Apr. 3rd, 2014

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

So I'm doing research on Sasha and Ana Kravinoff, which means reading an Amazing Spider-Man "event" called The Gauntlet, which is post-BND. So in case anyone ever criticizes my hatred of OMD/BND and its status quo by saying I didn't read it, I've now read like twenty issues of it. It's gone beyond smelling the rotten milk to know it's bad. I've drunken every goddamn glass of that thing and no, there's no good milk in that jug of rotten milk. It's spoiled all the way down.

And the main thing is that it's a lot of crusty old dudes who jerk it to the Silver Age wanting to redo the Spider-Man stories of their youth when that makes no sense for the characters or the world they live in. Like, imagine if the Star Trek reboot had been done by some really big Star Trek fanboys. And they were so set on recreating their Star Trek viewing experience that they didn't update the effects or writing at all--it's just a bunch of low-budget models and paper-mache rocks and gold-lame costumes and Klingons that just look like black guys with Fu Manchus.


This, but with Zachary Quinto.

That would be really dumb, right? Well, that's basically what Spider-Man is these days. "Get that CGI out of there, screw off with those professional make-up artists. We want to tell veiled stories about the Cold War! Bring back those guys who are half black and half white!"

Because I've read a few other comics, and Spider-Man's been a member of both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four in recent years, right? Like, I think he's been an Avenger all the way through BND/OMD. With that in mind, WHAT FUCKING SENSE DOES IT MAKE that he has money problems or is hated by the public at large? Beyond the fact that Mark Waid and co want to write about Peter Parker having money problems and being hated by the public?

Seriously, this is not that complicated. Unless you want me to buy that the Avengers and Fantastic Four are a bunch of pricks that don't care about one of their own living below the poverty line, they should be doing something like

1. Give Peter Parker a fake job as research assistant to Tony Stark or Reed Richards. Put his name on a patent for anti-grav slinkies or whatever and set him up for life.

2. Use SHIELD to fake that he has a rich great-uncle who died and left him a couple million dollars.

3. Give him a cushy gig as the official photographer for the Avengers/Fantastic Four, pay him a ridiculously inflated salary. If Terry Richardson can make obscene amounts of money taking pictures of Blake Lively in black and white looking bored against a blank background, I'll believe that Peter Parker can make a six-figure salary taking the occasional photo of Steve Rogers in jeans and a T-shirt.

4. HE IS FRIENDS WITH CAPTAIN AMERICA AND IRON MAN HOW THE HELL CAN ALL OF NEW YORK HATE HIM? Could you imagine a bunch of people who watch Parks & Rec all loving the show but believing that Chris Pratt is a Nazi despite all their favs loving and getting along with him? No. That's ridiculous.

You cannot say that a character is best friends with Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, George Clooney, and Mark Zuckerberg, then have him complain about how poor he is all the time. You could still have Peter work at the Daily Bugle if he's NOT absolutely strapped for cash, just by saying that he genuinely enjoys working there. But you can't continue to tell stories about him being poor in his present circumstances anymore than you can tell stories about him studying for a big test in Chemistry or worrying about Flash Thompson sticking him in a locker.

And I know, I know, there's probably some issue where he says he doesn't want to accept charity. Well, if this is about Peter Parker being relatable, that's not relatable! There's a big difference between being broke and single because that's life, and being broke and single because you won't cash in a winning lottery ticket and turned down Natalie Dormer when she asked for a date. One is a person being normal and the other is a person being a dumbass.

I mean, fuck it, if your credo is that Peter Parker is going to be single and poor no matter what, have him join a monastery. Normal people do that. No normal person says "I'd rather collect unemployment and live with a Hispanic stereotype who hates me then ask one of the many friendly millionaires I know for help."

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

-So the Gauntlet is about how Kraven's former lover, a powerful witch (no, not Calypso, he married this whole other magic-user and they have a daughter... go with it) sends a bunch of Spider-Man's rogues against him. Not by breaking them all out of prison at once. And not by hiring them all at once. Or by arranging them all to bother Spidey over a short period of time. It's just like, Spider-Man runs into Mysterio doing a thing, beats him, then runs into the Lizard doing a thing, beats him, runs into Sandman, beats him... apparently this is VERY UNUSUAL for Spider-Man and only explainable due to, ya know, voodoo, despite the fact that this would seem to be Spider-Man's daily routine since the Kennedy Administration.

