Invincible Iron Man #8: ‘Ninjas and robots and Rhodey…oh my!’


Say what you want about Brian Michael Bendis, but the man’s self-awareness is better than 95 percent of the rest of the writers employed by Marvel. When he knows a particular story is open to criticism, he tends to find ways to subtly acknowledge the problem within the issue as a way of disarming bloggers like yours truly.

Take, for example, Invincible Iron Man #8, which is bursting at the seams with all it’s trying to accomplish. It is busy, busy, busy — but at one point Spider-Man says of the situation, “Ninjas and robots and Rhodey in his embarrassing boxers, oh my!”

Touché, Mr. Bendis. Touché.

For those who have not been reading the story, it goes as follows: Tony Stark offered a job to Mary Jane, Rhodey disappeared in Japan trying to find bio-hacking ninjas, and Spider-Man was called to help find him.

IIM #8, again, is a very busy issue. Mary Jane appears to walk away from Stark’s job offer (we know that won’t last), Iron Man and Spider-Man look for Rhodey, and it all culminates in a battle involving a horde of ninjas and a gigantic Iron-Man-inspired suit that utilizes mysterious technology.

Question: Is it a good issue?

Answer: Yes — with one minor caveat.

The problem with writers who take on Tony Stark and Peter Parker is that sometimes they use the sarcasm button too many times in a single issue. Yes, both men are masters at the one-liner. Yes, both men use sarcasm to mask all sorts of fears and insecurities, but it is possible to overdo it. Using such a trait when it’s uncalled for makes a character come across as a jerk. Luckily for Bendis, he realizes that one way to add extra gravity to the book is to find a situation so dangerous that it finally shuts Tony up.

IronMan8 Tony

Whoever this new villain is, he or she found a way to leave Tony speechless by the last page. It was a welcome surprise after countless panels of Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Rhodey all basically blowing off what appeared to be a serious opponent.

In many ways IIM #8 was going to succeed or fail based upon what happened on the final page, and it is safe to say that Bendis … detonated it.

IM8 explosion

Invincible Iron Man continues to be one of Marvel’s most carefully crafted books. If you want stories by a “writer’s writer,” then you should check out Bendis. If you want “nuke the fridge” moments reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, then I suggest checking out Dan Slott’s run on The Amazing Spider-Man.

Bendis Bonus:

If you’re like me, then you were glad to see that Bendis seems to feel the same way about Spider-Man’s stupid glowing spider on the new suit. In response to finding out that Iron Man’s suit has A.I., Spider-Man says, “Cool. My spider glows now for no apparent reason.”


IronMan SpiderMan



Iron Man #7: MJ hired by Stark, but is mystery girl Tony’s future replacement?

Iron Man 7

The issue of Invincible Iron Man that Mary Jane fans have been waiting for has arrived. The seventh issue on Bendis’ run features MJ’s first day at work for Tony Stark, and before it’s over she needs to reach Peter Parker at his emergency number. It may be the character who is introduced on the final page of the book, however, who Stark fans should be talking about.

One of the things Bendis understands, which certain other high-profile writers at Marvel do not, is that sometimes it is absolutely necessary to slow things down and just focus on character development, character development, character development. (Should I say it a fourth time?)

IIM #7 dedicates almost the entire issue to Tony’s first professional interactions with his new hire. They talk…and talk…and talk, but in this case it’s okay because standards are set, boundaries are established, and chemistry needs to form.

Readers simply need to imagine what a similar introduction between Peter Parker and Pepper Potts would look like in The Amazing Spider-Man. Instead of devoting 95 percent of the issue to authentic human interactions, Pepper would get a cursory introduction and then a calamity would strike. The audience would weirdly be expected to care for the new relationship simply because it’s Pepper and Peter working together — and then Comic Book Resources would give it the obligatory glowing review.

Iron Man

Perhaps one of the few awkward things about Stark’s decision to hire MJ is his cluelessness about her past. He invites a woman into his inner circle but does not really vet her. Only issues before he was telling his girlfriend about telepathic espionage, etc., and now he impulsively hires a former club owner. Regardless, Bendis’ scenario as it is written passes the smell test (barely).

Iron Man MJ

Aside from MJ’s meeting with her new boss, the rest of the issue is dedicated to Rhodey, who was sent to Japan to investigate a group of bio-hacker ninjas until Stark can get around to it. Rhodey goes missing, and through a strange twist of fate it turns out that technology titan Peter Parker is in country.

