Overrated, Underrated, Just Right: Spidey Writers

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Re: Overrated, Underrated, Just Right: Spidey Writers

Post by Spider-Padre » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:58 pm

While I love both, I agree that Conway is better than Stern overall. Most people seem to name Stern as the greatest Spider-Man writer after Stan Lee, which I don't entirely agree with. Don't get me wrong, Stern is definitely up there, but I actually think Conway and J.M. DeMatteis are a little better than him.
Apart from the Hobgoblin, what did Roger Stern add or change that added lasting value to the storyline? (This is a real question, not a snark on RS).

People underrate Conway partly because his stories adhered to the hokey stylistic conventions of the day, and partly because his second round on Spider-Man wasn't very good.

JMS is hard to peg, because he really was that good on characterization and dialog. But he only created one lasting villain (I think Morlun is the only one who stuck). He flooded ASM with mysticism, which I disliked. JMS is thought of as a sci-fi writer, but IMHO he's more of a mysticism/horror writer who used the outward trappings of sci-fi. Anyway, with JMS it's a question if you're judging craftsmanship (how) or content (what). His writing craftsmanship is leagues beyond Slott's best work, but his content went way too far into dark magic material.

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Re: Overrated, Underrated, Just Right: Spidey Writers

Post by Masked Guy » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:15 pm

Spider-Padre wrote: Apart from the Hobgoblin, what did Roger Stern add or change that added lasting value to the storyline? (This is a real question, not a snark on RS).
I think the praise for Stern's run stems more from the stories themselves being really well-told and entertaining rather than "game-changing".
Spider-Padre wrote:People underrate Conway partly because his stories adhered to the hokey stylistic conventions of the day, and partly because his second round on Spider-Man wasn't very good.
I thought Conway's second round on Spider-Man was great (primarily his work on The Tombstone Saga). And I wouldn't really say he's underrated since he is still widely considered to be among Spidey's greatest writers.

http://www.cbr.com/50-greatest-spider-m ... ster-list/

http://www.cbr.com/spider-mans-top-10-w ... nsibility/

http://www.ranker.com/list/best-spider- ... ker-comics

http://whatculture.com/comics/10-greate ... teve-ditko

http://www.comicscube.com/2010/07/top-f ... r-man.html

http://berkeleyplaceblog.com/2012/05/15 ... d-artists/
Spider-Padre wrote: JMS is hard to peg, because he really was that good on characterization and dialog. But he only created one lasting villain (I think Morlun is the only one who stuck). He flooded ASM with mysticism, which I disliked. JMS is thought of as a sci-fi writer, but IMHO he's more of a mysticism/horror writer who used the outward trappings of sci-fi. Anyway, with JMS it's a question if you're judging craftsmanship (how) or content (what). His writing craftsmanship is leagues beyond Slott's best work, but his content went way too far into dark magic material.
While I agree that JMS veered too far off into mysticism at times, his run on Spider-Man is still one of my favorites. This is mostly due to his characterization and dialogue as you mentioned.

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Re: Overrated, Underrated, Just Right: Spidey Writers

Post by MisterMets » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:36 pm

Spider-Padre wrote:
While I love both, I agree that Conway is better than Stern overall. Most people seem to name Stern as the greatest Spider-Man writer after Stan Lee, which I don't entirely agree with. Don't get me wrong, Stern is definitely up there, but I actually think Conway and J.M. DeMatteis are a little better than him.
Apart from the Hobgoblin, what did Roger Stern add or change that added lasting value to the storyline? (This is a real question, not a snark on RS).

People underrate Conway partly because his stories adhered to the hokey stylistic conventions of the day, and partly because his second round on Spider-Man wasn't very good.

JMS is hard to peg, because he really was that good on characterization and dialog. But he only created one lasting villain (I think Morlun is the only one who stuck). He flooded ASM with mysticism, which I disliked. JMS is thought of as a sci-fi writer, but IMHO he's more of a mysticism/horror writer who used the outward trappings of sci-fi. Anyway, with JMS it's a question if you're judging craftsmanship (how) or content (what). His writing craftsmanship is leagues beyond Slott's best work, but his content went way too far into dark magic material.
Conway's reputation has gone up lately. He consistently rates pretty high, there's greater acknowledgement of how Spider-Man seemed to be in a different era after he left, and his ASM run was recently declared one of the 20 best superhero runs ever by a major magazine.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/ ... est-934371

With Stern, I'll agree with Masked Guy that his stories were well-told. A lot of focus in comics discussions is on the macro- the big moments in the series (first appearances, big status quo changes) but so much of what we enjoy is in the small moments (the quips, the action set pieces) as well as the stuff that can't be expressed in a dry plot synopsis (mood, tension, pacing, etc.)

