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.

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Dan Slott’s excitement, focus return in Amazing Spider-Man #18 with Doctor Octopus in limelight

living-brain-peter-parker

The Amazing Spider-Man #18 is an issue that has been building since the end of Spider-Verse in February 2015, so it stands to reason that writer Dan Slott would put extra care into the product. Still, it seems undeniable that this Doctor Octopus-centric tale possesses the most energy the creator has brought to the title in months. Fans of The Superior Spider-Man will be thrilled with the flashbacks and the loose ends that are tied up, while others will be left wondering, “Why can’t the book have this much life on a regular basis?”

Here is what you need to know about ASM #18:

  • Doctor Octopus explains how he was able to transfer his consciousness into the gauntlet of his Superior Spider-Man costume during Spider-Verse. The technology became a “fully functional octobot” and then downloaded his consciousness into Living Brain.
  • Readers are informed how Otto dispatched with Ann Maria Marconi’s new boyfriend, Blain, after he was unable to download his consciousness into the man’s brain. In short, Otto was able to get headhunters in Australia to offer him a job “too good to pass up.” (Blain decided to not even talk to Peter Parker about the situation, apparently…)
  • Doc Ock, still secretly inside Living Brain, demands Anna “explain” when she says she would not date Otto if he were standing before her. She mentions the fact that he tried to kill six billion people. “I could never love someone like that. Ever,” she says while kissing the robot on its cheek.
  • Peter contacts Anna on his way to New York and tells her to “double” her efforts on figuring out the cloning process used by New U Technologies.
  • Otto devises a plan to have Anna fly back to New York because he believes Anna wants Ott’s mind in Peter’s body. When they land in New York she tells Peter that Living Brain has “been acting up a lot lately.”
  • Peter decides to work on Living Brain, aka Doc Ock, who demands Peter “explain” how Otto’s mind was erased from the real Spider-Man’s brain. Peter explains how Otto killed himself so that Peter could save Anna from the Green Goblin, at which point the downloaded consciousness of Otto from Spider-Verse goes ballistic. “Lies! Lies! Lies!” he says while smashing equipment.
  • Living Brain destroys himself as Spider-Man tries to shut him down, but not before Otto’s consciousness again returns to gauntlet from Spider-Verse. Peter and Anna both act as if they only faced a “Doc Ock revenge program from beyond the grave,” as opposed to the real deal (for some inexplicable reason).

Does that sound like a mouthful? If so, that’s because it is — there was a lot going on in ASM #18. To Mr. Slott’s credit, he organized his thoughts about as well as could be expected with the plot threads at hand.

living-brain-doc-ock

 

As was said earlier, fans of SSM will enjoy this issue. There really isn’t too much to ding it on aside from the fact that once again people must act like morons to move the plot forward.

“Please, he won’t hurt me. He never would. Don’t ask me how I know. I just do. Trust me!” Anna says while trying to convince Peter to get closer to a rampaging Living Brain — but it might as well have been Dan Slott speaking to the readers.

Translation: “Don’t ask too many questions. I don’t. Trust me!”

And Dan is right: If you just want a “wacky” adventure and don’t have a desire to think too hard, then this issue is a fun read. Don’t ask why Anna and Peter give the equivalent of, “Huh. That was weird,” after Living Brain’s meltdown. Don’t ask questions about the nature of life and if humans have a soul, and don’t ask how Otto literally had Peter’s entire life beamed into his mind and didn’t change one bit.

“But Doug!” you say, “Didn’t Otto die to save Anna in Superior Spider-Man #30? Doesn’t that count?”

Answer: No, because readers were given no reason to believe Otto had changed in the previous 29 issues. It just happened.

anna-living-brain

Regardless, as already mentioned, ASM #18 is worth buying for anyone who has been eager to see the series once again focus on Doctor Octopus. It is rather intriguing to think about a man who cannot have the woman he loves because he is trapped inside an “inferior” body, and the villain’s plans to resurrect himself are a good tie-in to Dead No More.

asm18-anna-peter

If you plan on buying Dead No More, then ASM #18 is worth picking up this weekend. If not, then you still might want to give it a read. The author seldom is capable of packing pathos, organized thought, enthusiasm, and action into a single issue of ASM, and it might be months before such a feat is witnessed again.

Related:

Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse Epilogue: Wrap-up oddly more exciting than main story

Dan Slott eviscerated after cyber-stalking Philly charity runner; industry ‘journalists’ M.I.A.

