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You Decide – Who Is Your Favorite Amazing Spider-Man Writer?

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With the latest volume of Amazing Spider-Man just launching, CBR wanted to know which of the writers in Amazing Spider-Man history (since Stan Lee left the title) was your favorite?

Read on for the choices!

38 Comments

Stan Lee is the God of Spider-Man writers, but since we can’t have him:

Roger Stern for me!

I like Dan Slott and the post-OMD writers, but now I’m starting to realize that I will never completely get over OMD. Yes, I know it’s been 7 years. Now I know how those old farts that refused to accept the first CRISIS at DC have felt.

I liked JMS at first, but the later half of his run is horrible.

J. M. de Matteis I want to like, but I almost always feel that he is trying too hard to be deep and tragic when he writes Spidey. Funny, that I love his work on Captain America. Maybe his “getting in touch with his inner feelings” style of writing worked best in the 1980s. By the 1990s, it felt tired to me. KRAVEN’S LAST HUNT is still good, though.

Gerry Conway deserves credit for writing one classic story. But I’m not much of a fan of anything else he has written.

Wein, Wofman, Goodwin, DeFalco are all in that category that goes from serviceable to mediocre. To me, they all feel like very pallid copies of Stan Lee writing post-Ditko. I really don’t like 1970s Spider-Man much. I think Wolfman is the strongest of the set, but I’m not crazy about him.

David Michelinie is the greatest writer since Shakespeare (I’m just messing with T.).

Howard Mackie – Awful.

Drew Melbourne

May 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm

It is criminal to do a list like this and not include Paul Jenkins.

He never wrote Amazing Spider-Man, hence it is quite logical (rather than criminal) that he not be listed on a poll of the best writers of Amazing Spider-Man.

One writer who WAS actually left off by mistake was Zeb Wells. My apologies, Zeb!

Went with Gerry Conway. I just associate him with the most of those great Marvel Tales reprints I read growing up.

I also really liked Tom DeFalco (esp. with the Frenz art)…he’s someone I associate with the whole black costume era, which screams mid-80s, ergo a really fun time in my comic collecting…I liked the stuff with Hobgoblin, Sinister Syndicate…plus I feel he handled the whole “hard-luck Peter Parker can’t win” vibe with the human interactions (framed Flash Thompson, Aunt May’s Nathan getting mugged, etc.).

Bill Williamson

May 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Didn’t Denny O’Neil write Amazing at one point?

Anyway, I voted for Roger Stern, but Drew raises an interesting point about blind spots, how there are so many great creators who did most of their work on the ‘B’ Spider-Man titles. People like Peter David, Bill Mantlo, even Brian Michael Bendis to a certain extent. His work on Ultimate is certainly some of his best.

Didn’t Denny O’Neil write Amazing at one point?

Was he not on the poll? I had him as an option, he must have been left off by mistake when the poll was made (the Zeb Wells mistake was all my fault, though – I forgot to send him in as an option).

Anyway, I voted for Roger Stern, but Drew raises an interesting point about blind spots, how there are so many great creators who did most of their work on the ‘B’ Spider-Man titles. People like Peter David, Bill Mantlo, even Brian Michael Bendis to a certain extent. His work on Ultimate is certainly some of his best.

Oh sure, plenty of good writers on the other books. But with Amazing Spider-Man relaunching, we limited it to that title.

Color me confused. I never suspected that Dan Slott is so popular.

J.M. DeMatteis is the only answer I will accept! If Marvel released a JM DeMatteis Visionaries collection, I would totally buy that! Though I mostly think of him as a Spectacular Spider-Man writer as well as the best writer.

Color me confused. I never suspected that Dan Slott is so popular.

Well, even if you discount his 31 issues of Superior Spider-Man (and his other Spider-Man work, like Spider-Man/Human Torch and his current Learning to Crawl), Slott will soon become the writer who has written the most issues of Amazing other than Stan Lee (and heck, he should likely pass Stan Lee before 2015 is over), so he’s been popular enough to still be writing the book after that many issues.

Bill Williamson

May 13, 2014 at 4:19 pm

I would have voted for DeMatteis if his best work were on Amazing and not Spectacular.

