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  1. #1
    Extraordinary Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Default MARVEL SPOTLIGHT: JMS (rare interviews?)

    I recently came across something called Marvel Spotlight. This was a series of Marvel magazines published around 2008.
    https://www.amazon.com/Marvel-Spotli.../dp/B000PTGX8O
    https://www.amazon.com/Marvel-Spotli.../dp/B076617V1P

    The interviews happened and took place in a period before JMS publicly broke with Quesada about OMD's final issues. So it's kind of a neat capsule of ASM before the OMD backlash (which I think created a change in mentality among Marvel staff after that).

    What makes this magazine interesting is that they feature rare interviews with JMS discussing behind the scenes issues of his run and general thoughts about it that he otherwise doesn't talk about elsewhere or only briefly mentioned. Also has some new information not shared or discussed before (not to my knowledge).

    There's some interesting details that hasn't been talked about elsewhere.
    -- JMS says quite clearly he avoided Spider-Man's classic rogues partly out of them being overexposed and partly out of a desire for freshness but he also says clearly, and I paraphrase, that he didn't intend villains like Morlun, Digger, to last beyond his run. He wanted one-shot villains he could control for his run.
    -- However he said that he eventually planned to bring back classic rogues in a big way. He said that he had plans to do something special with Electro and Black Cat but that got torpedoed by Bendis and New Avengers. With the move to New Avengers, JMS had to change gears, that meant classic rogues had to go on the backburner. Black Cat as mentioned here (and also in the BACK IN BLACK special) became inaccessible because of Kevin Smith's series.
    -- According to him, he had planned to do more with Peter as a teacher and he regreted the fact that it ended before he could do more with it before the move to Avengers Tower. JMS wasn't against that but he felt more time needed to be done to explore that.
    -- The shift to Avengers Tower was something editors asked him to do, and they also suggested that he tie Iron Man to Spider-Man more.
    -- This part was a surprise to me. JMS was on-board with Tony Stark and Spider-Man being a father-son mentor relationship. He said that he liked it, and that he didn't agree with Spider-Man breaking with Tony. He said that he ideally would have liked to continued exploring that further. JMS felt that the break between Peter and Iron Man was too abrupt and not set up well, and it was something that he had to do to accommodate Millar's story. I found this surprising because I always felt that JMS wrote IM as douchey and that he disliked Tony in favor of Cap.
    -- JMS wasn't happy that Peter's unmasking happened in CIVIL WAR first rather than ASM. He felt that such a major moment was his collar as Spider-Man's lead writer at the time.
    -- Some new details about Sins' Past. JMS says that Sins' Past was approved by editorial as being a story of Peter and Gwen's kids but then he was told to make it Norman's. JMS said that he wanted to spike the story then but promos and solicitations had gone out already so he committed himself to that. What this means is that Quesada did agree on principle at first for Peter to be the Dad of Gwen's kids but changed minds after promos and stuff went out. JMS agrees though that Sins' Past is a mistake.
    -- JMS' five favorite issues of his run -- "The Conversation, the 9/11 issue, ASM#500, the fight with Morlun, Doomed Affairs".
    -- JMS doesn't seem to be all that keen about BACK IN BLACK. Apparently the entire issue came out because Spider-Man 3 was coming in and Marvel needed a comic with Spider-Man in the black suit. Originally CIVIL WAR and Aunt May getting shot was to lead directly to the first issue of OMD (which JMS mentioned before). He said (elsewhere) that delaying it killed the dramatic tension and desperation that the story needed for it to work. So Back In Black was, JMS noting sending Peter down a dark path.
    -- JMS hates THE OTHER. He regrets Sins' Past, but The Other was a story that he felt was editorially mismanaged because of different writers in different styles working in a story that doesn't gel together.
    -- JMS in general says Peter is 12 times smarter than the ordinary man and that he wrote Spider-Man as being much smarter and more intelligent than himself (i.e JMS).
    -- JMS' also is a big Peter/MJ shipper and talks extensively about how he wanted to make them work as a loving couple in his run and move away from how they were written before.