The Main Event YouTube

What does it mean to be a comics industry “journalist”? Does it mean finding and reporting good stories that readers would be interested in, or does it mean reporting only the happy-happy-joy-joy “Ren and Stimpy” versions preferred by publishers? Consider the dead silence over Marvel’s Dan Slott, who cyber-stalked a Philadelphia YouTuber and then exploited the man’s charity event for digital butterfly kisses.

Two years ago the Spider-Man scribe was verbally lashed by “The Main Event” after stalking him. Then there was a lull — again, for two years.

The Main Event asked fans on Tuesday to vote on the shirt he would wear for a 3-day Marvel/Disney-sponsored charity run (5K, 10K, and half-marathon), which set in motion one of the most bizarre chain of events comic fans will see from a creator in recent memory.

Main Event charity run

Dan Slott pounced. He exploited a charity event to receive pats on the back and plaudits from his Twitter followers.

Dan Slott Main Event stalk

Did a close friend request The Main Event use a Superior Spider-Man shirt? Did he even know it was the new costume used by Doc Ock, or did he just think of it as one of 1,000 Spider-Man costume variants created in recent memory?

It’s a trick question — none of it matters, because the guy was running for charity and hasn’t said peep about Dan Slott in years.

Main Event Slott

What followed was a YouTube video that comic book “journalists” would swarm like bees on honey if The Main Event were a Lena Dunham lookalike who openly shared LGBT struggles on Twitter. Masculine pro-GamerGate YouTube guy who can eat cyber-stalkers for lunch? Nah. “Journalists” don’t want to jeopardize their access to Marvel writers.

The Main Event delivered a rant for the ages on Wednesday. There is a mushroom cloud where Mr. Slott’s head once rested.

Here is just a snippet of his righteous indignation:

Piece of s–t, Dan f–king Slott. I see we meet again. … So let me get this straight: You’re going to sit here … and tell your fans half-truths, because that’s what you’re doing right now. You’re sitting her saying I’ve bagged on Superior Spider-Man for years. I haven’t even talked about the f–king thing in years! After those videos, that was it. … This man just exploited a charity — a charity — because he wants to fish for compliments! That’s the kind of piece of s–t he is. … There is no excuse for this.

The entire response is worth watching, especially since there is an embargo at Comic Book Resources on legitimate news stories that make Marvel editors uncomfortable.

Remember: Media bias can present itself in print, but it also is part and parcel of the power to ignore. These are not the droids you are looking for. Move along. Move along.

Enjoy.

Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse Epilogue: Wrap-up oddly more exciting than main story

SpiderMan SpiderVerseDan Slott is an interesting guy — when he’s not trolling random women on Twitter or casting countless Peter Parker fans as racist rubes, he’s making the epilogue to his big Spider-Verse tale more exciting than the main story. In some weird way, the constraints imposed upon the writer by his epilogue — he had to wrap up countless loose ends and couldn’t engage in superfluous Spider-Ham jokes — forced him to put forth a tighter product. The result is, oddly enough, the most satisfying issue of The Amazing Spider-Man in months.

The good thing for Dan Slott with an epilogue like this is a.) there is no real need for characterization — readers are essentially told, “Hey, this is where are heroes ended up,” and b.) it provides the author with an easy opportunity in terms of providing fans with some “feel good” closure. With no defenders in his way, Dan Slott managed to sink a layup at the buzzer. He still lost the game…but at least he made his last shot.

With that said, Spider-Man fans might be disappointed when the thrill of seeing Peter Parker crack Doc Ock with a left hook wears off. As Peter Parker stands above Otto, the villain unmistakably telegraphs the vehicle that will carry him to revenge. Otto tells his hologram girlfriend “Now, Anna, as we discussed.” Was Peter Parker deaf, or did he just shrug his shoulders and say “What was that was all about? Eh, probably nothing.”

Doctor Octopus SpiderVerseAnother bizarre instance occurs when Karn reveals that the nuclear wasteland the Inheritors have been imprisoned on “fortunately” has a bunker “teeming” with spiders. What are the chances? It’s almost like Master Weaver giving the heroes a scroll with “everything” they need to succeed, or Silk conveniently teleporting to the planet and finding the bunker to begin with. Dan Slott’s Peter Parker is big on the “no one dies” mantra, but he’s apparently okay with the “shut you in a bunker and force you to live on spiders for all eternity,” verdict as well. Under normal circumstances such a panel could be laughed off, but since the writer has invested so much in “no one dies” during his tenure, it should not be ignored.

