Ben Reilly Happens While You're Busy Making Other Plans

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

WOS 8: Revenge of the Satellite

The Satellite Title is back, and this time it's personal!

No, it's not a Steven Seagal flick. But there is something of a "Hard to Kill" motif running through this post.

For a long time now, I've been arguing that the Spider-Man line needs an old school satellite title. I may have just gotten my wish.

I'll make no secret that some of my fondest Spider-Man memories come from the original PPTSSM, later abbreviated to SSM. It began with the tail end of Mantlo's run, where I was treated to the Doc Ock/Owl Gang War and then Silvermane's return. There's a misleading argument that says the real action has always been happening in ASM. It's the worst kind of misleading because it's mostly true.

But then, there's always this:

Or this:

And hey, there's even this:

And who could leave out this:

But my real point isn't that a satellite title needs to keep pace with the developments in ASM to be worthwhile. Quite the contrary, actually. I'd only argue that a satellite title has as much potential to tell memorable stories as ASM. And I think the satellite title has some advantages working in its favor that complement ASM. And if WOS 8 is any indication, Marvel agrees.

1. Consistency. Three years ago this wouldn't be a unique advantage, but since ASM went thrice monthly with a rotating team, it's a big deal. Without getting into which approach is "better," I think having the best of both worlds is a nice way of filling a need. I'm inclined to prefer a consistent team for ASM, too, but I'll be happy to take this. I'm pumped because the title could hardly be in better hands than Fred van Lente's. How cool is he? Well, when he wrote Marvel Adventures Marvel Superheroes, he made my then five year old son think Ant-Man is cool. Think about it. Ant-Man. Hey, I like Henry Pym and all, but I never thought he'd be in comptetition with Spider-Man for a young boy's affections.

Then there's his ASM work. If you haven't read his Spot, um, spotlight in ASM 589, then grab it! Not only did he make the Spot lethally effective, he tied it into Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island . His reworking of the Chameleon as (and I'm paraphrasing here) "Dr. Phil as serial killer" is genius.

The first part of "The Extremist" doesn't disappoint, so stay tuned for more FVL goodness.

2. Backups. If it were up to me, I'd say make this a one-two punch with FVL in the lead and J.M. DeMatteis on Ben Reilly backups. The DeMatteis backups are, I'll admit, the biggest draw for me personally. I don't like to pay a lot, but I'd probably pay $5 for a ten page JMD Reilly story alone. (Shhh! Don't tell Marvel. Or my wife.) Better yet: double the size, give DeMatteis equal space, and maybe throw in another back-up. Call it Marvel's FVL/JMD/IAH (Insert Ad Here) Three-in-One! That's a spicy meatball!

3. Focus on the Supporting Cast. This was always a huge draw for PPTSM. ASM has tended to squeeze out the supporting cast in favor of the bigger developments. But Jonah Jameson, Flash Thompson, Robbie Robertson, Betty Brant, and the rest are just too good to go to waste like that. Look, neither ASM or WOS can be everything to everybody. But put them together, and we've got a winner. Now throw in Marvel Team-Up and we'd be set.

4. Less financial burden. Right now ASM is a huge drain on ye olde paycheck. One issue into the new WOS format, it appears to be a title you can enjoy without reading ASM. Marvel needs an entry level Spider-Man title that doesn't require taking out a second mortgage or a huge readership commitment. Long, sprawling arcs and subplots like the Gauntlet are wicked cool. But they can be intimidating, too, and it's nice to have a title that can complement ASM or stand on its own merits. Right now the Bat-family at DC has done tremendous work making each title accessible on its own, which is no small task. I ask no less of Spider-Man!

All in all, it's a good time to be a Spider-Man fan again. And I was wrong to compare the satellite title to an old Seagal flick. It's more like a Jackie Chan/Owen Wilson buddy team-up.

You may argue amongst yourselves which title fills which role. But we here at REILLY FACTOR encourage informed decisions, so for Pete's sake, watch Shanghai Noon before you decide!


  1. Good stuff. A shame WoS is coming to an end with #12.

  2. Really? Where'd you read that?

    If it's true, that is a shame.