Renew Your Vows #6: Gerry Conway, Ryan Stegman give Marvel blueprint for success

The sluggish sales of Marvel comics as of late is no secret. The “House of Ideas” is on fire, and anyone who has paid attention to the industry for the last couple of years knows it. Luckily, there is a way to extinguish the flames, and the answer comes from the creative springs of writer Gerry Conway and artist Ryan Stegman.

If Marvel truly wants to fix what ails it, then it will look to Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #6.  Sound storytelling, strong art, respect for classic characters and an absence of weird political preaching is the key to motivating readers who are disgusted with the Marvel brand.

For more on this topic, check out my latest YouTube review and hit the “subscribe” button if that video format is up your alley.

As always, I invite you to leave your two cents (or more!) in the comments section below.

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Dan Slott’s moral relativism takes Peter down Otto’s path in Amazing Spider-Man #26

Moral relativism is a problem in Marvel comic books these days. If you ever wanted to see what it can do to a good character, then look no further than The Amazing Spider-Man #26 by writer Dan Slott. The character who recently resorted to corporate espionage to gain access to another company’s intellectual property rights now has decided to risk everything to topple a sovereign nation.

Yes, that’s right, Parker Industries is supposed to be a technology empire worth billions, but its CEO is willing to risk it all — the jobs of his employees, the Uncle Ben Foundation, the livelihood of his shareholders — all for some out-of-the-blue quest to take down Norman Osborn. Peter Parker under Dan Slott has turned into a Captain Ahab-ish character who is on the hunt for an elusive green whale. And to find the mysterious Goblin Whale he will do anything — no matter what the costs or who he hurts in the process — to make it happen.

In short, when Doctor Octopus calls Spider-Man a “self-righteous twit” in an issue of ASM, the reader should never side with the villain. Sadly, that is exactly what happens in ASM #26.

For more details, I invite you to check out my latest YouTube video. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments section below, as always.

J. Michael Straczynski: Partisan writer hits the block button because douglasernst.blog is effective

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Regular readers of this blog know that on any given day there will be an honest comic book review or a post that exposes the hypocrisy of partisan writers within the industry. If a book is good — like Renew Your Vows — I’ll say it. If a book is bad, like Brian Michael Bendis’ Invincible Iron Man, then readers will know exactly why. Certain Marvel scribes have tried to claim over the years that this blog is irrelevant, but a strange thing keeps happening to me: Writers and editors who I never even talk about block me on Twitter. That seems like an odd action to take for someone who is not effective…

Consider J. Michael Straczynski, for instance. I never talk about the man in my blog posts, never tweet the man, and in the rare events I have mentioned him in my comments section I have been extremely kind. He was the last writer on The Amazing Spider-Man who got me excited about the book after years of mediocre writing. He “gets” Peter Parker, and if it weren’t for weird “Gwen-rape” stories then I would have even more nice things to say about his work.

Why, then, did he block me on Twitter? Tonight I ran across his name in a follower’s feed and thought, “Hmmm. JMS. I wonder what his tweets are all about,” before getting Twitter’s classic “you are blocked from following…” message.

I tweeted, “I guess he’s not a fan of limited government?” before checking it out via another account, and what do you know? I was right!

JMS Melania

Just like most of the other industry writers, J. Michael Straczynski is such a petty man that he turns First Lady Melania Trump into a vehicle to attack her husband — because it must feel so good to get dozens of “likes” or “loves” on social media for rage-tweeting.

Whether it’s Hydra-Cap writer Nick Spencer talking about the “myth of the good Republican” or ASM writer Dan Slott telling Christian supporters of Hobby Lobby to go to “Christ-Land,” this blog has consistently called out their mean-spiritedness and hypocrisy. And because it has a growing number of readers here and on YouTube, guys like Mr. Straczynski have taken notice.