Also, Slott may have written a lot of Spider-Man, but so did Michelinie.

Also, Slott may have written a lot of Spider-Man, but so did Michelinie.

Michelinie is apparently pretty popular, as well, as he is currently 5th on the poll.

Gave my vote to Roger Stern. He captured the true essence of the character.

Quite frankly, Michelinie’s popularity is another surprise for me. His almost hundred issue long run was a total boredom from the beginning until the end. At least the Clone saga after that was interesting for a while.

I also don’t like Michelinie’s run. But I feel sort of bad in criticizing people for voting for it. Sure, one can say that people almost always have a preference for the guy that was writing the book when they started reading it, and that explains Michelinie’s popularity.

However, since I did vote for Roger Stern, and Stern was the guy that was writing Spider-Man when I started to become a serious fan of the character… the same criticism can be applied to me.

I voted for Slott by accident when I meant to vote for Stern. Not even sure how that happened as the two choices weren’t exactly right next to each other.

Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Len Wein and Marv Wolfman were the earliest “Amazing Spider-Man” writers I encountered. (I initially missed out on the Gerry Conway years.) But while I’m not surprised that Dan Slott is taking the lead in the poll, my vote went to Roger Stern. His run on the title was one of the best runs “Amazing Spider-Man” has ever had. After that, I gotta say I like what I’ve read of David Micheline’s run and J. Michael Straczynski’s run. At least up until the infamous “Sins Past” and “Skin Deep” stories. Then I gave up on him. All other authors were just providing filler.

I voted for Dan Slott, as I think that he’s the first person in a long time to write Spider-Man stories which are not only interesting, but are also quite fun. He’s also very good with continuity, and he seems to remember a lot of stories and characters that a lot of people forget.

That being said, Roger Stern would easily be my second-place vote if I could vote for more than one. His run managed to hit all of the right spots and I honestly can’t think of a single issue of it that I didn’t enjoy.

Stern was putting out his issues when I was a baby, but I still like him best. I liked Slott before I stopped buying new singles. Maybe someday I’ll try to get through his output? It’s kinda daunting how much there’s been in the last 5 years. I miss the days when comics weren’t double or triple-shipped.

Stern, baby, all the way. Only Ditko beats his batting average when it comes to crafting classic Spider-Man tales.

Man, I wanted to type a quick recap of the JMS run to remind people of how bad it was, but I cannot for the life of me remember what happened in those comics (other than the obvious talking-points, such as weepy Doom and Gabriel Stacey). I tried to consult the covers to see if they would jog my memory, and I gotta say this is the most boring run of covers in Spider-Man history. Every cover in the JMS run is of Spidey striking a pose by himself with some buildings in the background. They convey no story information whatsoever. I wonder if it’s some original art market thing, an “iconic” Spidey cover fetches a higher price than a story-specific one. In any case, they are totally useless for recalling what happened in the comics!

Bill Williamson

May 14, 2014 at 5:52 am

Cass: I dispute that JMS’ run was very bad, or even bad at all, when John Romita Jr was on it. In fact I’d say that JMS/JRJR was an excellent run. Post-JRJR I stopped paying attention, although Sins Past was fucking stupid.

John Klein III: I must say that I agree with your sentiment. I was thinking about what Spider-Man Omnibus Marvel should do next, after the fantastic Roger Stern omnibus they put out last month, and the best answers I could think of were JM DeMatteis and Gerry Conway (his 80/90s stuff).

Of course, we probably won’t see such a thing for a very long time.

@Bill: I did like John Romita Jr.’s style during that period but JMS’s writing always struck me as self-important. I do remember some issues I did like (e.g. I have a vague memory of Peter trying to reach out to MJ in astral form but she couldn’t see or hear him, that was a nice moment), but on the whole what sticks out in my memory are the disappointments: Sins Past, the overblown Ezekiel stuff, OMD. Certainly JMS’s reputation has not benefited from the passage of time, so perhaps that’s coloring my recollection. I still have the singles so I’ll probably reread them some day. Who knows, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Bill, thanks for beating me to defending JMS run. Which I have to add that I thought he had a multi-year run on the title, how many issues did he write compared to Slott and Lee. I know Lee was on Spider-Man for years but I must be underestimating Slott’s run (I haven’t read it).