    I always did feel that JMS' collaboration with JRJR was better than the latter part and the reason for that is apparent with all these editorial interventions that he wasn't consulted about or given time to think about -- Bendis' New Avengers, The Other, Civil War, Spider-Man 3 appearing and so that leading to Back in Black, OMD.

    Not that it's black-and-white. Sins' Past was largely JMS (even with editorial changes), while Back in Black which is basically a finger-exercise padding issue actually is an all-time great story and led to another all-time great story with Fraction's Annual.

  2. #2
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    That's all interesting to know. Thanks for sharing, and I especially agree with the last two points you listed. I'd also add that if Spider-Man was going to be a bigger part of the wider Marvel Universe, JMS should have been allowed a lot more input, if not oversight, into how Spider-Man's character was handled than it would seem he actually got.
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  3. #3
    Mighty Member Jman27's Avatar
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    the quality looks old surprised this information wasnt brought up before. Interesting how he saw and like Peter and Tony having a father son relationship. I know many here wont appreciate that
    "He's pure power and doesn't even know it. He's the best of us."-Matt Murdock

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  4. #4
    Fantastic Member Spidey_62's Avatar
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    I know some are fans of later stories in the run like the New Avengers stuff, the Civil War tie-ins, and the Back in Black tie-ins, but I always felt a dip in quality after JRJR left pretty much immediately. *coughsinspastcough* Absolutely hated The Other as it was coming out, between the one-two punch of Sins Past and The Other as a kid it's a miracle I'm still reading this stuff lmao.

    I didn't know about JMS wanting to use Electro and Black Cat, there are a few more instances of editorial/current circumstances overpowering him on the title. Personally I like to prefer and imagine JMS' run is just that first half with him and JRJR totally in sync telling interesting stories they wanted to tell, then everything from Sins Past on is a weird dream I pretend doesn't exist.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member Lukmendes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    -- This part was a surprise to me. JMS was on-board with Tony Stark and Spider-Man being a father-son mentor relationship. He said that he liked it, and that he didn't agree with Spider-Man breaking with Tony. He said that he ideally would have liked to continued exploring that further. JMS felt that the break between Peter and Iron Man was too abrupt and not set up well, and it was something that he had to do to accommodate Millar's story. I found this surprising because I always felt that JMS wrote IM as douchey and that he disliked Tony in favor of Cap.
    Not that surprising if you think about it, since before Civil War he was being a decent enough mento to Peter and gave him that costumes, and when Peter "died", Tony was the one who ironically thought Peter's secret identity shouldn't be revealed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jman27 View Post
    the quality looks old surprised this information wasnt brought up before. Interesting how he saw and like Peter and Tony having a father son relationship. I know many here wont appreciate that
    I'm one of them, it's kinda ridiculous for Tony to mentor the guy who's his senior as a super hero, it'd only make sense if Tony was mentoring Peter on how to work on teams, which you'd have to ignore that Marvel Team-Up existed for that to make sense as much sense lol.

  6. #6
    Extraordinary Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntsman Spider View Post
    That's all interesting to know. Thanks for sharing, and I especially agree with the last two points you listed. I'd also add that if Spider-Man was going to be a bigger part of the wider Marvel Universe, JMS should have been allowed a lot more input, if not oversight, into how Spider-Man's character was handled than it would seem he actually got.
    As the writer of ASM it was his right, but editorial and others overruled him. I think Bendis was just that much of a star, and him writing USM which sold pretty well and outsold ASM before JMS started his run and the early parts of his run gave him leverage over JMS. This is what I think mind you. JMS doesn't mention this part.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jman27 View Post
    Interesting how he saw and like Peter and Tony having a father son relationship. I know many here wont appreciate that
    Now that I think about it, I think Tony and Peter was a development of the Ezekiel-Peter dynamic in his run. Ezekiel was quite Stark-like in being an inventor and millionaire who takes a fatherly interest in Peter. So in that sense Tony functions as an Ezekiel substitute and it does suggest continuity between the JRJR era JMS and the second part, more than I had previously thought.

