Superior Spider-Man: If You Don't Like it, Why Engage?

This here's an opinion piece, informed by personal experience, and I know how worked up and upset some of our readers get when we run those. So you've been warned.

Following the release yesterday of Amazing Spider-Man #700 and the attendant internet-breaking fury by a segment of the fandom, I've been thinking a lot about why it is that, while I didn't particularly like the issue and am not crazy about the direction, I can't get myself worked up over it. I think I've figured it out--and it's something I thought might be of some value to share with our readers.

I stopped buying Spider-Man comics after One More Day, and the events of Amazing Spider-Man #700/Superior Spider-Man won't bring me back. I stopped for the same reason, and in the same way, that I stopped reading Superman in 1999 or 2000 when Jeph Loeb and company took over from the Jurgens/Simonson regime: it just wasn't the character I knew, or cared about, or wanted to read anymore. I didn't want to see college-aged Pete whoring around any more than I wanted to see an endless parade of stories about Krypton.

I threw no great temper tantrum, had no compulsion to scream at DC Comics that they've somehow "ruined" the title for me. Just...I stopped buying. It's worth noting that if you're really in the majority, this behavior alone should right the ship. If, as Slott has suggested on Twitter, there are far more readers supportive of where he's taking the story than those fighting it, perhaps you're overreacting.

I'd heard all the maniacal ranting from the people who insisted John Byrne and Marv Wolfman had ruined the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman, and I'd rolled my eyes and thought they had their turn with the biggest, best toy in the box and to stop being such a lunatic about somebody else having a shot with it. It would be hypocritical of me not to recognize that in this business, fifteen or so years between Man of Steel and the end of Louise Simonson's run is a damned good stretch of time to have your way.

In both cases I would check back in periodically to see how my old "friends" were doing to find that they were strangers in familiar clothing, and the touch of melancholy that provoked just leads me to re-read the stuff that made me love them. World of New Krypton saw me have a custom hardcover bind done on Dead Again, one of my favorite uncollected Superman stories from the years following the death and return. Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort taking over recently and doing the book in a style that didn't do anything for me inspired me to replace dozens and dozens of back issues I'd lost or been forced to sell in college when I was broke.

I want my characters to grow and change, to mature and develop, and it's wonderful that we live in an age where comic book characters do that instead of just treading water forever in one-off stories about fighting the same handful of bad guys. But ultimately, treading water is the name of the game and you only get so much time before these characters get a reset to make them more appealing to fans who haven't been around for ten or twenty years, or who aren't pushing 30 or 40 years old or whatever magic number it is that the publishers have decided they don't want their readership base to exceed. I'd rather have a finite batch of Superman books by great creators that tell a story I'm interested in, than an infinite supply of one-shots where he fights Metallo for the thousandth time.

Dan Slott has, from everything I understand from the people who can enjoy and relate to this version of Spider-Man, done a really good job with him. It ain't for me, but that's why I only read and review the book once in a blue moon, when my bosses want me to. Giving him grief about Amazing Spider-Man #700 makes no more sense than if I had sought out Jeph Loeb to give him a "piece of my mind" over getting rid of Bibbo and little orphan Keith.

If you want quality comics, you have to be willing to accept that they occasionally have to take a new direction. When comics have been in print for thirty or fifty or seventy years, it's important to do something fresh and interesting, and keep from getting stagnant 50 years in. You might not like that direction. If not, dig out that old, dog-eared copy of the first Venom storyline and read it again. Rather than write a letter threatening Slott's life, why not write J.M. DeMatteis and tell him how much Kraven's Last Hunt means to you? it seems a bit more productive.