Imagine if you will, a scenario where a thin-skinned comic book writer goes off on a tirade laced with ad hominem attacks on blogger who was simply putting forth a straight-forward critique of his work. Imagine that online outburst setting off a chain of events in which another fan ends up introducing the blogger to a Newsarama interview he was unfamiliar with. The reader says he’d like to see a response to the interview. Does the blogger do it?
Well imagine no longer, because that blogger is me and I intend to do address the issue. The Newsarama interview, in short, perfectly embodies everything that is wrong with Dan Slott’s approach to Spider-Man. As I did in my last piece, I will break it up into smaller sections so readers can see the two different visions side by side.
Nrama: With Superior Spider-Man, you’re writing Doc Ock as a lead character for really the first time, and a more long-term Doc Ock story than has really been seen before. We’re seeing the character put in very different situations, interacting with totally different characters. What kind of task has that been — approaching his mindset and his attitude in the position of a lead character?
Slott: He’s trying his best to be a hero, but he’s doing it in a very Doc Ock way. And Doc Ock’s an egotistical, annoying sh*t. It makes him an interesting character. At his core, he’s someone we don’t really think of heroic. But is he any more annoying than [former villain] Hawkeye used to be?
Forgive me if I’m wrong, but did Hawkeye ever try and put in motion plans to bring about an extinction-level event? If I missed that one, can someone let me know the issue so I can read it tomorrow? I would say that trying to incinerate 6 billion people is slightly more “annoying” than anything Hawkeye could ever dish out.
Slott: Also, when you look at Doc Ock, he was so much like Peter Parker. Peter Parker, if he didn’t know the lessons of power and responsibility, that teenage nerd would have grown up to be an Otto Octavius nerd, with the same kind of, “I’m going to make them pay.” This is the flip of that. This is Doc Ock getting to go back in time and be as young as Peter Parker, and have force-fed into him this sense of power and responsibility. He has that lesson from Uncle Ben in his core. That was Peter Parker’s parting gift to the world — I’m not going to leave the world a villain, I’m going to leave them a hero.
Peter Parker’s “gift” (i.e., Dan Slott’s “gift”) to the world was that he has allowed a character who should be serving 5,000 life sentences for crimes against humanity off the hook. Before redemption can occur on earth a man must pay for his crimes and atone for his sins. Doc Ock has the blood of countless innocents on his hands, but because Peter beamed “with great power comes great responsibility” into the villain’s head moments before he died then it’s somehow all okay? Of course not. And that’s why this current run is so repulsive to anyone with a shred of respect for the character; they would never allow Doctor Octopus to take up the mantle of Spider-Man.
Slott: Doc never intended to be on this path, and in his own way he’s very good at it. He’s just doing it differently than Peter would.
Do you see Punisher as a hero? Do you see Wolverine as a hero? If these guys can be heroes, why can’t Doc Ock?
And this is where the moral relativist in Dan Slott exposes himself for all the world to see. It’s the “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” mentality. One man’s Spider-Man is another man’s Doc Ock. One man’s Captain America is another man’s Red Skull. It’s sick.
Since when has the core of Wolverine’s or the Punisher’s character ever been about wanton destruction, innocents be damned? When have they ever took it upon themselves to devise plots and plans that would see countless men, women and innocent children blown to bits?
Do Wolverine and Punisher push the definition of what it means to be a hero to its limits? Yes. But reasonable people know that if they were ever tried and convicted in a court of law for taking matters into their own hands (e.g., tracking down a drug lord and killing him in his sleep) that is the price one must pay for dishing out vigilante justice.
That aside, the philosophical gap between Wolverine and Doctor Octopus is so enormous that to even ask why one can be a hero and the other can’t is ludicrous. When anyone can be a hero — despite a lifetime of evil they have not answered for— then we might as well all be villains.
Slott: Here’s someone as evil as Massacre — if Spider-Man had just captured him and webbed him up, he’d be out six months from now, doing this again. Yeah, sure he was helpless, and his wrist was snapped, and disarmed, but, “If I shoot him in the head, I’ve saved 30 people in the future.” Doc Ock can look at it almost as a math equation, and be very happy with himself, and sleep well at night knowing what he did. For him, that’s power and responsibility.
Again, unless the hero is on a battlefield or working on behalf of a sovereign nation to mitigate threats to national security, the discretion he has as it pertains to the use of deadly force is severely constrained. Cases like Massacre’s are what the criminal justice system is for. Maybe in the Marvel Universe citizens are so dumb that they have done away with the death penalty — I don’t know. But from what I gather, a justice system exists, and a real hero would attempt to work within the confines of the system as much as possible, given how difficult it would be in a world where Galactus could show up at a moment’s notice.
Given that Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man simply runs numbers in his head to determine whether or not he’s doing the right thing or not, what would stop him from wiping out an entire city of innocents to “save” lives? Perhaps one day the ‘Superior Spider-Man’ will go all evil Al Gore (is that redundant?) and determine that the only way to stave off global warming is to wipe out Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. If you torture numbers long enough they’ll tell you anything you want to hear, and Dan Slott’s own concept of what a “hero” is allows for megalomaniacs like Doctor Octopus to enter the tent.
Nrama: It might be too probably reading too much into it, but with the cutaway, and only Captain America out and out saying that Spidey killed Massacre, is he definitely dead, or is there some deliberate ambiguity there?
Remember a few years ago, during Marvel’s weird Bush-allegory, whereas the Civil War story line and the events surrounding the Superhero Registration Act gave readers their daily does of social commentary on the Patriot Act? I do. Captain America was fighting for the “rights” of the guy who could walk into his neighbor’s house on a daily basis, rape his wife and kids in front of them, and then mind-wipe the family so no one remembered the gruesome crimes took place.
What does that have to do with Superior Spider-Man? Quite a bit, actually. The liberalism that worked it’s way in to a Marvel event, in such a way that Captain America would be so insane as to oppose a federal registry of citizens in the U.S. with the power to alter space and time, is the same liberalism that allows allows Dan Slott to wonder why Doctor Octopus can’t be a hero — merely months after the character came within inches of triggering the apocalypse.
Slott: Massacre’s dead. I think what people are reading as ambiguous is what we can show you in a Spider-Man comic. We can’t show you brain matter shooting out of the back of a head. … With Massacre we can look at it, and go, “He just saved a lot of lives.”
And with Superior Spider-Man, Marvel is hemorrhaging tens-of-thousands of fans who would be happy to buy a Spider-Man book, if only the men in charge weren’t so morally confused that they would redefine the word ‘hero’ until it permitted Peter Parker to make a deal with the devil and for Doctor Octopus to ultimately don the true hero’s mask.
There’s only one word left to describe the state of Spider-Man today: Sad.
Update: Newsrama has seemingly blocked me from commenting on a blog about … me. I guess when you tactfully defend yourself you’re a troll. Or perhaps if you make Dan Slott look bad the powers that be cut you off. That happens when you’re friends with the writer.
This is why blogs are so important. They can not shut you up on your own blog. Marvel did the very same thing during OMD/BND to anyone who made “the brain trust” look bad. If you’re upset with the status quo, start your own blog.
Also, my traffic spiked again. As usual, that meant that Dan Slott was sending people off to Google search until they found me. But here’s the catch: I did not tweet the story, share it on Tumblr or post it to Facebook or any other social media platform. So that means Dan Slott kept tabs on me or was weirdly looking for stories about himself — and then had the nerve to call me crazy. Remember when he stalked “The Main Event”? I do.