Monday, September 26, 2011

On the Spidey Brain Trust

In issue #588, Steve Wacker announced that the Spidey Brain Trust has been disbanded.  I notice, over the course of reading the last 43 issues, that I consistently liked some writers more than others.  I'm a bit of a numbers nerd, so I took a look at my ratings to see how the end of the Brain Trust was going to affect me.

First, I just want to say that the last several issues have been amazing.  The last five arcs ("Unscheduled Stop," "Fill in the Blank," "Mind on Fire," "Platonic," and "Character Assassination"), or the last 11 issues, haven't gotten anything lower than a three from me.  Compare that to the seven arcs before that (the Bookie arc, "Threeway Collision!," "Kraven's First Hunt, "New Ways to Die!," "Flashbacks," "Family Ties," and "Old Huntin' Buddies"), or 16 issues, that didn't get anything higher than a three.  I almost started feeling bad for consistently rating issues so highly, until I realized that we really had hit a low point there for a while.

Looking at my ratings per arc, my favorite author was Waid:  I gave fours to each of his two arcs.  Slott and Wells were my next favorites, averaging at 3.5 each.  The numbers lie a little here.  Wells' Mayan deity story arc was one of only two fives I've given.  Unfortunately, his only other arc was the Punisher one; I only gave that issue a two, since I really dislike the Punisher.  Slott also has a albatross around his neck:  "New Ways to Die!" only got a two from me, but his three other arcs get fours.

Guggenheim comes in third place with a 3.25.  I was unimpressed with his "Kraven's First Hunt" (it got a two) and I gave his Menace and Flash stories respectable threes.  But, "Character Assassination" is the other five I gave.  I thought that arc was brilliant (and it might make up a little for my original meh on Menace).

Kelly and Stern both take threes.  I enjoyed both their stories, and I really struggled with the Kelly rating.  "Family Ties" had moments of brilliance, and I felt like, with some experience, he's going to be an amazing Spidey man (heh).

Gale is my least favorite, the only one to average below a three.  I disliked his character, Freak, which made it hard for him to catch my attention.

The point of bringing up these ratings?  According to Steve, the Spidey Brain Trust will be succeeded by the "Web Heads:"  Guggenheim, Kelly, Slott, and Waid.  In other words, based on the fact that Waid came in first, Slott tied for second, Guggenheim came in third, and Kelly I felt had potential, well, I think the next year or so of Spidey is going to be awesome.  Woot!

So, thanks, Spidey Brain Trust.  With "Character Assassination" resolving some of the more interesting (and annoying) questions raised by the new status quo, I think we're ready for yet another brand new day.  I unabashedly admit I love the new Spidey.  I was skeptical (and I'm still hoping for Mary Jane to make her triumphant return), but I have never had more fun reading comics than I have reading these and I've never felt like I've known a character more than Peter Parker.  Looking forward, I still have some questions:

1) I want more information on how Spidey's life changed and I'm hoping we see more of Mary Jane.  At some point, somewhere, the new status quo diverts from the old:  Peter and Mary Jane have to end their relationship in a way they didn't in the old status quo.  It's not as simple as them just not having gotten married.

2) I'm intrigued by a comment made by Brevoort in issue #587's letter page, that Peter knows "precisely" how people forgot about his identity, but "we haven't revealed it to you readers as of yet."  In issue #569, Peter made a comment that implied he remembered the deal with Mephisto.  I had assumed (as I think we all did) that Peter did not, because, really, how could he live with himself knowing what he'd done?  So, either he does, and our man Pete has been more tortured than we thought, or Mephisto created an explanation for why no one remembers his identity...and Peter remembers that he unmasked himself once.

3) Along those lines, Spidey mentions Morlun in issue #588.  It's intriguing that Morlun still exists in the new status quo, because Spidey doesn't have the powers that he finished the Morlun arc having in the old status quo.  Maybe him remembering Morlun lends credence to the idea that Peter remembers the deal with Mephisto and knows that, however people think Peter and Mary Jane ended their relationship in the new status quo is just an illusion created by Mephisto.

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