Why Amazing Spider-man #700 FAILS

Posted on 04 January 2013 by Mike-EL

“This is why the outside world laughs at us. This is ****”

So swears Border City Comics owner Tim Girad. Girard feels that these ‘events’ do only harm to the ever-shrinking comic book industry. The mainstream media does not do front page stories about Chris Ware, or Jeff Lemire or the 2012 Valiant Relaunch; they exclusively focus on media stunts aimed at the wallets of nostalgic 30-somethings.

So, mainstream folks walk into a comics shop to ‘give comics a chance’ because they’re friends have told them that ‘comics are good now’. But instead of picking up a comic recommended by dealers or critics, they seek out the latest media-stunt junk like The Death Of _______ or President Obama Meets _______.

They read these stories and feel rightly ripped off. The Death of Superman, Hal Jordan Goes Crazy, Bane Breaks Batman’s Back, The Death of Johnny Storm et al. The quality may vary, but none tell a good enough story to keep readers coming back. Each one of these events leave the comics industry in a worse state than before. We do need new readers but this is not the way to do it. It would do more good to call attention those rare moments when good writers take on iconic characters. Sadly, they can’t even manage this.

DC recently published a free ‘preview’ edition of the confusing ‘Batman: Earth One’ comic that left me scratching my head. Never mind that there is already a perfect way to introduce new readers to the modern Batman backstory (Batman: Year One), the title ‘Earth One’ only makes sense to long-time DC fans, and the tweaks in continuity will only confuse readers looking to expand on the status quo established in the Christopher Nolan Batman films. To drive home how incompetent the promo is, they actually include a sample of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s smash hit ‘Court of Owls’ story from the rebooted Batman #1, but do not advertise it on the cover!

DC also published an ‘Arrow’ comic to tie in with the new hit series from CW. A decent story set in the continuity of the TV show opens the comics, then we are treated to a sample of the recent ‘Green Arrow #0’. This follows the same forumla as the above mentioned Batman story, but the problem is reversed; in this case the opening story makes sense because it ties directly in with a mainstream media property. The back-up story is an example of one of the many (many, many) failed reboots that came out of DC’s ‘New 52’ reboot.

Written by the ever-unreliable Judd Winick (famous for bringing back Jason Todd, a move that did nothing but nullify a 20 year old story and further cheapen ‘comic book death’) and featuring some sloppy pencils by Freddie Williams II and flat inking from Rob Hunter, this is a text book example of how NOT to lure in new comic book readers.

A confusing story that features an Oliver Queen unrecognizable to any comics reader of the past 70 years, it ends with the appearance of a grotesque Image-style supervillain named ‘Iron Eagle’ (another 80s action film reference; see Rob Liefeld’s Deadpool and Diehard) that looks much like the generic ‘modern’ villain archetype that Alan Moore parodied in an issue of Supreme…15 years ago. Why not include a classic Neal Adams story, or at the very least a modern story penned by Brad Meltzer or Kevin Smith? At least these stories would make readers come back for more.

What can we do about this? Readers and comic shop owners can work together: when mainstream friends ask about these ‘stunt’ comics, simply steer them away. Use their interest in popular superheroes to our advantage: when someone asks for a ‘Death of Superman’ comic, hand them Alan Moore’s For The Man Who Has Everything; Nolan fans hungry for the stories that inspired that Dark Knight trilogy can be diverted away from ‘KnightQuest’ and sent directly to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One or Gotham Central by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka.

What about Spider-Man fans? You might have to dig a little deeper to find some really great stories that adults can enjoy, but you do the work for them recommend old issues by Peter David, J.M. DeMatteis or the early stories by J. Michael Straczynski.

We must be the gate keepers. Don’t let the hype machines and Marvel and DC decide what the reputation of comics will be. We can do that. As long time comics readers, we have the power. And with Great Power Comes…well, if you’ve read Amazing Spider-Man #700, you know the rest!

About Mike-EL

Mike-EL is a Co-Producer and Founder of the Comic Book Syndicate TV series. He is an independent filmmaker, professional videographer and holds a PhD in Superhero Fun.



  • Major Minority

    “This is why the rest of the world laughs at us.”

    Who’s the rest of the world? Who is this ambiguous “us”?

    There’s no longer a stigma attached to comics or collectors. Granted, regionally, there may be more interest/disdain for comics in some areas than there in others, but comics ARE the mainstream. Perhaps not in the paper medium, but the small and large screen, video games, pop culture, etc is littered with comic book influence. The success of the comic cons is evidence enough of growing popularity.

