Monday, March 06, 2006

Review: Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 9

I just finished Ultimate Spider-Man volume 9.
I don't know why I keep forgetting I love this title.
But I do.
And I do.
More than any other title, Spierman really captures the super-hero fantasy.
That's been the idea since the beginning. Loser boy has a secret that makes him cool.
Thats the core of the 8 year old's love of super heroes.
I still love watching him go from Parker to the confident hero.
I don't read many mainstream marvel titles, as they tend to be convoluted and constantly trying to reinvent themselves. I assume they are doing this in order to mimic the success of the Ultimates line.
Look at the New Avengers, and the transformations Spiderman is going through, and the entire House of M debacle.
But it'll never work.
To rebuild, you have to break down. The more you break down, the better you can become.
Look at DC's Crisis On Infinite Earths.
They saw what they'd done, where they were, and realized that they could keep digging in the sand, or build a good foundation from the start.
OK, I mixed my metaphors there, but my point stands.
They were lost. They built a new map.
Marvel has always shied away from big changes. They tried first with Secret Wars, and got scared. They keep trying with X-Men, and keep running in circles.
Luckily for them, they have the Ultimate line.
The Ultimates, Ultimate Spider-man, and Ultimate Adventures(which I can only hope will rise again).
I left Ultimate X-Men out because I have very mixed feelings on that title. Probably due to Wolverine being such a centerpiece and my "I've been done with this character since 1991" attitude (I also read Ultimate Fantastic Four, but thats really kind of mediocre, more so now that Mark worlds-least-consistant-but-sometimes-great-writer Millar is on it)
IMHO, Marvel should either scrap the standard lines and go all-Ultimate, or consolidate the standard lines into fewer, higher-quality series that form a smaller, more coherent whole.
Actually, DC could take a hint from that too.
The Ultimates universe is consistent, readable, accessible.
More importantly, it focuses on story.
Not history.
I was reading a rant by Warren Ellis, maybe in Come In Alone. He was talking about something a fan had written about the Ultimates line
when it first was starting up.
The fanboy was worried that the new line would get all the good writers, get all the press, etc.
A legitimate concern.
He was worried that the mainline stuff would get canceled (yeah, right, Spiderman ain't going anywhere, ok?)
He went on to say that he had zero interest in the new titles, and that he would rather read crappy stories about characters he knew and cared about than good stories about new characters.
I can understand this attitude, to a degree.
But, as Ellis pointed out, THAT is the problem in comics.
Because this guy and the gazillions like him out there don't care about quality.
They don't care about story.
They care about seeing the characters they love.
They set the bar so low, that anyone, anything can meet it.
Sooner or later, someone's gonna come up with a program to just generate scripts like this.
The thing is, it isn't a binary proposition.
You don't have to choose between quality and characters.
You can ask, you can demand, BOTH.
You can demand that these old-time titles get new voices and get new stories that are worth reading.
You can scream that you LOVE Peter Parker, but that you are done with running in circles.
You can tell them that they need to do with the old titles what they did with the Ultimate line. Bring quality to the forefront.
And you can do that with the only voice you have that matters.
Your dollars.
Buy the good stuff.
Don't buy the crap.
Tell your comic book store guy why you aren't buying Spectacular Spiderman anymore.
Tell him to take The New X-men off your subscription sheet.
Ignore The Fantastic Four.
Talk to the stores.
Speak with your dollars.
And let them know.
Or suffer.
Your choice.

(ok, this didn't end up being a review, sorry)


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