SpiderVerse EpilogueIf you’ve purchased the rest of Spider-Verse and were thinking about skipping the epilogue, then you may want to reconsider. Dan Slott may have oversold the book when he promised “Big Things” (shocker, I know), but it’s still one of his better efforts in quite some time. If nothing else, Spider-Verse: Epilogue shows that Marvel might get tighter stories out of its scribe if it puts more constraints on him.

Spider-Verse ends with puerile pheromone talk, Dan Slott’s sex-crazed Silk called ‘honey’: ‘Nuff said

Silk SpiderMan SpiderVerseIt may have taken 20 issues and $80, but Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse is finally over. Unfortunately for Peter Parker fans, the writer was able to get in one last parting shot by making his sex-crazed concubine Cindy Moon (Can anyone deny that’s how she comes across?)  try yet again to get into the pants of Peter Parker. Our hero then takes their relationship to another level by calling her “honey.” Shouldn’t feminist comic book fans be raging over this bizarre and puerile treatment of Silk? The muted criticism is rather strange, but I digress.

MorlunWhen reviewing Spider-Verse Part 6 there is much to cover because it became a giant discombobulated mess. Perhaps one of the main takeaways is that the final battle ends — fast. In fact, the whole final battle is wrapped up so quickly that one of the main villains understands that something does not add up. It’s almost like Dan Slott subconsciously knew what readers would be thinking. He seemed to think that by having Morlun draw attention to the villains’ rapid downfall that readers would believe Spider-Man’s answer: “Everything is going according to my plan.”

SpiderVerse Part 6What plan? There never really was a plan. For a good portion of Spider-Verse, Otto was in charge. When Peter was nominally the leader, he couldn’t even control his own team members.

SpiderVerse Part 5Kaine took off to do his own thing, which prompted a “son of a…” response. Cindy took off as well (twice), which prompted a “@#$%! She took off again, didn’t she?!” response, and Dan Slott literally inserted a deus ex machina into the tale, which gave Peter’s team “everything” they needed to prevail. When it all spun out of control, his response was “Whatever you’re doing — drop it! We’re going to Loomworld.”

That doesn’t sound like a plan. That sounds like, “Charge!” (and hope for the best).

SpiderMan SpiderVersePerhaps one of the biggest problems with Spider-Verse is that there is no intellectual consistency. The Inheritors are built up to be almost unstoppable enemies, who then essentially collapse like a house of cards.

In one instance, Solus defeats a version Cosmic Spider-Man in the blink of an eye, but in the next he is effortlessly impaled to death by Kaine. The Inheritors have survived for time eternal, have the ability to clone themselves and insert their life force into crystals, but yet they can’t figure out how to clone a body that is resistant to radiation. The Inheritors feed off the life force of men and women powered by the bite of radioactive spiders, but a landscape with nuclear fallout in the air sucks the life out of them.

Spider-Verse seems as though it was born out of a stream-of-consciousness writing exercise that never had an editor take the time to go over it with a fine-toothed comb.

And what of Superior Spider-Man, you ask? Answer: Dan Slott has him kill Master Weaver — the character who controls “the nature of reality itself,” and the “god in the machine” who gave the spider-team “everything” they needed to be victorious. Yes, in that situation Dan Slott wants readers to believe that Otto would have applied Occam’s Razor to the idea of killing Master Weaver and followed through. I’m inclined to think Otto would be smart enough to know that killing a being that is literally tasked with weaving together space and time would not be wise; he would have found a different (evil) path to victory, but we can always debate that in the comments section. (Luckily for him, Master Weaver’s death seems to have no immediate consequences. How convenient.)

Whether you’re a fan of Spider-Verse or not, let me know what you think in the comments section below. As long as you keep it respectful and don’t start soliciting people for sex like Dan Slott’s Silk, we should get along just fine.

Related: Dan Slott’s Spider-Gump: Peter Parker is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get

Related: Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse: Peter Parker sadly gives off ‘Where’s Waldo?’ vibe in his own book

Dan Slott trolls random woman on Twitter, then has the gall to bash GamerGate supporters

If comic book industry journalists did their job, then they would take Dan Slott to task for behaving like an immature clown on social media. The appropriate websites have abdicated their responsibility to discuss what it means to be a professional, so douglasernstblog.com will fill the void.

