Infinite Spider-Man Part 6.5: Ending It All

Posted by Mister Mets 17 November 2011

A few comparisons were made between how marriage was shown in the Spider‑Man comics, and how the institution has been portrayed in various movies and books. I thought this was a flawed example, because the Spider‑Man books represent a serial drama, which has lasted for both decades and thousands of issues. An inherent problem exists in comparing potentially endless serial media (some comics and television) with any stories that were always meant to have a complete beginning, middle and end (novels, movies, plays, many comics and most modern television shows.)

It's far easier to write a novel or movie or comic book mini series about a happily married couple in a monogamous, committed relationship, when you don't have to worry about continuing that story for another 20 years and making sure that the status quo never becomes inaccessible or unappealing to future readers, some of whom will not be interested in the back issues, and some of whom will.

It's easier for writers in other media (especially shorter media) to write lasting relationships, because they can end the story before it gets monotonous and maintain absolute control over the development of the characters. Over the course of a finite work, the couple can age in real time or at an accelerated rate, have children, etcetera. Then the story’s over, unless the writer chooses to do a sequel, in which case, he’ll have a lot more latitude, and a potential for failure.

When Spider‑Man is viewed as a singular narrative with a beginning, middle and end, fans want to see the definitive ending, which is why they’re not so concerned about what status quo will work the best in the long‑term. It’s a difference in sensibilities and expectations, and a point of view which is counterproductive to developing a status quo which will ensure the continued success of the series. This is what has worked for the last few decades, and it would be a tremendous risk to change the formula for so little gain, by ending the current Marvel Universe.

There’s the argument that because Spider‑Man deserves a happy ending, he should be married to the love of his life. By this line of thought it’s wrong to give Spider‑Man any severe complications and problems because it’s a good lesson for younger readers that the quiet, studious and shy high school geek can have a good life after graduating high school, and any conflict is antithetical to that moral. This desire to give the character everything he wants completely goes against the serial nature of the series and robs future generations of getting to read new adventures of the original Spider‑Man. I think it's a great thing that Marvel hasn't needed a Crisis of Infinite Earths type reboot yet. Spider‑Man should suffer and continue to suffer in the future, because that makes his stories interesting. As long as the adventures of Spider‑Man continue, he's going to have to have bad days and bad weeks, and because that alone will get old fast, he needs to have good days and weeks too.

It's the nature of his adventures in a story that has no end in sight. While it would be inspirational to give him a happy ending, that's just not practical in the serial form. Marvel and DC superhero books show the first two acts of a character’s story arc, but not the third. They can show the beginning and the middle, and not the end. This has led to Marvel launching an entire line of books showing what “The End” would be like. Showing the actual conclusion would mean that they can’t continue the stories most of us are enjoying.

Prolonging the Inevitable

There’s been the suggestion that it would be a good idea for the Marvel Universe to end, because the next generation of readers just isn’t reading comics, due to all the other forms of entertainment competing with them such as books, TV shows, movies, video games and drugs. This would mean there’s no reason for Marvel to bother trying to get new readers. Instead, Marvel should just do what they can to keep the readers they have now and prolong the inevitable. This approach has many severe disadvantages.

While sales of the monthly issues may be declining, there are other sources of revenue for publishers, including the trade paperbacks and digital programs. Whether or not Marvel’s able to get enough new readers to sustain the title indefinitely is unknown, but they should do everything in their power to do so. Catering to an increasingly dwindling (as the current readers move onto other interests, run out of money or die) readership is the worst possible long‑term strategy. The stories aren’t going to be that good, as many of the best writers and artists wouldn’t be as interested in working for a company‑owned character if there’s no chance of the series ever reaching a larger readership or being of interest to new readers years later.

Encouraging more kids and new readers to buy Amazing Spider-Man also increases the amount of comics purchased, which has two benefits. It allows Marvel to pay their talent more, which increases their ability to get better talent. While it proably won't result in a decline in comic prices, it could result in readers getting more material for their money, in addition to delaying increases in comic book prices. Plus, some of those kids will eventually become Spider‑Man writers and artists when you're in your seventies.

