Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nerd Life: Comics are Fun Again

Any comic fan can tell you, comics these days are growing more mature with each issue. Granted, their core audience is growing older, and the medium is growing with it.

However, what about new readers? What about bright-eyed little 8-year-old boys (or girls)? Many major comics are becoming exactly what moms everywhere feared they were years ago.

Then, Marvel made one of the most brilliant and controversial moves in their long history.


For the past 40+ years, Spiderman has been the flagship title for Marvel. Sure, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man and others may have exceeded it in sales at times. Avengers has always been the core of the Universe's story. But Spiderman has always been the company's heart and soul.

We've grown up with him.

We've seen him fall in love.

We've had our hearts broken.

We were invited to his wedding.

We were together at the worst time imaginable.

Over the years, as with many books, Spiderman's universe was growing complex. Writer J. Michael Straczynski was introducing some interesting plot developments, but between joining the Avengers and all the big Marvel events like Civil War, he was unable to really bring them together.

Like many comics before, Spiderman was due for a relaunch.

This started in Amazing Spiderman #538, when, in an attempted attack on the now-public identity of Peter Parker, his beloved Aunt May is shot. This leads to the "Back in Black" event where Peter goes after those responsible, seeking vengeance.

Amazing Spiderman #544 starts the "One more Day" storyline, where Peter does anything and everything, legal and illegal to save Aunt May. His last resort is Mephisto, a near-omnipotent demon trickster. In exchange for saving May, mephisto wants one thing in return.

Not Peter's life.

Not his soul.

His love.

Peter and Mary Jane agree and Mephisto changes all of history. Peter and Mary Jane never got married. Spiderman's true identity was never revealed. It was a "Brand New Day"

Many fans were outraged by this. They canceled the subscriptions they've had since childhood. I thought it was brilliant. If Stan Lee says it's a great idea, then who am I to judge?

At the time, there were 3 regular monthly Spider-books, Amazing Spiderman, Sensational Spiderman, and Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman. Marvel took a huge chance and CANCELED the latter two, deciding to publish Amazing Spiderman three times a month.

"Brand New Day" started in Amazing Spiderman #546, and was the beginning of the almost-weekly publishing schedule. Instead of several writers and artists working on several titles, Amazing Spiderman features a team that collaborates on the issues.

Let me say, this change has made comics fun again. Spiderman is single again, hurting for money, trying to have relationships, work, pay the rent AND fight crime. It's a long overdue return to his roots. The schedule allows them to run one-issue stories without "wasting a month," while still doing larger, 6-issue "trade-sized" stories. Additionally, they can create large, branching, drawn-out underlying stories that would take YEARS to tell in a normal format. You can tell even the staff is having fun. The lost art of "editorial balloons" has resurfaced. Used to remind readers where plot threads came from, the editors and writers now actually use them as a storytelling device. They inform and entertain, even telling jokes and poking fun at each other.

If you're someone who has loved comic books in the past, but lost interest, do yourself a favor. Go to your local bookstore, buy a big cup of coffee and sit down with the Trade Paperback edition of "Brand New Day." You'll fall back in love all over again. I know I did.



About Me

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A part-time player trying to exist in a full-time world. Guild Master of Denarian on the Azjol-Nerub server.


Image courtesy of Nexodyne

Current Goals

  • Haddar - Level 80
  • Tarmr - HERBS!
  • Samodean - Wyrmrest Accord Exalted
  • Samodean - Finish Northrend Quests


  • Watching - Primeval
  • Playing - Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (DS)
  • Watching - Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Playing - The Last Remnant (360)
  • Playing - Persona 4 (PS2)


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