Stern excelled in those categories. He had a great take on a Peter Parker who had some experience being a superhero (and would act like it) but was still a young man finding himself.

He was one of the few writers to have a specific strategy with the villains, often opting to pit Spider-Man against Marvel figures he hadn't fought before, although he was willing to focus on a classic bad guy when he had something to say (giving Vulture an origin, and expanding on Mysterio's background.)

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Re: Overrated, Underrated, Just Right: Spidey Writers

Post by Cheesedique » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:26 pm

Spider-Padre wrote:
While I love both, I agree that Conway is better than Stern overall. Most people seem to name Stern as the greatest Spider-Man writer after Stan Lee, which I don't entirely agree with. Don't get me wrong, Stern is definitely up there, but I actually think Conway and J.M. DeMatteis are a little better than him.
Apart from the Hobgoblin, what did Roger Stern add or change that added lasting value to the storyline? (This is a real question, not a snark on RS).

People underrate Conway partly because his stories adhered to the hokey stylistic conventions of the day, and partly because his second round on Spider-Man wasn't very good.

JMS is hard to peg, because he really was that good on characterization and dialog. But he only created one lasting villain (I think Morlun is the only one who stuck). He flooded ASM with mysticism, which I disliked. JMS is thought of as a sci-fi writer, but IMHO he's more of a mysticism/horror writer who used the outward trappings of sci-fi. Anyway, with JMS it's a question if you're judging craftsmanship (how) or content (what). His writing craftsmanship is leagues beyond Slott's best work, but his content went way too far into dark magic material.
I agree with Masked Guy on the general tone of Stern's run being why it's so highly touted. Getting the character right goes a long way in securing fan love. Bringing in left-field villains like Juggernaut, Cobra, Hyde and Thunderball was inspired. Crafting the Hobgoblin, the biggest new villain until Venom, certainly upped Stern's rep. It's a great run from a great writer of comics. Fans rightly can expect quality from the man (his BND stuff notwithstanding, because you could count the number of worthwhile stories from that era on one fist).

I agree that Conway's biggest Spider-Man work is mired in the pre-Bronze age conventions of comic storytelling (of course he's single-handedly credited with changing that). I don't think his second run wasn't appreciated, it was just relegated to the B-titles. McFarlane and Larsen sucked up all the oxygen over on ASM. Lucky for Conway, he bailed before the geniuses at Marvel started the big dumb storyline stunts like the 90's Clone debacle.

The JMS run has a lot of parallels with Stern's. I've seen more people crap on the JMS run than Stern's, but I think most fans appreciate the craft JMS brought to Spider-Man. He's still the last, the very last, capable writer to work on Spider-Man, who actually seemed to care what he was doing, and who also seemed to like the character he's writing. His approach was less cheap shitty Saturday morning cartoon like the last 10 years, and more like an engrossing novel in serial form.

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Re: Overrated, Underrated, Just Right: Spidey Writers

Post by Spider-Padre » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:37 am

@Cheese: I agree. JMS' writing ability was and is head-and-shoulders beyond anyone who has written ASM since. Bendis is lazy and relies on conversational gimickry, and Slott writes cartoons about sitcom action-figures who win through accidents and contrived coincidences.

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Re: Overrated, Underrated, Just Right: Spidey Writers

Post by Cheesedique » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:12 am

Spider-Padre wrote:@Cheese: I agree. JMS' writing ability was and is head-and-shoulders beyond anyone who has written ASM since. Bendis is lazy and relies on conversational gimickry, and Slott writes cartoons about sitcom action-figures who win through accidents and contrived coincidences.
Indeed--thing is, I know Bendis is capable of better. His Mattie Franklin arc in Alias really impressed me. It's a writing sensibility I with he could bring to Spider-Man in some form. But Marvel seems intent on making Peter a moronic child trapped in a man's body.

