The Best of Spider-Man Countdown #16-14

Posted by SMReviews Team 29 June 2012

Continuing our countdown of our favorite Spider-Man stories to date.

16. Spider-Man and the Green Goblin...both Unmasked (Amazing Spider-Man #39-40)

Creative Team: Stan Lee (Writer), John Romita Sr (Pencils and cover art), Mickey Demeo (Inker)

What Happened: The Green Goblin, the mystery villain who has been haunting Spidey since Amazing Spider-Man #14 has learned his secret identity. And he attacks Peter outside of his own house. Peter finds himself at a tremendous advantage, weakened by a cold, without even webshooters. And Aunt May is inside, recovering from surgery, so there's the additional possibility of a fatal shock for her. So things don't start out well for Spidey. And it keeps getting worse.

Why It's In The Top 50: Mike says
In some ways, I feel this story tends to be overlooked in comparison to other notable Spider-Man stories. Because I would argue that this story is one of the most pivotal moments that has ever happened in Spider-Man’s history. Prior to this, the Green Goblin was just your run-of-the-mill mystery villain with a goofy Halloween gimmick. But after this story is when he truly became Spidey’s arch-enemy. Everything that has ever happened between Peter Parker and Norman Osborn since resulted from the actions they took here, and would wind up having a profound impact, not just on them, but on every single one of the supporting cast in irrevocable ways--effects which are still resonating to this day. 
It’s also a pivotal moment artistically for Amazing Spider-Man as well, as this was the story in which John Romita Sr. would replace Steve Ditko as the artist for the series, a move which was controversial at the time but which would catapult the series into even greater popularity. With his more clean-cut, softer, “romantic” style, Romita wasn’t just seen as an artist for Spider-Man--he became the artist for Spider-Man whose work would influence future artists for decades.
Spiderfan001 praises John Romita Sr:
John Romita draws one of my favourite Spider-Man/Green Goblin throwdowns in issue #40, with the Goblin literally throwing everything in his arsenal at Spidey.  The fight moves very fluently from one panel to the next; a perfect example of Romita's storytelling mastery.
What the pros say: In his introduction to the Out of Print Spider-Man VS. Green Goblin TPB, which oddly enough, does not include his storyline, Stan Lee discussed the decision of how to unmask the Green Goblin.
But now it's time to let you in on another little-known bit of historical trivia about Ol' Gobby. When Steve and I first unleashed him on our woebegone web-slinger we hadn't the slightest idea who the Goblin would turn out to be. There was no brilliant master plan that we were following fighting never-ending deadlines as we did, we never had time to cook one up. It was only after months of Goblinating that we one day turned to each other and said, "hey, when he's finally unmasked, who should he turn out to be?" And y'know something? To this day, I can't remember whether it was Steve or I who decided to make him Harry Osborn's father! Of course, if you like the idea of him being Mr. Osborn, the idea was mine. If you don't, blame Steve!
In an afterword for the first issue of the Revenge of the Green Goblin mini-series, Roger Stern described the influence of the first Spider-Man comic he ever read: Amazing Spider-Man #40.

I knew Norman Osborn was crazy from the first moment I met him. 
There was something about his eyes... something in the way those baby blues went all wide and burned out at you. 
Then there was the way he gritted his teeth, the perspiration beading up on his forehead, whenever he went into a psychopathic rant.
And of course there was the way he dressed up as the Green Goblin and flew around on a straddling jet engine. Not exactly the fellow from down the block!
At the the time, the Goblin had just discovered Spider-Man's secret identity. He'd captured Peter Parker and had taken our hero- trussed up in a special steel alloy cable- to one of his secret hideaways. And then supremely confident, that he had Peter Parker right where he wanted him, the Goblin removed his mask! 
In case you're wondering all of this happened in the pages of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (Volume 1) #40, which I found on a comics spinner rack at Hayden's Drugstore in the lazy summer of 1966. I had come in to the second part of a two-part story... not that it mattered, of course. Stan Lee and John Romita told the story so well, I could follow everything without any trouble. By the time, I'd finished reading the issue, I learned the origin of the Green Goblin, was quickly brought up to date on his previous run-ins with Spider-Man, and witnessed on fast and furious battle. After all that, I didn't need to read the previous issue, but I sure wanted to! It took me a couple of years in those pre-comic store days to track down a copy of ASM #39, but I finally did. And yes, it was absolutely worth the time and effort!

What others say: It was #6 on's list of the top Spider-Man stories. Mark Ginnochio of the Chasing Amazing blog remembers the difficulty hunting down Amazing Spider-Man #39. He had an easier time with Issue 40. He also wrote another piece about the mystery of the Green Goblin.

Related Stories: The Green Goblin had previously appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #14, 17, 23 and 26-27. Norman Osborn had become a recurring bad guy in Amazing Spider-Man #37-38.

Creative Team: J. Michael Stracysnki (Writer), John Romita Sr and John Romita Jr (Artists)

What Happened: As the result of a battle with Dormammu, Spider-Man is unstuck in time and forced to relive the tragedies of his past, and witness the events of a possible future.

