Thursday, July 10, 2008


Warning, this post is going to contain some spoilers, so if you’re a fan of ‘The Amazing Spider-man’ comic book series, you might wanna skip this one.

Ok, let me start by saying that Marvel’s ‘Civil War’ series is an absolute masterpiece. Putting on my Bachelor of Arts hat for a moment, I honestly believe that the Civil War comic-book series should be taught in high-school literature class. It’s just that good. In fact, I hesitate to even call it a ‘comic book series’ because of the negative connotations. I usually think the term ‘graphic novel’ or ‘sequential art’ is way too pretentious…for ‘Civil War’ those terms just aren’t grandiose enough.

What I want to talk about today, however, is ‘reboots’. When by fair means or foul the writers simply throw continuity out of the window and go off on a totally different track. The laziest, most disappointing…and down right aggravating trick in the writer’s arsenal.

Reboots can sometimes, on very rare occasions be a good thing. For example ‘Batman Begins’ going back to the original ‘dark and broody’ theme of Batman…instead of the campy, neon colored celluloid abominations of cinema that Joel Schumacher vomited onto the screen.

The bad kind make me want to strangle writers. Let me fill you in.

First, let me fill you in on the main storyline of ‘Civil War’.

A team of teenage superheroes (filming a reality show, no less) get in way over their heads in a reckless attack on a group of Super Villains. The battle results in an entire small town getting blown off the map, killing over six hundred people, including a whole school full of children.

So the Government in response to the public outcry put into law the ‘Superhero Registration Act’. This new law requires all superheroes to register their real names and addresses with the Government, so they can be controlled, regulated and held accountable for their actions.

This splits the Superhero community right down the middle. On the one hand there are Supers who think the S.R.A is simply the next logical (and inevitable) step for superheroes. The other see it as a breach of their rights, especially considering that not only does the act basically represent a ‘Superhero Draft’ (all superheroes would be put on a payroll and assigned jobs whether they want them or not)…Supers who refuse to sign are imprisoned indefinitely without trial.

The big shocker for me in this series is that, at the start, Spider-Man (thanks to his close friendship with Iron Man) actually comes out in support of the act, even though it’s against his better judgment. An even bigger surprise is that he goes on live TV and unmasks himself, ‘coming out’ as Peter Parker.

If I’m completely honest, at this point in the series I was shocked and a little disappointed. Peter Parker has always been one of the Superheroes who was most guarded about his identity…and I just couldn’t see him siding with the pro-registration folks.

However, after he sees that Supers are being imprisoned indefinitely, and without trial, he publicly switches sides.

I won’t go into any more details except to say again that the series is a work of art. It’s not just a ‘Super Vs. Super Battle Royale’, but explores the themes of civil rights, racial tensions and, above all, the personal dilemmas of heroes suddenly finding themselves in a situation where they’re fighting against people they used to fight beside.

Anyway, at the end of the Civil War series, Peter is technically a criminal and is on the run with MJ and his Aunt May. While, at first, this may seem like nothing new (Spider-Man being painted as a criminal is par for the course)…remember that this time, everyone in the world knows Peter’s secret identity.

Worse still, the Kingpin orders a hit on Peter…making sure to tell the hitman that MJ and Aunt May are targets as well. In the last comic of the Civil War series, Peter arrives back at the Motel room he and his family are holed up in just in time to pull MJ out of the way of the assassins bullet…but Aunt May gets hit instead.

The next series (Back in Black) is also stone cold awesome. Peter tracks down the assassin, traces the hit back to the Kingpin…and breaks into the jail and serves up a royal beat-down on the Kingpin. He makes a point of showing the Kingpin that he’s fighting him as Peter Parker, not as Spiderman.

In the climactic scene he puts his wrist to the badly beaten Kingpin’s mouth and tells him he’s going to fill his mouth, his throat and his lungs with webbing. He tells him that he’ll ‘reduce his lungs to nothing more than useless bags of tissue and webbing’. He tells him it’ll take three seconds to happen.

He counts to three and…


At this point, I was disappointed again. Here was a guy holding up his worst enemy, running on nothing but pure, unadulterated fury. I thought the writers had chickened out. I was fully expecting a speech about how Peter wouldn’t kill him because he was better than him, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Instead, in a moment of pure awesome, Peter says (I’m paraphrasing here):

“I said I was going to kill you, I didn’t say it would be today. You see, I’ve learned a thing or two about cruelty from you, Fisk. I could kill you, but right now you know I’ve beaten you…and for a guy like you, someone so prideful, someone who needs the world to think he can’t be beaten, that’s the worst pain I can inflict…and all these people here have seen you beaten, and they’ll tell their friends, who’ll tell their friends and so on and so on…and that’s just going to eat you up inside. But let me tell you this. The second my aunt dies I’ll be back for you, you ended her life, so I think it’s fitting that you die when she dies…and when we meet that time, I will kill you. If I were you I’d be praying that my Aunt lives a long and happy life” He then addresses the surrounding convicts. “And all of you, put the word out. Anyone, and I mean anyone touches my family again, I’ll kill them…as slowly and painfully as possible.”

After the beat down, Peter returns to the Hospital where they have Aunt May booked in under an assumed name (the government is still looking for Peter, remember?)

Anyway, Peter is basically told that Aunt May isn’t going to make it. The chances of her making a recovery are so slim that everyone, including the doctors, are basically telling him he should start planning May’s funeral.

So, awesome so far, right? What’s going to happen next?

Aunt May could survive by some miracle, and we get to see Peter on the run from the government and S.H.I.E.L.D, maybe he’d find his way back into their good graces, maybe he wouldn’t.

Or maybe Aunt May dies. It’s certainly a possibility, considering they killed off Captain America in the Civil War series. Maybe Peter goes all ‘Batman’ on us.

Two great possibilities, right?

Well, instead, they went for a third option. What actually happens is in the first issue of the next series ‘Just One More Day’, Peter makes a deal with Mephisto (Basically the Devil)…who offers Peter May’s life in exchange for his Marriage.

Basically, Mephisto tells them that their marriage will simply have never happened. In a tearful scene, they accept his deal, swearing they’ll find each other and everything will be okay.


The next issue in the series shows Peter not married to MJ, Aunt May is still alive…and no-one knows his secret identity.

I mean, seriously, what the fuck?

It’s like the writers basically said “Let’s take this storyline, change it so we take everything awesome out of it…and instead start a series about how hard it is for a care-free Peter to find a job.”

I read about six issues into this series…and no, it wasn’t a two issue fake-out. They’re actually continuing with this shit.

I got totally invested in the Civil War series, and was looking forward to seeing the aftermath through the eyes of my favorite Marvel character…and instead got a poorly disguised “and he woke up, and it was all a dream!’ ending.

Seriously. The writers of ‘Just One More Day’ should be shot, and the next series should be right back at the moment ‘Back in Black’ left off.

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