Given this latest development, I will once again reiterate to you, dear reader, that if you want to see someone expose the self-proclaimed “tolerant” comic writers for the intolerant ideologues they are, then you have come to the right place. And since Mr. Straczynski was so concerned about what yours truly might find in his Twitter feed, I will give it extra attention going forward.

Stay classy, Mr. Straczynski.

Exit Question: How long will it be before Mr. Straczynski starts using weird comments about Barron Trump to attack his father?

Amazing Spider-Man and the craft of writing: A YouTube hangout with Mike McNulty (Stillanerd)

It’s been years in the making, but the stars have finally aligned for your friendly neighborhood blogger and Mike McNulty (Stillanerd) to team up for a discussion on comic books.  If you’ve enjoyed Mike’s reviews over the years — both at Spider-Man Crawlspace and now with Whatever a Spider Can — then you’ll want to check out this YouTube chat. It’s one hour of the two of us talking about craft or writing, The Amazing Spider-Man, and a few other topics of interest to those who tuned in during the live stream.

Mike, as always, was the consummate professional. I hope to have him back again for another YouTube hangout sooner rather than later.

Amazing Spider-Man #25: Dan Slott’s Peter Parker wonders if punching Asian criminals is racist

It’s a rare occurrence when a Marvel comic is worth multiple blog posts, but The Amazing Spider-Man #25 has managed to pull off the ignominious feat. The anti-faith claptrap that was shoved into Peter Parker’s mouth was covered yesterday, but today I would like to address writer Dan Slott’s decision to turn criminal beatdowns into an occasion for political correctness.

Mr. Slott’s version of Peter Parker literally wonders if there is something wrong with punching Asian thugs while in China.

“Doesn’t it feel weird that we’re only beating up … Asian people? I’m just used to beating up people of all races and creeds,” Peter says after an interrogation. When Mockingbird asks if he would feel better fighting masked criminals he says, “I know it’s a cop-out, but yeah, it would.”

Yes, that’s right, an entire page of of creative real estate was dedicated to the racial dynamics of beating up Asian criminals in China. That, my friends, is Marvel Comics in 2017. Writers like Dan Slott are so concerned about shoring up their PC credibility that they will sacrifice character and plot development in favor of racial diatribes.

There is much more to say, but for that I would like to point you to my latest YouTube video. Make sure to hit the subscribe button if the format is up your alley, and feel free to share your thoughts on all-things Spider-Man in the comments section below.

 

Editor’s Note: I plan on doing a live discussion on YouTube on March 25th at 3:00 p.m. EST. with Mike McNulty (Stillanerd) from Whatever a Spider Can. The topic of the day will be the craft of writing — with ASM as our creative backdrop.

Also, consider this recent tweet by Mr. Slott if you doubt that the ASM creative team was thinking about Richard Spencer when they were thinking about Doc Ock’s new look, haircut, etc., as part of Hydra. When will someone conduct an intervention and tell these people that their obsession with politics is unhealthy?

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Related:

Dan Slott shoves anti-faith bilge into Peter Parker’s mouth in ASM #25 because reporters shouldn’t believe in God … or something

Dan Slott shoves anti-faith bilge into Peter Parker’s mouth in ASM #25 because reporters shouldn’t believe in God … or something

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Fans of The Amazing Spider-Man plopped down $10 this week to read the start of The Osborn Identity, which was jam-packed with extra stories (some of them not so good). While your friendly neighborhood blogger is happy to talk about the issue as a whole, one exchange in the main story stuck out for the anti-faith claptrap that writer Dan Slott shoved into Peter Parker’s mouth.

Since this issue takes place after The Clone Conspiracy, Peter Parker goes to check on reporter Betty Brant to see how she’s doing. She mentions seeing a spiritual advisor and possibly bringing Aunt May along since her second husband just passed away, to which the hero replies:

“You’re a reporter. You live for facts. When did you start looking to the spirit world?

Note that at this point Peter knew nothing about Betty receiving phone calls from the clone of her deceased husband. All he knew as that she wanted to see a spiritual advisor. And his response?  A condescending remark that people who deal in “facts” should not be turning to spiritual advisors.

