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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Biggest mistake ever in comic book history

Or, it could wind up being one of the best and boldest ever. You might have heard the news already that Spider-Man "outs" himself as Peter Parker before a stunned press conference (and an even more stunned J. Jonah Jameson) in Times Square. It all takes place in issue #2 of the Civil War saga going on right now from Marvel Comics. In a story that's playing out across several monthly titles (and the core Civil War series) the super-powered community of the Marvel Universe is split over the issue of the Superhero Registration Act: a government mandate that would force all the heros to reveal their true identities. Spider-Man is one of those coming out in favor of the act, hence Parker's "act of goodwill".

Color me cynical, but I've still got bad memories of the disastrous-as-hell "Clone Saga": a Spider-Man story that started with only the best of intentions but soon spun completely out of the writers's control. I guess if the Marvel honchos decide that doing this was a very bad decision, they can always count on Doctor Strange to mystically alter the memories of everyone on Earth so that Petey can have his secret identity again. But then again, change can be a very good thing, especially when we're dealing with a forty-some year old character, if it helps keep that character fresh. Time will tell. In the meantime I might have to check out Civil War.


qemuel said...

The great failing of comics as an artform and a mythology is that you cannot tell any stories with any lasting resonance or meaning (since the medium is an ongoing animal and the next person can come along and undo what the last one did).

There have been some excellent story arcs told by many incredible creators throughout the years, and I've learned to not let them be sullied by the crap that comes after these character defining runs. Often they have needed to tread through these deserts just to make their way to an oasis.

There have been several excellent finite series that show what can be accomplished when there is one defining vision and/or goal (SANDMAN, PREACHER, and CEREBUS come to mind--although Dave Sim did seem to be running out of steam towards the end of CEREBUS), and that is where the medium will probably find its stability and future.

It's really unsettling to watch this medium try and find its place in the modern world. Something like revealing Spider-Man's identity has a place in a story arc that is building towards something concrete and finale, not just for shock value and sales.

But hey, what do I know? I'm infamous for hating change...