Those who follow The Amazing Spider-Man scribe probably remember the time he stalked The Main Event and got smacked down via YouTube. Readers of this blog will remember the time he tried to sic his Twitter followers on yours truly. Fans of Spider-Man Crawlspace and a host of other message boards undoubtedly have their own tales to tell. Now comes the time when Dan Slott tracked down and trolled a random woman on Twitter who said that The Superior Spider-Man sounded lame, and then afterwards he had the gall to bash GamerGate supporters.

Dan Slott stalks girl TwitterI’m not sure when a man’s behavior qualifies him to be labeled a “douche canoe,” but it seems as though Dan Slott’s online impulse control problems can serve as a sound litmus test.

Dan Slott stalks girl Twitter 2Ami Angelwings took the high road and simply pointed out how ridiculous and weird it is for the Marvel comic books writer of The Amazing Spider-Man to be manically searching through Twitter streams for criticism that he can use as an excuse to lash out at young women in front of his 65,000 + Twitter followers.

Slott, rightfully feeling shame, apologized. Then, without even picking up on the irony, he soon was bashing GamerGate supporters.

Dan Slott apologyDespite the fact that GamerGate supporters are both men and women from a variety of different backgrounds, and despite the fact that many of them — including the Main Event — have very legitimate gripes about the gaming industry and the journalists who cover it, Dan Slott then goes on to slime all of them. Dan Slott — the man who just moments before found a random woman online and made jokes about the value of her life — said he will block people who merely defend guys like The Main Event. Telling.

Dan Slott Gamer GateLuckily, guys like Raúl get it: “She didn’t even tag you. You actually searched for people to bully. How is that okay?”

Dan Slott Twitter responseIt’s not okay, Raúl. You are 100 percent correct. The problem is that Dan Slott — the guy who complains about deadlines — is busy finding random women on the internet to spout off to because they didn’t like the premise of The Superior Spider-Man.

The next time you read The Amazing Spider-Man and ask, “Isn’t that sort of lazy for a writer to literally insert a deus ex machina into his big Spider-Man project,” you can now say “Yes” without skipping a beat.

The reason is simple: Thin-skinned writers who feel the need to sift through Twitter streams looking for women to troll are not very efficient with their time.

In the future, Dan Slott can go back to stalking random Twitter users and then mocking them in his own Twitter feed without identifying them by name. The thing is, he doesn’t even realize that such a bizarre way of fishing for compliments is just as sad.

Exit question: What are the chances that “Mister Mets” over at Comic Book Resources will ever take Dan Slott to task over his online behavior? And if you talk with Mister Mets, ask him what I’ve done on Twitter that comes remotely close to Dan Slott’s behavior. I’d really like to know. Please, go through my feed. All of it. Or not, because I don’t act like Dan Slott.

Notice that Cameron Samuri was banned? Why do I think it has more to do with him not adhering to Orwellian message boards rules than actually speaking out of line?

Mister Mets Slott apologist

Mister Mets loves Dan Slott

Related: Spider-Verse ends with puerile pheromone talk, Dan Slott’s sex-crazed Silk called ‘honey’: ‘Nuff said

Spider-Verse Part 4: Side effects of Dan Slott’s Spider-Gluttony may include Spider-Diabetes

After months of lead-up to Spider-Verse, the actual series, and its tie-in material, fans of Peter Parker may find themselves suffering from a form of Spider-Diabetes due to Dan Slott’s Spider-Gluttony. Part 4 of Spider-Verse hit stores on Wednesday, but on some level it seems like Part 14. Even staunch supporters of the tale may be asking themselves: Are 20 issues really necessary to do this justice?

Spider-totems being destroyed. Again. Where have I seen that before?
Spider-totems being destroyed. Again. Where have I seen that before?

Those who have followed Spider-Verse from the beginning can expect more of the same; throngs of spider-totems die; The Inheritors chase spider-totems around different dimensions; a few “whacky” panels are thrown in; Peter Parker needs help, and the issue ends with a big tease to generate buzz for future installments. On the cliff hanger, however, Mr. Slott does not disappoint. More on that later.

The ongoing problem with Spider-Verse is that any story that involves an army of spider-heroes (many who are just different versions of Peter Parker) will obscure those leadership skills that prove he is a cut above all the rest.