    The reason for the decline of the “community” (although one can say it’s expanded and evolved beyond the comic book store) is because of the fecundity of entertainment options one has. Not because of bad stories/issues.

    Consumers nowadays are extremely well informed. Most don’t go into things blindly. They’ll get reviews on issues/series. They’ll make sure they’re interested in something beforehand. They’re less likely to make whimsical purchases because there’s so many other ways they can waste their time. Back in the 80s, shows like Beauty and the Beast were watched because there was a “take it or leave it” approach to entertainment. You think if they threw that on Netflix right now, anyone except Mike Dell (because the main character looks like a cat) would watch?

    Yes, these publicity stunts are silly and unfortunate. No, they’re not [italicized] really harming the industry. The problem, in terms of physical trade comics, goes much deeper. The sports card industry is suffering too. And it’s not like they’re releasing the “death of Derek Jeter” or an athletes on steroids reboot series of cards.

    • You’re right. Consumers are smart, discerning individuals and we can ONLY hope that the stories that the mainstream media machine have decided to report get better… actually I think they are.

      The fact that EW.com makes Millar & Quitely’s much anticipated Jupiter’s Legacy headline news is a HUGE step in the RIGHT direction.

      Media is aware that there is ‘good stuff’ coming out of comic books and it’s unfortunate that DC and Marvel still resort to their ‘stunts’ in order to catch the attention of the press.

      I agree that we should CONTINUE to boycott the bullsh*t and continue to support the GREAT projects in an attempt to, ONE DAY, see ONLY the good stuff in mainstream news!

      Whether or not DC & Marvel smarten up is completely up to them, though I’m not going to bother holding my breath for the, no doubt, long wait!

    • Mike-EL

      The rest of the world is any non-comics reader. I agree that we are the mainstream, but ‘they’ don’t know it. Its the same way that Punk rock suddenly became the majority in the mid-90s, but the mainstream still mocked true punk and embraced the Plastic Punk like Green Day and Offspring.

      Everyone in North America has at least one superhero movie on DVD or Blu-Ray but most would still not even consider reading a comic. If and when they do, we’d all better hope they pick up something good.

  • kman

    I think you are missing the point – these story lines and marketing gimmicks are not helping to draw in new readers to this industry and many old time readers have had enough of it as they are leaving- this has not bred the success of the industry – the characters have become successful in other mediums but not doing so well in the one they were originally created. Comic cons have become more than comic books and many dealers have reported even at the San Diego Comic con, that they feel they have been pushed out and are not successful – these conventions don’t help the comic shops they only help the large corporations promote their licensed characters for the movies.

    The community of comic book readers has not expanded outside as you say (well maybe now a bit with the internet) it has been isolated for too long in comic stores which are scary places for children to go into when they see bearded old men discussing superheroes in them. To say bad stories/issues are not part of the problem is pretty short sighted – then every movie should do well – if the story sucks or the concept then people won’t go see it- there are more options for entertainment that are out there that have yes affected sales but these gimmicks are not helping people get back into comics or start – lets look at one of the best examples of this – the death of Superman – I don’t know where you were but I remember people lining up for this (many non comic-book readers) because they wanted to see what happened to Superman but most of all they thought they could cash in on this – guess what everyone in the comic book community knew he was coming back but the others didn’t and they were pissed and felt suckered by this “Gimmick” – in fact many have tied these major gimmicks of the early 90’s of pushing many people away from comic books- not Comic book characters or the movies but the books themselves – quality dropped in the books for gimmicks and the readers said goodbye – now you have lost your die hard fans and you have isolated your product (books) from new readers and you write stories that are years in the making and you keep renumbering and changing title names – where does a new reader start?And you still put most of your investments in superhero books for older adults – Consumers are well informed but how can you be informed when your whole industry in the past 30 years is a mess?!? Its confusing and I have been collecting for years! Okay here is the best one – just picked up the new marvel previews – there is a Fantastic Four 5Au and a Fantastic FOur #5 on sale a the same time… WTF?? Lets look at sales -Batman is selling very well at the top and why? yes he is a cool character but if that was the case why is Spider-man not selling well (except for gimmicks I guess ;)) and why is walking dead selling well? Walking dead has not been around long enough for it to be bought because of the characters, its being bought because of the story telling – when you have the general public watching a show about zombies, why are they watching it? So if so many people are reading the reviews then and they are not good about a product, they probably are going to buy it but if the reviews are coming in that people need to pick this up because its well written, great art etc. then sales go up – stunts and bad writing hurt the industry immensely if you are already competing with so many other forms of entertainment, and your product is not good, people won’t buy it – You can’t have a character like Batman become an icon if he didn’t start with a cool story/concept – Anyways just what i think.