Post by paulpogue on Sept 21, 2011 20:40:34 GMT -8
Apropos of nothing, while the music itself is an ... interesting ... relic of 1970s culture, I think that John Romita's cover to the Spider-Man album "Rock Reflections of a Superhero" is an uncannily good bit of art. He really captures a lot of the somber nature of Spider-Man here.
It got me thinking, a little bit, about what makes Spidey tick. There's been a lot of talk between Kirk and I over in Facebook-land about the basics of Spider-Man and his character engine, and I came to a realization today. One of the things that sets Spidey apart from every other major superhero out there is that, built irrevocably into his origin, he has FUCKED UP. Nobody else has that, not in the A-list. Not Cap, not Mr. Fantastic or Daredevil, not Bats or Supes or Green Lantern or any of the big ones. Every so often a writer will sort of try to wiggle it into the backstory -- Bruce Wayne blaming himself for his parents' deaths has come up a few times -- but that never sticks, for the simple fact that it's wrong. Bruce Wayne didn't fuck up on a galactic scale and get somebody killed. People mess around with Daredevil's past as well, but same thing -- though you can imprint plenty of Catholic guilt onto Matt Murdock, "giant fuckup" is not written into his story's DNA.
Spider-Man? Epic fuckup. Not in life, but just for a moment. The wrong moment. Uncle Ben's death is unquestionably his fault, and nothing he ever does can ever undo that. He won't get over it, and you know what? He shouldn't. He knows, more than anybody else in comics, that every moment matters. Every decision has an impact, even if it's just mumbling "ah, not my problem" when you can do something to help. Sam Raimi understood that pretty well, oddly enough. Remember all those bits in the movies where it seemed Peter was endlessly being humiliated by his responsibilities? The editing on those was no accident. Yes, Peter missed a date or was five minutes late for Mary Jane's play. And on the other hand? SOMEONE DIDN'T DIE. That's the reality he faces every time he hears distant gunfire and had to decide whether to run towards it or not. Someone's going to get shot if he doesn't.
There's a certain wisdom you pick up in life from fucking up -- or, more precisely, fucking up and enduring the road back without cracking. Not just minor day-to-day fuckups, but the agonizing crawl back to where you started, inching your way to the goal after having ruined it all and knowing it's your fault. I very nearly ruined everything in my own life, once upon a time. I don't pretend I'm the wiser for it, but I'm certainly a better person. If I'd been that person to begin with, maybe I wouldn't have fucked it up. I'll never know. And some of the wisest people I know have, at some point in their lives, screwed up on a truly cosmic scale and lived to be better for it.
Peter Parker isn't a schlub. He's not a lovable loser, or even a loser. He's a guy painfully aware of how bad it can really get, and he knows, deep down, that the sacrifices he makes are worthwhile. He chooses to lose out on personal gain for the greater good. Yeah, he's going to get a lecture -- for the thousandth time -- about letting down his friends because he didn't make it to Betty Brant's party or whatever, but somewhere in the city, there's a cop who's hugging his family, who otherwise would be face down with a bullet in the brain because Spider-Man wasn't there. Peter knows this. And he's okay with it.
And this is why Spider-Man would never run the fuck away from his responsibilities and let the Devil deal the cards.
In August, this title's highest-ranked issue for that month had a sales rank of 6, and its lowest-ranked issue for that month had a sales rank of 9.
In September, this title's highest-ranked issue for that month had a sales rank of 18, and its lowest-ranked issue for that month had a sales rank of 27.
27 is also the lowest sales rank achieved by the NuSpidey era to date, which ties Amazing Spider-Man #670, published in September of this year, with Amazing Spider-Man #580, published in December of 2008, for the status of the lowest-ranked issue in the 48-year history of this title.
I'm pointing out these facts precisely because one of the most frequent refrains, among Marvel editorial staff and NuSpidey status quo apologists alike, has been the assertion that, because this title's sales ranks have always eventually recovered enough to bring it back into the top 25, and often the top 20, and even the top 10 on occasion, then it should be judged as a sales success relative to the performance of the rest of the American comics market.
Except that this title only achieved a sales rank of 18 by releasing an issue that offered an individually customized variant cover for literally each individual customer who ordered enough copies, and it only achieved a sales rank of 27 in the middle of an "event" story arc that's not only serving as the centerpiece for one of Marvel's multiple concurrent line-wide crossovers, but has also been fairly well received by a number of fans and critics alike, so especially given that it's going up against the increasingly retailer-ordered (and reordered) titles of the DCnU line, I'm going to say that I don't see any such recovery in the monthly sales ranks for Amazing Spider-Man for the foreseeable future.
And that's not even the worst of what should be worrying Marvel right now.
Because even if you dismiss this title's declining performance in the September sales ranks on the grounds that the DCnU line was just that much of a juggernaut for that month, you're still left with several retailers anecdotally attesting that, as Tom Brevoort had claimed would be the case, the rising tide of customer interest in the DCnU line did indeed lift the metaphorical boats of Marvel's sales as well.
So, with all those DCnU customers checking out what Marvel had to offer, how much of a sales bump did Amazing Spider-Man receive, between August and September's non-variant-cover issues of the title?
66 more copies ordered.
Meanwhile, even Aquaman sold 328 more copies than the highest-selling issue of Amazing Spider-Man in September.
Think about that for a bit.
I'm calling it right now; Amazing Spider-Man will drop out of the top 30 in October.