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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Spider-Man’s Parents Turned Out to Be Robots

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today we take a look at the three-part storyline from Amazing Spider-Man #386-388 that revealed that Spider-Man’s long-lost parents were actually robots, all part of one of the oddest master plans a Spider-Man villain ever had.

Our story began in Amazing Spider-Man #365 (by David Michelinie, Mark Bagley and Randy Emberlin) where Spidey learns that his presumed long dead parents are actually alive…

They were just in a Russian prison camp for twenty or so years.

So the next twenty issues show Peter getting to know his parents. However, Aunt May is not so convinced. She hires a private investigator, and the P.I.’s search comes up negative, which is where we are when Lifetheft begins in Amazing Spider-Man #386 (by the same creative team of #365)…

You have to love the way Peter made it all about himself there. “Aunt May might have Alzheimer’s? Why do all the bad things happen to ME?”

The next issue, Peter reveals his secret identity to his parents…

All nice, right?

WRONG!

As you can see from the next page…

Oh boy.

This sets up #388, where we learn that they are basically robots…

Later, we learn their purpose…

If you’re thinking, “But wait, isn’t that a whole lot of time and effort and scientific breakthroughs just to possibly learn Spider-Man’s secret identity from a guy who Spidey knows?” Well, you are correct. It makes no sense.

Spidey shows up, of course. And his mom-bot fights her programming…

His dad-bot, though, not so much. This leads to a rather bizarre confrontation…

That’s some creepy stuff right there.

In any event, in the end, mom-bot destroys dad-bot. She is then “killed” by the Vulture, though. As she “dies,” she tells Peter how proud she is of him.

After seeing that, the upcoming Clone Saga (which was only issues away) was in some ways a step UP for the Spider-Man titles, plot-wise. By the way, Lifetheft led into a storyline where Spidey hunts down the Chameleon to get revenge (at the end, Spider-Man learns that Harry Osborn was the one who suggested to the Chameleon to go after the Parkers. Even in death, the Green Goblin was a jerk).

67 Comments

More like “I Hate Ya Because You’re Terrible.”

Incidentally, it was revealed a little later that Harry Osborn put the Chameleon up to the whole thing before he died, apparently just to be a dick.

I like that last bit with the dad-bot having the “half face”, not unlike the way Spidey is depicted with his half face stuff. Cool.

But yeah, this is an awful storyline. “I can create robot duplicates of the long lost parents of a guy who MIGHT know who Spider-Man is, but I can’t create a friggin’ camera set up to follow Spider-Man wherever he goes to find him!”

I love how the dad-bot tells the mom-bot their programming there after Peter reveals himself. She totally should have said “yeah, it’s in my programming too, asshat!”

This story is indeed strange. When I read it, I assumed that the robot bit was a desperate attempt at back-tracking; if Spider-Man’s parents were still alive it would be a huge change to his character. So I figured someone decided to nip this storyline in the bud, by revealing that Peter Parker’s parents were really ROBOTS (all caps for awesomeness). Still, the fact that the same creative team did all 3 issues seems to indicate they planned this all along.

I wasn’t reading the Spider titles then, but I had the What If that cam out around the same time that was about this storyline. In it, after the investigator leaves, May tells Peter how his parents got wrong some details that they should without a doubt know such as a birth date. Lot s of wrong details that added up to her realizing that they couldn’t be real. The parents then come in just as the above issue and act the same, but as soon as May and Peter leave them, they talk about killing May because they overheard the conversation. Needless to say, the What If doesn’t end well.

Ya know, Peter’s parents coming back and being impostors sees like a story you just have to do eventually, but it went onnnnnnnnn and onnnnnnn for YEARS! And it wasn’t fooling anybody!

This story is indeed strange. When I read it, I assumed that the robot bit was a desperate attempt at back-tracking; if Spider-Man’s parents were still alive it would be a huge change to his character. So I figured someone decided to nip this storyline in the bud, by revealing that Peter Parker’s parents were really ROBOTS (all caps for awesomeness). Still, the fact that the same creative team did all 3 issues seems to indicate they planned this all along.

It WAS Michelinie’s final storyline on Amazing Spider-Man, but yeah, I believe that this was, indeed, planned. If anyone knows otherwise, let me know (it’d make a great Abandoned an’ Forsaked if it was not planned)!

The fists in the last panel are remarkably Ditko-esque.

As Michelinie left the book by issue 387, maybe this was left out… IIRC there may have been a mention of that in ASM 400 ?

