Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The "One More Day" Post

Well, all four issues of the retcon Spider-Man story "One More Day" have arrived. (Or as I prefer to think of it, they've been dropped from a great height onto an unsuspecting populace.) But why take my word for it? Let's go straight to the source. Taken from his website, in his own words, this is what J. Michael Straczynski has to say about the story.
In the current storyline, there's a lot that I don't agree with, and I made this very clear to everybody within shouting distance at Marvel, especially Joe. I'll be honest: there was a point where I made the decision, and told Joe, that I was going to take my name off the last two issues of the OMD arc. Eventually Joe talked me out of that decision because at the end of the day, I don't want to sabotage Joe or Marvel, and I have a lot of respect for both of those. As an executive producer as well as a writer, I've sometimes had to insist that my writers make changes that they did not want to make, often loudly so. They were sure I was wrong. Mostly I was right. Sometimes I was wrong. But whoever sits in the editor's chair, or the executive producer's chair, wears the pointy hat of authority, and as Dave Sim once noted, you can't argue with a pointy hat.

So at the end of the day, all one can do is try to do the best one can with the notes one is given, and try to execute them in a professional way...because who knows, the other guy may be right. The only thing I*can* tell you, with absolute certainty, is that what Joe does with Spidey and all the rest of the Marvel characters, he does out of a genuine love of the character. He's not looking to sabotage anything, he's not looking to piss off the fans, he genuinely believes in the rightness of his views not out of a sense of "I'm the boss" but because he loves these characters and the Marvel universe.

And right or wrong, you have to respect that.

It's a big quote, but I wanted to take the utmost care not to take any of his words out of context. For any who want, you can find the full text of this quote here. So from the context of the quote, it seems pretty clear that this story was an editorial mandate, and Straczynski was pretty set against it.

When your writer doesn't like a story, I'd generally call that a problem. And when he wants to have his name taken off of it? Well, that just really speaks for itself, doesn't it?

I think that this is possibly one of the worst comic stories I've ever read. Seriously, this is just bad on a level that's difficult to comprehend. For those that know me... I think The Dark Knight Strikes Again is light years beyond OMD. For starters, the only real conflict is internal, which is something that's difficult to carry out to begin with. But come on... the second half of the story was completely predictable. And was there anyone who didn't figure that they'd bundle in a retcon for Peter's unmasking along with his separation from MJ?

Here's the thing... I've got no problems with separating Peter and MJ. I'm not a blind fanatic that Spider-Man has to be married. I'll even go so far as to agree that a married super-hero's stories are limited in an important way. I don't think we had to undo the public knowledge of Peter's existence of Spider-Man yet... I still think there were probably some neat stories to tell there, but hey... not my call. I can live with both of those changes, but if you're going to write a story explicitly to retcon a few facts about a character's continuity... and if you're going to make a big 'event' out of it... at least try to do it artfully. Try to do it with some skill, and intelligence. One More Day was like trying to crack an eggshell by hitting it with a bus. The results are painfully direct and incredibly sloppy. Not to mention just plain bad.

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