3/22/2008

Spider-Man's Brand New Day.

A more general post about comics I've been reading lately is forthcoming, as well as hopefully some more music posts (I really want to talk about Grade, Carbomb, and Pearl Jam's "No Code" LP, among others), but I'm tired of how slack on content I've been lately, and I wanted to get something up here. Also, I've had a post about this whole Brand New Day thing percolating in my mind for a while. However, I'm pressed for time (and kinda for inspiration as well, at least in the moment), so this will mostly be culled from things I've written elsewhere.

First and foremost, if you didn't catch it, go back and read my rant about Amazing Spider-Man being turned into a thrice-monthly comic: here. Second, here's a message board post from January 15:

"by the way dudes, i hated the ending of "one more day" entirely and completely, which makes me feel really weird about the fact that i actually really like "brand new day" so far. it's just... damn it, what a fucking copout. they could have saved time and just said "hey guys, we realize that the events of the civil war painted us completely into a corner where spider-man is concerned, so we have to make them go away somehow. here, have a mystical bullshit story, and we'll pretend the last 20 years of the comic never happened." GOD, SO LAME."

Not exactly written thoughtfully, but it gets the point across. Finally, here is a letter I sent to Marvel comics about four days ago:

"Hi guys. I've been a bit uncertain about the Brand New Day revamp, and I still feel like you could have done better with the transition from Straczynski's run, but so far I have enjoyed the Brand New Day stories enough that it hasn't really bothered me. However, I have a bone to pick with the current month's story, and it specifically relates to Bob Gale's writing. Now, the plot has been fine--I haven't felt like it strained credibility or got boring or anything else that could have been bad. However, the man's scripting is just driving me nuts.

Let me explain. In recent years, the thought balloon has fallen out of favor, and there's a good reason for it. I read an interview with Brian Michael Bendis where he talked about how he originally tried to eliminate them completely in his writing, because most writers used them as a crutch. I agree with this reasoning--generally, when a character is shown with 5 paragraphs of thought-bubble per page, it's lazy exposition, and it's meant to telegraph plot points or character motivations that the writer isn't demonstrating in other ways. Dan Slott used some thought bubbles (though he made them caption boxes) in his arc a couple months ago, and he used them judiciously, without ever making me feel like I was getting overwhelmed by them. Generally, the characters' motivations were explained well enough through the dialogue and storytelling that very few thought bubbles were necessary. This was fine; it didn't bother me or pull me out of the story at all. However, Bob Gale's current story arc makes me feel like I'm drowning in thought bubbles (and don't even get me started on Freak's dramatic monologues on pages 11 and 16), most of them giving me information I could have figured out without them. You know the old writing maxim "show, don't tell?" Well, Gale is telling, not showing. It's bad writing and it's making his issues a slog instead of a fun read, like Slott and Guggenheim's issues were over the last couple of months.

Something needs to be done about this. I know that all of the writers are involved in an overseeing capacity on every issue, and I further know that, based on their work on this and other titles, at least Guggenheim and Slott are able to get by without this excruciating hackery (haven't read anything by Wells yet, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt). So please, if you're going to keep Bob Gale on the writing staff (and I'm not necessarily saying you should get rid of him), have the other staff writers take a bit more of an active role in the scripts for his issues. Clean up all the lazy exposition and help the Gale issues rise up to the quality of the issues by the other writers. I don't plan to quit reading the title, at least not anytime soon, but the last thing I want is for one month out of every four to be crappy while the other three months are good.

By the way, you're welcome to print this, though I can't imagine that you will."

In summation: I don't know about all this. So far I'm continuing to read, but I'm not at all sure that I will do so indefinitely. Right now, Ultimate Spider-Man is trouncing the original version. But then again, I guess that's been true since Bendis started that title.

I will almost certainly have more to say about this subject in the future.

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