“You know your bodyguard, Spider-Man? Is he doing anything right now? Listen, I need a favor. It’s kind of a big one,” Stark says after getting Parker on the phone, which nicely sets up IIM #8.

One would think the issue would end with Iron Man racing to save his friend, right? Wrong. Bendis cuts to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where a young woman appears to be making her own “Iron Man” suit in one of its labs. She is scolded by some older staffers who call her a “kid” in the final panel.

Who is this kid genius? Why is she making “Iron Man”-type armor? (And yes, I realize I am asking these questions when “to be continued…” obviously means that we will get answers in due time.)

The previous questions need to be asked because Marvel has made no secret of its desire to social justice the heck out of its own universe. It seems entirely plausible that Bendis could be setting the stage for Tony to be “killed” or temporarily replaced, just like Captain America, Thor or even Spider-Man (e.g., Bendis’ Miles Morales wants to be seen as “the” Spider-Man”).

If you have thoughts on IIM #7, feel free to share them below. I’d love to hear what you thought of MJ’s first day on the job, Bendis’ mystery character, or predictions for the next issue.

Iron Man issue 7


Dan Slott’s lesson for Peter Parker: Don’t hire women

ASM Scorpio

At some point in time fans of The Amazing Spider-Man have to wonder if writer Dan Slott has a thing against women. Every woman Peter Parker brings into his inner circle at his company seems intent on destroying the operation. A similar conversation can be had on Silk and her embarrassing sex-pheromones, but I digress.

The seventh issue of ASM moves the plot along as it is revealed Mr. Negative wants to take down “China’s favorite son, Shen Quinghao” by having Peter slip him the designer drug Shade. Luckily, the villain’s “corrupting touch” only works once, so he is unaware that when he previously took control of Spider-Man during Dark Reign: Mister Negative Miniseries, he lost his chance to do the same to Peter moving forward.

The real reveal of ASM #7, however, is that once again another woman is actively trying to sabotage Parker Industries.

Let’s look at the history:

  • Anna Maria Marconi went behind Peter’s back with Sanjani on Doc Ock’s nano-technology project.
  • Sanjani tried to strike a deal with The Ghost — a corporate saboteur — to wreck Peter’s top projects “beyond repair.”
  • Lien Tang, who is “very close” with Peter and feeds him dumplings on the roof of Parker Industries, never told him her mother was sick with cancer. Instead of telling him while they were “close” one night, she decides to work with an international terrorist organization. The Zodiac gives her experimental treatments in exchange for sensitive information.

Peter Parker Sajani

The problem with the whole set-up is that Lien has barely made any appearances. Readers were told she and Peter were “close,” but yet none of it was shown in the actual book. No one cared about their relationship — or her character in general — and yet they’re supposed to be floored by her betrayal. The scene falls flat because Dan Slott never put in the work to credibly establish her character. It’s a repeat performance of Sanjani’s fall from grace. She couldn’t “fall” because she never had a pedestal to stand on to begin with.

ASM Normie

Two other scenes worth mentioning are the return of Regent — one of the few low points of Renew Your Vows — and Dan Slott’s continued insertion of the the perfect technology for any jam Peter finds himself in.

Last issue it was Quick-drying web-cement webbing and Acid-webbing. Now it’s “Micro Spider-Tracers.” Before that it was a Spider-plane that shot non-lethal web rounds, a Spider-submarine, and a handy-dandy Spider anti-toxin.

Question: At what point in time will fans be introduced to the Spider-Tank, and when will Peter introduce the Single Cell Spider-tracer?

If these are the ASM stories you’re looking for, then more power to you. However, one still can’t help but wonder: Where is all the feminist rage over the way Dan Slott writes female characters?

ASM mini tracer

Bendis’ Iron Man: Strong MJ by Tony’s side is bittersweet for Spider-Man fans

Mary Jane Iron Man 5

Invincible Iron Man #5 is an issue Mary Jane fans need to read, if for no other reason than to remind themselves just how bizarre it is for Dan Slott not to utilize her in The Amazing Spider-Man.

Regular readers of the book know that Tony Stark has been trying to figure out why Madam Masque is on a hunt for mystical artifacts. He eventually tracks her down inside MJ’s new nightclub, “Jackpot,” in Chicago on its opening night.

The verdict: Madam Masque is possessed by a demon, which will require a team effort between Tony and Doctor Doom to save her life.

“Jackpot” is predictably destroyed before the confrontation is over.

Madam Masque

As many fans expected, Tony offers to pay for the damage incurred during his fight. MJ, however, says the “P.R. nightmare” has rendered her club-owning days “kablooey.”