Spider-Man fans who subjected themselves to Jose Molina’s atrocious Amazing Grace will note how he also infused Peter with anti-faith smugness. In 2016, however, the message was that faith in God and science are somehow at odds, which is not true at all (my guess is that Dan Slott and Jose Molina have never even heard of Georges Lemaître, for example, but I digress).

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What makes Dan Slott’s decision so weird, as has been stated before, is that it makes even more sense in the Marvel Universe for people to believe in the supernatural because citizens witness it on a regular basis. Peter has literally been to the astral plane, dealt with demons, and knows first-hand that they exist, and yet Dan Slott makes him act like a callous jerk towards a friend who is spiritual.

The absurdity of Peter’s statement is made even more bizarre when, moments earlier, he is seen talking to “Uncle Ben” — a dead man — at his grave. Why would scientists and reporters and superheroes talk to long-dead relatives unless they believed that on a spiritual level their words were being heard?

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And why would Peter behave like such a jerk towards Ms. Brant when Amazing Grace ended with a meeting between he and a priest — “Hey, Father. You got a minute?”

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Here are some historical “facts” for Dan Slott.

  • There was once a man named Jesus who made some pretty “bold” claims (Understatement of All Time Award material, I know.)
  • Jesus was crucified — just as he foretold — for those claims.
  • Jesus’ enemies were so terrified of Him that they literally entombed his corpse behind a giant rock and used an armed guard to watch over it. (Yes, an armed guard for a dead body.)
  • Christ’s own disciples, from a historical perspective, had every reason in the world to say, “Well, I guess it’s over,” after he was executed. False prophets came before him, and all their movements soon died with the individual. But these apostles didn’t turn in the towel. They too were eventually executed for telling all the world that Jesus rose from the dead. They traveled far and wide to tell everyone who would listen that they saw him, that they literally put their hands in his wounds, and that He is exactly who He claimed to be.

I can go on and on (What came before the Big Bang, Dan Slott?), but the point is this: Peter Parker would never behave the way he did in that scene with Ms. Brant because it was a total jerk thing to say. If you think that he would say that — despite hanging on occasion with Doctor Strange … traveling throughout the multi-verse … and generally dealing with the supernatural on a regular basis, then good luck making that case.

If Dan Slott is not a religious man, then that is his prerogative, but he should not turn Peter Parker into a condescending jerk when a story delves into spiritual matters.

With that said, I highly suggest checking out Stillanerd’s review of ASM #25 over at Whatever A Spider Can.

I should also mention that the two of us will be discussing the craft of writing (through an ASM prism) on my YouTube channel on Saturday, March 25. As of now we plan on starting at 3 p.m. EST. Make sure to subscribe and hit YouTube’s little bell icon to receive a notification when we go live.

Dan Slott belly flops in ‘Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy’ finale

The finale to Marvel’s Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy is now in stores — or is it? Yes, the event that began with Before Dead No More has technically ended, but there are so many questions left unanswered that readers will now be forced to buy Clone Conspiracy Omega #1 for some semblance of closure.

Months ago I jokingly predicted that Marvel would come up with After Dead No More and Dead No More — No More, and it looks like readers will essentially get just that because “Omega” sounds edgy and cool…but I digress.

Anyway, the one question that fans of The Amazing Spider-Man should ask themselves right now is this: Was it worth it?

Was DNM: CC worth turning ASM proper into supplementary reading material? Was it worth creatively monopolizing the tie-in books? Was it worth digging up the memories of the original Clone Saga? Was it worth the sheer amount of effort expended by Marvel to try and convince people to care about “reanimates” as much as the original characters?

I would definitively say the answer is “no.”

Check out my latest review, and then make sure to head on over to Whatever A Spider Can to read Mike McNulty’s take. He always does great work, and this time it provided me with a much needed assist for a YouTube review of DNM: CC #5.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts in the comments sections below.

