Marvel’s Northrop mess: Confused and spineless a sad combo

New York Comic Con 2017 is over, but the After Action Report for Marvel Comics will not be a good one. Retailers exploded on the company behind closed doors early on, and then an event with defense contractor Northrop Grumman was cancelled on Saturday.

Ask yourself this question, though: Why did the outrage brigade not seem to care that a Planned Parenthood panel was held at NYCC, but a comic book designed to promote STEM fields generated enough anger to make Marvel buckle?

Mine NYCC

Here’s the deal: I don’t want anything political at a convention that is supposed to be focused on superheroes, but if comic industry pros are going to celebrate abortion providers, then a handful of angry fans on Twitter shouldn’t be able to end a Marvel/Northop team-up.

Check out my latest YouTube video for the full rundown. I experimented with a new format today, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I prefer scripted content whenever possible, but creating it can be very time consuming.

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Spider-Man #5: Bendis gives Miles new power … because god-like Miles

Miles SM3

Brian Michael Bendis wants “Spider-Man” readers to know that Miles Morales, one day, will be the most powerful superhero in the Marvel universe. How do I know this? Because the kid can take down anyone with a single touch, turn himself invisible, regenerate limbs, he’s (allegedly) immortal, and now he can randomly project giant bursts of energy.

It’s dumb, lazy, and just screams, “My Spider-Man will be the best Spider-Man ever and you will respect him!”

Spider-Man #5 exemplifies everything that is wrong and everything that is right with the title. On one hand Mr. Bendis excels at planting seeds for future conflict, but on the other his efforts are negated because there is no conflict with an immortal being with an endless string of powers.

The situation is so embarrassing that Marvel Wikia lists Miles’ one weakness as … inexperience.

Translation: Miles Morales is Marvel’s Big Dog — and and you, dear reader, just don’t know it yet.

Miles Morales powers

Here is what Bendis said in a recent interview with CBR about criticism about Miles’ powers:

I already got an e-mail tonight from somebody in England who gets their comics a day early b****ing to me, and I was given this a little bit in the last volume too, that some people don’t like when Miles wins a fight with his venom blast. They think it’s bulls**t.

That’s like saying you’re mad because Thor won a fight with his hammer. I don’t understand that criticism. He has a tool and he used it. It’s not like the readers didn’t know he could do it. We’ve known since the character’s first appearance. So I’m calling bullshit on people calling bulls**t on this particular thing. It’s a very weird criticism.

Note to Brian Michael Bendis: The validity of your argument is not positively correlated with the number of times you say “bulls**t” and “b***h.”

If Miles Morales only needs to touch an opponent to beat him (e.g., the demon Blackheart, Hammerhead), then he becomes boring.

If there are no chains that can hold Miles Morales because he might decide to become a levitating burst of god-like energy, then it is kind of lame.

When the message is: “You cannot defeat Miles Morales — you can only hope to contain him!” then the book becomes a snooze-fest. That is not “bulls**t.” That is the truth.

Here is what you need to know about Spider-Man #5:

  • Miles Morales is held in a warehouse by Black Cat, Hammerhead and his crew. He uses a Venom Blast on one of the goons and Hammerhead before projecting an “energy burst” to escape.
  • Miles’ annoying grandma decides to hire a private investigator, Jessica Jones, to figure out what the teenager does when he is not in school.
  • “Goldballs” takes Ganke up on the offer to live with he and Miles.
  • Black Cat tells Miles not to interfere with her “business.” She threatens to “ruin” his life if he crosses her.
  • Maria Hill meets with Miles’ father. There is an agreement made to look after the boy and she says, “Welcome back to S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Am I interested in seeing what happens when Jessica Jones tails Miles? Sure.

Does it pique my interest to know that Miles’ father is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent? Sure. I think it’s weird for a husband to have giant secrets from his wife and son, but for entertainment purposes I suppose it works.

Miles Morales Grandma SM

The problem Spider-Man has, however, is that it appears to be trying too hard to establish Miles Morales as “the” Spider-Man. Unfortunately, just adding power after power after power to the kid actually ends up doing him a disservice.

When it becomes apparent that a writer is desperate to have his pet creation immediately enter the upper echelons of Marvel greatness, it becomes a turnoff for readers. This reviewer may be jumping off the book soon if the trend continues for much longer.

Nick Spencer’s Hydra-Cap #2: Brevoort’s ‘not a gimmick’ line a lie for quick sales

Red Skull Kobik

It was one month ago that Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort and writer Nick Spencer asserted to the world that Captain America’s “Hail Hydra” moment was “not a gimmick.”  Sure, they responded to outrage by trying to Jedi mind-trick readers into forgetting the whole Nazi aspect of Hydra, Red Skull, and his crew, but the message was clear: Hydra-Cap wasn’t a shameless cash grab. Captain America: Steve Rogers #2, however, makes it clear that Mr. Brevoort has no qualms about lying if it will line Marvel’s pockets with short-term cash.

Here is what you need to know about the issue:

  • Kobik, the sentient Cosmic Cube, sought out Red Skull the moment she manifested in S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters years ago.
  • Dr. Selvig and S.H.I.E.L.D. never knew that Kobik was being raised by Red Skull, who led her to believe the most ideal world would be one run by Hydra. The doctor’s mind was altered before his initial suspicions were confirmed.
  • Red Skull used Pleasant Hill, an super villain prison created by Kobik, as bait for Captain America.
  • Everything that transpired at the reality-altering facility was orchestrated so that Kobik would implant a false past — a Hydra-inspired past — into Steve Roger’s mind.

Most readers, your friendly neighborhood blogger included, assumed things would eventually be put right after “Cosmic-Cube weirdness” was revealed. We knew what Marvel was doing, but a.) objected to story as a matter of principle — writers should not desecrate a hero for mere shock value, and b.) deemed the length of time it was implied that Hydra-Cap would be working for the terrorist organization as a betrayal of the character.

Blind supporters of Messrs. Brevoort and Spencer made it seem like critics were hyper-impatient, when it was Marvel that created the perception that bread crumbs would be dropped over the course of months.

“I thought we wouldn’t know this much for at least five or six months,” the manager at my local comic shop said when I asked him what he thought about the issue. We both wondered if the timeline was accelerated due to fan backlash, but the owner said he was confident that was not the case.

All of this begs the question: Why?

Why would Marvel expend so much time and effort lying to its fans for a short-term sales boost?

Red Skull Selvig

That answer appears to be two-fold:

  1. The people running the show have no shame. Ironically, the writer who rails against Donald Trump now subscribes to the same “all publicity is good publicity” philosophy that has been perfected by the billionaire.
  2. Marvel Comics, which is currently populated by a slew of petulant man-boys, wanted to steal headlines from DC Comics’ Rebirth.

A rising tide lifts all boats, but guys like Tom Brevoort are working overtime to needlessly torpedo ships that sail the same ocean.

If that is the kind of behavior you want to reward, then head on over to your local comic shop as soon as possible. Otherwise, save the $4.00 for a day when the “House of Ideas” once again has significant floor space dedicated to respecting long-time readers.

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.