Why take Credit when it’s Unneccasary?

April 20, 2003

By Avi Green

In the past 2 years since Marvel put out to press ASM #36, questionable at best as it was, one of the most interesting developments was when artist John Romita Jr, son of the famed John Sr, one of the first of Amazing Spider-Man’s notable artists back in the 60’s, claimed that he was the one who thought up the scene with four of the leading villains in the MCU appearing at the scene of the crime on 9-11.

I myself hadn’t paid full attention to this, but what really baffles me now that I have is why on earth Romita Jr. would want to take credit for that very distasteful scene when he was under no obligation to do so.

The answer to the quibble is two-fold: either he really did think it up, and there are more than plenty of comic book artists who aren’t actually doing the scriptwriting who’ve thought up some of their own details for the script that the writer is more than pleased to add to the script (not always for the better, if we were to refer to this case), or, he was deliberately trying to take some of heat of JMS’ detractors away from the latter so that he wouldn’t have to bear too much of the embarrassment due to those who disliked the issue in question, myself included.

If the answer is indeed the latter, than I must say that it surprises me very much that Romita would want to take away some of the heat when he didn’t have to. Unfortunately, as I’ve discovered in past months when turning to examine ASM #47, there is, alas, evidence to suggest that he may have indeed thought up that whole idea himself.

Now forget that the whole notion of the forgettable villianess named Shathra trying to defame our friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man was just as forced and iffy as the aforementioned character herself. And never mind that Shathra’s claiming that Spidey just “staged his fights” would’ve blown her whole sham to MJ, who was watching some of that on TV in her LA hotel room. And maybe the rather forced notion of Spidey smashing a woman in the head, as alarming as it was to see, even though this was a villainess, isn’t so important either. What I’m wondering is why the news ticker at the bottom of the TV screens contained mention of 9-11 related details – again!

Romita told in somewhere, either in press statements or on a message board somewhere, that he put that ticker text in there -"because it's still something very near and foremost in [my] thoughts, and Spider-man is very much a part of New York, and I'll continue to show it so."

While Romita’s feelings about 9-11 are certainly to be applauded in words, such intentions do not always translate well into deeds. And to say the least, by putting those details into a scene that takes place directly within Marvel continuity (or what’s left of it, considering their very questionable stance on it today), Romita’s done little more than to insult the victims of 9-11 even more, especially considering the wholly questionable premise of having something like this air with a disaster like 9-11 being mentioned at the same time.

Here it was said that ASM #36 was not within the regular Marvel continuity, and now, Romita very irresponsibly goes and puts the whole matter surrounding 9-11 directly within the MCU proper. Talk about moral irresonsiblity indeed.

I won’t say that it’s presented as atrociously and blatantly as ASM #36 was. But, while it may be just some minor nitpicking, it was still in very judgement to have done something like that.

Anyway, to steer away from all that for now, the rest of the issue wasn’t much better for me when I read it. It was little more than an attempt to buy time until the 50th issue, when here, JMS had every opportunity to do something more brightening, like using Spidey’s own supporting cast members, such as Flash Thompson and the Stacy family. As in the case surrounding the death of Morlun, Spidey here too finds himself in a bind as to whether he should kill or not, which is actually very ludicrous considering that he's never done so before, at least not intentionally, and I don’t expect him to actually kill anyone intentionally in the future either, but is luckily saved from this dilemma by having Shathra offed by someone other than himself without having to take things into his own hands himself. I wasn’t particularly impressed with how she referred to him as “little spider” either. And why, when as most Spider-Fans agree, Peter Parker functions best in city-bound stories on earth, must these tales involving Shathra and even the previous villain, Shade, be taking place on the astral plane rather than back in New York City?

Overall, if it matters at all, JMS’ run has been all over the place for me, maybe not entirely his fault, but even so, he could still have proven himself capable of better. Sadly, things just don’t always turn out the way we all want, so I guess I just can’t expect much overall.

Until things can really turn out for the better…

Copyright 2003 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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