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Monday, June 24, 2019 

Hiring film writers for a Spider-Man miniseries is nothing new

The New York Times interviewed film writer/director J.J. Abrams and his son Henry about a new Spider-Man miniseries they've been assigned to script, in another project where Marvel hires "talent" who aren't homegrown, but rather, Hollywood-based:
Clearly, it is time to write a comic book.

And that is what Abrams — and his son Henry, who is 20 — are doing for Marvel Entertainment. They are introducing a new villain, Cadaverous, who will cause problems for Spider-Man, his alter-ego, Peter Parker, and his beloved Mary Jane Watson, in a five-part series arriving in September. The Abramses are writing, and the comic will be drawn by Sara Pichelli and colored by Dave Stewart.
I wonder what the art quality will be like? So far, I've only seen the cover by Oliver Coipel, who's okay himself, but not the interior art by Pichelli, whose past efforts I was able to check up on through her Instagram page, like this Fantastic Four illustration, which looks okay too, but still nothing spectacular. More importantly though, what's the level of the script by Abrams and son? Recalling what a leftist the former is, and how he attacked Star Wars fans who didn't like the left-wing feminist propaganda laced with Mary Sue elements, why should we assume his script for a Spidey mini will be much different? I also find Abrams' 2011 movie called Super 8, which he co-produced with Steven Spielberg, embarrassingly bad as a liberal morality yarn, and the violence it's got was also off-putting. Should we expect them to avoid all the preaching here? Don't count on it.
How did the two of you writing this comic come about?

J. J. This is Henry Abrams’s first interview ever.

HENRY I’m nervous, but I will do my best. Nick Lowe, the editor of this comic, reached out about 10 years ago. More recently we began to develop an idea: a new and different and exciting take on Spider-Man.

J. J. Nick had been pressing me to do a book with him. A year or so ago, I started talking about it with Henry and it sort of happened organically. And that has been the joy of this. Even though I’ve been talking to Nick for a long time, weirdly, this feels like it just sort of evolved from the conversations of Henry and I, having ideas that got us excited and Nick being open to the collaboration.
And what if the finished product's just not as exciting as they say it is? Super 8 sure wasn't very exciting as a film, and was more irritating in hindsight.
Were you both comic book fans growing up?

HENRY Most of my exposure to comics came when I was super young: Calvin and Hobbes, Tintin, Spy vs. Spy. I did have a Marvel compendium when I was 6 or 7 that I adored and I would always land on this page of Spider-Man, not knowing anything about the character or the back story or the powers, but connecting with the visual designs of Steve Ditko. I didn’t really start reading him until I was 11 or 12. And at that point, I realized that this is a character that I see myself in and that was probably the first time I ever felt that way with any fictional character.

J. J. I remember working in a comic store in high school and there was the Amazing Fantasy comic that Spider-Man first appeared in that they had under glass. It really wasn’t until that job that I started to get into comics. And while I’ve never been the die-hard comics fan that Henry is, I’ve always appreciated the way that an emotional and weirdly relatable story is being told through this extraordinary circumstance.
But again, what if this story contains any of the heavy-handed elements Abrams put in several of the films he wrote/produced/directed? I also think that part about "weirdly" sounds fishy. Is that suggesting he doesn't have a high opinion of the medium after all?
How was it to work together on this?

HENRY Great!

J. J. I told him he has to say it’s great!

HENRY I feel like I’ve developed not just as a writer, but someone that can appreciate stories more. Spider-Man is one of those superheroes where the more you read about him, for me at least, the less I understand him. He’s so anti-everything that you’d expect from a hero. I think Stan Lee said something about putting the human in superhuman. That is what we’re trying to do.
Wow, now that's decidedly telling. That's like saying Spidey would literally go easy on the worst of criminals, which only happens under the worst of writers. If he really doesn't understand Spidey, what's the use of writing him, or having any association with Stan Lee's most famous creation who became Marvel's leading mascot?

Besides, they've hired plenty of movie producers and writers before to work on their products, like Kevin Smith and J. Michael Straczynski, none of whom have been very successful, so I wouldn't expect any different from this.

Since the subject of Spider-Man's come up, there's also news of Gerry Conway, Mark Bagley, and Erik Larsen returning to work on a new Spidey special:
No details of the one-shot's stories have been revealed, however Marvel.com bills it as a mystery that "will keep you guessing til the last page." Going Big is also billed as part of Marvel's 80th anniversary celebration.

Larsen will write and draw his own story, with Conway, Bagley, and unnamed others working on other stories for the anthology one-shot. [...]
I'm honestly surprised if they didn't try to rehire David Michelinie, since he wrote a lot of Spidey's stories in the late 80s-early 90s with Todd McFarlane drawing first (and conceiving his impressive style for the webbing), and Larsen taking up the drawing chores next. But with the awful inmates running the asylum at Marvel now, it's really just way too late to celebrate. One of the commenters even said:
The billing: "Three CLASSIC Spider-Man talents back for something REALLY SPECIAL!"

The reality: Bagley has been drawing Spider-Man constantly for many years now.

Conway has done quite a lot of Spider-work for Marvel recently, NONE of which has been memorable.

And Larsen has degenerated into a shell of his former self; Savage Dragon sells like 2k, lol. Bagley is good but nothing special, and the other two are bargain-basement hacks. Wow I'm like so excited.
Well, if Conway's recent tales don't resonate, Axel Alonso and other awful staffers are a reason for that, what with their horrible editorial mandates, not the least being Joe Quesada's most notorious regarding Mary Jane Watson, for which he still hasn't apologized. As for Larsen, his work on the Savage Dragon explains why, while his art was decent back in the day, his more recent art and especially writing is just why he's no longer a good choice for a contributor. Lest we forget, the trashing of continuity is also but a prime reason why modern Spidey stories, along with the rest of Marvel, no longer have a positive impact.

And that's why the Abrams project is unlikely to differ. And if Michelinie wasn't rehired to contribute to the one-shot special, he's honestly lucky.

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" Lest we forget, the trashing of continuity is also but a prime reason why modern Spidey stories, along with the rest of Marvel, no longer have a positive impact."

But weren't you urging that Marvel trash continuity for the sake of political correctness in your June 21st blog entry?

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