Mark Waid once had a lot in common with the Hulk, but he has been a lot calmer in recent months. Does he still have what it takes?
Mark Waid and Lenil Yu will be writing The Indestructible Hulk for Marvel Comics in October, part of the Marvel NOW! initiative. This reporter would once have been delighted to see Waid take on the Hulk, as the creator seemed born to write this character. Like the Hulk, Waid is fueled by rage, and frequently allows his anger to drive him to "hulk out" on the internet, going on internet rampages at the slightest provocation and leaving a path of e-destruction in his wake.
This reporter was first witness to a Waid rampage in 2007, when then DC editor Stephen Wacker left DC comics for Marvel in the middle DC's weekly event comic, 52, the lead-up to Inifinite Crisis. Fans on the message board at Newsarama, famous for their metered and reasonable reactions to comic industry events, were "talking mad shit" about Wacker when the news broke, prompting Waid to retaliate by threatening to visit the homes of anyone who called Wacker unprofessional, promising that readers would be "eating through a straw for the rest of their lives." Fanboys, also famous for not being able to take what they dish out, were outraged at Waid's threats, calling the behavior unprofessional and, in some cases, threatening to sue.
The event was the stuff of legend, and though Newsarama purged its message boards long ago, this reporter remembers the event vividly because it was the start of my internet comics community career, as I signed up on Newsarama to make fun of fanboys for their crybaby antics. The idea that fanboys, who spend their days talking trash about comics and comic creators on the net from the safety of their basement dwellings couldn't take an obvious Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back reference from Waid was ridiculous, if indicative of behavior we'd see fanboys replicate time and again.
In any case, Waid has remained protective of Wacker over the years, and The Outhouse did manage to maintain a record of a slapfight that occurred last December when DC writer J. Michael Straczynski engaged Wacker over Amazing Spider-Man sales. Here's what transpired, excerpted from our original article:
So anyway, if nothing else, Mark Waid is clearly a man who stands by his convictions, because today on Facebook, former Spider-Man writer J. Michael Straczynski posted this graph, which he took from the blog of some sad, sexless fanboy who dedicates his life to complaining about Spider-man (and shockingly, it's not Zechs!), on his facebook fan page:
Sales on The Amazing Spider-Man since my departure. Just sayin’
Well, Stephen Wacker may very well be paid to take this kind of crap from old fat guys with beards on a daily basis, but only those employed in the comic book industry at the retail level and lower, so he responded with:
An excellent post, JMS. Out of context, out of date and full of out-of-the-blue mean.
Everyone on ASM currently respects your years on the book (and as editor I’ve said so many times in interviews and in the letter column), but seriously this is about as creepy and low of a move as a former writer can pull on another group of creators (many of whom didn’t have the luxury you had of ducking out of controversy).
Due to the team’s hard work, ASM is still one of the best-selling, best performing comics around. And thanks to them, 130+ (on-time!) issues of ASM have come out since you left ? which certainly helps mitigate the softening of the ENTIRE comics market that you’re apparently willing to ignore.
Yes, you are one of the bigger names in the comics industry. Congratulations. You’ve earned the title.
It’s a shame though that the title doesn’t come with more class... just sayin’...
JMS fired back:
Nowhere in my post did I say word one about the current creative team. Nowhere in the post was there the sort of personal attack you engage in here. Nowhere do I characterize anyone or impugn their motives or integrity. I was simply passing along raw numbers, which you do not actually refute, you simply yell at me for posting them and call names and engage in other essentially churlish behavior. In regards to ducking out of controversy, I would like to know what that refers to as I have never stepped away from either controversy or sharing my opinion.
I have always made it very clear that when I came aboard ASM I brought Peter and MJ back together because I liked writing them as a married couple. I made equally clear that the decision to unmarry them and, in the same brushstroke, eliminate virtually every story I’d written during those eight years was an editorial mandate, not my choice. I would’ve been happy to continue writing them married until the sun went out. Marvel wanted to unmarry them. That’s your choice, and your right. At no point did I duck out of anything. If you think I did, back it up: what are you referring to?
I posted numbers. Nothing more or less. If those numbers are correct, and again you do nothing to say otherwise... then your reaction is simply mean-spirited diversion. If those numbers are not correct, provide what you consider to be accurate ones. I am more than happy to have them posted here.
In the course of this, I received a friendly, measured note from Dan Slott, who is a terrific writer, who asked if I had any problems with the current creative team. I’ll tell you what I told him: I have no problem with them/him whatsoever. Dan is a terrific writer and is doing great work. I happened to come across this chart, and passed it along. Beginning, middle and end of story.
At NO point did I engage in the kind of attacking, spiteful, mean-spirited characterization you did above. It’s unfortunate that one of Marvel’s editors comports himself in this fashion, but it happens.