Why It's In The Top 50: Bulletproofsponge explains why he liked it so much:
While the absolutely spoiler free summary of three issues condensed into one sentence doesn't sound like very much, believe me, this is an issue that most Spider-Man fan's would want to read. 
Reason? Simple, it has pretty much the same reason as does Spider-Man: Reign - a possible future. The difference between the two is that in Reign, that future takes place in a different universe, and our Spider-Man is absolutely oblivious to it. 
This future is supposed to be what, at the time of the printing of this issue, would be the actual end of Spider-Man. I'm not sure how the events of OMD have changed this, or perhaps, they make absolutely no difference. We will never know. 
To me, as a reader however, I enjoyed this ending to Spider-Man, wanted by the authorities in true 'dark knight fashion ( about to face his last stand might I add); wearing a super cool, yet not impossibly different Spider-Man costume; and still married to MJ with a kid named Ben,( though about to die for them.. sort of. )
It's really hard to explain why this issue is so good without giving too many spoilers ( and yes, I apologize for the earlier spoilers )
Spider-Man is essentially lost in time and is given a chance to stop ever being bitten by the Spider and live a normal life. You can probably guess what Spidey chooses though. He also gets to have a heart to heart conversation with Uncle Ben ( he seems to be doing that a lot these days though).
By now you should know that the message I'm trying to get across is that this story was good because of the future Spider-Man. Might I add that the future Spider-Man also gives young Spidey some really good advice for his life in the future.  
What others say: The editors of spiderfan gave it an average score of 4.5 stars. Sean O'Connelll of Cinemablend uses this story to explain why he liked the Amazing Spider-Man film.

“But it’s just the origin story all over again!” Yes, I understand that. But Spider-Man fans don’t mind, especially when it’s told through an alternate lens. One of the best comics I’ve read in the past few years was J. Michael Straczynski’s The Amazing Spider-Man No. 500. An anniversary issues, it transported present-day Spider-Man to all of the benchmark moments from his past, forcing him to relive each one more time … and triumph, even as he grew more exhausted following each battle. The issue allowed us to revisit the seminal chapters in Spider-Man’s rich history, and never once did I feel, “Bah, we saw this already!” The moments were part of a different narrative quilt, and it was exhilarating to be able to see them from a fresh perspective, all over again.
Related Stories: There were hints of the future Spider-Man story in Amazing Spider-Man #502 and #510. Spider-Man sought Doctor Strange again during One More Day. The dark future was alluded to in Amazing Spider-Man #637, as Peter made a decision about whether he would go down that road in the future.

Creative Team: Matt Fraction (Writer), Salvador Larocca (Artist)

What Happened: This is probably the one issue, that made the Empire State building Peter and Mary Jane's special place. This issue takes place shortly after Civil War, with Spider-Man as a wanted fugitive. The world is against him, and neither MJ or Aunt May are safe.

Both MJ and Peter are at separate locations. Both, approached by the authorities, reminiscing about simpler times. MJ is caught in a position where she has to help entrap Peter or else she will be arrested. And she's placed in the situation by someone she once knew. Peter is contemplating whether it would be easier to just surrender himself, and stop fighting.

Why It's In The Top 50: Bulletproofsponge thinks one thing made this story stand out.
So what makes this issue so special? It's simple - Love. If there is any issue out there that portrays Peter and MJ's love for one another, it is this story. 
Apart from the actual story that has just been explained, more than half of the true story in this issue is in the thoughts and recollection of past memories going through the minds of the two. Each character remembers their past relationship from school days, to their pre-dating days and so forth. 
Peter's love for his wife is strongly portrayed here, as is Mary Jane's loyalty, love, and confidence in her husband, no matter what decision he makes. 
This issue, in my opinion was also the final straw for their relationship as it would be among the last issues in which the two are married. It was certainly a magnificent idea to write this story, just before the One More Day event. Fans of the Spider-Marriage, which according to CBR's latest poll is pretty much most of Spider-Man fans, absolutely loved this issue for obvious reasons.
It is one of the better romantic Spider-Man stories in my opinion along with Parallel Lives and Spider-Man: Blue.

What others say: It was nominated for an Eisner award for Best Single Issue of 2007. IGN ranked this issue no. 5 in their latest top 25 Spider-Man Stories. It was #37 on CBR's list of the top 50 Spider-Man stories.

Related Stories: This was part of the Back in Black era, which also included Amazing Spider-Man #539-543. The image of Peter and Mary Jane at the Empire State Building was referenced in One More Day and One Moment in Time. There was a reference to the period from Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 #30-50 in which Peter and Mary Jane had separated.


AvX #4-6 Review

Posted by Spiderfan001

The Phoenix comes to Earth as Avengers vs. X-Men continues!

Round 4

In Antarctica, Hope lures Wolverine to her jet with a trail of beer cans (she's been busy!).  Hope proposes that Wolverine help her reach the Phoenix before both teams can find her, and in the event that she can't control the Phoenix's power, kill her if necessary.  Wolverine reluctantly agrees.