Those were terrible comic books….

Yeah, I think it actually might have been left out. Isn’t that odd? There were four Spider-Man titles, one of them MUST have addressed the sudden disappearance of “Richard” and “Mary,” right?

“Aunt May! I don’t want *her* to know!… I don’t know if I can *trust* her with my secret!”

Seriously? You still can’t trust the amazing woman who raised you, but you can trust the people you met two issues ago? This is one problem when comics are driven by plot rather than character.

It was a year and a half. Which, given there were four Spidey titles, was probably a bit too long.

Wow, Dad’s not just a robot… he’s a were-robot!

And it’s nice to see Mom so proud of Peter. I’m glad she feels such a sense of accomplishment that he’s turned out so well, having been recently programmed to infiltrate his life and all. You did good, Mom. Real good.

Stranger still back then was how Aunt May and the Joker apparently had a common ancestor, as they both had the same bizarre, attenuated skull shape.

And of course the Parker homestead looks like no house ever in existence in the borough of Queens.

Lifetheft basically kicked off the “Four Spider-Titles, One Weekly Narrative” idea that ran through the next two years. Aunt May learned about the fake parents in the next published Spider-Title, Spider-Man #45, Pursuit Part 1.

Of course, Peter’s explanation was little more than “You were right, they were bad people and now they went away”, but ol’ May bought it without commentary.

Thanks, Mikhail. I figured it must have been in Spider-Man #45, but I didn’t feel like going to find the issue.

And the robots’ true programming kicks in when they find out Spider-Man’s identity.. that programming being to leer with crazed-villain-faces and DISCUSS capturing Spider-Man and taking him to their master… before actually just doing it??? And their master The Chameleon couldn’t just grab Peter off the street to find out if he was Spidey or not, he had to spend possibly millions developing lifelike androids to live with the Parkers for a year and a half… just to be sure???!??

While the plot indeed makes no sense (as noted in the piece), it is important to note that the Chameleon does not believe Peter IS Spider-Man, but just that he likely knows who Spider-Man is. Yes, the plan is still ludicrous (to go to all of the effort just on the chance that Peter knows who Spider-Man is), but at least he doesn’t actually think Peter is Spidey.

So…Peter spent years living with Aunt May and never tells her his secret, but two people who claim to be his parents show up after being missing for 20 years and he suddenly decides to spill the beans? WTF? Considering all his experience with clones, robots, shape-shifters and illusions, you’d think Petey would have been cautious like Aunt May was.

Plus the plan was just plain stupid. It ran on the assumption that because Parker took a lot of pics of Spider-Man, that he’d automatically know who Spider-man was, and it also ran on the assumption that Parker would actually tell his parents about Spidey’s true ID. The plan barely worked only because a) Parker was Spider-Man and b) he took an overdose of stupid pills.

always thought that story was kind of a let down for one spider man finaly learns and for a moment gets to meet his long lost parents only to learn later they are just robots of the chameleon out to destroy peter all due to harry osborn proving that like norman who ever dones the green goblin can be a reall jerk to others.

Another thing: Peter’s parents were big-time secret agents. You’d think that after being gone 20 years, SHIELD would have debriefed them to find out what they info they gathered in the field, what info they gave up under duress and to see if they were brainwashed or impostors. Given SHIELD’s history with LMD’s, they would have discovered that Peter’s “parents” were robots in minutes.

Finally: WHY ISN’T PETER’S SPIDER SENSE GOING OFF LIKE A POLICE SIREN?

Finally: WHY ISN’T PETER’S SPIDER SENSE GOING OFF LIKE A POLICE SIREN?

It does in the final issue. You see, they were programmed to essentially BE Richard and Mary until they learned Spider-Man’s identity. Therefore, until that point they were NOT a threat, so his Spider-Sense never went off. As soon as their evil programming kicks in, Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense DOES kick in and warn him.

Fury, the excerpts don’t do that part of the plot justice: Peter takes very seriously (IIRC) the possibility that they’re Skrulls/droids/something else bad and doesn’t completely trust them for a while.
As someone who’s had an extremely sick parent, I’m going to give Peter a pass on the Alzheimer’s line, too. It’s not noble, but it’s completely realistic (and while my case wasn’t that bad, believe me it’s a lot to deal with for the caregiver). And if she did have Alzheimer’s, he’d never be anything less than supportive or there when she needed him.
I admit I may be biased–despite the logic flaws, I liked this one for putting Peter through serious hell. And the Chameleon was getting pretty loonie by then (again, if memory tells) so I’m not surprised he bought into the scheme. It also fits Harry’s Goblinside.

