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Friday, April 01, 2022 

Newsarama makes sure to include the worst writers on a list of Spider-Man's best writers

Newsarama posted a list of what's supposed to be the best writers assigned to Spider-Man in years past, and to nobody's surprise, they made sure to include 3 of the worst too. For example, J. Michael Straczynski:
As polarizing as writer J. Michael Straczynski’s long run on Amazing Spider-Man is even now, his impact on the character of Peter Parker and the mythos of Spider-Man can't be denied.

Straczynski's run marked the first renumbering of Amazing Spider-Man, and though it kicked off by reestablishing the core of Peter's world, Straczynski quickly took Spider-Man into uncharted territory, tying his origins to a mystical web of Spider totems.

This concept – a departure for Spider-Man – led to some controversial stories that challenged the long-accepted ideas of who and what Spider-Man is. But Straczynski didn't stop there – he also unmasked Spider-Man as part of Civil War, and even later made Peter's identity secret again as part of 'One More Day' a story in which Mephisto magically erased Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane Watson and altered other aspects of Spidey's history.

Aspects of that story have become so baked into Spider-Man's larger mythos, they were adapted to the film Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Since they mention it, I don't doubt the likelihood some elements of of JMS' work were put to use in the latest Spidey movie. So, maybe that's one more reason I'd best avoid it, since I haven't watched it to date, and maybe some people who have would do well to reevaluate whether it was a good idea in the first place if it borrows from bad post-2000 storytelling back in the comics.

For now, it's pretty telling they don't mention Sins Past, the crude storyline where Gwen Stacy is made to look like she's cheating on Peter in a most cynical way with Norman Osborn, and Mary Jane was made to look dishonest, as though she'd kept Peter in the dark about something that was utterly contrived, and didn't need to be published at all. Any claims JMS made that Joe Quesada engineered at least half the story were no excuse. It took years, and only recently, for the whole fiasco to be turned around (and even then, Harry Osborn didn't fare well in the process), and Quesada, if anybody, never apologized for the damage he caused on his part. Yet Newsarama's writers saw no issue with sugarcoating the whole mess.

And then, wouldn't you know it, even Brian Bendis made the list, based on his superfluous Ultimate imprint title:
Brian Michael Bendis isn't particularly synonymous with the mainstream Spider-Man (though if you ask us, he wrote some great banter). But over in the Ultimate Universe, Bendis essentially upended the cart and redefined the Wall-Crawler in ways that still resonate in other media.

Bendis's extended run on Ultimate Spider-Man brought dozens of new twists to Peter's world, from subtle things like his relationships with his family and friends and a change from photographer to early blogger to major overhauls for Spidey's villains and mythos. Many of Bendis' ideas and connections have made it into Spider-Man's movies and TV shows as streamlined versions of recognizable tropes.

But maybe Bendis' most major contribution to the Spider-Man mythos overall is the co-creation of Miles Morales, a young hero who took Peter Parker's place as Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe before making it to the mainstream Marvel Universe as Peter's protégé when the Ultimate Universe ended.
And the problem is that Morales was basically a social justice/diversity inclusion token, for which Bendis and company clearly saw an opportunity to shoehorn into the 616 universe in a contrived way as the Ultimate line came to a close. Even though it's brought no boost to the Marvel line, artistically or financially. And Bendis is no master, and will never be as good as Stan Lee when it comes to superhero writing, that's for sure.

And then, most definitely to nobody's surprise, Dan Slott made the list:
Dan Slott has the second-longest tenure as a Spider-Man writer, having been a co-writer as part of Spidey’s 'Brain Trust' following the 'Brand New Day' relaunch, and a subsequent eight-year solo run as the writer of Amazing Spider-Man.

Slott made his name by going deep into Spidey's mythos and bringing back once-taboo plotlines like the Clone Saga, the Other, and more. He also took Peter Parker out of his usual dire straights, making him the billionaire CEO of Parker Industries (until the ol’ Parker Luck kicked in and he lost it all, that is).

It would be almost impossible to list everything Dan Slott contributed to the Spider-Man mythos, from Horizon Labs to countless villains and supporting characters, to the Spider-Verse, and so on.

But perhaps the most defining moment of Slott's run was Superior Spider-Man, a relaunch in which Peter Parker died and his body was overtaken by the mind of Otto Octavius, AKA his arch-enemy Doctor Octopus, who subsequently lived as Peter and operated as Spider-Man for over a year before Peter came back.
This is almost hilarious, if for all the wrong reasons. As expected, they sugarcoat even the most questionable moments in Slott's run, which got as far as it did through nepotist employment, and don't approach the subject with any objectivity whatsoever. No questions asked whether it was in poor taste to remove Mary Jane Watson as contemptuously as they did, or why being married is literally an obstacle to storytelling. Chuck Dixon once went through a vaguely similar experience where his DC editors repeatedly wanted Robin 3 Tim Drake's father Jack killed off, unwilling to consider how this alone doesn't guarantee any good storytelling (and since then, Jack tragically was offed, and Tim as a character never recovered). That only so many news sources over the years never spoke up in defense of Mary Jane or argued why it'd be best to jettison One More Day just attests to their disinterest in defending Lee's legacy.

And curious this article makes no mention of Len Wein and Marv Wolfman, who both had writing credits on Spidey decades back, or even Bill Mantlo, who did work on the Spectacular spinoff. They would've made far better choices for the list than JMS, Bendis and Slott. Let's also remember Wolfman co-created Black Cat in Amazing #194 in 1979, yet they don't view as significant. Why, even Christopher Priest, IIRC, has some Spidey credits, and he doesn't make the list either? Which only compounds what should've been obvious for a long time: Newsarama is one farce of a media source.

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I'd pick Roger Stern, Tom Defalco and Stan Lee as the best writers on Spidey, with an honorable mention of Jim Owsley (Priest) and Peter Davd.

I would go for Lee, Gerry Conway, and, yes, JMS. Stern and De Falco basically just kept the status quo going, as did Wein and Wolfman, but did not really enrich the character.

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