The Amazing Spider-Man #28 sounds on the surface like it would be a great book. It features classic bad guy Norman Osborn going face-to-face with Peter Parker in a “no holds barred” brawl. Neither man has his powers to rely on, which means it’s just a gold old fashioned slugfest — the winner will likely be the guy with a deeper reserve of intestinal fortitude. Sadly, writer Dan Slott once again over-promised and under-delivered.
If you ever wondered what Marvel’s editors like Nick Lowe do these days, ASM #28 provides the answer: not much.
This is the kind of comic you get when you use nostalgia as a crutch to hide a lack of character development.
This is the kind of comic you get when you want to be buddies with your writer instead of his editor.
This is the kind of comic you get when you, as the writer, create a digital echo chamber and block anyone who offers intelligent criticism of your work.
This is the kind of comic you get when you think that giving a tacit nod to your critics somehow erases the legitimacy of their claims.
Aspiring writers should read ASM #28, if for no other reason than to see what happens when a decent idea crashes head-first into a wall of hubris.
Listen to your critics. Learn from them. Humble yourself before the collective wisdom of your fans and then adjust to what you’re hearing because if you don’t then you will write stories that fall flat.
For more on this topic, I invite you to check out my latest YouTube review. As always, make sure to subscribe if it’s up your alley and leave any feedback you have in the comments section below. Whether it’s on YouTube or this blog, I read them all and try to respond to as many as possible.
Question: What do you get when you take 3/4 of a cup of “ends justify the means” and 1/4 of a cup of “moral relativism” and mix it in a bowl with one serving of Peter Parker and a bag of goblins?
Answer:The Amazing Spider-Man #27.
My new YouTube review details how “A Private War” is a sterling example of what happens when every character in a comic adopts a “might makes right” mentality. It’s hard to root for any character — including the protagonist — when a properly functioning moral compass is nowhere to be found. The heroes in ASM are whomever Dan Slott says are heroes, even if their idea of justice is defined as, “Whatever I want to do at any given moment.”
Check out the video below and be sure to ask yourself the following question: Would Spider-Man really make a moral equivalency between his personal vendetta against Norman Osborn and Captain America fighting with the Allied Powers during World War II?
For roughly an entire year now Dan Slott has had regular meltdowns directed at yours truly. Last May, I wrote a piece titled: ‘Is Dan Slott’s ‘Superior Spider-Man’ really a Superior anti-Semite?’ The whole point of the article was to show that a villain who came within inches of exterminating 6 billion people was about to be placed in Peter Parker’s body. Marvel’s flagship character was going to be taken over by a genocidal maniac. At a pivotal point in Spider-Man history, one of his greatest villains declared that he would transcend Hitler, Pol Pot, and Genghis Khan in terms of infamy perpetrated upon the world.
Dan Slott has obsessed over me for almost a year — even going so far as to sic his Twitter groupies on me — because I had the gall to react to his insertion of a real-world monster into a fictional comic. In response to his attacks I asked: What is more offensive — Dan Slott’s indiscriminate use of incendiary names or my reminder of the implications of his indiscriminate use of incendiary names? He never answered. All he’s done is engage in online ranting and raving (e.g., I’m a “terrible human being”) that must make consummate professionals within the confines of Marvel’s offices cringe.
For the past year he’s taken to multiple platforms to engage in character assassination. I’m a “terrible” person. I’m a “bad” person. He’s holds that I simultaneously “implied” and “flat-out” said that he — a Jew — was anti-Semitic (as if I even knew or cared about his heritage in 2013).
My response was that it was quite clear in the piece — and in the comments section within an hour of writing the piece, that I did no such thing and that his accusations were false.
From the piece: Silly me. The guy who “just” came within inches of an extinction level event because he hated all of humanity is now housed in Peter Parker’s body. …
Slott [to Newsarama]: 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?
From the comments section the day it was published: Very well articulated. I agree with you in that I don’t think a hatred of Jews drove him, but I wrote the piece to corner Dan Slott’s fans into admitting just how horrible Otto is.
Rational adults can see that. I even used Dan Slott’s own words to show who and what he believes Otto represents (i.e., a wannabe hero is just kinda-sorta more annoying than Hawkeye before he was an Avenger — never mind that whole extinction-level event plot months earlier). Dan Slott refuses to acknowledge the truth when it’s right in front of his face, so I had to reiterate it for him:
Note that I say that if I had it all to over again I probably would have just used a picture of Hitler, but that it was “the first one that showed up on the Holocaust museum website [as] I was looking for stats, it was late at night, and I write my posts after extremely long days. I used that one. Oh well.” I needed a Nazi picture. There was one on the page I was reading at that moment. I grabbed it. Case closed.
How was I to know that a single blog post — by a random guy Dan Slott doesn’t know and will likely never meet — would cause the Marvel scribe to seethe with “crazy town banana pants” anger for an entire year? Of course I would have picked a different picture if I had it to do over again.