-I haven't seen a lot of talk about the "Brain Trust" authorship of Amazing Spider-Man, where a circle of select writers are ALL writing ASM, which publishes I think three times a month now, and every story arc (they're generally two or three issues long) is done by a different writer. It's somewhat akin to the 'writer's room' philosophy of most TV shows, but there, you tend to have a showrunner like Bryan Fuller or Dan Harmon steering the boat with a strong authorial vision.

This seems more like writing by committee, and I really don't like how corporate and anti-auteur it plays. There's no real momentum in the storytelling, supporting cast members disappear for long stretches--the status quo in the stories I read have Harry Osborn alive and Spider-Man dating Black Cat, but they're barely in the stories. It's like if four networks made four competing TV shows about Jimmy Hoffa, and then they merged them into one show by showing an episode of Series A one week, then Series B the next week, and so on. I don't care for it.

-It seems to have shaken out that ALL the new cast members--Sexy Reporter Who Has Sex, Hateful Roommate Who Has Sex, Pretty Princess CSI: Miami--are hot chicks who are kinda into Peter, should the plot demand they hook up. This gives the comic the sleazy feeling of a four-color The Bachelor. The only male characters who show up with any regularity are J. Jonah Jameson (natch) and Harry Osborn, who is of course sniffing around MJ. Drama drama drama.

-Did we REALLY need a hoary old cliche like Peter, garsh, dating Black Cat in his Spider-Man persona but liking Carlie as Peter Parker? Unless you're going to do an issue where he has to quickly change in and out of his costume to go on dates with both Carlie AND Felicia, just let him be married. Because the only real "storytelling opportunity" I'm seeing here with a single Peter Parker is that when he and Black Cat make sex jokes, they're actually fucking instead of not fucking. Whoopededoo.

-Look, guys, I know you're all upset about Peter/MJ being broken up, but Marvel had to do it, see? Younger readers just can't relate to a Peter Parker that's married, and everything in Amazing Spider-Man, the flagship title that is your one-stop shopping for all the Spider-Man you need in the 616 universe, needs to be aimed at younger

-OH MY GOD!

-Is the front of that guy's chin split in two?

-JESUS CHRIST MY GOD!

-Fuck, why is Spider-Man on that? This shit you get Will Graham for!

-HIS FUCKING FACE IS IN PIECES JESUS!

-SHIT, SHIT, OKAY, SHIT.

-Okay, apparently that's the new Vulture, who literally eats people now. Because I guess the Vulture being a mean old person who Spider-Man hits because kids don't like mean old people just isn't, uh--

-FUCK, THAT GUY MAKES JONAH HEX LOOK LIKE ORLANDO BLOOM.

-WOULD YOU SHOW THAT TO A CHILD? WOULD YOU SHOW THAT TO A CHILD?

-YOU GUYS KNOW DAVID CRONENBERG FILMS ARE NOT FOR KIDS, RIGHT?

-JESUS WEPT!

-To reiterate. Above, children's comic book bad guy. Below, hard-R vampire movie monster from master of horror Guillermo del Toro.

-THERE SHOULD BE MORE OF A DIFFERENCE.

-Well, okay, so Spider-Man isn't for kids now. Fine. It's for grown-ups now, you expect mature, sophisticated writing like Breaking Bad, not dumb villains who make puns like they're in a Batman show from the sixties.

-"All I have left to give... is CURRENT."

-So I guess the target audience is people who can handle graphic gore and grisly violence, but are, you know... really stupid.

-I guess that's the problem with comics these days. Everyone's trying to recreate stories written for ten-year-olds to appeal to people who are forty-years-old. It's a bit like if there were a new Tiny Toons where Montana Max called Elmira a hooker. Who is this meant to appeal to beyond the people who write it?

-Man, it's a good thing there wasn't a story about a bunch of shapeshifters replacing people months, if not weeks ago in the Marvel universe, since otherwise people might find it suspicious that Aunt May is acting completely out of character due to Mr. Negative flicking her personality-switch to evil (totally plausible, by the way). But I guess she has to very clearly enunciate "Heil Hitler!" before noted genius and veteran crimefighter Peter Parker notices that maybe, just maybe, something is off with the woman he's known his entire life.

