Spider-Man: Time to Come Back


It took five years, but Dan Slott has finally won me over.

Here’s why I dropped Spider-Man when Brand New Day began: stories that bring a character back to basics are so much less exciting than those that build on what came before and go to new places.

J. Michael Straczinski did that.

Following the abrupt departure of my all-time favorite Spider-Man writer, in a dissatisfying storyline that JMS requested his name be removed from, I was heavily biased against Spider-Man’s 2007 status quo and new writer(s).  There were four of them at the time if you don’t recall, but Dan Slott has always been at the helm.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve come to accept that I’ll always have the JMS storylines that are so close to my heart.  The ones where Peter learned about the tribal origins of his powers under the tutelage of Ezekiel, battled the children of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn, and put the black suit back on now live on my bookshelf, but that chapter of Spider-Man is over.

I moved on to other characters.  There’s no shortage of other comics to read, and for a time I didn’t miss Spider-Man.

Except, Marvel used a host of great artistic talents on Brand New Day, which drew my attention back to Spidey.

These artists include: Chris Bachalo,

Mike McKone,

Lee Weeks,

Barry Kitson,


Phil Jimenez,

Giuseppe Camuncoli,

and Humberto Ramos.

If so many of my favorite artists were illustrating Spider-Man post-marriage, I decided I was surely missing something.

When early BND volumes showed up on the discount table at my local comic shop this past year, I knew the time was right to give those stories a chance.

The contrast was immediately apparent between the Spider-man I knew and the one I was reading in those early Brand New Day issues.  Spider-Man was no longer a winner.  He no longer lived with his hot wife in the Avengers mansion and was instead replaced with the perpetual loser from years past who was always broke, couldn’t pay his rent, couldn’t get a girl, couldn’t hold down a job, etc.

Now, the new status quo wasn’t all bad.  We lost the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane, a story element I adored, but traded Spidey’s retractable stingers and organic web shooters for the return of classic story elements, like Harry Osborn and mechanical web shooters.  We gained a few new villains, like Menace, Screwball, and Mr. Negative; along with a host of villain redesigns.

What I didn’t realize before picking up the new storyline was that it did progress in these comics.   It’s just that, while Slott’s main plot point was to bring Peter Parker back to basics, he allowed the supporting cast to evolve in a big way.

Flash Thompson lost his legs…

…and became Venom.

Doc Ock lost his health.

Eddie Brock became Anti-Venom.

J. Jonah Jameson had a heart attack, lost his newspaper, and became mayor.

Curt Connors transformed back into The Lizard and ate his family.

All the while Norman Osborn was head of Hammer, the SHIELD replacement agency at the time.

Those story elements and others like them were what I gleaned enjoyment from at first.  As I read more, I came to enjoy the consistency in the writing style and the long term storyline goals built up over a number of issues leading to a big reveal.  This was supplied by Slott and his editor Steven Wacker.

Slott’s biggest strength is that, rather than tailoring the title to his own voice like many other modern writers would, he customized his style to stay true to the character of Spider-Man.  Keep in mind that this is the same chameleonic Dan Slott that wrote GLA, She-Hulk, and Arkham Asylum: Living Hell.

Here’s the kicker: I avoided Slott’s run for all of this time because I thought the back-to-basics approach was boring.  Now that I’ve read the books I realize that this was a five-year red herring!

As Slott took over as the sole writer of the title for the Big Time storyline, we had already seen Spidey start a relationship with Carlie Cooper and don the black suit.  Peter would soon wear a number of alternate uniforms and work a steady job at Horizon Labs.  Working as a scientist developing inventions inspired by his adventures behind the mask is a believable idea.  It suits Parker and reminds the audience of his character’s academic background.

Plot elements that were seemingly meant to take Spider-Man back to square one, were setting the reader up to be surprised by what is potentially the most exciting point in Spidey’s long and rich history.

Doc Ock has switched his consciousness with Peter Parker!  All sources point to the next storyline being one where he operates as Spider-Man in Peter’s body.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!  The status quo will inevitably shift back towards a more classic approach in the future, but its a welcome feeling to eagerly anticipate each new piece of the story.


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