Afterward, Dan Slott started littering up the YouTube page with jokes about how I said I was unable to find a picture of Hitler online. Why would he do that? Because when faced with irrefutable evidence that he is wrong about the objective of my piece — or at a minimum should rethink his knee-jerk reaction to categorize me with real-world rapists, murderers, dictators and despots — he does what he does best: attack. And then, in order to feel even better about himself, he turns to Twitter, where The Dan Slott Ego Massage Squad can go to work. It’s always ready to rub down all those tender areas of his fragile mind.
Today a blogger explained to me why he used a picture of Jewish remains being shoveled out of ovens in his Spider-Man article. And why he left it up on his site for the better part of a year. It was because he couldn’t find a picture of Hitler. There are TWO takeaways here. 1) This guy is the world’s BIGGEST asshole. […] and 2) Apparently it’s REALLY hard to Google a picture of Hitler.
You see, it’s much more soothing for his sensitive psyche to soak in the slobbering Slott-worship of Superior Spider-Man diehards, who will lather him in in praise and confirm his conclusion that detractors are “assholes” and “douches,” than it is to deal with rational people on YouTube:
Dan Slott’s reply? I simultaneously “imply” and “flat-out” call him an anti-Semite. It’s a good thing that Dan Slott covers all his bases. Never mind the quotes above that demonstrate I did no such thing.
The truth of the matter is that Dan Slott didn’t like the way I went about making my point. He didn’t like the fact that I used very real historical pictures to point out that there are implications to what all of us write and say. When you put words in a character’s mouth, those words mean something.Or, as President Obama would say: “words matter.”
Dan Slott now says that Doc Ock citing a desire to surpass Hitler, Pol Pot and Khan’s collective infamy was merely the rhetorical flourish of a “James-Bond”-type villain. Fair enough, but if Dan Slott thinks that Hitler’s name is now merely fodder for James Bond-ish dialogue, some of us think that with that should come a dose of perspective.
And so, at this time, I will include the following image, which I show you with Dan Slott’s blessing.
That’s a wake-up call, isn’t it? Given Dan Slott’s reaction over the past year, it appears that he’s gotten the message — when you infuse real-world genocidal maniacs into the pages of Marvel comics, do not act surprised when history lovers take it seriously. Strangely enough, Dan Slott didn’t go into a TwitLonger rage when Bleeding Cool called out his character for “full-blown Nazi-like experimentation/ torture on his victims.” Ouch. How did that scene sneak by Dan Slott before going to print, given how important it is for him to protect the honor of his ancestors?
Being a veteran, whose friend was killed by a sniper in Iraq, I’ve had people say some pretty gruesome things to me, both online and in person. (Try dealing with it when it’s your college professors.) I’ve seen some horrible images that were personal affronts to the experience that probably shaped my life more than any other. However, I never obsessed over the individuals behind those hurtful or offensive acts and I didn’t call them “evil” people because, unlike Dan Slott, I know how to put things in proper perspective. But I digress. Back to the Holocaust image.
I received two reader comments that nicely summed up the debate about the picture after Dan Slott’s attacks began. They are excerpted here:
Reader #1. I think the pic was in poor taste. I see your point about taking a fictional character’s frame of reference as being wildly inappropriate. You are absolutely correct about that, it didn’t need that kind of punch. I believe Slott was only trying to maximize the horror and insanity of Ock’s mind. Regardless of his remarkably bad decision, it is still fiction, and the references should have stayed away from real-life mass murderers, unless it was far in the past. Hitler was too recent a reference, and as a Jew, Slott should have had the good taste to stay away from it. Enter Doug Ernst, who not only takes very real umbrage at this reference, but feels the need to one-up it with not only a blog post, but a photo of these poor, massacred souls to make a point. You also overstepped a boundary, Doug, and I still hope you decide to remove it on your own without further prompting. Slott is too full of bile to ask nicely, even if he is the one who instigated this. I then ask you, for the sake of those people who were in those ovens, the descendants of those unknown souls, and the millions who suffered this still-historically-relevant fate to please remove it from that entry. It serves no purpose other than sensationalism, and you don’t strike me as that kind of man who needs to stoop to that level.
Reader #2. I think Rogue is way off on the sensationalism and especially the testosterone rationale. It is important to show what Slott so casually put in his dialogue and inside Spider-Man’s head. I agree they are real people with no voice, I agree it was horrible, I agree it’s grisly — but it was Slott who betrayed their legacy — and that needs to be shown. Obviously his own grandfather’s story didn’t keep Slott from writing a tasteless story with an iconic hero, so maybe that image drove it home. I respect Rouge’s opinion, but I wouldn’t have changed it. It was Slott who inserted this awful chapter of history into the comic.
Two very different points of view, but which one is right? I ended up taking down the photo, even though I agreed with Reader #2.
I have removed the image and added an editor’s note. While I disagree about your conclusion that the only purpose it serves is to be sensationalistic, I think the more important point at this moment in time is that through respectful dialogue adults can work through their issues.
