Giving Byrne Enough Rope

Here's the second half of an E-mail from Christopher Gildemeister.

...Now, we have John Byrne's "reboot" of Spider-Man. I bought only the first issue of "Chapter One". I think the greatest offense lies in the fact that Peter is no longer truly responsible for letting the Burglar escape. In the classic origin, Spidey clearly says, "That's your problem, buddy" and lets the Burglar go; in Byrne's version, Peter's reaction struck me as much more like, "Oh...did you want ME to stop that guy? I didn't realize." This robs the character of the guilt which is so essential a part of Spider-Man.

As regards Byrne... well, I have an idea. It seems as though Byrne's greatest love is "doing it all my own way", which often means RE-doing established history and continuity to suit himself. This is terrible for a continuing title, in which continuity is so important, especially to the longtime fans.

However, this tendency on Byrne's part does not mean that he is a poor storyteller per se. I think a lot of his ideas are intriguing, and that he does have a genuine regard for and love of the characters he writes...he just wants to see them "done right", i.e., done his way.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Byrne's writing on West Coast Avengers was terrible; it essentially destroyed what had been a fairly good title. The same is true of his recent work on Wonder Woman; and we may expect the same on Spider-Man.

However, his "Batman and Captain America" Elseworlds one-shot last year was one of the most enjoyable stories I had read in several years; and his current limited series "Generations", featuring Superman and Batman, is shaping up to be another wonderful effort. When freed of the necessity of sticking to another writer's continuity, Byrne's efforts glitter like gold; it is only when he is forced into a monthly title with an established continuity does Byrne -- and ultimately, the fans -- get the shaft.

Why doesn't Marvel get smart and say, "John, do a limited series. Don't worry about sticking to any continuity at all. Tell whatever Spider-Man stories you want, however you want." Byrne would do excellent work, because he'd be free to do things his way. The fans would love it, because it would be something fresh and exciting and different, done by someone who does love the character. Marvel would benefit, because they'd sell a zillion copies -- and I think Marvel could use that right now, don't you?

Probably the only flaw in this idea is that it makes too much sense.