I had forgotten that this story went on for 20 issues…they really were experts and drawing out stories for WAY TOO DAMN LONG in the 90′s, weren’t they? I should bring this up the next time someone bellyaches about a Bendis story going for 5 issues.

In that website (which address I forget) where the Clone Saga creators detailed a lot of backstory, a common complaint was that marketing got to call the shots: If a five part story showed good sales on the first issues, lo and behold, it would be stretched out to 10!

I stopped reading comics regularly in the early 1980s, before this Spider-Man saga and the clones and everything else. Now it just seems too confusing to go back and try to figure it all out!

From COMICS CREATORS ON SPIDER-MAN:

“Why did you bring back Peter Parker’s parents?”

Michelinie: I didn’t, not really. My last year or two on Amazing were not my happiest years. Jim Salicrup was an editor who gave me a lot of freedom, and I enjoyed myself immensely. Then he left the Spider-Man titles and Danny Fingeroth came back to them. He’s the one who came up with the idea of bringing back Peter’s parents. I felt a little like I was writing his stories instead of mine. The whole parent thing was difficult because he couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me where it was going: he wouldn’t even tell me if they were really his parents or not. I didn’t know if they were aliens, robots or clones! Neither did Danny. He just hadn’t figured it out. So I had to tread water issue after issue, not knowing if these characters were really his parents or not. It was just very difficult. I was writing the actual stories, but I had to fit them around this ongoing storyline that I didn’t have any control over.

this story actually really resonated with me when I was 11

I do like that when Peter is saying he’s not sure he can trust Aunt May, he even looks like he knows he’s being a dick and just doesn’t give a crap.

The Chameleon’s plan does indeed seem to be a very convoluted way to learn Spider-Man’s identity, at least until it’s finally revealed that Green Goblin / Harry Osborn was involved in setting it up right before his death. Harry already knew that Peter Parker was Spider-Man, right? So from Harry’s point of view, the whole thing was just to screw with Peter’s head, and he was only using the Chameleon as a means to that end. I think it would be relatively easy for Harry to sell the Chameleon on the idea that Peter knew Spider-Man’s real ID, because Harry was Peter’s long-time best friend. So all Harry would have to do is go to the Chameleon and say “I know Peter really, really well and, believe me, he knows who Spider-Man is, so let’s carry out this plan of mine, it’s a surefire way to find out Spider-Man’s ID.”

I am not saying that any of this makes this a better story. Rather, my point is that despite its many, many flaws, it does have a crazy sort of internal logic to it.

Sorry Brian, but his Spider Sense should have gone off right away. Just because Peter’s fake parents aren’t attacking him right then doesn’t mean they weren’t a threat. Remember that his Spider Sense goes off to warn him when his ID is being compromised (like when he’s about to unmask and someone is watching). Since they were there with the intent of blowing his cover, his Sense should have been going off like fireworks on the 4th of July.

TWENTY ISSUES before development in the plotline? Ye Gods! In twenty issues, you should’ve already tied off that plotline and been in the middle of the one you introduced after that plot’s followup. Screw you, “decompressed” storytelling.

– John Trumbull, the idea wasn’t to decompress the mystery, it was to treat the parents as a permanent addition to the supporting cast, seemingly the genuine articles, and then pull the rug out from under the readers. Long before this, the Parker parents got plenty of little subplots that treated them like the genuine article. For example, in “Maximum Carnage,” there’s a running bit wherein Richard, jaded by his supposed experiences in a Russian gulag, keeps arguing that the mass violence psychically inspired by Carnage’s ally Shriek is just human nature revealing itself. The idea was that most readers wouldn’t have suspected that this was a long-term “plotline” any more than they would have suspected that the introduction of any new supporting cast members was a finite plotline.

Of course, this change was so drastic, and overturned such a long-established plot point that most of us reading at the time figured someone would reveal the Parker parents were fakes. Crucially, though, most of us figured Michelinie actually intended to bring them back. Hadn’t he come on the books when Peter and MJ were newlyweds, helping cement that drastic status quo change? We figured “the next guy” would retcon away Michelinie’s apparently good-faith resurrection of Richard and Mary. Turns out, Michelinie was planning the rug-pull himself the whole time, which was (for me, at least) mildly surprising.