When the End Comes

When the writers and editors all know that the Marvel Universe is coming to an end, I'd like to see them give Spider‑Man a happy ending. But, I don't want that story to come twenty years too soon. This assumes that the current Marvel Universe is more than two‑thirds on its way towards an ending, and not only halfway there. Unless told otherwise, I think the writers should work under the assumption that these stories will continue for a few more decades without Spider‑Man, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four retiring, and plot the stories accordingly.

If the Marvel Universe comes to an end (it ain't happening tomorrow, next month or next year), the writers will almost certainly have more than enough time to bring things to a satisfying conclusion. Even if by some dark miracle, the people at Marvel decide to suddenly end the comic books without providing a satisfying ending, I would prefer an abrupt ending to decades of stories which could have been better if the writers had not jumped the gun on key aspects of a series that's been around for 45 years. Keep in mind, Alan Moore tied up decades of Superman continuity perfectly in his two issue storyline "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" and I doubt the final writers of the Marvel Universe Spider‑Man will need more than a six month head start (currently eighteen issues) to wrap things up well.

Regardless of what circumstances would cause the Marvel Universe to end, the people in charge will want the last Spider‑Man story to be as long and satisfying as possible, as there's money to be made with that. And there will be no shortage of talented writers and artists ready to tackle the storyline because of its historical and sentimental significance, not to mention the probability that it will be available in reprints for a long time, providing royalties and elevating their profiles and reputations.

The expectations will be high, but writing a satisfying ending isn’t going to be that difficult, as this will be one of the few times the writer can just give the fans and characters what they want without worrying about what’ll happen in the series afterwards. This would be where Spider‑Man can become a father, J Jonah Jameson can learn the error of his ways, and the Punisher could kill the Kingpin, all stuff you shouldn’t do when there’s the possibility that the stories will continue for the next few decades.


Some fans will argue that an eventual Universe‑wide reboot is inevitable, so we may as well get adventures of Spider‑Dad out of it. Marvel has yet to prime punch itself back to ground zero, and there's no reason to assume they will any time soon, so no Marvel writer should write a story under this assumption, unless they know for certain that it will happen.

These fans may suggest that the entire Marvel Universe should get rebooted once every decade, because that’s what DC does to keep things fresh. DC doesn't do the reboots every ten years because the stories are too stagnant. They do them because they keep making and trying (and failing) to fix big mistakes. At the same time, I see no reason to reboot the X‑Men and Fantastic Four franchises just because the Spider‑Man books made a mistake twenty years ago.

There's also the question of whether rebooting the Marvel Universe would be accepted by the fans. If it's a failure, it would be one that's difficult to fix. Ending the current Marvel Universe represents an absolute last resort, meaning Marvel should try all the other options first. If the end is inevitable and there's nothing Marvel can do to delay it, undoing the marriage won't make things worst, given how quickly it could be stetconned.

During the peak of the Ultimate books, there has been the suggestion that the regular Marvel Universe should come to an end, and be replaced by the Ultimate Universe. This suggestion appeared on the internet a little bit less, as the sales of the most notable Marvel Universe books started consistently topping those of the Ultimate titles.

Making the Ultimate Universe the real Marvel Universe (and giving it fifty‑something books, which would require expanding the cast from a world with about a hundred super‑powered individuals to a world with thousands of them) is a bad idea because of the decisions that made the Ultimate Universe different from the Marvel Universe (the teen Fantastic Four, the Hulk with a high three‑figure body count, Galactus as an army of insects and Gay Colossus come to mind.) It would also kill interest in the many reprints set in the current Marvel Universe, which is a significant revenue stream. One of the strengths of the Ultimate Universe was the limited number of writers, which has kept it more accessible. That wouldn’t happen when everyone currently working on a Marvel book moves to the Ultimate Universe.

Slowly Reaching the End

There’s been the suggestion that the writers shouldn’t have to worry about keeping the Marvel Universe fresh for their successors, because of the concept of Marvel Time (the accepted notion that it takes four years of the comics to describe one year’s worth of adventures within the Marvel Universe.) Under this theory, it may take eighty years before we get to the point where Peter Parker’s ready to retire and let the next generation of superheroes take over. With this philosophy, the characters could all undergo significant growth, but it would take generations before the heroes, supporting cast and villains become unappealing to younger readers. Even if the characters don't have to age with their readers, and just keep aging at Marvel time (probably slightly accelerated with all the "six months later" moments), it's simply delaying the inevitable.