-BTW, that storyline on which a goodly amount of pages are spent? Aunt May ends up getting over it because she loves Peter a lot. So that was super-important.

-And the award for least genre-savvy person on the planet goes to the corporate executive who hired Curt Connors to research lizard shit, then browbeat him to get results whatever the cost, WHATEVER THE COST, YOU HEAR ME? Next up, he will move to Gotham City, and open up a funhouse on Twenty-Second Street which will double as a storehouse for his rare cat and bird-themed ancient artifact collection.

-Speaking of the Lizard, I don't think him being a one-armed man who turns into a giant reptile is realistic. Better make him a rapist, Marvel. It's just too implausible otherwise.

-I don't have a scan of the letters page where the fans thank Marvel en masse for finally, FINALLY addressing the elephant in the room of whether or not the Lizard would commit a sex crime if the opportunity presented itself, but trust me, it exists.

-I can't stress how much of a slog this thing is to get through. The Gauntlet itself really isn't much of a storyline--it's not like Peter is being worn down by fighting villains night and day, having to punch Mysterio in a costume that's still burnt from fighting Electro (something I bet owes to the rotating writers). The Kravinoffs are barely in it except for the VERY rare scene where we see a supervillain get recruited to their cause (Electro just ends up casting Lightning Bolt. So that was super-important). So it's not like an ACTUAL story where all the misery has a point. The only real plot here is that Spider-Man has a series of adventures where he does a shitty job and doesn't help, then a bunch of embarrassing take-offs on The Most Dangerous Game show up to yell about that mystical Spider-totem bullshit that everyone hates is a thing now, Kraven comes back to life because God forbid one horse in comic book canon gets off with less than being pulverized into dust by the Cleveland Browns. THAT'S IT.

-The Rhino has retired from his life of crime to spend time with his wife. She dies and he goes back to being a bad guy, worse than ever. Curt Connors becomes the Lizard forever and eats his son. Sandman has an adopted kid he's providing for. Peter beats him up and takes the kid to put in an abusive foster home (USE YOUR CONTACTS TO CHECK IN ON THE KID AND MAKE SURE SHE'S ALRIGHT, YOU FUCKING CRETIN). Peter gets fired from his job and collects unemployment benefits.

This storyline has no connective tissue except for how Peter Parker is a failure at everything he attempts. The only theme I can apply to this is that it's a cautionary tale about the foolishness of living a noble, unselfish life, because you will end up like Peter Parker: beaten, broken, and alone while your enemies suffer no real consequences and plot further atrocities against you.

-To save money, Sasha Kravinoff was given Black Cat's costume.

-If I remember my Swan Queen correctly, this means she and Felicia Hardy are fucking.

-AWESOME.

-HEY KIDS, CANNIBALISM! TWO-PAGE SPREAD!

-So, yes, this is a story about a man killing and possibly devouring his son (but not raping him. That only happens to women). But that subject matter is totally called for so that the Lizard can now look like a fucking idiot.

-Well, now we know what the Lizard would look like if he starred in a Final Fantasy game. Oh, and he talks now. Which he... couldn't... before... except for all the times he did? Anyway, this story has dead children AND rape, so you know it's good.

-Stupidest Moment of the Arc goes to Mark Waid, for writing that Electro (the deadly super-criminal who has participated in multiple terrorist attacks and helped orchestrate a break-out that allowed literally hundreds of supervillains to escape and wreck havoc) becomes a beloved public icon in New York merely by ranting about those corporate fat cats, man, and how they're all corporation-y. That's so stupid I don't even have to say anything about it.

-But I'm going to. Comic book writers: Please exercise the discipline of not writing the average citizen as being so amoral, stupid, and fecklessthat saving them seems like a heroic exercise on par with catering to a NAMBLA convention. I realize you like catering to nerd culture's persecution complex, but please realize that people do not dislike bronies because they are misunderstood while saving children from burning buildings.

They dislike bronies because they are bronies. In the real world, people who are charming, generous, noble, and selfless are actually well-liked and respected in most corners, while evil assholes are widely disliked. This is why a lot of people are angry at Woody Allen and very few are demanding a giant robot be built to hunt down Ellen.

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