Monday, October 4, 2004

Even A Stopped Fanboy Is Right Twice A Day

Memo to J. Michael Straczynski: YOU ARE DUMB.
I hate saying that, because I can explain B5 season 5 as the result of overwork and lack of sleep, I can blame Crusade on network interference and studio heads, and I can blame Legend of the Rangers on... on... well, I'm sure I can think of something.
But JMS has now committed an unforgivable sin: he has incurred the wrath of Comic Fanboydom, and more importantly, he has come damn close to EARNING it.
First, the required precis for those of you who, quite wisely, don't follow this kind of thing. In addition to whatever TV stuff he's doing these days, Straczynski is writing comic books. Like Supreme Power, which is a very good series marred only by about two full issues worth of embarassingly gratuitous nakedchick over the course of a dozen actual issues. And for a while now, he's been writing Spider-Man.
For those of you who have only seen the movies, there is one character involved in this precis who you don't know. Gwen Stacy, the blond, innocent, girl-next-door*, other love interest during the Spider-Formative-Years. Gwen Stacy was killed by the Green Goblin, Norman Osborne Version, in the 70's. And for the most part, occasional clone aside, she's stayed dead.
Anyway, in the last few issues of Spidey, JMS had the great idea of having two super-powered twins attack Spider-Man, and then revealed that these twins are actually Gwen Stacy's kids, and that back in the day, sweet, innocent Gwen got pregnant due to a pity fuck with Norman "The Green Goblin Who Would Eventually Throw Her Off A Bridge" Osborne, a creepy middle-aged businessman. This, of course, has the fans in an uproar. And normally, this is the point at which I would argue with them.
Because most of the fan outrage is about how it "ruins" the "character" of Gwen Stacy forever, as if this were something new, that mattered, in the world of comic characters with histories between 20 and 70 years in length. Pretty much everything has been done to, or changed about, pretty much everybody, ever since there were comics. Don't like it? Wait a few months. It'll be undone. And on the off chance it's not, there's still all that stuff beforehand you can read over and over again.
But in this case, I empathize with the fans, for two main reasons. The first is that even by modern comic standards, the whole thing is pretty fucking stupid, and obviously comes from the atrophied conjoined-twin brain in JMS skull that also came up with Byron and the VR Kung Fu Weapons System.
But the most important reason, by far, is that JMS must have put into the comic script words to this effect: "NEXT PANEL: NORMAN OSBORNE HAS ORGASM." And the artist, Mike Deodato, graciously obliged, giving us a full-on shot of a middle-aged, improbably-stripey-haired businessman slash supervillain experiencing le petit mort. And then the inker (Jose Pimentel, for purposes of future Google searches) lovingly darkened the lines that make up ol' Norm's spurt-grimace. And then colorist Matt Milla gave a greyish-pink pallor to the whole sordid mess. And then the other people in the credits, Warren Simone, Axel Alonzo, Joe Quesada, and Dan Buckley, all to varying degrees, said, "Yeah, let's go with that", and as a result, the following image made it into the cultural pictolexicon:
And nobody, and I mean NOBODY, ever really needed to see THIS. I don't care what dramatic resonance you think it creates in the Spider-history, Straczynski. If you must show middle-aged men engaged in coitus (and you really don't), ask for some shadow or something. Do not give us THIS. Do not force me to share the misery of the Green GAH-blin blowing his pumpkin bomb with my vast and growing audience. Their suffering, and subsequent therapy bills, are on your hands.
And if, as a result of this, you are forced into a position of fanboy anathema over sullying the shorts of their beloved Gwen Stacy, well, I'm sorry, but it's nobody's fault but your own. Between this and Thirdspace, you're going to have a lot to answer for in the final judging, boyo.
*As opposed to the red-head who ACTUALLY lived next door to him, and the blonde who lived across the hall from him in the second movie.