If you choose to continue the conversation, please try to do so in a grown-up fashion, as did Dan Slott. You might find it a refreshing change.
OMG right! And then Wacker was like:
Starting my weekend off right!
My mistake... Apparently when you wrote "Just saying’... ’" you meant "Just sayin’... the books in good shape and I wish the team well."
JMS, I don’t know you beyond a couple of brusque ?hello’s, so I don’t have a lot of heat wrapped up in this "fight" as you seem to imagine. Certainly no one’s "yelling" or "calling you names" as you suggest. You posted something passive aggressive at best and it deserves a response. (I agree that I’m bad at passive aggressive, so that’s on me. Clarity is my curse.)
One thing we agree on here is that Dan Slott is a good guy who wants to do well. It was nice he reached out to a guy trying to make the argument the book was tanking. I don’t know that I would have reached out to you privately since A) I hardly know you and B) you posted this publicly.
At the bottom of it all, though, you’ve posted an absolutely incorrect chart that isn’t based on real numbers and leaves out many individual issues to make its "point". The sales chart you posted is the fictional fantasy fantasy of a blogger who has a massive, medically enhanced hate for the comic and the people at Marvel. In the past has cracked about wanting to "punch Dan Slott in the face" among many other vile? and sometimes violent? remarks about everyone on the comic.
(He VIOLENTLY hates you too, for what it’s worth. And you’ve now fanned his flame something fierce.)
However, in the end, that’s just deranged?though impotent? fan cranking and moaning. More over the top than most, but we’re all used to that and deal with it regularly.
What’s more important is that, as I clearly said in the last post, his numbers are absolutely wrong, out of date and out of context.
You seem to somehow read that as me not refuting the numbers. Let me say it plainly then... I refute the numbers. I even REFUDIATE them. I even REFUDIUDIUDIUDIPUDIATE them. (You are better with words than me, so if there’s something stronger, please use it in the previous sentence.) Hope that clears it up.
Yes, individual sales are on average lower than when you wrote the book. That’s true. You are without a doubt one of the top writers in comics. Once again, I concede that point... so congrats on that. I’ve long said so in the comic and in interviews that we all knew sales were going to go down once a top writer in comics left (especially after such a controversial story like OMD).
So to come in to show off how sales have gone down after you left seems to be needlessly spiking the football after the other team has set up for the next kickoff. You already won the point.
(I will happily write JMS IS ONE OF THE TOP WRITERS IN COMICS on a fan at the next convention if you want. It is just that true!)
BUT... and it’s a big but... we’ve also published over 4 times as many issues of ASM as we would have otherwise in a market that has weakened considerably since you were writing Civil War tie-ins. Amazing Spider-Man is still consistently and safely among the industry’s top sellers.
Since you’ve left, my writers and artists have managed to create the highest selling single issue in 15 years (which was purposefully left off the chart you’re brandishing) and add over 40 collections to the Spider-Man backlist.
That’s important information. And it puts those fake sales numbers you’re crowing about in context.
When the former heavyweight champion writer of a book shows up chiding my book’s sales with a ridiculously unfactual, cartoonish chart it sends a message to everyone that the book is somehow doing worse than when you were on it. You can see some of the responses here for just how well that worked out for you. If you say, you didn’t mean it that way, that’s great.
However, if trying to show up the current people on the book WASN’T your intention, I can’t imagine what it was. Just sayin’...
You are correct that I do take it personally when other creators knock the work my team does on any of my books (except Daredevil... swing away there. Those guys are jerks.). I stand by the notion that posting a comic’s sales after you’ve left is a creepy thing to do.
Just as a mental test, try imagining if I did the obvious thing here and posted... say... current Superman and Wonder Woman sales now that you left the book.
That would be buttheaded of me. And I try not to be buttheaded.
I did love your ASM run, though (except the Gwen thing... ewww). Especially loved Doom at the airport and the way you wrote Pete and MJ as a couple. (I also thought it was cool that we used you in Thor. They didn’t use Slott in the Spidey musical... which I believe was a huge mistake!)
Scarlet Spider #1 on sale January 4!
And that might have been the end of it... except that JMS apparently wasn't paying attention in 2006 when Mark Waid put the word out.. mess with Wacker, and you mess with Waid. Like the hero in a 1980s high school bully movie, Waid came rushing onto the scene to kick some ass for his little buddy, only to find Whacker had it in him to defend himself all along.