In deep space, with the rest of his team down, Thor takes on the Phoenix on his own but fails to stop it.

At an abandoned Hellfire Club safehouse, Emma Frost looks into the minds of all the Avengers who are battling the X-Men across the globe in search of Hope.  She discovers Hope's location at the same time as Captain America, who learns the information from a mysterious informant.

Wolverine and Hope steal a rocket from A.I.M. and head for the blue area of the moon.  Once there they find the Avengers waiting for them, who Wolverine had tipped off earlier.  The X-Men then arrive and tell the Avengers to back down, but both teams are stopped cold by the sight of the Phoenix heading right for them.

Round 5

The Avengers and the X-Men start fighting as Hope feels the Phoenix growing stronger within her.  She yells at everyone to stop as fire bursts from her body, sending everyone flying back.  Hope realizes she can't control the Phoenix and asks Wolverine to kill her.  Before Wolverine can make a move he is blasted by Cyclops, who still believes Hope can control it.

Meanwhile, Iron Man finishes his Phoenix killer armour and confronts the Phoenix, blasting it with a special disruptor which creates a huge explosion.  When the dust settles, the Avengers discover that the blast separated the Phoenix into five parts which now occupy Cyclops, Emma, Colossus, Magik, and Namor.  The five vow to use the power of the Phoenix to remake the world for the better.  Together, they take Hope and fly back to Earth.

Round 6

Ten days later, Charles Xavier arrives at Utopia (now a paradise in the sky) and is greeted by Magneto, who leads him to his former student, Cyclops.  Xavier expresses his concern over what Cyclops is doing, but Cyclops assures him that everything's going to be fine.

At Avengers Tower, Iron Fist briefs Captain America on a mission he was on with Spider-Woman and Luke Cage.  Things were going badly until Colossus showed up, saved their lives, and effectively solved the problem.  Troubled, Cap meets up with Black Panther, Iron Man, Beast and Wolverine and states that they need a plan of action against the Phoenix empowered X-Men.  Panther and Beast object, stating that the X-Men haven't done anything wrong, with the latter leaving the room in disgust.

Back at Utopia, Cyclops speaks with Hope and tells her that she's free to leave if that's what she wants.  He then scolds her for rejecting the Phoenix and tells her that she doesn't deserve to wield it.  Dick.

In K'un Lun, Lei Kung meets with a blind seer and tells him that he has seen the Phoenix.  The seer tells him that in order to stop the Phoenix, he needs the Iron Fist.

Cap, Iron Man and T'Challa meet with the President of the United States to discuss the Phoenix Five's ultimatum to the United Nations, where they stated that they would no longer tolerate any acts of violence aganst mutant or human.  The President, worried about the X-Men's lack of accountability, tells the Avengers that something must be done.

The Scarlet Witch has a vision of the original Avengers plus Cap getting nuked by the Phoenix and declares "this is what comes next."

Captain America comes up with a plan to sneak Hope off of Utopia with a small band of Avengers wearing dorky looking battle suits.  The Avengers land on Utopia and grab Hope, but don't go unnoticed by Cyclops and Emma.  The two of them easily defeat the Avengers, but then the Scarlet Witch shows up and teleports the Avengers, along with Hope, off of Utopia, telling Cyclops that it's is for the best.  Angered, Cyclops realizes that mankind will never respect mutants as long as their heroes are still around to protect them and declares "no more Avengers."


When this series was first announced, I was hoping that, like Civil War, Avengers vs. X-Men would present a conflict in which both sides would have a justifiable argument.  I went into this event as an X-Men booster.  Yeah, Spidey's with the Avengers, but the X-Men were clearly the underdogs in this fight, and it would have been cool to see them get one up on the self righteous "Earth's Mightiest Heroes."  But damn, it's hard to root for the team that's in favour of the genocidal firebird coming towards Earth.  The writers so far haven't been doing a very good job of giving the X-Men a reasonable point-of-view with regards to the Phoenix.  Cyclops sounds more and more like Doctor Doom with each passing issue. 

The Avengers don't come off much better.  What was with Cap's plan to sneak into Utopia in issue #6?  I would think swooping down from the sky in broad daylight in winged battlesuits, with your thunder god punching kids that get in your way, is not the best way to go unnoticed.  Reading this series is a lot like watching politicians bicker and bumble their way through the current economic crisis.  You want everyone to cooperate and work out a solution, but no one's willing to budge from their current position, even as the situation grows more dire.  In that sense, Avengers vs. X-Men is certainly a product of its time.

Where this series really shines is in the art department.  They really need to take John Romita Jr. and permanently chain him to Scott Hanna, as Romita's art (while still good) never looks quite as amazing as when Hanna is on inks.  Similarly, Oliver Coipel does a great job on issue #6.  You can tell Marvel has put their top artistic talent on this series.   