Dan Slott's Spider-Man is confused. He needs help! Good thing Dan Slott's creation, Silk, is there to get him where he needs to be. Whew. That was a close one.
Dan Slott’s Spider-Man is confused. He needs help! Good thing Dan Slott’s creation, Silk, is there to get him where he needs to be. Whew. That was a close one.

“I asked for this. The others are counting on me, and I don’t know what to do! I need help! I need…” Dan Slott’s Spider-Man says just before he is saved by Dan Slott’s creation, Silk. What a coincidence.

“Peter, it’s Cindy. … Earth-3145! Trust me…” says Silk, which then prompts Peter to bring his team to her location. Moments earlier, Peter was sent scrolls from Spider-Woman — provided by Master Weaver — spelling out “everything” he would need to know about The Other, The Bride, The Scion, and more.

It is hard to conclude that Peter Parker is the one essential hero in his own book when he depends on so many others to secure victory, let alone the assistance that comes from some Deus ex Machina action (i.e., Master Weaver).

Hmmm. How do we move this along? I suppose there isn't any problem that is too big for the Master Weaver to handle... Thanks for the scrolls, buddy!
Hmmm. How do we move this along? I suppose there isn’t any problem that is too big for Master Weaver to handle… Thanks for the scrolls, buddy!

The best part about Spider-Verse Part 4 is the last panel.

** Warning: Spoiler Alert. **

There is a special spider-totem who has been waiting inside a fall-out shelter on Earth-3145. Alone amongst the rubble of a post-apocalyptic New York City teeming with deadly radiation is … Uncle Spider-Ben. What role he will play as the story unfolds is still unclear, but it’s a sure-fire way to generate sales for Part 5.

The problem with the Uncle Spider-Ben reveal is that it reminds Peter Parker fans that it wasn’t too long ago that Peter died … or became Ghost Peter … or Memory Fragment Peter or some other kind of Phantasm Peter that hasn’t been clarified by Dan Slott or Marvel.

Given that The Amazing Spider-Man #700 indicated that Peter would die and reunite with Uncle Ben — the real Uncle Ben — in heaven, the appearance of an Uncle Spider-Ben isn’t particularly earth shattering. Peter and his real uncle would have had time to talk at length and untangle any unresolved issues associated with his untimely death. Besides, if there are spider-monkeys, spider-lizards, Spider-Hams and a whole host of other weird incarnations, it’s actually more bizarre that there hasn’t been Spider-Jonah or Aunt Spider-May. In fact, why has there not been a Spider-Mary Jane?

In the end, Spider-Verse is a little like one of those Brazilian steakhouses where they endlessly bring out meat, but instead of massive amounts of protein Dan Slott serves up Spider-totems. Even those who love meat and Spider-Man can reach a saturation point. For readers who can digest another eight issues and take a $32 hit to their wallets, kudos. For those hard-core fans who started out strong but are beginning to feel nauseous, at least you can get by with only purchasing ASM issues 13 and 14.

And finally, if you’re screaming “No mas! No mas!,” then save yourself the cash, read my next reviews, and share your opinions in the comments section below.

Exit Question: Is it possible for beings that can consume the life force of Captain Universe to be adversely affected by the fallout from a nuclear blast?

Bonus: Here is an excerpt from the feedback that makes it into the Letters to the Editor section of The Amazing Spider-Man:

“Dear Spidey editors, artists, and everyone else related to making The Amazing Spider-Man comic book… You all are gods! Only someone with such power could have the responsibility (see what I did there?) to make something with so much beautiful artistry.”

Now you can see why modern creators swear off message boards — they’re so used to cherry picking the kind of feedback they receive that they can’t professionally handle unfiltered criticism.

Related: Dan Slott’s Spider-Gump: Peter Parker is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get

Related: Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse: Peter Parker sadly gives off ‘Where’s Waldo?’ vibe in his own book

Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse: Peter Parker sadly gives off ‘Where’s Waldo?’ vibe in his own book

There’s a line from 2004’s “The Incredibles” where the villain Syndrome says, “When everyone’s super, no one will be.” Dan Slott’s “Spider-Verse” tale operates on many of the same levels — when the Marvel Universe is filled within an infinite amount of “Spider-Men,” it becomes much harder to distinguish why Peter Parker is special.

