Ever since the storyline that led to Doctor Octopus’ mind taking over the body of Peter Parker, some folks have been snarking that “We all know it has to end before the next Spider-Man movie.”  On the one hand, the sentiment is at least partially true, but on the other, it’s dishearteningly harsh, and seems designed to undermine everyone’s enjoyment of the stories being told.  The journey, it is said, is as important as the destination (sometimes more so) and the quality of the story-arc made ‘Superior’ as interesting a run as the ol Web-Head has had in a couple of years.  Marvel’s current publishing strategy allows for the wild and crazy creativity of a Superior Spider-Man or a Young Avengers, while guaranteeing that the toys will be neatly back in the box at the end of the run, as we saw with Brian Bendis’ mega-stint on the Avengers titles.  It’s a theory that could create the best of both possible worlds, which leads to today’s query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) finds that, sometimes, predicting where a story might go is immensely satisfying, asking: Does it affect your enjoyment of a story if you suspect that the characters might immediately return to status quo when the tale is complete?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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9 Comments

  1. April 18, 2014 at 11:34 am — Reply

    It all depends on the quality of the actual story. The people I know discussing the Superior Spider-Man example are all enjoying the “journey” of the story itself because it’s well-written, even if they do know it’ll end with Peter coming back. I can think of more examples where the return to the status quo was handled badly (*cough*Legion*cough) or where it was done in such a haphazard way that it made the good stories told in the new-old status quo harder to enjoy (I’m looking at you, Wells’ New Mutants; you might have revived Doug but the hoops you had to jump through didn’t make it satisfying). It’s a very hard balance to sustain, especially with long-form narratives like comics.

    • April 18, 2014 at 11:53 am — Reply

      New Mutants is an incredible example, now that you mention it…

  2. Ingrid
    April 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm — Reply

    Once upon a time it would have bugged the heck out of me. But that was when I was young and innocent and, for some reason, believed that comics were each one grand serialized story that kept taking new and interesting twists. I was frustrated each time a new arc would start with a big shift in reality as I had known it. Now that I’m older and wiser and accept the fact of story arcs and alternative continuities, I’m fine with it. If the story is good I can accept the premises required for it to exist. And if it’s bad, I don’t need to (compulsively) read it.

  3. Starks Scraps
    April 18, 2014 at 1:14 pm — Reply

    I love it. I think it gives creators a chance to write stories that may have gotten flat out denied in the past.

    My question: Is the New 52 the New Status Quo like DC claims? I don’t see them going back anytime soon?

  4. Oldcomicfan
    April 18, 2014 at 8:48 pm — Reply

    Hello. Having the hero go back to the status quo is both the mainstay and the bane of the comic book industry. In the 50s and 60s each issue of a comic HAD to be self contained, and it didn’t matter if Batman’s secret identity was revealed on national TV or if Superman was exposed to Gold Kryptonite which would permanently remove his powers, or if Spider-Man grew four extra arms, you knew that by the end of the story – not even the end of the issue in some cases – things would be back to normal. Since the writers therefore couldn’t tell epic stories that had real consequences for the characters, we ended up with garbage like Rainbow Batman, Super monkeys, Super horses, and Bat Mite, to name a few. At least now days the creative team is allowed to run with epic stories for a while before things get yanked back to the Status Quo, which has led to some really great stories.

    But to answer your question, yes, it is very disappointing when things return to the Status Quo, which is why I pretty much quit buying superhero comic books by the end of the 80s and took up reading manga instead. With a few exceptions, manga story lines are finite, the characters change and grow and sometimes even die over the course of the series. I suggest that everybody read “Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind” in its entirety, if you can find it, if you want to see what comic books might aspire to someday if the publishers ever get their heads out of their backsides and quit forcing the stories to conform to the Status Quo.

    Admittedly, reading comics for the better part of fifty years may have made me a bit jaded but to be quite honest, I am pretty much bored to tears with the whole superhero genre and only buy hero comics these days if it’s exceptionally good. Some of my non-manga recommendations would be Power and Glory, Starstruck, Elfquest (for anybody who hasn’t yet read it – it doesn’t hold up to repeated reading, in my opinion) and The Rocketeer. Marvel’s Oz series is a great read, too, and I am currently enjoying Satellite Sam, too. But I no longer rush to my comic book shop to buy each and every issue of everything the Big 3 puts out.

  5. cody
    April 18, 2014 at 10:29 pm — Reply

    As long as the story is good I could care less if it goes back to the status quo. In most of these cases it’s a new writer taking over anyway.

  6. April 18, 2014 at 10:48 pm — Reply

    Sometimes, but not all the time. It depends on the quality of the stories told, sorta like the saying about the journey being more important than the destination.

    When Kyle Rayner became the sole GL, many fans were similarly stating that the GL Corps would come back (and some even banded together to run campaigns to have the Corps returned, like running ads in Wizard magazine). I even know a few big GL fans that left behind the title altogether. And yes, Hal and the Corps DID eventually come back, but that didn’t stop the time with Kyle being a fun ride for the most part. Granted, Kyle’s time was pretty lengthy compared to many similar situations, but I still think it counts.

  7. April 19, 2014 at 6:41 am — Reply

    It really doesnt affect me at all. Perhaps for the reason that many of my favorite stories are limited runs (All-Star Superman, Daredevil: End of Days, for example) I kinda expect superhero comics return to status quo when the storyline has ended.
    Also, given how american superhero comics are published and created, it would be impossible to sustain their characters and worlds if the was no reboots or rewrites to be made. Publishers would run out of interesting (or at least popular) characters in couple of years if every death and world changing event were final.
    Who came up with this huge, convoluted continuity idea anyway?

  8. April 19, 2014 at 4:10 pm — Reply

    It doesn’t bother me but what does is the people who feel the need to continually bring it up and complain. I talked about this with my manager and he said it wonderfully: “I like Superior because I get to read crazy, mad scientist Spider-Man that I haven’t read before. You know what I have read? Amazing Spidey, Web of Spidey, Sensational Spidey, etc. I know Peter Parker is coming back, can’t I just read crazy, mad scientist Spider-Man and have people shut up about it?” I told him no.

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