A blog post from my old Marvel blog, part of a series concerning bad comics that I had written.
Continuing on with this week’s theme of BAD COMICS I WROTE, let’s take a look at the SPIDER-MAN: FUNERAL FOR AN OCTOPUS limited series.
FUNERAL came about as a “budget-buster”, a project that was created in order to make certain that a particular financial benchmark was achieved in a given quarter. At the time, the Clone Saga had just begun in the Spidey books, and was generating some heat. There was a new character who’d come onto the scene, a villain by the name of Kaine–and as part of the ramp-up for this character, to make him seem cool, the decision was made to have him kill Doctor Octopus–permanently.
So the story was well into production and the decision was made to do this limited series in order to make budget. The editor threw the assignment my way–I had been doing a number of SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED back-up stories and Annual back-ups, and being on staff, he felt confident that I could get it all turned around in time. Working from the barest bones description, I wrote up an initial outline of a three-issue story and turned it in to the editor and his associate editor (who’d be directly editing the limited series.) They came back to me with some notes:
“We like what you’ve got here. However, all of the Spider-Man titles are interlocking at the moment, so we should probably keep Spidey out of this story so as to not create confusion. We’ve got this new character, the Scarlet Spider, who’s beginning to catch on, but you should stay away from using him as his track is well planned out. Also, don’t use Doc Ock’s body or his arms.”
So the mandate became: do a book titled SPIDER-MAN: FUNERAL FOR AN OCTOPUS without using Spider-Man, the Scarlet Spider, Doctor Octopus, his body, or his arms. Easy, right?
So I went away and pondered this situation (and when I say “I”, I really mean myself and my writing partner Mike Kanterovich–but I don’t consider his involvement in these stories part of what made them BAD, so I’m going to continue to speak in the first person), and eventually I solved the problem, building a new police detective character with links to Doc Ock’s past, and making a MARVELS-style tale out of the thing. Full of pep in my step, I turned this new outline in to the editor and his associate.
“We really like this, but we think it’d sell better if you put Spider-Man in it. His name is in the title, after all.”
Okay. Fair enough. I took the thing back and rewrote the outline, including Spidey.
“This is good, but we’ve got this new character the Scarlet Spider who’s getting a lot of buzz–we think you should incorporate him into this as well.”
Back again, and at this point with the Scarlet Spider, there’s no room for the detective with the Doc Ock fixation, so out he comes. Hand it in again:
“Do you think you could do something with Doc Ock’s arms?”
What we ended up with was closest to the initial pitch I’d handed in in the first place, but with all of the life and love sucked out of it over many revisions.
The editorial lesson learned: know what you want. It’s all right to change direction as factors change, and it’s all right to sometimes make the wrong suggestion. But if you continue to change your mind on stuff, you’re going to kill your creative team.