While this is a specious claim in a universe where superheroes and supervillains exist, Bendis does a good job selling it to the reader. Tony finds MJ in a park and offers her a job as his über-assistant/life coach.

This is a bit more problematic given MJ’s first line of dialogue in the issue:

“Superheroes. Again. Every time. Every time a superhero shows up in my life, I have to start over.”

Would a woman who resents the impact superheroes have on her life become Tony Stark’s personal assistant? Perhaps — if she thought about it for a long time and decided that her fate was intrinsically linked with superheroes. But it would take a skilled writer to pull off the idea. Luckily for Bendis, he fits the bill.

MJ Tony Stark

Spider-Man fans will also find MJ’s assertion that she is at her “lowest point” in life rather dubious. When Tony questions the validity of her claim, she replies, “Well, tell that to my soul.”

Was Bendis alluding to the infamous One More Day storyline? Indeed, MJ’s “soul” would agree with Tony — it lost its mate, Peter Parker.

In short, Bendis’ handling of MJ in this issue is proof once again that the devil-dealing “medicine” supported by Tom Brevoort was poison.

Seeing MJ well-written in Invincible Iron Man is a bitter pill to swallow, but it most certainly is not poison.

Schools: ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ bad, shahada good

Charlie Brown Christmas

For a glimpse into the politically-correct minds of school administrators in the U.S., one simply needs to consider two stories concurrently unfolding in the news cycle.

In one instance a Kentucky public school district cuts any reference to Christianity during a theatrical version of A Charlie Brown Christmas. In the other, a Virginia school district defends a calligraphy lesson prompting students to write: “There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

America 2015: Linus Van Pelt is too dangerous for the minds of elementary school children, but the shahada — the Muslim statement of faith — can be an official assignment given to high school students.

calligraphy VA school

Fox News reported Wednesday:

A Virginia school district is defending a classroom assignment that required students to practice calligraphy by writing the Muslim statement of faith, “There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Female students at Riverheads High School in Augusta County, Virginia, were also invited to wear Muslim clothing — a story first reported by The Schilling Show. …

“Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief,” the district said in a statement provided to Fox News.

Students were also asked to try wearing traditional Islamic attire as “a part of an interactive lesson about the Islamic concept of modest dress.”

The district asserts that the teacher — who knew exactly what she was having students write — was merely asking her class to explore Arabic’s “artistic complexity.”

Meanwhile, Johnson County Schools in Paintsville, Kentucky, are adamant that a rendition of A Charlie Brown Christmas is tantamount to endorsing religion.

WSAZ reported Superintendent Tom Salyer’s statement Wednesday:

Superintendent Tom Salyer said the district received a complaint last week about the play having religious references.

The district then announced it would remove any religious references from all of its Christmas plays. …

Salyer gave WSAZ this statement:

“As superintendent of Johnson County Schools, I recognize the significance of Christmas and the traditions and beliefs associated with this holiday. Over the past few days, there have been several rumors indicating that there would be no Christmas plays this year at our elementary schools. I want to clarify that all programs will go on as scheduled. In accordance with federal law, our programs will follow appropriate regulations. The U.S. Supreme Court and the 6th Circuit are official capacities and during school activities. However, our district is fully committed to promote the spirit of giving and concern for our fellow citizens that help define the Christmas holiday. With core values such as service, integrity, leadership, and commitment, our staff and students will continue to proudly represent our district as recently demonstrated by our many student successes.”

Got that? Schools can have Christmas plays — provided the holiday’s core inspiration, the birth of Christ, is never directly or indirectly addressed.

In the same month that an Islamic terror attack killed 14 and wounded 21 in San Bernardino, California, high school students are asked to practice writing ,“There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” but a classic Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon is somehow deemed a violation of federal law. Classic.

This is why home-schooling looks increasingly attractive to young parents with each passing year.

Dan Slott’s Spider-Man: Bailed out by kid after ignorance risked lives

ASM4 Goblins

Years ago this blog mentioned that some comic book superheroes are meant for war zones, and some are meant for city streets. Dan Slott’s writing proved that observation yet again in the fourth issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. 

ASM4 aircraft

Imagine you’re in a crowd of people when bombs start falling all around you. Terrorists with high-powered rifles and explosives fly through the air on military-grade gliders. A friendly aircraft swoops in and you think you’re saved, but it turns out the “hero” only armed it with web shooters that must be fired perfectly at multiple targets to stop the carnage.