While it at times suffers from wonky characterization, one cannot accuse Avengers vs. X-Men of being boring.  It's a goregous event comic that's going to both excite and frustrate you at the same time.  I certainly want to know what happens next.  There are worse things in the world than exciting comics!

Let's be honest Spider-fans, you got mugged.
While the Brand New Day schedule was bold and had its benefits, it also had numerous disadvantages over the traditional format of two to four monthly Spider‑Man titles. These problems will persist should that format ever return in the future, something that remains entirely plausible.

The Lead Time Issue

It requires more lead time for creators (at least at first), since Marvel couldn't begin publishing an arc until they had every issue finished without the increasing potential for embarrassing delays, as those issues will ideally be released in quick succession. There would be an initial loss of a few months of productivity and there was be a longer wait between arcs by your favorite creators. For example, Dan Slott didn't write any issues of Amazing Spider-Man between #600 and #618. This complicated their longer arcs and subplots, while putting the stories by the other creative teams on the back‑burner for those six issues.

Thanks to solicitations, readers have lead time as well. So they're going to be aware of things ten issues down the line. That makes it much more difficult to set up certain storylines, as readers will have some major clues regarding the consequences. Many will also be impatient to get to a particular story. Someone waiting for Dan Slott's Mysterio arc for whatever reason might not give Mark Waid's Electro storyline a fair shot.

Multiple Creative Teams Working Simultaneously

Working in advance complicated matters for the writers, especially as the first scripts for a longer storyline will have to be finished and given to the artist half an year or more before the issue sees publication. This differed from the monthly books, where most artists will get less lead time, as there’s more time between published issues. Each creative team worked on their stories at the same time the other teams work on earlier or later tales, and they needed constant communication with one another in order to factor in the developments of others. It could be seen as the equivalent of the writer for Amazing Spider-Man 2 finishing work on that screenplay at the same time some other guy is working on Amazing Spider-Man 3, a third guy starts writing Amazing Spider-Man 4, and a fourth writer starts plotting Amazing Spider‑Man 5. (though it is also the way most television writers work.) In the comics, this means that if Amazing Spider‑Man #712 ends with Aunt May being upset at Peter, it would be better if the guys doing Amazing Spider‑Man #713 acknowledge this, especially if Aunt May’s still upset in Amazing Spider‑Man #720, even though the script for #713 may need be written before the script for #712, to accommodate the artist’s schedule.


Delays became more of a problem than ever before, with a current minimum of four different creative teams working on a book, where the order in which the issues come out matters, given the way one creative team’s storyline can lead directly into another in order to create the sense of a single coherent series. As the stories will be so interconnected, none of the writers or artists can afford to be late, as that will also delay the projects of others. Look at how much Joe Quesada’s delays on One More Delay held up all of the Brand New Day creative teams, since Marvel has good reasons not to publish those stories before they showed the One More Day developments which lead to the new status quo of “Brand New Day.”

Delays can mess up this type of precision. If the creative team for Amazing Spider‑Man #612‑614 is late, that’s going to delay Amazing Spider‑Man #615‑616 or result in that story (dealing with the ramifications of 612‑614) being released prematurely. As a creative team can not guarantee that they’ll be finished with a six issue arc on time, even if given enough lead time, that means that the only way for Marvel to guarantee that there will be no delays is to not solicit a story until every page is finished. This would add a few more months to the production time, which is one reason it didn't happen. What Marvel chose to do was to have several artists working on a single story, and in some cases, a single issue. The result was that the book was finished on-time, but the finished product was often unsatisfying.

The need to work so far in advance makes it difficult for future issues of Amazing Spider‑Man to reference contemporary events in the Marvel Universe and could lead to strange contradictions. For example, an Amazing Spider‑Man story written in May 2012 and published in December 2011 might feature Spider‑Man visiting the X‑mansion, while an X‑Men comic written in August 2012 and published in October 2012, might feature the X‑Mansion getting obliterated in a terrorist attack.

Potential Causes for Delays

Even if everyone on the Spider‑Man book finishes their work on time, there can still be complications, given how interconnected the Marvel Universe is. A late artist on another Marvel title could seriously delay an Amazing Spider‑Man issue that pays off of developments from that issue, especially if Marvel plans to have Spider‑Man interact with the Marvel Universe and take part in crossover “events” a move which led to renewed interest, great sales and some critical acclaim during Civil War. That would probably lead to every later issue of Amazing Spider‑Man getting stalled, unless Marvel decides to be in the awkward position of releasing the Amazing Spider‑Man issues on time, and spoiling major developments (perhaps even cliffhangers). Likewise, delays in Amazing Spider‑Man might wreck havoc on other Marvel titles.

The writers will also have to be exact in their plotting. If a three issue storyline becomes a four issue storyline, that may end up taking a month or more of the artist’s time, which would become a problem if the artist assumed that he’d have to be finished with only two and a half issues worth of material before the first one’s in production. A few years ago, when Steve McNiven’s Sentry arc on New Avengers went from three issues to four, that led to months‑long interruption on his Ultimate Secret mini‑series, as his best‑selling New Avengers got top priority and the inkers and colorists went on to other projects. Eventually a less popular artist (Tom Raney) finished Ultimate Secret. It didn't help the Ultimate brand when a less popular creator finished a much delayed mini series.