    As for how I feel, I do feel a little let down that I can't completely blame Marvel editorial (though they did ask specifically for Peter to move to Avengers Tower and to tie IM to Spider-Man) and that JMS was on board.

    Still one can accept that good things can produce bad and negative influences and unintended consequences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spidey_62 View Post
    I know some are fans of later stories in the run like the New Avengers stuff, the Civil War tie-ins, and the Back in Black tie-ins, but I always felt a dip in quality after JRJR left pretty much immediately. *coughsinspastcough* Absolutely hated The Other as it was coming out, between the one-two punch of Sins Past and The Other as a kid it's a miracle I'm still reading this stuff lmao.
    Aside from Back in Black, there aren't any universally accepted great stories in the second half of JMS' run.

    Personally I like to prefer and imagine JMS' run is just that first half with him and JRJR totally in sync telling interesting stories they wanted to tell, then everything from Sins Past on is a weird dream I pretend doesn't exist.
    It's telling that when JMS lists his favorite stories from his run, it's all from the JRJR era.



    Still you gotta admit that JMS is now confirmed to be one of the most influential writers on Spider-Man. His writing on Spider-Man in effect is as defining over the last decade in terms of adaptations as any other. His Civil War tie-ins on ASM inspired the MCU far more than Mark Millar did, in terms of the Tony-Spidey father-son dynamic as well as Captain America's "You move speech" translating to the movies far more than any of Millar's nosh.

    The fact that this element inspired adaptations more than his mature take on Peter or his defining portrayal of the Mary Jane love story and the marriage well we can rank that with Watchmen and The Killing Joke being great books that only had its most superficial aspects take influence rather than it's deeper elements. JMS' not being keen on Back in Black is a little disappointing but then a lot of excellent writers tend to not appreciate some of their work that is great despite the circumstances and so on.
    Last edited by Revolutionary_Jack; 10-12-2020 at 06:34 PM.

  7. #7
    Fantastic Member Spidey_62's Avatar
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    Yeah, I believe a lot of newer writers are big fans of JMS' Spidey. Pretty sure I've seen Chip Zdarsky say he's a big fan of that run. For JMS not expecting characters like Morlun to have lifespans outside his run, Morlun would show up in Hudlin's Black Panther, then again with Dan Slott taking the mysticism and Morlun from JMS to the nth degree. Shathra showed up in Yost's Scarlet Spider which was cool, and I believe she got tied to the Other retroactively. Zdarsky's Life Story has Morlun as one of the defining moments of 2000s era Spidey. But beyond some of the more mystical villains that have had some staying power, there's a lot of love out there just for how Peter was characterized and his relationship with MJ. Peter's inner monologuing is at some of its best in those stories, just felt totally authentic to me as opposed to Spidey in the late 00s-most of the 2010s where he just feels hyper and cringey way too much.

  8. #8

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    JMS looks like a big hypocrite. After the Sins Past backlash he literally blamed the people who criticized the story, calling them sexist and mysoginist because they said Gwen acted completely out of character. He literally said that there was nothing wrong in the Stacy-Osborn affair and a woman having sex with another man while being engaged was something normal. So I laugh when I read he regrets the story and he was "forced" to put Osborn as the father of the twins.

  9. #9
    Extraordinary Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Interesting that he doesn’t rate Back in Black that highly, Peter beating the **** out of Kingpin is one of my all time favorite moments of his run.

  10. #10
    Extraordinary Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    Interesting that he doesn’t rate Back in Black that highly, Peter beating the **** out of Kingpin is one of my all time favorite moments of his run.
    I agree. It's not uncommon for writers to dislike a work of theirs that fans really like and appreciate more than they do. So this is one of those things.

    JMS doesn't dislike Back in Black the way he does The Other, Sins' Past, and eventually, OMD...so there's that. I guess for him it's an issue of structure (delaying Aunt May getting shot for several issues and keeping her on the gurney kills tension) and the fact that this was basically a marketing ploy.