— It’s also worth noting that this is how Marvel tried to revamp the Vulture as a younger, ergo fitter and tougher villain. It didn’t stick any better than Stan Lee’s less convoluted attempt in the 1960s to create a younger, ostensibly tougher Vulture in the form of Blackie Drago or Mark Waid’s later introduction of a younger, ostensibly tougher new Vulture in the hideously mutated Jimmy Natale. At least neither of those versions had the weird “vampire” gimmick of the rejuvenated Adrian Tooms. Eventually, writers always default to the “embittered old man” Vulture for the thematic conflict with the relatively youthful Peter Parker..and for the “like Ditko’s version” point, I suppose.

It’s sort of amazing how many knockoff villains the Vulture has inspired; among Spider-Man’s villains, he’s second only to the Green Goblin in that regard, albeit a distant second. You’ve got the other three Vultures (Drago, Natale, and the virtually forgotten Clifton Shallot version from Gerry Conway’s 1970s run); the Vulturions from the first few issues of Web of Spider-Man; and, more recently, the original Vulture’s gang of flying teenage thieves.

Good point, Omar. And you didn’t even count Blackie Drago’s daughter Raptor from Spider-Girl (admittedly a second-generation inspiration).
I just looked up the Shallot version–even though I was reading Spider-Man back then I have zero memory of him.

One thing to point out to anyone saying this storyline went on for 20 issues or whatever is that this is back in the days of “subplots”, a now lost idea wherein not only would comics have one plot per issue, instead of one plot per trade, but they would also have other plots running that were not the focus, but were “subplots”.

Sorry about the snark, not going after anyone here, but picking on today’s comics more. But for back then, to keep a plot like this going for awhile wasn’t a bad thing, necessarily. And our pal Omar was more smarter about how everything went down, too.

To be fair John, it took about a year and a half (issues 26 to 44) for the trap to spring on “The Judas Contract” and that storyline was similar to this one (gaining one’s trust to learn their secrets). On the other hand, “Lifetheft” was nowhere near as awesome as “Judas” was.

This shit is right in my wheelhouse. I remember these like it was yesterday.

Yeah, there’s avery big difference between stringing a subplot out over many issues in the background while a lot of other stuff is going on and taking a half-dozen issues to tell the kind of story that used to be told in one issue with no appreciable increase in complexity, just a very, very slow pace and a lot of stretching a little dialogue over many pages. I’m not defending these particular issues, which are pretty silly, but it’s silly to use them to say today’s decompression isn’t so bad.

I can’t reread these, they’re so awful, now that I can read the sixties stuff, but I was fifteen when they first came out and they where awesome back then.
Spidey’s sense did tingle when around Richard for many issues prior, iirc.

One thing to point out to anyone saying this storyline went on for 20 issues or whatever is that this is back in the days of “subplots”, a now lost idea wherein not only would comics have one plot per issue, instead of one plot per trade, but they would also have other plots running that were not the focus, but were “subplots”.

I’ve been reading comics since 1976, so I’m well aware of the existence of subplots. And no, I never thought that Peter Parker’s parents were the main plot for all 20 of those issues (But considering that this was around the era of the clone saga, I wouldn’t put it past them). I still say 20 issues is on the high side, even for a subplot.

To be fair John, it took about a year and a half (issues 26 to 44) for the trap to spring on “The Judas Contract” and that storyline was similar to this one (gaining one’s trust to learn their secrets). On the other hand, “Lifetheft” was nowhere near as awesome as “Judas” was.

That’s a good point. That was a well-developed plotline As I recall, Terra’s true intentions weren’t revealed until issue 34, right about the time we — and all of the Titans — had finally accepted her as a new member.

I wan’t trying to imply that all subplots should have a specified length above, BTW. Just that I much prefer comics that keep things moving rather than drag things out forever, as it sounds like these Spider-Man issues did.

