Monthly Archives: August 2015

Brian’s Comic Contemplations II — The Miles Morales Syndrome

[Brian is a HUGE Spider-man fan. In all my travels, I have never encountered a bigger fan of the wall-crawler. Here are some of his thoughts and opinions on the State of the Spidey.]

Now that my first rant about Deadpool is ancient history, I thought I’d offer Matt another break from the blogging grind with another guest submission before he changes his mind. So here are a couple of similar issues that leave me bewildered when it comes to the comic book world.

Watch out, here comes the Spider-Man...

Just your friendly neighborhood…yeah, you know the rest.

At a point several years ago, Marvel decided they needed a new, more modern Spider-Man. One that reflected the cultural realities in the U.S. population. So, they introduced a new Spidey. A boy named Miles Morales. They then “killed” the character Peter Parker.

This is something that really chaps my Boo Berries. Look, I realize that comic book and movie companies are influenced by marketing departments. And I know we live in a politically-correct, inclusive society. Hey, I welcome that. Not complaining. But why slough-off the development of multicultural characters?

Why take the cheap route? Once again, indolence, I assert.

All this back and forth with the Spider-Man identity prompted some good things in the comic world. Notably, the Spiderverse storyline and, by some extension, The Superior Spider-Man tales. But it also spurred on the dubious debate as to which Spider-man would be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). With the huge success of the Iron Man Franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Avengers, Marvel had its mouth watering to reclaim the legendary web slinger and (perhaps correctly) add him to the already impressive MCU roster.

He's got radioactive blood...

As it should be.

Of course, this is all after Sony pictures launched and failed two cinematic iterations of the character. (Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield). Regardless of what you think of those movies, Marvel thinks they can do better. And their current box office track record may make for a compelling argument. At last look, Marvel’s Cinematic Universe had grossed an astonishing $7.787 billion at the worldwide box office. (And that was before Ant Man.)

But then the debate started as to which Spidey they would add to their upcoming Captain America: Civil War film – as an introduction back into the MCU.

What?

The “debate” has long since been settled with Marvel finally deciding that our old buddy Peter Parker would get another kick at the can instead of Miles Morales.

Don’t get me started about the casting. (Tom Holland, Asa Butterfield, etc.) I have no idea what the logic was there, but suffice to say, this wall-crawler, for better or worse, will be more akin to a Spiderboy than a Spiderman. Going back to the era when Spidey/Peter Parker was a high-school teen is a decision that may or may not work. I started reading Spiderman comics at about Amazing Spiderman #40 with the late, great John Romita Sr. back in the late ‘60s, and by then, he was becoming a Spider-MAN, but I won’t quibble with the youth-movement approach to the MCU story, because I DO understand the tactic. And it does bear continuity with the early stories. So, fair enough.

Take a look...overhead...

Spider…um, man?

But a while back, I read a blog by an, evidently, selfish individual who submitted that there was no place for a white Spider-man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – clamoring, “Enough Peter Parker!”  Well, Sir, THAT is YOUR opinion. Yes, I’m sure there are others who may share your view. Lord knows, I’d certainly hate for you to have to take into account the opinion of someone who has been rooting for ‘ol Petey since I was old enough to read.

Despite being the white-bread character he was originally conceived, Mr. Parker became, arguably, the most popular Marvel superhero, and has remained so for over 50 years. That’s focus group testing you can’t ignore.

Go change the identity of Batman or Superman… leave Spidey alone! (No, I don’t want that either, but you get the point, right?)

You want more ethnic /socially representative characters? By all means! Have at it! But do me a small favor, get up off your cognitive arses and use your imagination!

Here’s a novel idea: Create! Make up a new character – See Female character rant below. Don’t just “mail it in” with a convenient reiteration. Do the work. EARN your way to popularity. The way that Stan Leiber and his little science nerd did back in 1962.

Spins a web...any size...

So, what do you REALLY think, Brian?

Stop ripping off other people’s ideas. And YES, I’m looking at characters like you, John Stewart!

There’s already fantastic, ethnic characters represented in comics: Black Panther, Falcon, Spawn, Vibe, Luke Cage, Firestorm, Cyborg, etc. – It CAN be done!

BONUS CONTEMPLATION:

Female Versions of Almost Every Character – Why do comic book companies feel compelled, or perhaps obligated, to create a female version of a popular character? It comes off as SOOO contrived… and repetitive – and uncreative. It’s not that I don’t like female heroes. They’re great. But it’s like saying, “Let’s market a pink keyboard.” It takes character creation to a mass-production mentality. I.E; Nice shirt does it come in plaid? Marvel and DC already wallow in a sea of sameness with heroes, why take the easy way out with female characters? Comic writing should be a creative art form. Not a flippin’ mimeograph.

Rant over. Attack at will. 🙂

[Do you agree with Brian about Spider-Man? Yes? No? Let us know in the comments!]

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Best Served Cold: Why You Should Never Cross a Fiction Writer

George R.R. Martin is often quoted as saying, “A reader lives a thousand times before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.”  What about the other side of that coin?

Well, let me tell you, a writer can kill you a thousand times on paper if you cross him or her. The character may not have your name, or even look anything remotely like you, but a fiction writer, particularly a sci-fi writer, contemplates destroying whole star systems or galaxies during a lunch break. What do you think they’ll do to you?

He tasks me...

It is very cold…in spaaaaace.

Is it just a quiet power trip? A revenge fantasy? More than just a tad petty? Sure it is, but I challenge any fiction writer out there to tell me they’ve never done this. I mean, someone has to get fed to the dragon, right? So why not an abusive boss or your old grade-school bully?

Here’s one of my own literary paybacks:

In college, my degree plan required a sales class. You couldn’t get out of it since it was a prerequisite, which was bad news for introverted guys like yours truly. About 60% of your grade for this class was ‘lab.’ In practice, that meant that the university newspaper gave each student some of the sorriest, most underperforming clients they had on file and expected the students to physically go to these clients (calling them on the phone was expressly forbidden) to solicit ad space in the paper.

Without a doubt, this was the most blatant example of student exploitation I experienced during my years there. No commission for anything you sold, no reimbursement for gas (and believe me, gas money was pretty scarce back then). And to top it off, I was paying for the privilege of doing this for them.

The Doctor will not.

What? WHAAAT?

The man who headed up this program will remain nameless here, though I will say that his name looked and sounded cool. That was sort of a theme with this guy, looking and sounding cool. He had that salesman ‘aura’ to him with great hair and a politician’s polished smile. Dealing with him on any level was the worst for the very fact that he had training on how to overcome objections, and get people to do something that they wouldn’t want to do in the first place. The class remains the most difficult, awkward, and frustrating of my student career.

Years later, I needed a character name that sounded cool, though the character himself was dead. I don’t just mean died-fighting-lions-in-the-coliseum dead, I mean launched-into-the-cold-void-of-space-and-then-falls-headfirst-into-a-star-and-somehow-there’s-a-waiting-volcano-on-the-surface-of-that-star-that-also-has-fangs, irrevocably, irretrievably DEAAAAAAD.

Crunchy

In other words…TOAST.

Well, I flipped through my mental roll-a-dex. Guess who came to mind? Yep, Mr. Perfect-Hair himself. He may never know it, or read any of my stuff, or care one jot or tittle even he did, but I know. That’s my little Easter egg, my private joke to myself.

So, if in your daily travels you come across a person who says that they write fiction, be nice to them. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if one day the first person who gets their soul devoured by Great Cthulhu bears a striking resemblance to someone you know.