AHHHHH!!! – OR – Reflections on Dan Slott’s Return to Writing Spider-Man

It’s like Marvel knows it’s my Birthday Week!  On July 1st it was announced Dan Slott will be returning to write a new monthly Spider-Man book – the adjective-less Spider-Man, which first debuted in my youth as a vehicle for the artist/writer Todd McFarlane in August of 1990 – this October.  Dan Slott was part of of the Webhead Braintrust of writers who launched Spider-Man’s “Brand New Day Era” in January 2008 alongside Marc Guggenheim, Bob Gale, and Zeb Wells and grew to include Mark Waid, Joe Kelly, Fred Van Lente, Roger Stern, Brian Reed, and Tom Peyer before BND ended in November 2010.  He then took over as solo writer for The Amazing Spider-Man which he wrote from that November’s #648 through June 2018’s #801.  Dan Slott can be a bit of a divisive writer among Spider-fans so I wanted to take this chance to reflect a bit on his writing and why I’m pretty excited for the return of such an amazing (heh) Spider-Man writer.  THWIP onward for Spider-Reflections!

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What If You Woke Up to the Wrong World?: A Heroes Reborn Reflection/Discussion

Jason Aaron took over the writing duties on Avengers in May of 2018.  His Avengers roster boasted one of the most powerful lineups in the team’s history, with T’Challa/the Black Panther serving as the Avengers’ chairperson and Steve Rogers/Captain America, Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk, Thor Odinson, Tony Stark/Iron Man, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, and Avengers newcomer Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider filling their roster.  Soon, Blade the Vampire Hunter would join their ranks.  Their headquarters is the body of a dead Celestial, a race of cosmic space gods responsible for the creation of much of the universe, located in the unforgiving terrain of Antarctica and imbued with all sorts of universe-shaping tech.  T’Challa’s Agents of Wakanda, led by Okoye, fill the information gathering and covert action void for the Avengers in a post-S.H.I.E.L.D. world.  Together they have battled Celestials, waded into a vampire civil war, faced the Phoenix force’s return to Earth for a new host, halted Namor’s holy war against a pollution-spewing surface world, and juggled the always-mounting international tensions as all countries of the world wonder whose interests the Avengers serve.

Then one morning Blade woke up to a world where the Avengers never formed and he was the only one who remembered the way it was supposed to be.  And I can’t stop thinking about this!

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Spider-Man and Danielle: Wait…Is This A Date?

The time has come for this series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) to hit LUCKY NUMBER THIRTEEN!!!  What lays ahead to consider in ol’ Peter Parker’s romantic misadventures?  Only one of the most vexing (and potentially awkward) of all romantic quandaries – how do you know if you’re actually on a date with someone or not?  Warning: Reading this piece may yield spontaneous full-body shame cringes which involuntarily rise when we remember awkward memories so proceed with caution.  If there’s one thing looking at all Peter Parker’s romantic exploits teaches us, it’s we’re never alone when it comes to awkwardly pursuing love.  When the web-head meets Danielle, the woman working at a jewelry store he returns stolen diamonds to in the all love stories-oriented Amazing Spider-Man #605, sparks fly.  Emotions run high.  She actually talks to him.  It’s a tractor beam – vzzzzzzzt – and it sucks Peter right in.  But, regardless of sparks and emotions we feel when we meet someone new, how do you know when your hanging out has become a real date?  

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BIG EXCITING NEWS – I WROTE A BOOK!!!!!

That’s right, dear reader, you read that correctly.  I wrote a book!  A year ago I announced I had signed a contract with Claremont Press to write a volume for their Religion and Comics Series.  I promised to update you all with more information when I had it and when I could and…(drum roll please)…that time has come!  Ahhhhhhhh, I wrote a book AND I get to tell you about it.  It’s a super exciting day :D.  So read on, dear reader, and I can tell you all about my upcoming book.  YAY!

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Spider-Man and Debra Whitman: Substitute People and Surrogate Relationships

It’s time once more to talk about relationships and who doesn’t love that?  Clearly I do as this is the twelfth installment in my series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature, illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we have in life.  While I knew nothing of Debra Whitman as a character before I began researching this piece, I found great affection for her by the end.  In the relationship she shares with Peter Parker we find an openness and vulnerability which, if received and reciprocated, would prove a beautiful foundation for a relationship.  Instead, Debra’s time with Peter becomes a cautionary tale about the importance of setting, articulating, and maintaining our boundaries and having our needs met within a relationship.

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The Hulk Deserves Better: Considering How Horrible the Avengers are to Bruce Banner

I’ve been deep into writing my book (yay!) so I’ve not posted a new piece for over a month.  To help fill the quiet during the book writing process, here’s a piece I wrote but never had the chance to post.  Enjoy!

