Marvel’s “Renew Your Vows” is just around the corner, which means Dan Slott has been making the rounds to preemptively defend the weird editorial mandates Marvel will soon shove down readers’ throats. Think of it like the “medicine” Tom Brevoort is fond of telling fans they need.
Flashback: “The medicine may not taste good, but if it makes you feel better, then you need to take it.”
In its lead-up to questions with The Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott, here’s what Entertainment Weekly said March 16 about Marvel’s past attempts to administer fans their “medicine.”
While there isn’t much of a way to objectively measure these things, the dissolution of the Spider-marriage in 2007’s One More Day is easily one of the most widely disparaged story decisions for the character in recent memory. (The “death” of Peter Parker leading up to Superior Spider-Man may have come close, but a lot of people have come around on that front. Not nearly as many have said, “Hey, the Parkers selling their marriage to the devil to save Aunt May was actually great.”)
Entertainment Weekly writer Joshua Rivera (perhaps best known for not understanding why self-censorship is a bad thing for the industry), gently alluded to the possibility that Marvel would once again screw things up with “Renew Your Vows.” Dan Slott’s reaction: talk about Charles M. Schulz denying Charlie Brown the opportunity to kick the football out of Lucy’s hands.
Mr. Slott said:
“With any story where you give people what they want—there’s a difference, as a storyteller, between what your readers want and what your readers need. In a good Peanuts story, you want Charlie Brown to kick that football. But if Charlie Brown kicks the football, it’s over!” says Slott. “All the best stories in serialized fiction–it’s always about teasing the greatest wishes and wants, but monkey-pawing it. Always giving you what you want, but not the way you want it.”
The Marvel writer was so proud of his false analogy that he even started using it on Twitter:
How bizarre is it that Dan Slott willingly casts himself as the comic industry’s Lucy Van Pelt and then wonders why fans often want to verbally kick him around like a football? Regardless, like Mr. Brevoort’s “medicine” comment, the hubris of the modern comic book creator is on full display. Tom Brevoort knows what medicine you “need” to take. Dan Slott knows what you “need” — and it’s not what you want.
Dan Slott seems to really believe he is comparing apples to apples when he compares a static character who never ages with one who is much more dynamic. In one instance there is Charlie Brown — the sole property of Charles M. Schulz — who is inspired by the artist’s childhood. In the other instance there is Peter Parker, a character who was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, but in no way meant to be trapped in his own hell-ish editorial version of Groundhog Day.
Why is it “over” if Charlie Brown kicks the ball? It’s not. It’s only over if your point all along was to convey some strange message about how women are duplicitous jerks who send good men reeling when they are trusted.
Is Dan Slott saying that Peter Parker’s “Lucy and the football” situation is marriage to a strong woman like MJ? What does Dan Slott have against writing a married version of Peter Parker? Just as it’s totally legitimate to ask what the heck Charles M. Shulz was thinking by never allowing Charlie Brown to kick the football, it is also quite valid to wonder why so many writers and editors at Marvel are uncomfortable with a marriage between Peter and MJ.
If Dan Slott really believes that his job as a writer is to be the best “monkey-pawer” in the business — and I have no reason to doubt that he is sincere when he makes that case — then it should be abundantly clear why the relaunch of The Amazing Spider-Man has been an embarrassment in terms of Peter Parker’s characterization.
Dan Slott is great at telling naked Spider-Ham jokes and he is great at treating Peter Parker like Charlie Brown trying to kick at the old pigskin, but he is not great at characterization. If you plan on buying “Renew Your Vows,” then you should take the writer at his word when he says that his job is not to give the fans what they want.