Predictably, the “hero” is shot down, but by the grace of God the aircraft does not careen into the crowd of people he was supposed to be saving.

That, my friends, is Dan Slott’s Spider-Man.

ASM4 crash

Now imagine that said “hero” pulls himself from the twisted wreckage of his multi-million-dollar airborne web-shooter to return to the fight. Outnumbered and armed only with his wits, his response is to ask if his bloated bank account might convince them to “switch sides” (Spider-Justice does not require them to be held liable for dropping bombs on innocent civilians moments earlier.)

When that doesn’t work, the hero is stumped. Luckily, a small child from a third-world country happens to be on hand to indirectly suggest he use surrounding technology (his own, no less) to create an electromagnetic device.

That, my friends, is Dan Slott’s Spider-Man.

ASM4 SpiderMan

The Amazing Spider-Man #4 is a great read …if you enjoy seeing a hero escape a daunting situation created solely because of his own ignorance.

The Amazing Spider-Man #4 is a great read … if you enjoy the hero written as less quick-witted than usual so that a more socially conscious message can take center stage: There are really smart children in third-world countries who could thrive if only we could find a way to give them “free” access to western technology.

ASM4 kids

To recap:

  • A quixotic superhero needlessly risks the lives of the people he is supposed to save.
  • The superhero attempts to pay off terrorists because he believes he can out-bid their current employer.
  • A child tells the superhero the best course of action for saving the day.

Readers who have been following the story know that this comes as S.H.I.E.L.D. was planning to mount a world-wide assault on a terrorist network known as Zodiac. Peter, who was supposed to take part in the mission, bails when he realizes Aunt May and her fellow volunteers in the nation of Nadua are under attack at a charity event.

Who was behind the terror attack in Nadua? What consequences will there be for Peter Parker due to neglecting his commitments to S.H.I.E.L.D? Find out in two weeks if Dan Slott’s Spider-Man doesn’t get himself and those under his watch all killed.

Invincible Iron Man #4: Mary Jane fans should pass

Invincible Iron Man Mary Jane

Customers do not like it when businesses pull a bait-and-switch, which is why Marvel fans should be wary of purchasing Invincible Iron Man #4. The cover features Mary Jane posing with an Iron Man faceplate and a “Stark” employee ID badge. Sounds interesting, right? Wrong.

Bendis’ fourth issue of IIM continues Stark’s hunt for Madam Masque and his investigation into why she is collecting mystical artifacts. Mary Jane does make an appearance in the book — she’s opening a new night club in Chicago — but anyone hoping for banter between she and Stark will be sorely disappointed.

IIM #4 moves the story’s progression forward at a snail’s pace, although it does introduce “biotech ninjas” working for a new terrorist organization. Bendis’ incorporation of bio-hacking and trans-humanism into the book is a welcome surprise, and another example why his tales are a cut above other titles.

As was mentioned in my review of The Amazing Spider-Man #3, Dan Slott’s schizophrenic handling of The Zodiac (Are readers supposed to take this threat seriously, or are these guys a big joke?), blunts readers’ excitement in terms of wanting to unravel the mystery. Bendis treats his terror network seriously — ipso facto, so does the reader.

Iron Man biotech ninja

In short, if you’ve been reading Invincible Iron Man since the beginning, then the fourth installment is worth your time. If you are a Mary Jane fan who thought she would be featured prominently this month, then you should save yourself $4.00.

Mary Jane may have a substantive role to play in Tony’s life going forward, but at this time Bendis is simply laying the creative groundwork for that to happen.

On United 93’s heroes and the empty skies that followed the 9/11 terror attacks

I grew up in a suburb just outside Chicago and O’Hare International Airport. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t hear the roar of planes flying directly over my house or somewhere just off into the distance — until Sept. 11, 2001. Like most Americans, there was a tangled mess of thoughts swirling through my head after seeing American 11, United 175, and American 77 crash into the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon, respectively. As commercial flights were grounded in in the wake of the attacks, I remember noticing the silence and then feeling shame for thinking it contained an eerie beauty. To this day the shame still lingers, which is why I feel it is important to share the history of United 93 and the 33 passengers who stood up to their executioners.

The following is a brief excerpt from the 9/11 Commission Report:

At 9:57, a passenger assault began. Several passengers had terminated phone calls with loved ones in order to join the revolt. One of the callers ended her message as follows: “Everyone’s running up to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.”

The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the passenger assault muffled by the intervening cockpit door. Some family members who listened to the recording report that they can hear the voice of a loved one among the din. We cannot identify whose voices can be heard. But the assault was sustained.