Spiderverse 1Those who have read The Amazing Spider-Man since its relaunch have seen Peter Parker take a back seat in his own title for much of the lead-up to Spider-Verse, and now that it’s here the trend continues. Readers are told he’s some sort of Harry Potter-ish “Chosen One,” but the evidence as presented — up to this point — doesn’t support the claims. Peter comes across as just one of many heroic “spiders” throughout multiple dimensions, each doing his or her own part to protect the “spider-totem” from falling to “The Inheritors” — a dysfunctional family of beings that like to dine on “spiders.” When Peter Parker gives off a “Where’s Waldo” vibe in his own book, something is wrong.

Spiderverse 3Dan Slott’s “Spider-Verse” generally reads like a convoluted mess from the mind of a man who still goes to fast food restaurants and fills his glass with a little bit of each kind of soda without realizing that the end result isn’t all that special and usually tastes gross.

Spiderverse 4Spider-Verse’s saving grace appears to be the artwork by Olivier Coipel — it really is quite beautiful, and he’s able to organize Dan Slott’s clutter like a mother who picks up after her son when he’s old enough to know better.

To make matters worse, the commanding presence of Doctor Octopus (aka: “The Superior Spider-Man”) provides another example of just how diminished Peter Parker is in his own book. Readers know that as “The Chosen One” Peter will play a crucial role in defeating The Inheritors, but up until this point — ten issues into the relaunch of The Amazing Spider-Man — one has to imagine that many Peter Parker fans are asking: “Why?”

Spiderverse 2Peter Parker should be a shining star in his own book, but these days he is little more than a polished cog in Marvel’s “Spider-Verse” machinery.

Chuck Dixon and Paul Rivoche call out an industry filled with moral relativists like Dan Slott

Chuck Dixon and Paul Rivoche took to the The Wall Street Journal this past weekend to address an issue that guys like myself, Hube at Collossus of Rhodey, and Avi Green over at The Four Color Media Monitor have been spotlighting for ages: moral relativism in the comics industry.

Over the years, fewer and fewer superheroes had a functioning moral compass, and the result is that these days its often difficult for to distinguish between the hero and the villain. As the industry lurched to the left, conservative voices were elbowed out. The result: A politically correct schizophrenic comic book market, where creators see themselves as “social justice warriors,” one day, and writers with no social responsibility the next — usually when a cultural event turns the nation’s attention towards moral relativism practiced in much of the entertainment community.

Dixon and Rivoche wrote for WSJ on Sunday:

In the 1950s, the great publishers, including DC and what later become Marvel, created the Comics Code Authority, a guild regulator that issued rules such as: “Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal.” The idea behind the CCA, which had a stamp of approval on the cover of all comics, was to protect the industry’s main audience—kids—from story lines that might glorify violent crime, drug use or other illicit behavior.

In the 1970s, our first years in the trade, nobody really altered the superhero formula. The CCA did change its code to allow for “sympathetic depiction of criminal behavior . . . [and] corruption among public officials” but only “as long as it is portrayed as exceptional and the culprit is punished.” In other words, there were still good guys and bad guys. Nobody cared what an artist’s politics were if you could draw or write and hand work in on schedule. Comics were a brotherhood beyond politics.

The 1990s brought a change. The industry weakened and eventually threw out the CCA, and editors began to resist hiring conservative artists. One of us, Chuck, expressed the opinion that a frank story line about AIDS was not right for comics marketed to children. His editors rejected the idea and asked him to apologize to colleagues for even expressing it. Soon enough, Chuck got less work.

The superheroes also changed. Batman became dark and ambiguous, a kind of brooding monster. Superman became less patriotic, culminating in his decision to renounce his citizenship so he wouldn’t be seen as an extension of U.S. foreign policy. A new code, less explicit but far stronger, replaced the old: a code of political correctness and moral ambiguity. If you disagreed with mostly left-leaning editors, you stayed silent.

Messrs. Dixon and Rivoche note that there have been bright spots over the years (e.g., “Maus,” Pixar’s “The Incredibles,”) but that a.) those creative endeavors are generally apolitical, and b.) they are now the exception rather than the rule. They conclude that most modern comics send the message: “in a morally ambiguous world largely created by American empire—head left.”

Perhaps the most recent glaring example of the industry’s moral relativism came from Marvel’s Spider-Man scribe, Dan Slott.