For that, Dan Slott called me a “coward,” proving my point that he is currently incapable of respectful dialogue.
Instead of responding to the coward claim, I will again cite Reader #1, who prompted me to take down the picture:
Slott never should have used Hitler as a reference, period. Can a fictional story use hot political or religious topics without the author being blamed as the source? No. Authors have been targeted over the course of history for their words, fictional or not. I won’t give history lessons here, but Slott decided to use a non-fictional, politically monstrous, recent, religiously sensitive reference to further a Spider-Man (HYPHEN!!!) story, and (I’m possibly reaching here), since he is a Jew, decided it was OK for him to use it. Only him. Because he’s a Jew. And he’s sensitive to the plight of the Jews. And his family has personally suffered from the Holocaust, so it was OK. Anyone else using Hitler as a reference is a BAD man, and has taken his “one thought bubble” out of context. What Slott fails to see is the hypocrisy inherent in what he did. You cannot use Hitler as a fictional hot button safely, simply because you are a Jew, then fall back on Jewish outrage to bury it once someone else picked up and expanded upon it. The truly laughable part was the threat to sue. Oy vey. I didn’t like Doug’s use of the pic for reasons stated above, none of which were in any way sympathetic to Slott or his reactions.
The point is, this whole debate is actually a lot more complex and nuanced than someone of Dan Slott’s maturity level can handle. It’s easier to call me “evil” and “terrible” and “bad” over and over again. And then, when a guy like me points out — after nearly a year of verbal diarrhea hurled in his direction — that one of the reasons why I enlisted in the armed services was so guys like him would never have to fear being shoved in an oven or shot and killed, he has the nerve to say I have unfairly used my military service as a shield.
A friend of mine put just laughed and mentioned that Dan Slott is pretty good at hiding behind his Jewish heritage (a point that Reader #1 also seems to have noticed).
And with that, I give you one last piece of evidence to show you what an immature and confused man Dan Slott is at this point in his life:
The guy encourages me to use the Holocaust picture for “intellectual honesty,” and then when I tell him I will do just that he again loses it and lashes out at my character. Do you see how it works in Dan Slott’s world? If I use the picture at his request — essentially his dare to provide “intellectual honesty” — I’m a “terrible” person; if I don’t use the picture, I’m a “terrible and dishonest” person. Dan Slott wins every time.
If I put up a picture that offends Dan Slott, I’m a “terrible human” on par with (ironically) Hitler. If I take it down after a reader acts like an adult, I’m a “coward.” While East Ukrainian Jews are being told to register with pro-Russian forces, Dan Slott pats himself on the back at night because he’s identified and attacked the real threat to the Jewish community — me. For days. And weeks. And months.
What courage. What bravery. What sacrifice. Churchill would be proud.
The great thing about Dan Slott calling me a “coward” is that anyone who reads these blog posts will understand that he’s attacked me personally on YouTube, Comic Book Resources, Twitter, TwitLonger, Comic Vine, the Marvel Message Boards and probably a few other places that I don’t even know of for roughly one year — but he hasn’t come here. Maybe now he’ll show his face. Or not. He seems to like the sound his Twitter followers make when he blows the stroke-my-ego dog whistle.
If he does decide to show up, expect him to once again say that I implied that he was anti-Semitic, even though I quite clearly never did such a thing. (Or was that “flat-out” say he was an anti-Semite? I can’t remember because it changes hourly.) No Dan, you did not write a book with an anti-Semitic character — you just wrote one with a man who wanted to kill six billion people because he hated all of humanity. And then, you made him Spider-Man. For an entire year. Again, silly me.
As a practicing Catholic, I find this to be incredibly tasteless (understatement of the year award). Using the Dan Slott litmus test for “bad” and “terrible” people, Erik Larson fits the bill. It’s a good thing I don’t use Slottian methods for judging someone’s character. If I did, then I’d obsess over Mr. Larsen’s single tweet for the next year and abuse the caps-lock button as I proclaim: “I’m Catholic! I’m Catholic! I — a Catholic — am Catholic! I’m Cathooooooooolic! How dare you challenge the Universal Salvific Will of God! RAGE!”
If you enjoyed this post, just know that there will probably be more in the future, as Dan Slott’s obsession with me shows no signs of slowing down. The next time he complains about tight deadlines, take a moment to think about just how much time he wastes attacking his critics.
If you’ve made it this far I now invite you to enjoy Dan Slott’s favorite song: ‘You Spin Me Round’
Exit question: How long will it be before Dan Slott lies to his Twitter groupies and tells them that a.) I picked ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record Baby)’ for surreptitiously evil purposes, and b.) I seriously implied/said (pick one … or both) that he enjoys listening to Wagner, even though he’s not supposed to.
Bonus Number 2: Tomorrow Dan Slott tweets to his followers that Francis Ford Coppola may be an anti-Semite.