Flat…Posted: June 6, 2008
Over the last few weeks I’ve broken a promise to myself, I’ve gone out an bought the last few issues of Amazing Spider-Man.
Because of the whole One More Day shitfest, I’d written off the whole Brand New Day experiment. I was sick of the Spidey franchise and burnt out on the whole the Devil undid the Spider-marriage shit.
Of course, they had to go and get Marcos Martin to do art on the last three issues. I love his work so much (see: Dr. Strange: The Oath) that I couldn’t pass up three issues of his art on one of my favorite characters.
But you know, even though Martin’s art is fantastic, I probably should have tried harder to resist these issues of the ‘brave’, ‘new’ direction of Amazing Spider-Man. The thing was nothing about the three issues of Brand New Day are brave, new, or exciting.
Really, they were quite pedestrian.
It felt like you could have easily slotted these issues into a Essential Spectacular Spider-Man and the reader wouldn’t have missed a beat. It was like the writer had found an old 70s “Spider-Plot Mad Lib” that Stan Lee had left lying around (The Daily Bugle causes Peter a moral conundrum because they want him to ________. Peter needs money because of __________). The script was so painfully standard that it seemed a monkey exposed to the Spider-Man animated series from the 90s, on a loop, could have hammered it out.
The characterization was flat (pun intended) and straight out of the 70s, especially the female characters. Hell, the primary villain literally was flat! The plotting relies entirely on the assumptions and stereotypes that any superhero reader would be more than familiar with. We get the mousy love-interest, the crazed teenage girl, the romantic misunderstandings with the roommate (he likes Pete’s new love interest! OH NOES!), etc. etc.
The characterization is unsubtle and painted in broad strokes in a way that seems straight out of the 70s and early 80s, not out of a comic book written in the 21st century. This is especially true of the female characters who mostly range from shy, mousy nice girls, sexy thieves, and crazed, obsessed teenage girls.
There is one female character whose characterization streches further than cardboard stereotypes and that’s Mary Jane Watson (making her first post-OMD apperance). Of course, Mary Jane brings with her all sorts of other problems.
The main thing I got out of this latest storyline, especially the final issue, was that this was a big whole fuck you to fans of the Mary-Jane/Peter dynamic. In the narrative the writer goes out of the way to flip the bird to fans of the Spider-marriage and to unsubtly tell the reader that they’re moving on and there’s no turning back. As a fan who grew up with a married Spider-Man and loves the Peter-MJ dynamic, the whole thing just pressed all of my fanboy buttons, in a bad way.
Basically, I found my exposure to “Brand New Day” to be mostly a throw back waste. I don’t think I’ll be checking the book out again for awhile.