Here’s what moral relativist Mr. Slott said during the start of his run on Superior Spider-Man in an interview with Newsarama:

Nrama: With Superior Spider-Man, you’re writing Doc Ock as a lead character for really the first time, and a more long-term Doc Ock story than has really been seen before. We’re seeing the character put in very different situations, interacting with totally different characters. What kind of task has that been — approaching his mindset and his attitude in the position of a lead character?

Slott: 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?

Yes, that’s right. Dan Slott actually asked if a man who tried to incinerate 6 billion people was any more annoying than Hawkeye in his very early days as a villain.

Slott continued:

Slott: Also, when you look at Doc Ock, he was so much like Peter Parker. Peter Parker, if he didn’t know the lessons of power and responsibility, that teenage nerd would have grown up to be an Otto Octavius nerd, with the same kind of, “I’m going to make them pay.” This is the flip of that. This is Doc Ock getting to go back in time and be as young as Peter Parker, and have force-fed into him this sense of power and responsibility. He has that lesson from Uncle Ben in his core. That was Peter Parker’s parting gift to the world — I’m not going to leave the world a villain, I’m going to leave them a hero.

So either Dan Slott was lying in his interview, or he forced Peter Parker to make one of the dumbest superhero decisions of all time. If Dan Slott’s “hero” had Uncle Ben’s lesson embedded in his core, Inception-style, why did he blow a guy’s face off at point blank range or engage in Nazi-like torture practices? Great “gift to the world,” Mr. Slott.

The funny thing about moral relativists is that when the culture spins out of control they refuse to take any responsibility for the disgusting cultural mosaic they’ve helped to create. It’s always the fault of someone else.

Dan Slott guns

In the mind of a moral relativist like Dan Slott, the creative work he puts out into the world has zero effect on his reading audience aside from being innocuous “entertainment.” In the mind of a moral relativist like Dan Slott, he can make an American cultural icon into a genocidal maniac “Spider-Man” for over a year, have that character blow a guy’s face off and engage in Nazi-like torture, and then say with a straight face that what he does for a living has no effect on our cultural consciousness. It’s a great defense mechanism: “Hey, I ‘just’ write comics. Don’t look at me.”

Superior Spider Man Gun

Dixon and Rivoche end their piece by saying that they “hope conservatives, free-marketeers and, yes, free-speech liberals” will join them in entering the field with a renewed sense of purpose. Conservatives may have an uphill battle when it comes to getting their work seen through traditional outlets, but modern technology has helped level the playing field. If you’re a conservative or libertarian writer with a story that’s been sitting in your head for years, get it out of there. Crack open your laptop or go old school with a typewriter. Do whatever it takes to get your story one step closer to reality. Start that snowball rolling downhill and see where it takes you. The same thing goes for artists and musicians.

There’s an old saying that the greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he didn’t exist. In a similar vein, the greatest trick moral relativists play is convincing people that what they read and listen to on a daily basis is incapable of warping their minds in dangerous ways.

If you see yourself as a creative conservative or libertarian individual, you owe it to yourself and your community to share that gift with the world. The ideological battle may be a long tough slog, but it’s one that is worth fighting.

Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man #1: Peter Parker gets punk return by a guy who gave him a punk death

Amazing SpiderMan 1

Peter Parker went out like a punk — twice — by writer Dan Slott, so it’s only fitting that he would get a punk homecoming. If you’re an Amazing Spider-Man fan who has been waiting for over a year to get a steroidal cheese-ball version of of Peter Parker back in tights, prepare to give Mr. Slott a pat on the back.

For a mere $5.99 (Can someone tell me why digital copies are just as expensive as buying in-store?), Peter Parker fans get to see the real deal take on some two-bit villains, lose all his clothes, get called an “idiot” by Mary Jane (the same character whose IQ dropped about 50 points in order to make Superior Spider-Man work), and have his secret identity exposed because Doc Ock’s love interest, Anna Maria, has seen him naked. Yes, you read that right. (But hey, “nothing happened” … despite the fact that Doc Ock was going to ask her to marry him after two months.)

Feeling warm and fuzzy now that Peter Parker is back? If not, here’s another one: the radioactive spider that bit Peter and gave him his powers also apparently bit another woman before finally dying. Perhaps if Dan Slott stays on the title long enough we’ll find out that a second radioactive spider was present that day, and it bit two more students, which would fit in nicely with his upcoming “Spider-Verse” plans (i.e., Why waste time exploring Peter Parker when readers can just get lost in countless Spider-Men? Who needs character development when you’ve got tons of spider-powered people swinging around?).