Renew Your Vows #4: MJ plays feminism card so Peter will endanger child

Gerry Conway’s fourth issue of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows came out this week, which means that Peter Parker fans are treated once again to a light-hearted and fun read devoid of Slottian baggage. The writer’s “All In The Family” tale wraps up with the Parkers defeating Mole Man, but it doesn’t come without a few creative red flags for the future.

Ask yourself this question: Is it sexist for Peter Parker to want his young daughter as far away from megalomanic super-villains as possible? This version of Mary Jane thinks so, and for some bizarre reason the hero backs down without much of a fight.

Check out my latest YouTube review for a better explanation of why RYV appears to be taking a problematic stance towards the family’s superhero dynamic. As always, let me know what you think in the comments section below — and be sure to subscribe if you enjoy the video format.

Marvel flinches on hack writing after backlash, but actions speak louder than words

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It appears as though sagging sales, fan backlash, The New York Times dropping comics from its “bestseller” list, and a general consensus that Marvel has lost its way has finally pushed the “House of Ideas” to return to its roots. Bleeding Cool reported Feb. 6 that a back-to-basics approach will take place in 2018.

The website said:

“Last week’s Marvel creative summit I am told by well connected sources who have proved themselves in that past there was more of a focus on what DC Comics internally called “meat and potatoes” comics that preceded their doubling down on the popular characters and bringing back old favourite takes with DC Rebirth.

I am told, as Marvel brings back the X-Men line with a bang, to expect a return to more of a status quo for titles such as Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and more. A more familiar looking Marvel Universe by the autumn – although, just as with Captain America, as classic-look-characters return, expect new characters to keep a number of their books. …

I am told to expect that Secret Empire will be a bit of a last hurrah for this kind of [politicized] storytelling from Marvel for a while. A little how Marvel writers were told to get the use of the Marvel 616 dimensional nomenclature out of their system before it was done away with for good…”

Twitter, YouTube, and other social media websites were abuzz — in a positive way — with this news, but your friendly neighborhood blogger would like to remind everyone that actions speak louder than words — and Bleeding Cool reporting.

While it is true that Marvel has flinched in the face of a growing number of fans who are sick and tired of political preaching shoved into their books, it is also true that its writers and editors only made the right decision when all other options were essentially taken off the table.

If Marvel had to hemorrhage fans to DC Comics for months on end before its top brass decided to retreat on their social justice crusade, then it stands to reason that they will return to their old ways as soon as possible. Even Bleeding Cool’s report indicates that this is merely a tactical retreat by the New Puritans.

At this point in time Marvel has done nothing tangible — I repeat, nothing — to engender good will among the fans it has alienated for years.

There has not been any admittance that loyal customers were treated like dirt while classic characters were needlessly dumped upon for the sake of diversity.

Now is not the time to let up, but to stay increasingly engaged in terms of holding the publisher accountable for partisan or sloppy writing. Until Marvel and its creative teams consistently deliver the goods and extend an olive branch to those who were told to “eat a bag of d***s,” then they should not be patted on the back.

It is time to be cautiously optimistic, but it most certainly not the time to shake hands with writers and artists who have rarely missed an opportunity to sucker punch long-time readers.

David F Walker Twitter bag

Dan Slott’s Clone Conspiracy #4 goes full Ben Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Your friendly neighborhood blogger wrote on Oct. 12, 2016, that one problem with writing stories about conspiracies is that they sometimes get so big and convoluted that they collapse under their own weight. Dan Slott’s fourth installment of The Clone Conspiracy (along with The Amazing Spider-Man #23), are clear-cut examples to study for any aspiring writing to study.

The problem with The Clone Conspiracy, as is often the case with Mr. Slott’s work, is that he creatively bites off more than he can chew before realizing that he must somehow finish the whole meal on a tight timeline.

Check out my latest YouTube video for the more detailed explanation of why the Marvel event is imploding, and then let me know what you think in the comments below. As always, if you like what you see in the video format, then make sure to subscribe for regular updates.