These problems would be more extreme on this title, given how catastrophic delays would be. The only thing Mcniven’s lateness on Ultimate Secret hurt were later issues of that mini‑series and its followup. And the delays don’t have to be due to the writer or artist, as inkers, colorists and letterers still need time to finish their part of the production process (and switching them in the middle of a story can result in the overall art being inconsistent). This could lead to Amazing Spider‑Man getting preferential treatment in any such circumstances, which sucks for the fans of the other more self‑contained books.

While Marvel could avoid any potential delays by announcing a temporary monthly or biweekly schedule when it becomes probable that the book can’t maintain its thrice‑monthly schedule (and later announce a weekly schedule to publish the comics by the creative teams that finished their work on time), any such move would lead to negative buzz and publicity, as many internet prophets would start claiming that it is proof that the new schedule (and probably the new status quo) are undeniable failures. With “American Son” Wacker & company realized that artist Phil Jiminez was unable to handle five issues in time, and the end result was that a big tentpole event came with three artists, two of whom lacked name recognition.

Problems With Fill‑in Work

Marvel could also try to avoid delays by making sure they always have a few issues on hand that aren’t as dependent on the state of the various subplots and can thus be moved around to better accommodate the schedule, similar to the old inventory stories, but not quite as insignificant. These stories would seem like “filler” material and need to be above average, as they already have the disadvantage of providing no immediate impact on the bigger subplots and storylines, although they can set up future threads for stories. Unless Marvel’s very careful, these types of stories ruin the sense that the work of multiple creative teams is all part of one coherent and intricate epic storyline, which makes the weekly format unique from the previous system. If the strategy is to have one issue’s events lead directly into the next (doing anything else makes the comics seem inconsequential) having movable stories becomes almost impossible. It’s an idea which works better with ensembles, where there isn’t usually one chief protagonist dominating the private subplots. And one need only see the sales figures to note that the fill-in issues sell a few thousand copies less than the usual books.

This solution won’t work for delays with longer storylines, if earlier chapters are already released, as fill‑in work becomes significantly more obvious (and more likely to be blasted by critics) when it’s suddenly in the middle of a seven part epic. The differences between movable stories and inventory stories essentially depends on how long Marvel will hold onto the stories before using them if there are no delays. Changes to the status quo mean that you’d still have to use even inventory stories by a specific time. A story in which Peter Parker is a Daily Bugle staff photographer would have had to be used before the story in which he was fired from the Bugle. A story guest‑starring Sentry would have to be published before Siege, unless it suddenly became a flashback. It’s also difficult to commission inventory stories without making it seem as if one creative team’s getting preferential treatment.

Too Many Spider‑Man Stories?

Out of continuity projects or storylines set in the past wouldn't be included in the new Amazing Spider‑Man,so you'd easily have more than four Spider‑Man books a month. The need to fill thirty‑six issues an year of Amazing Spider‑Man (in addition to any other possible Spider‑Man projects) means that Marvel may have to settle for sub‑par work by less talented creators, especially if the name creators get delayed, in which case that fill‑in work will have the added disadvantage of being completely inconsequential so as not to disrupt developments by the name creators. The need to provide three issues of the title every month could lead to more exciting experimental work and great opportunities for new creators, but those experiments and new creators can easily fail. It was also easier for Marvel to not ship a few issues of a mostly monthly title than to miss a few months of a radically different type of series.

Superman in the 1990s

There were some concerns that the (almost) weekly format would be similar to what happened to the Superman and Batman books in the 90s, when DC tried to have four different monthly with their own creative teams, supporting cast members and subplots also function as a weekly book. The big difference with the Brand New Day Amazing Spider‑Man is that each creative team does their storyline before it's the next team's turn. With the Superman Weekly format, writers were either forced to participate in a lot of crossovers, or allow for events in three other Superman monthlies to occur between all of their issues, which killed the momentum of longer stories and limited their ability to feature cliffhangers, as no writer could write two consecutive issues of the Superman books. In addition, the creative teams had all the limitations that came with working on monthlies, as each book needed twelve issues an year, preferably with consistent writers and artists.

The question of whether producing thirty six issues of Amazing Spider‑Man would force Marvel to lower the average quality of the franchise ignored the fact that Marvel has consistently produced about forty issues an year of Spider‑Man anyway. Because this is Amazing Spider‑Man, the writers and artists knew they have to bring their "A" game. Otherwise, Marvel had no choice but to fire them and bring in someone else. Under the Brand New Day format, Marvel was still free to do an additional Spider‑Man monthly/ almost‑monthly, and thus have a Spider‑Man book out every week, in which case readers would have no difficulty knowing when the next issue of Spider‑Man comes out.