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Re: Overrated, Underrated, Just Right: Spidey Writers

Post by Masked Guy » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:31 pm

MisterMets wrote:Conway's reputation has gone up lately. He consistently rates pretty high, there's greater acknowledgement of how Spider-Man seemed to be in a different era after he left, and his ASM run was recently declared one of the 20 best superhero runs ever by a major magazine.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/ ... est-934371

With Stern, I'll agree with Masked Guy that his stories were well-told. A lot of focus in comics discussions is on the macro- the big moments in the series (first appearances, big status quo changes) but so much of what we enjoy is in the small moments (the quips, the action set pieces) as well as the stuff that can't be expressed in a dry plot synopsis (mood, tension, pacing, etc.)

Stern excelled in those categories. He had a great take on a Peter Parker who had some experience being a superhero (and would act like it) but was still a young man finding himself.

He was one of the few writers to have a specific strategy with the villains, often opting to pit Spider-Man against Marvel figures he hadn't fought before, although he was willing to focus on a classic bad guy when he had something to say (giving Vulture an origin, and expanding on Mysterio's background.)
That's a really good article, Mets. Thanks for sharing it. I'm glad to see that Conway's entire run on Amazing is receiving the credit and respect it deserves instead just his decision to kill off Gwen Stacy.

Also, I completely agree with you on Stern. He really excelled at the little things, which is what made his run on the character so darn good.

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Re: Overrated, Underrated, Just Right: Spidey Writers

Post by Cheesedique » Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:18 pm

Overrated:

Paul Jenkins' for "Death In The Family"--Jenkins was going to be my "just right" choice as a writer who seems to be correctly rated, but I found this tale pretty silly overall. Norman playing with action figures recreating the Gwen bridge death scene? Admitting to Peter that his original choice of a baddie codename was "Mr Coffee"? I appreciate what Jenkins was trying to do here, but I really dislike this story. Quite bad artwork as well.

Underrated:

Bill Mantlo--from "Owl Octopus War" to the original "Carrion" story, Mantlo was good more often than not. Sure, he wrote some duds (though most have, just look at some of JMD's Marvel Team Up issues), but Mantlo more often than not could deliver some solid thrills on Spidey. Seems like his most of his run is all but forgotten by many (though Owl / Octopus made #17 on CBR's best list).

Just Right:

Tom DeFalco. If anything, he's a bit on the underrated side, but while his second ASM run was a bit of a dud, he sealed his rep with fans on his Spider-Girl run. His first ASM work with Frenz is rightly seen as classic stuff.

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Re: Overrated, Underrated, Just Right: Spidey Writers

Post by Masked Guy » Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:35 pm

Cheesedique wrote:Overrated:

Paul Jenkins' for "Death In The Family"--Jenkins was going to be my "just right" choice as a writer who seems to be correctly rated, but I found this tale pretty silly overall. Norman playing with action figures recreating the Gwen bridge death scene? Admitting to Peter that his original choice of a baddie codename was "Mr Coffee"? I appreciate what Jenkins was trying to do here, but I really dislike this story. Quite bad artwork as well.
I personally loved this story. Despite the admittedly messy artwork (Humberto Ramos has never been a favorite of mine), I really did think this was one of the best examinations of the Peter Parker/Norman Osborn rivalry. Norman was at his cruelest and most cunning throughout this arc and I couldn't wait to see what happened next. And while the whole "Mr. Coffee" bit was a little eye-rolling, I thought that conversation was pretty compelling. Peter telling Norman that he refuses to hate him (which is clearly a lie) was a great way to get under his skin. I also really like Peter's "Just being you. That is life without parole" line, as it really sums up how tortured a person Norman Osborn truly is. The ending in particular with Norman clearly contemplating suicide was very powerful and really demonstrates that despite his maniac gleefulness, Norman really is just a miserable person who has never been able to move past his own personal demons.

I'm not the biggest fan of Jenkins, but I thought he really knocked it out of the part with this arc.
Cheesedique wrote:Underrated:

Bill Mantlo--from "Owl Octopus War" to the original "Carrion" story, Mantlo was good more often than not. Sure, he wrote some duds (though most have, just look at some of JMD's Marvel Team Up issues), but Mantlo more often than not could deliver some solid thrills on Spidey. Seems like his most of his run is all but forgotten by many (though Owl / Octopus made #17 on CBR's best list).
Mantlo's Carrion arc is criminally underrated in my opinion. One of my favorite stories of the 1970s.
Cheesedique wrote:Just Right:

Tom DeFalco. If anything, he's a bit on the underrated side, but while his second ASM run was a bit of a dud, he sealed his rep with fans on his Spider-Girl run. His first ASM work with Frenz is rightly seen as classic stuff.
Completely agree.

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