Friday, January 20, 2006

New Generation

You’d think that, after being named by two different people as something that could set the comics industry on fire in Comic Book Galaxy’s Look Ahead to 2006 poll (What, me boast?), I wouldn’t have missed my deadline last week for a new column, but sadly I am as bad at time management as ever, even with this bewildering newfound notority. This week’s been no exception, as "real life" runs rampant on time that I’d much rather be spending writing things for you, dear reader (Which isn’t to say that I couldn’t have, theoretically, ripped some time away from other things to write this or other columns, but I have a wife who I’d much rather spend time with after working for 10 or 11 hour days. I know, I know, that whole "I love my wife" thing. What can you do? I have a feeling that, just as scholarship is the enemy of romance, romance is the enemy of comic book geekery. And for that alone, romance must always be applauded), so expect something very akin to my mind unravelling more than usual.

I apologize in advance for anything I may say over the next few lines.

(I should also add that seeing yourself being named alongside other bloggers as someone who should be making comics, instead of writing about them, is a very very strange thing to see first thing on January 1st when you’re looking around the internet while you try to wake up. It’s a somewhat scary thing, as well, because all of a sudden you realize that you have all of this pressure to deliver on your first comic, just as you’d managed to convince yourself that no-one would care because, well, it’s your first comic and all. It also makes you realize that you probably should get back to working on that comic as soon as possible, as nervous and terrified as you may be, at the very same time as you start wondering how you could find out Dan Didio’s email address so that you can send him the link along with your idea for a JLA Classified arc.)

(The above thought process – splitting evenly between sheer mind-numbing fear and a desire to discover the best way to take advantage of the situation – is possibly the best reason why I never want to become rich and/or famous in my lifetime. I don’t think that I could take the pressure.)

Anyway.

Unless you have your nose permanently parked in front of a glowing computer screen, scrolling through Newsarama hoping for a new update every two seconds, maybe something about One Year Later or just why Superboy’s such a bastard in Infinite Crisis (Me, I think that one has something to do with the inferiority complex that comes with being called Superboy all the time. Sure, it has “Super” in there, but really, who honestly likes being called “Boy” all the time? The only thing that could be worse would be to be called Superyoungman, because then you’d be called “that superhero who sounds like he was named by his grandmother” by all the other superheroes behind his back), then it’s possible that you may have missed the fact that another corporate icon, Spider-Man, is getting a bit of a makeover.

Of course, these days, there’s no such thing as “a bit of a makeover” for a character as important as Spider-Man. Putting aside that whole “two massive blockbuster movies, with a third on the way” thing (never mind the “three ongoing series a month, plus a starring role in Marvel’s top-selling book” thing, or the “merchandised out the wazoo” thing, for that matter), these are the days of massive crossover fever, and when something like that hits, there’s no such thing as “a bit of a makeover” for any character. It’s all “bold new direction”s and “shocking new development”s these days. You know this; you probably discovered that you faced a bold new direction yourself when you had to switch breakfast cereals this morning when you ran out of Rice Krispies.

So it comes as no surprise that Marvel decided to try and make the most out of Spider-Man’s new costume. The campaign started a few months ago, with a series of variant covers meant to remind the fans of all of the various looks that Spider-Man has had over the years, from the one official “new” costume that later grew teeth and turned into a bad guy to the costume the clone wore, to the short-lived new looks that came with each new and different storyline demanded. From there, the new costume was “leaked” by the official website with accompanying text that suggested that even Marvel wasn’t sure whether it was true or not, before being announced, officially, by Joe Quesada who showed off his own handiwork by pencilling the first official picture of what had already gained the nickname “The Iron Spider”. All of that was par for the course, especially as Marvel prepares for “Civil War” and all the many status quos that have to be inevitably rocked. No, what was surprising – for me at least – was the reaction online.

Sure, there were those who hated the new outfit and weren’t afraid to tell everyone, and there were those who loved it and were equally vocal. But what seemed much more obvious was the size of the audience that was entirely apathetic towards the whole thing. The majority of people who TPTB at Marvel were hoping for some kind of reaction from were, more or less, refusing to look at the costume change as anything other than the cheap and temporary publicity stunt that it was. Fans across the world that is the internet couldn’t bring themselves to the brink of outrage or ecstacy because they’d become too cynical to buy into what they were being sold any longer.

I may be out of a job if they keep this up much longer.

Of course, that would leave me with more time to create that comic that’s going to change the industry, so maybe it’d be a good thing in the long run.