Jon Chandler of The Comic Strip in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has been following the content in the all ages rated Amazing Spider-Man, and finds the content unsuitable for younger readers:
I finally have to express my complete disappointment in Marvel's choice in keeping Amazing Spider-Man with the "Rated A" with their current storyline.
As a retailer I have liked the fact, that even without the Comic Code, Marvel has policed itself and has been providing a quick way for retailers and parents to determine the age groups for their comics. Until now it has been really good; but the current Amazing Spider-Man story with the Freak, as the main bad guy, they seem to have thrown this out to try and keep sales high for Amazing Spider-Man. Below is a breakdown of how I think they dropped the ball for retailers and parents:
First, it's wordy...and not in the good way. There was so much dialogue, and so many thought bubbles in issues 552 and 553 that I couldn't read it all. If, as an adult, I got bored with all the talking, how is that kid friendly? I'm all for good stories with lots of dialogue, but most of those are meant for Teens +, not All Ages, where 6 to 7 year-olds can't follow the story. I counted and you would start to think Spider-Man might have some mental problems with that much inner talking, usually reserved for people like Deadpool. There were 26 thought bubbles in #552, and 48 in #553. That's a lot of inner monologue, and would be hard to follow for the younger crowd.
Second, the gore. This is even worse. I was sitting there and had an "are you kidding me?" moment at the end of the first issue with the reveal of the Freak. Just four pages before they commented on not wanting to show the violence of the Bad-Guy Bar in an All-Ages comic, but the Freak can look like a guy with his skin ripped off. I mean really--a guy with his skin ripped off--they couldn't think of anything better? This trend continues in the second issue where on the fourth page I thought I'd jumped into a Punisher comic. A cop blows the brains out of the Freak, and they show it!? With a nice big SPLAAT overlaid! When he comes back he looks just as bad. Now I love the art, and am a big fan of Phil Jimenez, but it's very detailed and even I thought the ripped off skin look was kind of gross.
Then this week the third issue of the month hits and the Freak burns up in a Meth lab, which leads into my last point:
Third--the Freak smokes meth. Since Joe Q. has taken over Marvel there has been a no-smoking policy in Marvel comics, but they highlight a meth lab in the beginning of issue #554 and the Freak heads straight for it. We can't have someone like Wolverine lighting up a cigar, but we can have drug dealers smoking meth. I had another "are you kidding me?" moment with this which solidified my position that they don't know what they are doing with Spider-Man anymore.
I know that they wanted to reboot Spider-Man, but are these really the stories that we are going to have to put up with from now on? I can't recommend stuff like this to anything but Teen +. I think that if Marvel's going to police itself with the rating system, then they need to take a second look at how they're rating the material. It helps us as retailers and parents to better identify appropriate comics for our customers/kids if the ratings are consistent. I just hope that I'm not the only retailer out here that's been thinking about these issues in this way, and hope that Marvel gets back to putting out quality books.
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.