I suspect that once writers started believing the Marvel Universe would definitely end at any point in the future, we would no longer have the traditional idea of Marvel time, but an accelerated version, as writers in comics love "six months later," "one year later" and “five years later” jumps. These add up. We’d probably see more jumps if Spider‑Man’s married with kids, as writers will want to skip ahead to the various milestones. And while you can ignore these situations with a bachelor Peter Parker, a growing kid (or four) serves as a constant reminder of exactly how much time has passed.

It won’t take that long before we reach the point where new readers wouldn't be as interested in the character. While there are good stories to be told with Peter's kids growing into young adults, I just don't see that period to be worth exploring for 2,880 issues (assuming it'll take 20 years in Marvel time or 80 years in real time, with 36 issues an year) or 480 graphic novels (assuming the average TPB collects the equivalent of six issues).

Why should writers bet so much against the current Marvel Universe going on for another 45 years without a total reboot? Marvel hasn't needed one yet, and the ensuing aftermath would top the worst results of Crisis of Infinite Earths, given that the real Marvel Universe is better than the DC Universe and Marvel doesn’t have as many great self-contained Elseworlds type tales (because they haven’t needed them.) Nor would I even trust the current writers at Marvel to create a better universe than the one we have now, as it’s too much to expect anyone to guarantee that they could top the best superhero universe in comics. It would also be difficult to make new readers care about the new universe, when they’re all going to compare every development and title it to the best of the old one. And if there's no major reboot coming any time soon, the writers should simply use the status quo which results in the most possible great stories.


New Avengers V.2 # 16.1

Posted by bulletproofsponge

New Avengers 16.1
This issue takes place between New Avengers 16 and 17 ( obviously). It kind of draws a bridge between the two issues since they really don't make sense if you read them one after the other.

It starts with an insane Norman Osborn, sitting in prison, talking, or rather being talked to by his alter ego - Green Goblin. Back at the Avenger's Mansion the New Avengers are busy having a meal, chatting and having fun. Victoria Hand spoils the party though by bringing some bad news of Osborn being transferred. Apparently Captain America wants their team to escort him out.

It all starts off well with The Thing and Luke Cage escorting Osborn out. As expected, a rogue team comes to aid Osborn, setting him free. Fortunately, the Avengers had planned for this as the Osborn that was freed was none other than Dr Strange!

Back at the cell, the real Norman Osborn is being escorted by Wolverine and Jessica Jones.

As they walk out however, Osborn gives word to the guards, who then blast the flesh off of Wolverine's head. Norman Osborn essentially escapes scot-free, and proceeds to meet his army of followers.

In this issue, we actually get to see a fair bit of Spider-Man, who is still clearly, not impressed with Victoria Hand. The "Awesomeness" of Norman Osborn is well portrayed in this comic. He is to some extent a type of Batman or Captain Jack Sparrow who has everything planned and under control.

No doubt, the Avengers had planned for something like that to happen, thus Dr. Strange pretending to be Osborn. Honestly, I thought he got away a little too easily, considering there was a whole team of Avengers escorting him out. The scene where Wolverine gets his head blown up was definitely unexpected. Finally, I have reason to fear for the life of Jessica Jones baby in the near future. In this issue, Norman tells Jessica that he is going to kill her baby. If he can outsmart a whole team of Avengers, there's nothing stopping him from killing a little baby. This could get really interesting..

Marvel Point One

Posted by Jesse


Setup: Behold the Watcher

Two guys in space suits infiltrate the Watcher’s domain and attempt to extract his memories / visions, which brings us to…

Story 1: Nova Harbinger

The superhero know as Nova tries to warn Terrax that his planet is about to be destroyed but, Terrax refuses to believe and instead fights Nova, until it’s too late and the Phoenix annihilates the planet, thus disentigrating Terrax. All that remains is his war staff and a small plant life suddenly emerges from the ground.