    I appreciate the irony that Spider-Man 3 despite being a bad film, indirectly led to comics -- "Back in Black" and "To Have and to Hold" -- that are far better than the movie and among the best Spider-Man stories of all time.

  11. #11
    Loony Scott Taylor's Avatar
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    Wow I completely agree with him on his best stories. Back in Black was a fun story but it was obvious at the time that it was done to promote the movie in an indirect manner. The story has nothing whatsoever in common with SM 3.

    We all know the events leading up to OMD were a train wreck. It felt like one, was managed like one and was executed haphazardly and hastily. You can pretty much tell also that editorial and Marvel as a whole wasn't caring too much about what JMS did in the second half of his run, because their path was set on the reboot which would soft-erase all of that stuff anyhow. Thats how I see the JMS frustration - no one wants to be the fill-in guy, which he was relegated to for that timeframe.
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  12. #12
    Astonishing Member CrimsonEchidna's Avatar
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    See I wonder now if they didn't torpedo Peter's bond with Tony the way they did if detractors would've been warmer receiving to how Peter is written in the MCU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    As the writer of ASM it was his right, but editorial and others overruled him. I think Bendis was just that much of a star, and him writing USM which sold pretty well and outsold ASM before JMS started his run and the early parts of his run gave him leverage over JMS. This is what I think mind you. JMS doesn't mention this part.
    I think people also kind of forget how much of a game changer New Avengers was commercially. Like in hindsight it's no surprise at all that Marvel editors let Bendis do what he want for so long because his stuff was selling leaps and bound more than everyone elses. lol
    Last edited by CrimsonEchidna; 10-14-2020 at 11:18 AM.
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  13. #13
    The Future is Now WebSlingWonder's Avatar
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    This is actually incredible to read, Jack: thank you! I wholeheartedly agree with JMS's selections for his favorite stories (although I'd put #505 in there as well, "Vibes" - I really enjoyed that one) and it's cool to see the behind-the-scenes behind this run. It still ranks as my favorite 616 Spider-Man run, and I agree that the JMS/JRJR team was unbeatable at the time.
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  14. #14
    Extraordinary Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Taylor View Post
    Wow I completely agree with him on his best stories. Back in Black was a fun story but it was obvious at the time that it was done to promote the movie in an indirect manner. The story has nothing whatsoever in common with SM 3.

    We all know the events leading up to OMD were a train wreck. It felt like one, was managed like one and was executed haphazardly and hastily. You can pretty much tell also that editorial and Marvel as a whole wasn't caring too much about what JMS did in the second half of his run, because their path was set on the reboot which would soft-erase all of that stuff anyhow. Thats how I see the JMS frustration - no one wants to be the fill-in guy, which he was relegated to for that timeframe.
    That's a good point you make there. The lead-writer of ASM treated like second-banana for editorial shenanigans is pretty disrespectful and low on Marvel's part. I think JMS being a Pro-Marriage guy made the editorial brass snub him.

    It's not like JMS had issues with Spider-Man joining the Avengers of with CIVIL WAR, he just wanted his fair share. And Spider-Man's unmasking (by far the biggest reason for CIVIL WAR's success) belonged to ASM.

  15. #15
    Extraordinary Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonEchidna View Post
    See I wonder now if they didn't torpedo Peter's bond with Tony the way they did if detractors would've been warmer receiving to how Peter is written in the MCU?
    The anti-Tony sentiment really comes from Mark Millar's poorly written CIVIL WAR. If they had written a better version of that, maybe it would work.

    I think people also kind of forget how much of a game changer New Avengers was commercially. Like in hindsight it's no surprise at all that Marvel editors let Bendis do what he want for so long because his stuff was selling leaps and bound more than everyone elses. lol
    The major reason Bendis' run sold was because it had Spider-Man and Wolverine in it. That's all. So it's chicken-and-egg. Bendis got say on New Avengers because his run was selling welll...well it sold because he asked for Spider-Man and they gave him Spider-Man and JMS was on-board with it and decided to go full hog with it.

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