As a character, that Hulk has always fascinated me.  When I was a kid he wasn’t a Spider-Man-level favorite nor was he quite at the level of Thor.  But he was a strong (heh heh, no pun intended) contender for that third favorite spot, alongside characters like Wolverine or Venom.  And if we look at the sheer number of their comics I read, Hulk totally blew Wolverine and Venom out of the water (obviously we’re excluding team comics here because why should my opening anecdote become needlessly complicated with nostalgic rankings?).  I began reading The Incredible Hulk amidst Peter David’s legendary eleven year run on the title (1987-1998).  While I’d read forwards and backwards from this point, my first Hulk comics were during the period Doc Samson had successfully merged all of Bruce Banner/the Hulk’s personalities.  Banner’s intellect was paired with the Grey Hulk’s confidence (and eyes/hairstyle) in a body carrying the Green Hulk’s size, color, and power.  It was a good time to be a Hulk fan…because this incarnation of the Hulk skirted a lot of the things about the Hulk that always made me sad. 

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My Brand New Perspective on Spider-Man’s Brand New Day

My first Spider-Man comic was Web of Spider-Man #12.  It came out in March of 1986 when I was just three-years-old.  I got it from the spinny rack at the grocery store and I read it so many times the pages eventually ripped away from its tattered cover.  Always one to encourage reading, Mom regularly let me get comic books when we were at the grocery store, drug store, or gas station.  When I was seven-years-old, my parents got me a membership to our local comic shop (perks included a 20% discount off the cover price and a pull list).  Weekly trips to Books Galore were a part of my life until I turned sixteen.  All of a sudden things like gas money and the outings driving fostered began to make demands of my budget so, with conflicting emotions, I decided to stop collecting comics.  My last was Peter Parker: Spider-Man #98.  Released in November of 1998, it was the “end” of Peter and Mary Jane’s story (until the next month’s reboot) so it felt like a fitting end.

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Spider-Man and Jean DeWolff: The Lonely Echo of Unrequited Love

It’s time once more for another installment in my series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)!  The last piece in this series examined the high school crush, paying special attention to all those crushes we carry deep in our heart and never voice.  This piece looks at unrequited love beyond high school pining.  While it can be present in high school, particularly as we get older there can be a heavier side to the unrequited lover.  Living with a love unvoiced wraps one of the most important parts of our being in a very lonely shell.  Jean DeWolff, in addition to being part of one of the most famous stories in the first twenty-five years of Spider-Man’s comic history, illustrates this painful reality in a particularly poignant way.

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A Tale Of Two Thanos…es? Thani? Thanex? Thanoxen?: Considering Thanos in the Films and Comics

This was a guest piece I wrote back in August of 2018 for a site that no longer exists.  I like it and was thinking about Thanos today (I know…dark, right?) so I figured I’d post it here with a few slight edits.  Enjoy!

What’s the plural of Thanos? Would it be Thanos? Or Thanoses? Or Thani? I don’t know but I still kind of like the ring of this title anyway so I’m sticking with it. Once Avengers: Infinity War was finally upon us, one of its most discussed features was the character of Thanos. I’ve read many reviews and essays examining the film which make the point Avengers: Infinity War is more a film about Thanos than any of the superheroes, something directors Joe and Anthony Russo have said themselves. What struck me most about Thanos when I first saw Avengers: Infinity War (and has continued to warrant further reflection with each subsequent viewing) is how different his motivations are in the film from the comics. Continue reading

Ben Reilly’s Back!!! – The Spider-Man Story I’ve Waited 25 Years For

Which comics go in my file/pull list is a decision I ponder regularly.  What must be read monthly in single issues?  Which stories/characters/creators can’t wait?  I ask myself this whenever I consider juggling the comics in my file because, well, money’s a thing and I only have so much for comics before they turn off my electricity and water and I use those all the time.  Despite Spider-Man being the fictional character I’ve had the longest running relationship with, The Amazing Spider-Man is rarely on my pull list simply because I favor newer characters (or characters new to me).  Miles Morales/Spider-Man or Cindy Moon/Silk or America Chavez or Jane Foster/Valkyrie don’t yet have as bedrock a status quo to reset to so their characters feel more dynamic and thus, with more potential for lasting change, there’s a greater sense of urgency to read those stories each month instead of waiting for them to pop up on Marvel Unlimited or be collected in a trade paperback.  However, last night I learned Ben Reilly was donning the webs once more so today I went to my local comic shop to add The Amazing Spider-Man to my file for the first time in years!

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