to do Chapter One. Still feel that way. But I still love Web #73.
I generally agree. This series missed the best of the Lee / Ditko era, and made some rather lame changes. I didn't like the new Electro outfit, though.
The "point" was to try and recreate Batman: Year One, which shows his first year "on the job" and gives a summary of what he's about. While I'm not a big DC fan, and may get some details wrong, I think that this failed on a few levels. One was exectution as mentioned before. Another is that Batman had a new chonology / timeline to establish due to Crisis so it made sense to redo his early stories. Finally, Batman is more of a static character than Spider-Man, so seeing where he was after one year is essentially giving you all you need to know moving forward...
FAN FIC ALERT!!
Not really fan fic per se, but talking about Chapter One reminded me of the â€œif I was in charge of Spider-Man during the rebootâ€ (albeit taking into account the wishes of the EIC) thoughts I had at the time so I might as well toss â€˜em in here (as usual, no claims that this is any better than what we got, conceptually ):
Push back the Final Chapter a few months so everyone can tie up their storylines properly. Clear out any supporting cast members that wonâ€™t be appearing post-reboot. End the â€œold runsâ€ of the Spider-Man titles in the way established by DeFalco over in Spider-Girl: a final confrontation with Norman Osborn that led to the return of Baby May, the death of Normon, and the partial de-legging of Peter.
While the books are on hiatus, bring in Byrne to do his â€œMan of Websâ€ series (8 bi-weekly or 12 weekly issues). The intent here is to review what has come before and to put pieces in place for the coming run of Spider comics. Start off after the bite and jump a few years with each issue, covering the major Spidey periods along the way. (Possibly skipping the Clone Saga, since thatâ€™s what led to the road to reboot in the first place.) Make sure the major villains and supporting cast members make an appearance. To provide a throughline for the series, introduce a new scientist-type villain. Maybe start him off as kind of silly, and build him up as more and more dangerous as the series progresses. He discovers Peterâ€™s id prior to Aunt Mayâ€™s death and makes contact with Norman Osborn in the penultimate issue.
Then we get to the final issue, which everyone will hate. (Including me. ) Itâ€™s after the Final Chapter and Peterâ€™s living in wedded bliss. Unfortunately, said bliss is short lived. Peter wakes up one day with his leg restored (scientist guy snuck him a chemical that regenerated it â€“ he wants his foe at his best before destroying him; spider sense didnâ€™t kick in because the chemical helped rather than harmed) and then we discover the baby isnâ€™t really a baby after all. Itâ€™s a genetic â€œtime bombâ€ created by the scientist to attack Peter when he least expects it. After surviving the attack, the â€œbabyâ€ is destroyed in the process, Peter dons the webs to find out what really happened to his daughter. HE arrives at the scientistâ€™s lair, where he discovers that Aunt May is alive and well (albeit dazed and confused), but the baby isnâ€™t. The evil scientist is killed in the battle (his fault, natch) and Peter goes home to break the good and terrible news to MJ. MJ, heartbroken, says she canâ€™t take it anymore and leaves. A little montage at the end with Aunt May getting settled back into her life, Peter moving on with his (including a reference to MJ â€œmaking it officialâ€), a Stan Lee-esque mope about the curse of Spider-Man (with a cool pin-up shot) and weâ€™re done. Go back to Amazing and Peter Parker and go from there.
Like I said, I wouldnâ€™t have necessarily liked all/any of this, but it gets the characters where Harras and company wanted them to be and provides a clean slate for the new/old direction. Meanwhile, married Peter fans would get a happy ending of sorts and could follow him directly over to Spider-Girl. He may not be the star, but itâ€™s better than nothing.
Can't say I love your idea, but I don't hate it. I think it's at least as "good" as what was published (high praise, I know). I just have bad feelings about bring back the baby, especially to be definitively killed and made the catalyst for a divorce. I think that it would have a lasting "aging" effect that wouldn't fade away as readily as the final solution that Marvel came up with.
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