Story 2: Age of Apocolypse: the Myth of Man

A man is telling his son about how he helped rid their world of humans making it safe for mutants. The boy asks about the last human called the red prophet but his dad tells him that he defeated him on his own using his seismic powers. Surprisingly the prophet comes back to finish the job. The father and the prophet do battle again and only this time, the father doesn’t come out alive. The prophet goes to a rendezous point where the rest of his team is waiting. They briefly discuss their mission: to bring back humans from near extinction, they call them selves the “X-Terminated”.

Back at the watcher’s lair, the two guys are discussing whether those events were current or from the future and are able to determine that, there is no way to know for sure. One guy continues looking into the stream and sees…

Story 3: Scarlet Spider: the Scarlet Thread

Charlotte, North Carolina. Just four days after “Spider-Island”. A man wearing a blue hoodie sets foot for his destination. He plans to board a train and travel to mexico to escape his reputation, and to start a new. That is until he hears a bank robbery in progress and decides, to leave it be.

While on the train, the man goes through some deep soul searching, describing his past and questioning his future, but before it’s too late he emerges from the train having a change of heart and meets with the bank robbers head on. He takes them out menacingly, remarking how natural it would be for him to kill them but he manages to spare their lives. He is..was a monster, but now he is what he chooses to be, a new man, in full control of his destiny. He’s not Peter Parker, He’s not even Ben Reilly. His name is Kaine, the Scarlet Spider.

Story 4: Coldmoon and Dragonfire: Yin and Yang

A sister and brother describe each others strange upbringing and how they were led to believe each other was dead until the fateful day they learned that they were being exploited as a biological weapon. They escape their oppressors and show up helping the Avengers fight off AIM
bots. Together they seek to save humanity from evil alien technology, using their powers of fire
and ice.

Story 5: Doctor Strange: The Shaman of Greenwhich Village

Another day in the life of Dr Strange, as he encounters a man who is suffering from mental delusions thus he proceeds to enter his mind. What he finds is a very bizarre experience that leaves him unconscious and bleeding from the nose.

Story 6: The Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Robotic looking aliens are floating above the city, whilst down below, two man scramble. One guy goes after a brief case while the other screams to the sky “we already paid. “

Nearby Spider-Man and Hawkeye bust out of the front door of a building and Hawkeye proceeds to shoot one of the robotic like entities. However, the beings shoot what may best be described as light energy of mass proportion, down at the city causing extreme devastation. Hawkeye and Spidey make a run for it as Hawk’s arrow/s explodes sending one of the robo aliens crashing down, presumably dead.

Back at the watcher’s lair, they discuss what they just saw and commence to make their exit having successfully gathered the info they came for. They mention someone or something referred to as the “unseen” and how it will kill the watcher, and thus revealing his secrets to them.

Thoughts: Whewwww, what an exhausting read. Between the outer space sci fi babble and characters and places I’ve never seen or heard of I couldn’t help but feel a little dizzy, switch from one strange tale to the next. So what should you take away from all this? New titles, new characters and new stories are coming up.

This is basically 1 big ad for the Defenders, Uncanny X-force Prelude to Age of Apocalypse, Avengers # 19, and of corse Scarlet Spider# 1.

Also on the horizon, a new team called Yin and Yang will appear somewhere, also a new Nova, and something is going to try and kill the Watcher. Did you get all that?

Do any of these featuers have anything in common? No not really. Some of the same characters appear but that’s to be expected. So if you were looking for any crossover events you won’t find them here. As for the stories themselves they are just the tip of the ice berg of whats to come so I can’t really judge them too harshly.

Having said that im am excited about the upcoming Age of Apocalypse. Spider fans though need only concern themselves with one thing. I am definitely looking forward to reading Kaine’s travel log in the new Scarlet Spider ongoing series, which I will be reviewing on this very website so stay tuned, but from the couple pages of Kaine’s story I could feel the the tension and drama building.

He’s a darker and more heart heavy version of Spider-Man and I’m interested to see Kaine’s new direction as he struggles to find hope and happiness while controlling his violent urges and overcoming a tragic past. The potential is there for strong stories, and who knows maybe even a special cameo from everyones favorite clone.


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