 

Mary Jane ASM1

Question for Dan Slott and the editors at Marvel: Why do you hate Mary Jane? Why do you take every opportunity you can to turn her into a dumb b**ch? Why do you take a character who should be Peter Parker’s supermodel Linda Cadwell (i.e. Bruce Lee’s wife) and turn her into a one-dimensional bimbo? Why do you have to rub salt in the wounds of fans who believe Peter and MJ are meant to be together — every chance you get? Are you mean and spiteful man-boys, or  just tone deaf morons?

But I digress. Back to Amazing Spider-Man #1, the issue where Dan Slott decided the best way for Peter’s secret identity to be revealed to Anna was through a cheap turn of events that left him naked — and then in a web diaper — in front of the entire world. It’s actually rather fitting I guess, because Dan Slott is once again “exposed” as a writer who lacks the intellectual depth and breadth to take Peter Parker to the heights he truly deserves.

Peter Parker Anna ASM 1

If you’re a fan of Peter Parker, you should cheer because he’s back. If you’re a fan of Peter Parker, you should cringe because Dan Slott is still in control of the character’s short-term destiny. Amazing Spider-Man #1 is an issue that was long overdue, but it also was yet another case of Team Slott over-promising and under-delivering. With six months of issues like this, sales will drop to levels no barrage of variant covers can save. Instead of realizing that a writer who isn’t up to the task of growing and developing Peter Parker is to blame, the same predictable crowd will fault the character. At that time, expect calls for the “return” of Superior Spider-Man.

If you don’t have a lot of disposable income, don’t spend $5.99 on this book. Check out ‘Winter Solider’ while it’s still in theaters, or possibly the new Amazing Spider-Man movie if someone you trust liked it.

Bonus:

Those who follow this blog regularly know that Dan Slott is particularly sensitive about observations of Superior Spider-Man’s affection for genocidal maniacs and their tactics — despite the fact that the character said he wanted to transcend “Hitler, Pol Pot and Khan” in terms of evil perpetrated upon the world — shortly before body-snatching Peter — and despite the “full blown Nazi-like torture/experimentation on his victims,” that predictably took place before the series ended (Bleeding Cool’s words — not mine).

Superior Spider Man Dan Slott Torture
“In today’s Superior Spider-Man, the character goes a little further. Into full blown Nazi-like torture/experimentation on his victims. By ripping out teeth and fingernails,” (Bleeding Cool).

Given that sensitivity, why is it okay for Dan Slott to write Marvel Universe New Yorkers who believe Superior Spider-Man was a “jack-booted thug,” but it’s out of bounds to then talk about the implications of being a “jack-booted thug”? Ask a group of history lovers what group they think of first when they hear the phrase “jack-booted thug,” and nine times out of ten you will get the Nazis. You might even get an embarrassing goose-stepping demonstration.

It is downright strange for Dan Slott to use that phrase — that very loaded phrase, with all the images it conjures up — in his book, especially since he went on a massive YouTube meltdown that he ultimately tried to scrub from existence. It’s almost like he subconsciously knows my criticisms are incredibly accurate, or that he wants me to call him out so he’ll have an excuse to go on more incoherent tirades.

The Marvel Universe has “Damage Control” and so too does Dan Slott, apparently. When Mr. Slott can’t do it himself, the “Dan Slott Damage Control” (D.S.D.C.) is always willing to pick up his mess. Luckily, it has no power here.

If you want honest and frank reviews of Amazing Spider-Man, head back here any time there are major developments. If you want weird rants that will be deleted by Dan Slott or Slott-friendly moderators (e.g., Marvel’s Orwellian message boards) when he refuses to save himself from himself, those sites are readily available as well. More power to you. Either way, I’m happy to spend $5.99 if it will mean some extra cash in your back pocket.

Check the YouTube page so you can see all the wonderful work the Dan Slott Damage Control (D.S.D.C.) can do when it puts its mind to it.
Check the YouTube page ‘Superior Spider-Man Panel SDCC 2013’ so you can see evidence of Dan Slott trying to scrub, scrub, scrub away as much evidence of his recent YouTube meltdown as possible.

Related: Check out “Stillanerd’s” review over at Spider-Man Crawlspace. Impressive.