It also encourages padding, when the writers know they have to produce X amount of issues an year, and that an embarrassing hole in the schedule can be resolved by turning a five issue arc into an eight issue arc with the shorter wait between issues making it seem less obvious. Granted, adding three issues to a longer storyline requires two additional months for even John Romita Jr, so the writer who pads his storylines would need a significant head start, during which time other solutions can be found. However, I could imagine eight consecutive issues by John Romita Jr being used as a major selling point and JR Junior devoting two more months to a storyline would buy all of the other creative teams an additional month to work on their stories, so it might be considered a worthwhile tradeoff.

Marvel avoided this during the Brand New Day era, by featuring shorter storylines, although it’s more likely that they went with with this strategy because of the disadvantages of starting a longer story so many months before the first issue sees print. The focus on shorter stories isn’t a completely good thing as some of the best comic book stories in recent years (and some of the all-time best Spider-Man stories) have been six issues or longer. It wasn't an advantage for the BND era that they weren't able to do material on the scale of Spider Island or Ends of the Earth.

Where Did All the Tentpole Events Go During Brand New Day?

For all of the complaints against "Writing for the Trade" there's no indication that fans dislike those types of stories. See "New Ways to Die" and the success of titles like Brubaker's Captain America, Bendis's Avengers, Geoff Johns' Green Lantern, The Ultimates or anything by Jeph Loeb

It was a mistake for Marvel to encourage the writers to do 1-3 part stories as much, as there's no indication fans prefer those. Perhaps, the publisher should have encourage three or so 5-8 part stories an year, at least two of which have a commercial concept appealing to readers who don't follow the title, such as "New Ways to Die," "American Son," "Spider Island," and "Ends of the Earth."

With more pages, you could also have more substantial developments with Peter Parker in the course of a single story, the difference between what can happen to a character in an episode of a TV show and what can happen in the course of a movie. With more developments, the stories will seem more substantial, which should discourage readers from dropping the book, and bring back some of those who felt that "progress" was too slow.

The main risk is that these tentpole stories may start to seem insignificant after a while. Or that they may make the rest of the issues seem unimportant. But it's the responsibility of the writers and the editor to avoid that. You didn't see enough of this in the Brand New Day era, which included one six-part story, three five-parters (I'm counting American Son with the Interlude). On something so carefully structured, it's difficult to find room on the schedule for a longer storyline. And it is harder to coordinate, with one guy working on a story that won't be published for some time.
The Many Writers and Artists

Given how interconnected the creative teams have to be, it may take a long time to replace an unsuccessful writer or artist, as by the time editorial gets reader feedback on the first issue, the creative team in question will be most likely working on their next storyline, which may not see print for another six months. It may be also be difficult to find a place for a new creative team, given how far in advance those creators will have to work on any multi‑part story.

Shifts in how the writers and artists interpret certain characters will be more noticeable, if there's a one or two week gap between issues of Amazing Spider‑Man, and those differences are even more jarring in TPB form, as most trades would feature work by multiple creators. That could lead to trade paperbacks selling less copies than they would if they only featured the work of a single creative team. For instance, a Bob Gale fan will be less inclined to buy a seven issue trade with two issues of content by him, and three issues by Slott, when he would have happily bought a five issue volume completely written by the screenwriter of a movie on IMDB’s top 250.

With many different artists coming on the book for a three issue (or less) stint, there is a loss of artistic consistency. As there isn’t one artist doing the majority (or even a third) of the work, the book becomes an easy project for artists who have a few months between major assignments, with less comparisons to a single artist and no expectation that they’ll be around for a long time. With so many artists working on the series, while the average reader will be introduced to artists with whom he is currently unfamiliar, the average reader will also eventually find a few that he dislikes, which may put him off the series. It’s also disappointing for a reader to learn that a favorite artist is only doing three issues, as that may encourage fans to wait for the next project. The work that took the average artist several months to draw (meaning he disappeared completely from the marketplace for that period) appeared over the course of a month, sometimes even at the same time as his work on another monthly title, where he required less lead time. That combination can make any penciler suddenly seem overexposed..

Writers who have worked closely together on these types of projects admit that it is more time‑consuming, meaning you’ll see less work by your favorite writers than if they were on more independent projects, though most writers would say that collaboration can be more rewarding and results in above average work. It's more glaringly obvious when the co‑ordination between writers fails, and one arc suddenly contradicts the developments of another. For example, there were some complaints about the first chapter of “One More Day” taking place a few days after Civil War ends, which didn’t leave many openings for the other “Back in Black” storylines (six issues of Friendly Neighborhood Spider‑Man, six issues and an annual of Sensational Spider‑Man, the Spider‑Man Fallen Son issue, World War Hulk, New Avengers #27‑35 and two issues of Avengers: The Initiative.) This type of problem would be more extreme if one issue of Amazing Spider‑Man contradicted or completely ignored the previous twelve issues. It hinders creativity, as the writers have to deal with the developments of other writers far more closely than if they were all on separate books.