In response, Jarrah immediately began to roll the airplane to the left and right, attempting to knock the passengers off balance. At 9:58:57, Jarrah told another hijacker in the cockpit to block the door. Jarrah continued to roll the airplane sharply left and right, but the assault continued. At 9:59:52, Jarrah changed tactics and pitched the nose of the airplane up and down to disrupt the assault. The recorder captured the sounds of loud thumps, crashes, shouts, and breaking glasses and plates. At 10:00:03, Jarrah stabilized the airplane.

Five seconds later, Jarrah asked, “Is that it? Shall we finish it off?” A hijacker responded, “No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off.” The sounds of fighting continued outside the cockpit. Again, Jarrah pitched the nose of the aircraft up and down. AT 10:00:26, a passenger in the background said, “In the cockpit. If we don’t we’ll die!” Sixteen seconds later, a passenger yelled, “Roll it!” Jarrah responded with violent maneuvers at about 10:01:00 and said, “Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest!” He then asked another hijacker in the cockpit, “Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?” to which the other replied, “Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.”

The passengers continued their assault and on 10:02:23, a hijacker said, “Pull it down! Pull it down!” The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them. The airplane headed down; the control wheel was turned hard to the right. The airplane rolled onto its back, and one of the hijackers began shouting, “Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.” With the sounds of the passenger counterattack continuing, the aircraft plowed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes flying time from Washington, D.C.

Jarrah’s objective was to crash his airliner into symbols of the American Republic, the Capitol or the White House. He was defeated by the alerted, unarmed passengers of United 93.” — (The 9/11 Commission Report. 7- 8.)

It is almost impossible to fathom what it must be like to fight for ones life on a hijacked plane — let alone an aircraft where the hijackers perform barrel rolls and roller coaster maneuvering to obtain their objective. How many lives were saved because of the actions of those 33 passengers on Flight 93? There is no way to calculate an exact number, but the final intended destination — Washington, D.C. — gives us a clue.

Americans said “Never forget” after the 9/11 terror attacks, but it sadly feels like many of them want to forget. While it is indeed dangerous to allow painful memories to (ironically) hijack our collective psyche, the same can be said for losing important lessons from history.

Beauty can be found in incredibly horrific experiences, and the bravery and heroism displayed by the passengers of Flight 93 is a sterling example. If you have a moment to yourself today, say a prayer for the lost souls of September 11, 2001, and the loved ones they left behind.

Twitter: Death threats get a pass, but users who question that decision will be suspended

Twitter blocks Douglas Ernst

FINAL UPDATE: Twitter lifted my suspension after one month. To learn more about how it all unfolded, you can read more about it here.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said earlier this year he was “ashamed” and “embarrassed” at how the company deals with bullying. Apparently they haven’t made much progress, because these days Twitter allows death threats to slide. Worse, if you’ve been the target of a death threat and you question how on earth the user responsible can get away with it, then Twitter Support will ban you. I know from first-hand experience.

Twitter unrealI wrote a story for work on March 31st on Iranian aircraft that buzzed a U.S. Navy helicopter in the Persian Gulf. I often have incredibly shady people follow me or tweet strange things in response to anything I write on the Middle East, but that story actually generated a death threat.

Twitter threatTwitter’s policy on threats of violence seem pretty straight forward to me: “You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence.”

Perhaps my logic is lacking on this one, but I’ve always been under the impression that something like “We will find you and kill you — death to America,” is a direct threat of violence. If you agree with me, then you too are wrong! Twitter Support “could not determine” if such tweets constitute a violation of its terms of service.

Twitter RulesHere is the email that Twitter Support sent me on Monday, April 6, 2015:

Twitter noticeKind of frustrating, isn’t it? To Twitter Support, my account must be suspended for publicly bringing attention to the fact that a guy making death threats is currently allowed to do so with impunity.

Twitter suspend appealQuestion for Twitter CEO Dick Costolo: If you’re “ashamed” at how Twitter deals with online bullying, then what emotions do you feel now that your support staff are suspending the accounts of people who are the target of death threats?

If Twitter is going to be suspending accounts, then maybe it should start internally with employees who are unsure if threatening to kill someone is a violation of the company’s terms of service.

Update: It is now May 4 and my suspension began on April 6. I have put in four appeals — all ignored by Twitter. The social media manager at my place of employment sent three emails to Twitter’s press account, and all of those were ignored. A coworker of mine had a contact at Twitter who helped her with a story — Nu Wexler — but when my employer’s social media manager reached out to him the silent treatment continued. This is the weirdest situation on social media I have ever encountered. Thank you to everyone who has been sharing this story on my behalf.

