I know how ridiculously absent I’ve been with my posting lately but given the recent turn of events related to the subject of my chase, Amazing Spider-Man, I thought it was time for me to make a reappearance. Truthfully, I’ve been so out of the loop with my comic book news and reviews lately, that I only JUST saw the news that inspired this post: that as part of Marvel’s “Marvel Now” promotion, Amazing Spider-Man is ending at issue #700 and in January, a new title, will be launched, Superior Spider-Man, which apparently will NOT feature Peter Parker.
For those who have closely followed my musings the past few years, you probably realize that all of this information is my true nightmare as both a fan and a collector. During the “Death of Spider-Man” Ultimate Spider-Man storyline, I said repeatedly that I would disavow myself from Marvel and Spider-Man if they ever attempted to do the same thing in the “616” titles. But like all dramatic opinions, they’re much easier to cling to when the scenario in question is a mere hypothetical, not an actual reality. And let’s be honest, with all the misdirection ASM writer Dan Slott has been feeding us, do any of us TRULY have an idea on what the reality will be come January – just that Amazing Spider-Man as a comic book title will cease to exist in favor of Superior Spider-Man.
Though I’m still digesting this news – I’m actually a bit shellshocked by the whole thing – I have been able to come to a couple of conclusions that affect the state of my collection, and for the few of you still out there looking for updates, the state of my blog. Let’s start with the former, which is far more compelling to ME: for years, I’ve been banking on the idea that what makes my hobby and my chase so amazing and fulfilling is the fact that there is no true “end.” Sure, once I go back and pick up every single back issue, the heavy (and expensive) lifting is done, but given that the Amazing Spider-Man title has survived nearly 50 years now, the idea that it would perpetuate for 50 more has meant that I could never possibly lose interest in this hobby.
That idea clearly changes now. While I’m also of the mindset that nothing is truly permanent in the world of comics, given the circumstances and my overall cynical view of Marvel’s direction and long-term vision, I’m going to consider ASM #700 one bookend of my collection. So as of January 2013, my chase will only be focused on picking up those six remaining issues from the early 1960s that are currently missing from my collection.
I’m sure there’s an outside chance that Marvel could reboot ASM at any given time, especially if the backlash against Superior is as bad as I suspect it will be. But I honestly find myself becoming so exhausted by the whole thing that I’m not so sure I want to keep up with it anymore. What’s most interesting to me is the fact that just a year and change ago, Marvel folks were taking potshots at DC every chance they could get because of DC’s “New 52” initiative. They called it a blatant marketing ploy – which it was. And even after it initially cut into Marvel’s market share, there was a sentiment that Marvel would rule the day again with its different, more compelling storylines and characters. How Marvel Now is any different than the new 52 is beyond me. Mixing up the cast of character of the X-Men and discontinuing long-term titles in an effort to launch “new” series is basically the same thing as ending Action Comics and starting at #1 again with a new superstar writer at the helm. The only real difference I can see here is that Marvel will respect (maybe) its established continuity, while DC truly went for a clean break.
Regardless, what’s my incentive as a long-term fan to want to follow these comic book companies from one trumped-up gimmick to the next? To maintain some kind of arbitrary commitment I made with myself as kid to one day collect every issue of Amazing Spider-Man? Sure, there’s something to be said about the years I’ve spent buying new comic books and digging deep into my wallet to get older ones all in the name of a “quest.” But I’m a microscopically small percentage of Marvel’s fanbase so there’s absolutely no reason for them to cater to OCD collectors like myself anymore as the print world continues to suffer. And all the same, there’s no reason for me to remain committed to a model that so desperately wants to keep reinventing itself, even if it means alienating long-term fans.
Does that mean I won’t read Superior Spider-Man? I don’t know – I can’t envision there’s a scenario where I won’t at least read through the first few issues to find out how the events from ASM #700 connect to this new title. And given that I just renewed my subscription with Marvel for another year, I imagine that Superior will be the title I receive in its place. All the same, in its own bizarre way, this changeover is very liberating to me. I’ve stuck through ASM through some good times and bad times (and very very bad times) all out of this arbitrary commitment. Unless this is nothing but a 2-3 month bait and switch, the end of ASM and the beginning of Superior Spider-Man means I can stick with a title for as long as I enjoy it, not out of some need to complete a collection. If I find Dan Slott’s self-ego-stroking to become too unbearable, I can drop Superior. If that’s the case, my connection to comic books going forwards will be with the medium’s past. I will still try and get every issue of ASM that I’m missing up to #700 and if I’m compelled to keep spending money, there are plenty of other comics from the past 50 years of Marvel that I can buy. Meanwhile, I can save my $3.99 every other week for something more fulfilling to me.
And what does this all mean to the site? Well, considering how little I’ve been writing lately, I would say not much has changed, but I do see #700 as a true endgame for Chasing Amazing as well. Perhaps I’ll still stop by periodically to talk about past issues and to celebrate if and when I pick up those remaining six issues, but there will be no discussion about Spider-Man going forward because I’ve always found this site to be a place for me to share my passion about something. Marvel Now is sucking that passion dry. From my perspective, it’s change for the sake of change. Does that mean Marvel is wrong to do it? Of course not. But it does mean that I’m not the kind of reader they’re after for the long-term, and I’m way too proud of a person to pretend otherwise.
I have no doubt that at some point ASM will return as the main Spidey book. Marvel won’t allow an opportunity to promote #800, #900, or #1000. The only thing constant is change. I’d really suggest that you keep following what Slott is doing, as we both know it’s been really great stuff. Hope you hang in there.
Congrats on getting down to your final 6 issues! I just completed my ASM “chase” last month when I snagged AF 15. Now I’m debating on to continue the chase by upgrading my lowest grade books. Have you given that any thought? Or do you have a minimum grade that you always purchase? Anyway, continued good luck on the search!
I assume you’ve had a chance to read ASM #698 by now. If not, I promise: no spoilers. But I have to say, I’m a little surprised you’re not taking more of a long view to ASM #700 and Superior Spider-Man. Going back over your posts from last year, it seems like you acknowledge that Dan Slott has written some of the best stories since the start of the JMS run. I’d say this current story arc is another prime example. I think when this is all over and we look back on it in 5 years (with ASM back to it’s original numbering; let’s be honest: there’s zero chance of that not happening), we’ll realize that ASM 600-700 was a master class in long-form storytelling.
As for the direction, I don’t like it or dislike it, but I’m suddenly very intrigued to see how ASM 698-700 dovetails into Superior. Slott has Marvel NOW’d me against my will. The only thing I think is truly lamentable about the situation is that it causes a publication break for Amazing after 50 years, but that offends the historian in me more than the fanboy.
Good luck with the chase. I look forward to reading one day that you’ve snagged a copy of #1!
I really enjoy reading your posts! I’m a Spider-Man collector myself but I have to admit I mostly stick with the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s (with an emphasis on 60’s and 70’s) issues but I do still have quite a few nineties issues. To me the stories just went downhill by this point and I won’t bother with anything out now. But, I do understand how this feels weird that Amazing is ending. It’s sad to me too even when I don’t collect this era of comics. I wanted to ask, though, if you’ve considered maybe starting to amass the other Spidey titles such as Spectacular or Web after Amazing ends and you get those remaining issues you need? I used to focus solely on Amazing, and I still mostly do, but titles such as Spectacular have some really quality stories that are worth getting. By the way, which six issues of Amazing are you missing?