There's a huge potential for a clash of egos, especially if the writers have different ideas for the characters, or if the writers compete to use an A‑list villain, or a bigger‑name artist. I wouldn't expect artists to be immune to this, as they could start competing for scripts by the bigger‑name writers, or with the bigger characters. Delays could lead to more clashes. If Mike McKone’s storyline is delayed because Lee Weeks is late, he might be pissed.

What happens when the writers disagree? Let’s say Zeb Wells thought it would be awesome to have J Jonah Jameson become Director of HAMMER after Norman Osborn goes down. He convinced Dan Slott, Joe Quesada and Steve Wacker that this would be a great development for Marvel comics. But Fred Van Lente, Mark Waid and Joe Kelly disagreed. The more writers you have on the Spider‑Man books, the more chances you have for public conflicts. At the same time, the creators could become protective of one another, and it becomes difficult for Marvel to fire an unsuccessful writer if three writers and four artists inform Marvel that if he’s gone from the book, the rest of them will follow.

When One Writer's More Powerful

There’s the possibility with this schedule, that one writer will become the most influential, and get declared the “architect” of the Spider‑Man line. If you hate that guy, you'll have more difficulty enjoying the other storylines than you currently do, as his work would have a tremendous impact on the work of the other writers. At the same time, even the least significant writer’s work will impact all of the other creative teams. It won’t be like before when someone who disliked Sacasa’s run on Sensational Spider‑Man could just ignore his work completely, knowing it would have no impact whatsoever on Amazing Spider‑Man.

Coordination Problems

Given how far in advance the crew have to work, it becomes difficult to use the most recent developments of fellow writers, and it takes longer to respond to fan reaction. For example, Norah Winters from Amazing Spider-Man #575-576 was well-received by readers (by all accounts) back in October, but the character won't be used until April, because of the difficulty of incorporating new developments (especially those that aren't part of the grand scheme.)

There were stretches of the Brand New Day era in which stories could have been published in an entirely different order, with no discernible effect. There was nothing in Amazing Spider-Man #577's Punisher story that affected Spider-Man when he fought the Shocker in Amazing Spider-Man #578-579.

Things are admittedly a little different in the Big Time era, in which the title comes out more than once a month, but with one writer. So we'll look at that schedule next.


Late in 2006, I thought that one way Marvel could take advantage of a massive change to the status quo and creative teams after “One More Day” would be to make Amazing Spider‑Man weekly. In this case, it made sense to keep the  numbering system, rather than start with a new #1. It gives the books more of a sense of history during an experimental period, and counters the impression that the reader who missed a few issues will now find the series completely inaccessible. This is something I speculated about months before Marvel announced the Brand New Day schedule, as it seemed like a logical approach after the success of 52, and even the modest profit of Chuck Austen’s US War Machine book a few years earlier.

I later learned that making Amazing Spider‑Man into a weekly title with multiple writers and artists is something that the editors at Marvel had been considering for the last decade. It had a few advantages over the traditional (1976-2007) method of releasing Amazing Spider‑Man and two or three other monthly titles. Technically, during the Brand New Day Era, it was an almost weekly rather than an actual weekly, which had the additional advantage of providing Marvel more leeway to publish Spider-Man related material that might otherwise damage the Amazing Spider-Man brand, such as supplemental material and spinoff mini-series.

In a CBR interview, Quesada explained why he liked the Schedule.
Yes, it’s a perfect time for some many reasons, chief of which is the fact that there will now be one continuous Spider Man story, as opposed to three or four separate books. The life of Peter Parker will be much easier to follow and hopefully more consistent because of that. Every issue will have great implications towards a larger story, but all arrows will be pointing in the same direction. What we have planned within “Brand New Day” is going to be a heck of a lot of fun.
Dropping the satellite titles in favor of an increased out put on an Amazing Spider-Man title with rotating creative teams had significant advantages.


The flexibility the thrice‑monthly format provided for the writers and artists should not be underestimated. If one guy wanted to do seven issues an year, and another wanted to do eleven, everything's good. As the majority of artists don't draw exactly twelve issues an year, this system worked better for them than the traditional approach, as they could do sixteen issues an year if they want to. It also provided many opportunities for artists who can't do a monthly book (IE‑ Lee Weeks, Steve McNiven, Chris Bachalo) or for artists already on a monthly book, but still capable of drawing even more issues (IE‑ Sean Phillips, John Romita Jr, Salvador Laroca) to do some Amazing Spider‑Man material every year in addition to their other work. The artists and writers also have more options to take on other projects, knowing that the other guys can pick up the slack, with due notice.

Writers who want to focus entirely on certain characters and subplots are free to do so, without the need to "pad" their run with stories featuring characters and plots they're not as interested in, now that they can rely on the others to supplement their run. For example‑ if Dan Slott wanted to write nine consecutive issues about his new villain: Mister Mystery, he could have done so, trusting Guggenheim, Waid and Kelly to handle non‑Mister Mystery plots, so readers will be less likely to get tired of the villain. If Guggenheim wanted to do mostly street‑level noir‑type stories, he was free to do so, knowing the other writers can take care of other aspects of Spider‑Man's appeal. A writer also didn't  have to fill 22 pages an issue. If he only had enough material for sixteen pages, he could give the remaining six pages to someone else to further a subplot or two, something which should probably have been done more often.