Press Inquiry

Twitter AppealRelated: WND has reported on my story. Give it a read if you get a chance.

Nick Lowe tries out Marvel’s ‘permission to leave’ business model

Nick Lowe Marvel EditorMarvel Senior Editor Nick Lowe is the type of guy who dresses up as the pope on Halloween because he’s scared to death of what would happen if he pranced around the office as an imam or Mohammed. Marvel Senior Editor Nick Lowe is the type of guy who dresses as the pope for Halloween because Dan Slott would probably not find it funny to see his editor mock Orthodox Jew rabbis on Halloween. Marvel Senior Editor Nick Lowe is also the kind of guy who needlessly burns bridges with loyal Marvel customers in the Letters to the Editor section of The Amazing Spider-Man.

It’s no secret that Marvel has run its Letters to the Editor section like something out of the Kim Jong-un School of Journalism for quite some time. Issue #17 of The Amazing Spider-Man continues that trend, although 1 out of 9 letters actually provides a critique of Dan Slott’s work.

Here is an excerpt from a letter sent in by Ryan Knight of New Port Richey, Florida:

Can you please offer your readers some kind of idea when Dan will be off the book? He’s written more Spider-Man than anyone with the exception of Stan Lee … and Brian Michael Bendis. I understand that his work is accessible for many casual readers with little to no frame of reference, but even many of his strongest supporters believed he should have left when Superior ended. …

I am sick of Marvel “Events” and so-called story arcs (look up the word story arc in the dictionary. You Marvel folks will see it’s different froma multi-part look at the Tablet Arc in Stan Lee’s run or the Jackal Arc in Conway’s if you want a clue.) screaming for attention, it just betrays how corrupt and lame some corners of the universe are. …

How often do we get one-issue stories? Two-parters? Character studies? Slice of life? Of yeah, Slott is a self-confessed plotter by nature. Howard Mackie’s run is downright readable in comparison to most of Slott’s work. History won’t remember the BND/Big Time/Superior/Relaunch era fondly at all.

Mr. Knight is not too happy with the current direction of the book. However, it’s obvious that he’s been reading Spider-Man for years. He’s a loyal Marvel customer. He has stuck through the book through thick and thin. Say what you want about the tone of his email, but he’s clearly sunk loads of cash into Marvel, and by extension Nick Lowe’s and Dan Slott’s bank accounts.

One would think that Mr. Lowe would be grateful for such customer loyalty and, even in the face of hard-nosed criticism, respond in a professional manner. Mr. I-dress-up-as-the-pope-because-I’m-scared-to-dress-up-as-Mohammed Lowe chose the “We don’t need you” route instead.

Nick Lowe responded:

Hi, Ryan. Sorry you don’t like Dan’s run, but you certainly seem to know it very well. If you’re a Gerry Conway fan, definitely pick up Amazing Spider-Man #16.1, on sale now. It’s the first part of a five-parter (sorry). Pains me that you’re so unhappy, so take this as permission to leave the book behind. I’m a big fan of Dan’s work and won’t be replacing him any time soon, providing we’re still publishing Spider-Man after Secret Wars.

In the mind of Nick Lowe, Marvel’s faux pope, it is a mortal sin to question the direction of The Amazing Spider-Man, even if you’re someone who has been religiously buying the book for decades. Question Dan “deus ex machina” Slott’s work, and you must be excommunicated from the Church of Marvel.

If you’re like me, then you long ago realized that Marvel decided on a business model that involves needlessly lashing out at paying customers. If you’re like me, then perhaps you’ve become much more discerning in which books you buy each month — if any — from the company.

The next time you see Nick Lowe at a Comic Con, ask him when he’s going to be Mohammed for Halloween, and then let him know what you think about Marvel’s “permission to leave” business model.

Hi, My name is Nick Lowe. I think it's a good idea to tell loyal Marvel customers to take a hike when they disagree with the direction of a book. I also dress up as the pope as a joke on Halloween because I know Catholics turn the other cheek. Dressing up as an imam or Mohammed as a joke would actually require me to display courage, so I won't do that.
Hi, My name is Nick Lowe. I think it’s a good idea to tell loyal Marvel customers to take a hike when they disagree with the direction of a book. I also dress up as the pope on Halloween because I know Catholics turn the other cheek. Dressing up as an imam or Mohammed as a joke would actually require me to display courage, so I won’t do that.