Cass, poor JMS’ run came at the height of the Jemas/Quesada all covers have to be generic posters of the characters. Whenever I look at my cover gallery of my collection over at comicbookdb, I can always tell when that era hit hard as it usually is just issue after issue of characters standing around or leaning against things (sometimes flying over things too!). Such a disappointing era for covers. But I’ve always been a fan of story related covers. Also, it may not have been an actual rule of Jemas/Quesada’s that was just the theory a few of us had.

I love the JMS/JRJR era, that was when the titles felt like they were finally on track. I should have jumped off when JRJR left but I stayed much longer than I should have

(OMD being the deathnail of my run that started with Amazing Spider-Man 270 way back in 1992 – 15 years of the character plus all of his series at the time and moving forward!).

@Cass
I agree 100% about the covers during the JMS run. I think all Marvel covers were like that at the time, which makes it hard to go back and find the back issues you want to read. It is also hard to tell if you have missed and issue in the comic store.

As for Slott, I think he writes a kind of DC version of Spider-Man. I like his work, but I wish Marvel had a good artist working with him, and that more than 1 in 3 of the alternates were good.

I didn’t mind his Thor, but JMS’s Spider-Man was awful on top of awful. The whole Spider-Totem thing was really bad, and that might have been the highlight of his run. What he did to Gwen Stacy is unforgivable, and no matter how much say he had in it, just having your name involved with One More Day disqualifies you for life.

There were things I enjoyed here and there in JMS’s run. I sometimes liked the way he wrote Peter’s day-to-day relationships with MJ and Aunt May, adjusting to Avengers Mansion and working for Tony Stark. But the big stories and retcons–Spider-Totem, Sins Past and One More Day–were just abominably bad.

I do like Slott’s Spidey work a lot (both Peter and Ock), but for me the choice was between Stern and DeMatteis.

Bill Williamson

May 14, 2014 at 10:42 am

I didn’t mind the Spider totem stuff. To me, that’s trying to update Spider-Man for the modern era. Spider-Man’s best villains have always been the animal avatars, ex: Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Lizard, Rhino, Kraven, Chameleon, Vulture, Venom, Hobgoblin, Jackal, etc. JMS was kind of drawing on that, as well as kind of rationalising how a radioactive spider could endow Peter Parker with spider powers in a post-atomic age, where people understand that an irradiated spider bite probably wouldn’t do anything.

Like I said, I never really paid attention to his run post-Romita, so I didn’t really read The Other and see the rebuttal to The Book of Ezekiel, where the conclusion was ‘Believe what you want to believe’.

Aside from that, JMS did great stuff with MJ and Aunt May. He made Aunt May an integral part of Peter’s supporting cast by finding out his secret. He put Peter and MJ back together, and he wrote their marriage very well. JMS did great single issue stories, like the silent issue, the 9/11 issue, the issue where Peter and May talk about his being Spider-Man or the issue where Peter and MJ finally get back together. He did a great story with Loki.

Yeah, Sins Past sucked, and OMD is probably the worst Spider-Man story ever written, but only the former is really JMS’ fault. In the latter case he was being paid to write someone else’s story, and if history has taught us anything (The original conclusion to the Hobgoblin arc, Peter’s parents are robots, immediately come to mind) it generally goes south when a writer is being forced to write an editor’s story.

I don’t really see how “magic magic” is more acceptable than “radiation magic” when it comes to giving people superpowers, it all boils down to “things happen differently in the Marvel Universe”. To me, it’s another sign of JMS’s intense desire to be Alan Moore and pulling a Swamp Thing twist for Spider-Man.

But I do like it that JMS had it so Peter himself never accepts the magic explanation, and so we’re not forced to accept it either. Every magic and religious tradition has alternate/complementary explanations for natural phenomena, so it’s okay if some cultists or whatever think there was magic involved in the creation of Spider-Man.