But fuck it, Waid delivered the knockout punch anyway, because he's just that kind of dude:
Dick move, Joe. Flat out, a dick move, and you know it. Either your point was to show people how awesome you were, or to show people how things have deteriorated since your absence. There’s no other way to interpret your post. None. Are you really that hard up for approbation and fan love that you can’t rise above that sort of shit? I understand Wacker’s frustration. Maybe he overreacted a bit, in the way good friends DO react when they perceive their friends and employees being attacked by a bitter man with a bottomless ego, but you made the first move, and it was a dick move. And if anyone doubted you were doing it for anything other than informational purposes, adding "Just sayin’" was the snarktacular icing on the cake. No one says "Just sayin’" unless they’re doing exactly the opposite of "Just sayin’
Half an hour later, still fuming at JMS’s shitty passive-aggressiveness. I should probably go walk it off. Maybe with a long walk. A long, dull, pointless, boring walk. Across America.
That I won’t finish.
Recently, however, Waid has been downright amiable on the net. Don't get us wrong, he's still prone to fly off the handle and go on the attack, but he seems to at least be trying to keep himself under control. Just last week, Waid hulked out again, this time with Newsarama editor Lucas Siegel as the target, after Newsarama posted an article declaring Christopher Reeve a poor actor. However, after witnessing the emotional pain he was causing poor Lucas, Waid seemed to soften up, even going so far as to compliment Siegel and ask him not to take things personally. From Twitter:
@LucasSiegel I'm 100% with you on the first point. Not so much the second one, but agreed--death threats over this are absurd.
I could do without the death threats/suggestions/etc or implication that I and my site have no journalistic integrity.
Attacking me, or my writers, personally because you don't agree with 4 paragraphs the senior editor wrote is childish and WRONG.
@LucasSiegel Sorry if it's gotten personal, Lucas, that's unfair. But since it was signed simply "Staff," you have only Doran to blame.
And that's all I'm saying about the subject, I suppose. Disappointed on many levels right now.
@MarkWaid see, I don't get that.I'm doing my best at my job, try to make site better everyday. Veiling an insult in an apology is childish.
@LucasSiegel I understand that you're doing your best, which is why it's not a personal attack. But, boy, is your work cut out for you.
@MarkWaid I was never a regular reader of Wizard, but I don't recall any of those things involved in their regular coverage.
@LucasSiegel You're also so deep in certain pockets that it's cringe-inducing. Also, I don't recall getting viruses from Wizard. : )
@LucasSiegel But I don't think this is the place to have this discussion, not 140 characters at a time. Let's just ignore one another, deal?
@LucasSiegel Again, I have nothing against you personally. But we're not gonna change one another's minds at this point.
@MarkWaid I am not in anyone's pocket. To imply or directly state that is libelous and ridiculous.
@LucasSiegel YOU'RE the one making this personal, Lucas. I chose my pronoun poorly, but "You're" = Newsarama, not you the man.
@MarkWaid You apparently do have something against me personally if you're claiming I take money or favors of any sort for coverage opps.
@LucasSiegel Dear God Almightly, Lucas, calm down. I'm saying nothing of the sort about you. As always, my comments refer SOLELY to the site
@LucasSiegel You are probably a very nice, very bright man with integrity. I'm gonna assume that. You're upset, I understand. 1/2
@LucasSiegel I am, too, when I get death threats. That's absurd. But my beef is not personal, nor has it been represented as such. 2/2
Wha huh?! Has someone at Marvel been slipping Waid Valium? This certainly doesn't seem like the fearsome, raging monster we have all come know and love. To make matters worse, later that same day, Waid engaged superstar artist and egomaniac Rob Liefeld after Liefeld called every comic book creator to ever work on Deadpool "D-List," and as before, cooler heads prevailed. The original tweet was deleted by Waid, but the aftermath remains:
@MarkWaid you are jumping in the tail end of a long thread-Was speaking of the last few years-Already apologized-Pile on as you see fit
@robertliefeld You're right. I apologize--didn't realize I was piling on, didn't look at the whole day's tweets. Your apology accepted.
While this kinder, gentler Mark Waid may be good for the safety of internet message board posters and for the camaraderie of the cretor community, but how will it translate into a book about the Hulk? Waid is a fantastic writer who has produced memorable runs on Kingdom Come, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Legion of Super Heroes, Irredeemable, Incorruptible, and Daredevil, but, despite this pedigree, nobody wants to see the Hulk apologizing to The Leader after punching him in his oversized head, or convincing The Abomination that they should simply "agree to disagree." Perhaps Waid would be better suited to a more sensitive, caring hero, such as Wolverine.
Time will have to tell, and if anyone can pull this off, it is Waid and Yu, who are some of the most talented creators working in comics today. However, with Marvel NOW! being such an important event for Marvel, The Outhouse urges that Waid not take any chances. Perhaps he could rekindle his anger by attacking this reporter's complete lack of journalistic integrity on Twitter. Come on Mark, we're easy targets. We won't even fight back! The Outhouse will take one for the team.
For a less sensationalistic take on Waid and Yu's upcoming Indestructible Hulk, check out CBR's interview with the creators here.