Cooperation between writers was strongly encouraged, and readers generally had a better sense of when stories occur (as opposed to the difficulties of reconciling events in Straczynski’s Amazing Spider‑Man with events in Sensational, FNSM or MKSM). This forced the editors and writers to be consistent in their portrayals of various characters, and encouraged all involved to assist one another. Dan Slott’s been happy to mention how Bob Gale’s advice made an action sequence in his first arc with Marcos Martin more exciting. With this cooperation, it’s easier to plan how your own work will be affected by the developments of the others. Years ago, it took Paul Jenkins months to be able to do anything with changes in Straczynski’s book (IE‑ Aunt May learning Spider‑Man’s identity, Peter and Mary Jane’s reunion) which made Peter Parker Spider‑Man seem like a less significant title.

In a recent interview, George Perez discussed the problems writing Superman while Morrison was on Action Comics.
“I had no idea Grant Morrison was going to be working on another Superman title,” he said. “I had no idea I was doing it five years ahead, which means … my story, I couldn’t do certain things without knowing what he did, and Grant wasn’t telling everybody. So I was kind of stuck. ‘Oh, my gosh, are the Kents alive? What’s his relationship with all of these characters? Who exists?’ And DC couldn’t give me answers. I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, you’re deciding all these things and you mean even you don’t know what’s going on in your own books?’ So I became very frustrated …”
New Opportunities

With less of a wait between cliffhangers, decompressed storylines would be less painful for readers. Although it is worth noting that during the Brand New Day era, shorter storylines (2-3 parts) were the norm, and the longer storylines weren't padded. There are more opportunities to deal with events in other books within the Marvel Universe, although that wasn’t exactly a concern with Post‑New Avengers Straczynski. If there’s anything like the old crossovers with several writers and artists working on a single story, it will only be because they made the decision to work that way as opposed to trying to drive up sales for the “B” titles.

With 36 issues of a single series coming out every year, the writers were also able get to craft more complex storylines. They can do mysteries with the twists and turns of the first two seasons of Veronica Mars without it taking five years, or cramming a year’s worth of stories with clues and red herrings in every page.

One Story at a Time

Because there wouldn't be three or four different epic Spider‑Man arcs occurring simultaneously, Marvel would have an easier type time hyping each storyline one at a time, which saves them, retailers and creators time and effort on publicity. With a single full page ad in Previews and other Marvel Comics, Marvel can promote three parts of a storyline, as opposed to running separate ads for three different stories at a time, which led to at least one story not getting sufficient publicity. The system wasn’t perfect. If one month has a two parter with Spider‑Man VS Venom, and a single issue Aunt May spotlight, the Venom story will get more publicity. But in terms of marketing, it's still much preferable to the alternative.

An example of big things occurring in three simultaneous Spider‑Man stories was when Mark Millar's twelve issue stint on Marvel Knights Spider‑Man came out at the same time as Sins Past which came out the same time as the Paul Jenkins “Avengers Disassembled” tie‑in storyline, wherein Spider‑Man gained organic webbing. In 2007, chapters of JMS’s “Back in Black” came out at the same time as Sensational Spider‑Man's Eddie Brock storyline, which came out at the same time as the story where Peter David tied a major loose end from "The Other."


Marvel also benefits in terms of reasons to celebrate Amazing Spider‑Man. With the Brand New Day format, there's a 100th issue milestone celebration every three years. These are excellent opportunities for Marvel to do jump‑on points for new readers (ideally a longer than usual first chapter to a new storyline), and there's a history of many of those being awesome, as the series has yet to have anything less than a spectacular 100th issue celebration. The Amazing Spider‑Man Annual was also be a bigger deal, as opposed to one of three annuals coming out every year. And I’m sure some Marvel already loves the possibilities of collecting an year’s worth of the comics in a single Omnibus.

While it was always unlikely that every issue would sell as well as the average issue of Straczynski’s run on the title (if that had happened, the new move would have been an overwhelming success) there was no need for that to happen in order for the schedule to be a success. As long as the new ASM topped the average sales of the three Spider‑Man titles (or what editors could presume the average sales would have been in the economic climate), it was a success. And it’s likely that it will accomplish this, as the readers will have more reasons to pick up three issues a month. Under the new format, the lower‑selling creators (and books that would ordinarily be one‑shots) would see an improvement in sales as issues of Amazing Spider‑Man, although Marvel would have to be careful not to allow the brand to become weaker. The format encourages experimentation, and exposes readers to new comics luminaries (especially writers), while giving the new creators more opportunities on what is arguably Marvel's biggest title.

Now let's talk about the disadvantages.



Spider-Man Reviews
features as many updates on the latest developments in Spider-Man comics as we can, along with reviews, commentary, news and discussion. Occasionally we try to throw in some game reviews as well.

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