And I also love how JMS wrote MJ and Aunt May. He was the first guy in decades to treat Aunt May as a person, with smarts and dignity, wisdom and strength. Not just a funny old woman.

Not enough for me to vote for JMS. There will be always Sins Past. But yeah, the first half of JMS’s run really seemed like a renaissance.

But I do like it that JMS had it so Peter himself never accepts the magic explanation, and so we’re not forced to accept it either.

I liked that a lot, as well, until JMS then explicitly had it revealed that, nope, the magic thing was definitely true during The Other.

That sucks, Brian.

I’m glad that I have a superpower myself. I tend to forget bad stuff, except when it’s really bad, like Sins Past. The Other is sort of a hazy mess in the back of my head.

Bill Williamson

May 14, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I’ve always preferred the genetically altered spider explanation personally. As featured in Ultimate Spider-Man. It keeps Spider-Man’s origin grounded in science without sounding too ridiculous as any radiation based origin might sound to a person living in the 21st century.

But I don’t necessarily condemn JMS’ bringing mysticism elements into Spider-Man. JMS has obviously been very comfortable writing magic based superheroes like Thor or Doctor Strange, so it seems logical that he’d try to make Spider-Man fit that paradigm. The stories he was writing wouldn’t have worked otherwise and there’s the old adage ‘write what you know’. Plus, it gave JMS something to play with and ensured that he wasn’t just re-using the old villains, something that Roger Stern also tried to consciously avoid.

In my mind it’s not much different to Dan Slott’s ‘second spider bite’.

It was a tough decision for me, with Roger Stern or Tom DeFalco. I ended up going with DeFalco, but it was close.

I was shocked to see Slott and Strazcynski at the top. Slott should only be in the middle at best, and Strazcynski much lower. Slott is a decent writer for the most part, but all his stories feel DC-ish to me.

I guess you’re restricting this list to the writers who had regular runs on the title. There are several more who had odd issues here and there– Peter David, Bill Mantlo, even Ann Nocenti, for example.

Yeah, I also don’t see how “magic” is more current. a radioactive spider…too unbelievable…but magic, oh yeah, that could happen in this day and age….

But the bigger problem is one with many current writers where they have to put their spin on an origin, and make something simple and perfect way too complex and convoluted. Just leave them alone and tell your own stories.

(And Goblins are not part of the animal kingdom?)

@M-Wolverine
I agree with you on the idea that too many writer’s want to ‘add’ to characters by tampering with their origins. It is/was especially bad at DC the last several years (three new Superman origins in less than 10 years?) and is why I quit when the Nu52 began.

It’s funny that JMS himself does a meta-commentary in a later story. There is this Hollywood writer that complains that fans dislike his new origin for Lobster-Man or some such, the writer says that having a magic lineage of Lobster-Men gaining powers from a Lobster God opens up a lot of story possibilities and creates a whole mythology, while just having Lobster-Man gaining his powers in a scientific accident is a creative dead end.

The error in JMS’s thinking is that opening up a whole new mythology is good when the character is relatively new and/or B-List. Like Swamp Thing, Starman and Daredevil. It doesn’t work so well when the character already has a long and successful mythology in place.

Brian:”I liked that a lot, as well, until JMS then explicitly had it revealed that, nope, the magic thing was definitely true during The Other.”

Yeah, I really liked the whole Spider-Totem business when it was it was left as a possibility, maybe yes, maybe no kind of deal. But then JMS had to go and make it a dead certainty.

I’m wondering if Sin’s past would have been less hated or more hated if JMS had been allowed to go ahead with his original idea of making Peter the father…

**************
renenarciso
May 13, 2014 at 2:10 pm

I like Dan Slott and the post-OMD writers, but now I’m starting to realize that I will never completely get over OMD. Yes, I know it’s been 7 years. Now I know how those old farts that refused to accept the first CRISIS at DC have felt.

*****************

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Yes it has ONLY been seven years – certain people didn’t get over the marriage for TWENTY years so you’ve got a while to go yet.

It was a close thing between DeFalco and JMS – but in the end DeFalco won out for me.

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