According to this website, the problem was that Fingergoth didn’t tell Michelinie whether the parents were real:
http://spideykicksbutt.com/blog/2012/06/01/symbiote-rehabilitation/

To set the stage, we are about halfway through the infamous “Robot Parents” storyline. This ultimately turned out to be a nowhere plot concocted by the editor at the time, Danny Fingeroth, who subsequently instructed Amazing Spider-Man writer Michelinie to script it. The idea was that rather than being killed by the (as it turned out, fake) Red Skull (as detailed in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 (1968)), Richard and Mary Parker, who were SHIELD agents, were actually alive and held captive in a Soviet prison camp, released after a two decade internment due to the end of the Cold War. “Were they real or phonies” was the question. But there were two big problems with this scenario (1) Fingeroth didn’t tell Michelinie whether or not they were real because as it turned out (2) He hadn’t made up his mind whether or not they were real – and so the story meandered for two years! Ultimately, they turned out to be robots created by the Chameleon in a posthumous scheme of Harry Osborn’s – and their “deaths” in Amazing Spider-Man #388 (April 1994) triggered the descent into darkness that became the Clone Saga.

Loved these stories. They were different from the same old crap that came before and same old crap that came after. It was a great era for Spider-Man. A LOT of changes to the status quo, including the death of May.

Leslie Fontenelle

August 25, 2012 at 11:38 am

That was probably during the period when I gave up superhero comics altogether and went full indie/eurocomix for a few years, because I remember none of that. I also completely missed “teen Tony Stark” and Onslaught.

Good times.

I miss long running subplots. Decompression the way it should be.

David Michelinie explains this mess in the book ‘Comics Creators On Spider-Man’.

When asked why he brought back Peter’s parents, he replied “I didn’t, not really”. He explains that when Danny Fingeroth returned to edit the Spider-Man titles “He’s the one who came up with the idea of bringing back Peter’s parents… The whole parent thing was difficult because he couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me where it was going; he wouldn’t even tell me if they were really his parents or not. I didn’t know if they were robots, aliens or clones! Neither did Danny. He just hadn’t figured it out. So I had to tread water issue after issue, not knowing if these characters were really his parents or not… I was writing the actual stories, but I had to fit them around this ongoing storyline that I didn’t have any control over”.

Ugh.

I always thought this was backpedaling because the reintroduction of Peter’s parents was not, as I recall, popular. Until I see something definitively stating otherwise, I’ll continue to think that. Richard and Mary were actually handled well up until the point they became robots.

It’s too bad, because they could have had a picnic once a year with Thomas and Martha Wayne and their boy, what’s-his-name.

Bagley may not be the greatest artist ever…but he certainly got better as time went on. Those early pictures are below Charleton level.
Horrible stories….hoping Marvel will stop the Spidey essentials before they get this far, as THESE are anything BUT…..

Emanuel Ravelli

August 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm

“I miss long running subplots. Decompression the way it should be.”

To me, that’s the thing – introduce the plot for the next arc as you’re going along. With so much stuff being written for trades, not to mention changing writer / artist teams, it seem that each arc is collected to stand apart, and it becomes difficult to determine how they fit together in the characters’ development. For my money, I personally would rather feel the flow across a series if I’m interested enough to be a regular reader.

And even though I understand why from a business standpoint. not everything needs to be (or is good enough) to be collected in trade form.

And then there are the trades where the main arc isn’t resolved so they throw in a subplot just to give us something. And it usually sucks.

Yeah, I miss subplots too, the Spidey books used to be amazing for that, along with Moench/Conway Batman and, of course, Gerber Defenders.

I think there have been plenty of subplots in spider man lately. especially since the beginning of BND. you had the whole spider tracer thing going on that finally got wrapped up in Character Assassination i think. then there was all the stuff leading up to Grim Hunt with the Kravenoffs. slotts has a few subplots going on too. the hobgoblin/kingpin stuff has been going on since the begging of Big Time. and all the infected back up stories leading in to spider island. So subplots aren’t dead guys. amazing spider man is on its A game right now.

I remember this when I was a kid. I never read this storyline through to the end. It ran through Maximum Carnage along the way.

Just remember guys, this Aunt May was actually an actress hired by Norman Osborn.

After seeing that, the upcoming Clone Saga (which was only issues away) was in some ways a step UP for the Spider-Man titles, plot-wise.

Oh, for sure. As bad as the Clone Sage could be, even at its very worst it could never be as terrible as Michilinie Spider-Man.

In the titles defense (which I read occasingly back then), they actually went through with stuff back then. We didn’t get big promises, then it stops or they introduce something else to distract from the fact they never told that story. Spider-man’s ‘parents’ were always going to be robots. They weren’t actually back. Aunt May died. They actually had plots and character development back then. Maybe it was stretched out, as they say. They actually went through with stuff. How could it not be good?

Just remember guys, this Aunt May was actually an actress hired by Norman Osborn.

Holy hell, that’s right. Aargh, that is just terrible.

So Peter’s parents turned out to be robots and Aunt May was an impostor. I’m amazed they didn’t do a storyline where it turns out that Mary Jane was really a construction worker named Leon Kompowsky.

Well the May imposter was a retcon nobody at the time had imagined–but yeah, lumped together, it does sound bizarre.

What would be even crazier was if Spidey himself had just been a clone who only THOUGHT he was Peter Parker. But nah, that’s crazy talk.

Just remember guys, this Aunt May was actually an actress hired by Norman Osborn.

Obviously she’s a method actor.

So Peter didn’t want to tell Aunt May that he was Spider-Man.
Then a few months later when she died, she told him that she knew about it all along anyway!
But hey, turns out that wasn’t the real May and real May didn’t know his secret after all.
Then real May eventually found out.
But hey, turns out that after One More Day she doesn’t know anymore.
She’d be better off being senile with Alzheimer’s.

Speaking of fake dead Aunt May, when exactly did the switch to replace her with the impostor take place?
And how long did Osborn keep May in a closet until Peter got her back alive?
Seems to me if Osborn wanted to mess with Peter it would have been much simpler to just poison her oatmeal or something so she dies for real.

And does she still have that genetic goblin bomb in her neck that Reed Richards neutralized but couldn’t remove?

So many crappy storylines, and so many closets overflowing with skeletons.
Half of which are not even really dead.

Am I right in remembering that this, combined with Maximum Carnage, was what set Peter off on a period of being brooding and bitter and calling himself “The Spider” in his internal monologue? Man, I hated that period.

And good grief, I’d forgotten how stupid that Vulture costume looked, with the cowl that has an open top to reveal his bald dome. (Not that it looked much better when he first got it, at which time he temporarily had a full head of hair.)

Yeah, this is exactly the point where Peter went off the deep end a bit.

That’s not how Alzheimer’s works, BTW, but I can’t say being misinformed about a disease is unrealistic. Unlike, say, that “Peter has to die” panel from the end of 386. HOLY CRAP WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER EYE?! Block off the edges of the panel and imagine that face peeping through a hole in the wall at you, the way the artist ought to have done. Dayum, I know she’s a robot made of morphing goo, but that’s just wrong.

And this story sure would have been over quick if the robots had been programmed to know what a telephone was. Maybe they were afraid they’d be deactivated after fulfilling their mission, so they just dragged it out as long as they could. Wait, that actually would have made sense.

All of Spidey’s villains need to take a lesson from Luthor: “Do you think he’s any less bulletproof when he’s in his pajamas?” Uncovering the guy’s secret identity simply means he’d have to ditch it and spend the rest of his life “on duty” 24/7. Is the Human Torch any less of a pain in the butt for criminals because they can say nasty things about his sister?

“Yeah, there’s avery big difference between stringing a subplot out over many issues in the background while a lot of other stuff is going on and taking a half-dozen issues to tell the kind of story that used to be told in one issue with no appreciable increase in complexity, just a very, very slow pace and a lot of stretching a little dialogue over many pages. I’m not defending these particular issues, which are pretty silly, but it’s silly to use them to say today’s decompression isn’t so bad.

“I miss long running subplots. Decompression the way it should be.”

To me, that’s the thing – introduce the plot for the next arc as you’re going along. With so much stuff being written for trades, not to mention changing writer / artist teams, it seem that each arc is collected to stand apart, and it becomes difficult to determine how they fit together in the characters’ development. For my money, I personally would rather feel the flow across a series if I’m interested enough to be a regular reader.

And even though I understand why from a business standpoint. not everything needs to be (or is good enough) to be collected in trade form.

Totally agreed, actual story arcs and subplots spanning multiple issues were one of my favorite parts about comics and I enjoyed them far more than the current method of only telling mostly non-connected storylines drawn over multiple issues. For me the current formula is a regression to the episodic Golden and Silver Age times, except that the stories are needlessly decompressed and drag for far too long without adding depth. That’s one of the reasons I can’t stand Ultimate Spider-Man.

And good grief, I’d forgotten how stupid that Vulture costume looked, with the cowl that has an open top to reveal his bald dome. (Not that it looked much better when he first got it, at which time he temporarily had a full head of hair.)

I’ll take that costume over the ridiculous classic Vulture costume that looks like it belongs someone attending a costume party, not a supervillain, any day of the week.

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