Thursday, March 28, 2013


My ongoing assault on my Vast Accumulation of Stuff has involved my
going through several boxes of file folders.  Some file folders get
tossed.  Some get filed in my new office file cabinet.  Convention
and column folders get re-boxed for storage. 

One of the joys of going through these files is finding cool stuff
to share with my bloggy thing readers.  Recently, I came across the
files to the apazines I did for a semi-professional apa.  In one of
those issues, I found a pitch I had made to Marvel for an issue of
the company’s second What If? series.

From that apazine, here’s the introduction to the pitch:

This issue’s special feature is one of several What If springboards
I submitted to editor Craig Anderson in January of 1990.  He never
responded to these submissions, not an unique occurrence.  Since
some of you have asked what a springboard is and since What If has
now run a story based on the concept of my springboard, I thought
I’d publish the springboard for your edification and enjoyment.
Had Anderson okayed the springboard, I would have written my usual
detailed panel-by-panel plot for the artist.

Before we get to the springboard, here’s some important information
I lifted from Wikipedia:

The Tri-Sentinel is a fictional robot who appeared in the superhero
comics of Marvel Comics. The Tri-Sentinel's first appearance was in
Amazing Spider-Man #329, which followed on directly from the Acts
of Vengeance storyline. In that storyline, several superheroes
including Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and Cloak
and Dagger came together to fight the Asgardian trickster god Loki.
After Loki's defeat at the hands of Thor, Loki engaged in a final
act of vengeance by creating a robot known as the Tri-Sentinel. He
did this by merging three Sentinels together. The Tri-Sentinel was
sent by Loki to attack a nuclear power plant and thereby destroy
New York City. It was defeated by Spider-Man, who at that time
possessed the powers of the Captain Universe entity.

Now that you know that...


Spider-Man’s battle with the Tri-Sentinel results in the Uni-Power
being bonded permanently to Peter Parker.

Knowing that with greater power comes greater responsibility, Peter
begins rethinking his role in the world.  Crime doesn’t seem as
big a problem as poverty, ignorance, hatred, decaying environment
and a thousand other concerns facing the human race.  He sets out
to solve them all.

The problems are too big for even a cosmic hero to solve.  He can’t
create wealth for the poor without changing the world economy.  He
can’t cure fear and hate because they don’t have a physical form.
He can cure the sick, but there are too many sick people for even
a healer of his powers.  The strain of being a “god” among mortals
threatens to drive him mad.  The world demands more than he can
give and hates him when he fails to deliver.

Mary Jane, the wife he had all but forgotten, brings him back to
reality.  Aunt May is dying.  Spider-Man goes to his aunt at Peter,
planning to restore her to full health.  But he finds May is ready
for death, her life as full as she could have wished.  After all,
her guidance led a shy young boy to become the man he is today.
May passes gently into that good night, her passage guiding Peter
into a new direction for his own life.

The cosmic Spider-Man drops out of sight.  It seems he’s abandoned
mankind.  And yet...

In New York City, during a particularly harsh winter, a condemned
building is inexplicably restored - overnight - to shelter homeless
families.  The city follows suit with other buildings.

In South America, two warring factions are brought together by a
mysterious peacemaker to discover the common ground that will lead
them to a lasting peace.

In Africa, a small section of barren land becomes fertile and its
inhabitants are given the will to not only survive but to reclaim
more bounty from their desert home.

The miracles continue.  They are not as large.  They are not at all
common.  But they restore two precious commodities to the race of
man: hope and courage.

Nearly eighty years past.  A still youthful Peter Parker is at Mary
Jane’s bedside as her life draws to a close.  She is proud of the
way her husband has quietly guided mankind.  This world has become
a better, gentler place.  He credits Mary Jane and May for making
it so.

Afterwards, he will mourn for a time and then resume the work once
more.  It is a responsibility that now weighs lightly on the hero
who has come to accept and understand his great power.


With rare exception, I hold no grudges against editors who couldn’t
be bothered to respond to pitches like this one.  Those slights are
well in the past.  The only time I get even mildly annoyed is when
one of these editors comes up to my table at a convention and tells
me how much he loved my writing.  Even then, I simply accept such
compliments while resisting the urge to remind the editor that he
had an opportunity to work with me.  Simple courtesy towards what
I’ll kindly call “veteran comics professionals” has rarely been a
requirement for editors in this field.  It is what it is and it no
longer bothers me.  Well, maybe just a little, but this definitely
goes into the “no biggie” file.

What If...? #31 [November 1991] featured “What if Spider-Man Had Not
Lost His Cosmic Powers?” [27 pages] by Glenn Alan Herdling.  It’s
doubtful I ever saw or read that issue, but I hope it entertained
those who did read it.

That’s all for today.  Come back tomorrow for two more of my 1990
What If springboards.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. Spider-Jesus, Spider-Jesus, does whatever Spider-Jesus does...

  2. Late Night FerengiMarch 28, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    I reember an article long ago where Chris Clearmont of the X-Men said the comics are driven more by the editor than the writer of the books. It seems like now the editor tells the writer what story and plot to run with. There is a lot more oversight and control on the editors part and much less by the acutal writer.

    When I look at what passes for comics today I just read my old stuff from the 70's. I just can't relate to any of the new material because I've seen a lot of it done before and written a lot better.

    Myself, I am working on a comic of my employment experiences in the work place. It has no super hero element at all in it. The only villian of the piece would be the dishonest managers I worked with in the place I was at the time.

  3. Let's be fair, there are good editors and bad editors. Guys like Julie Schwartz worked with his writers & artists to recreate the super-hero for a new Silver Age. As a writer-editor, Stan Lee and later Roy Thomas, helped create the Marvel Universe we still know by working with their creative staff.

    Sadly, what we get now (and I hate to generalize) are folks, often with little or no experience as actual writers or artists, controlling the stories the actual talent can do. Of course, they are simply implementing the decisions the the Higher Ups made months before. I think this has helped push the Big Two into the 'event' driven cycle, along with the habit of "writing for the trade" so that everything is shaped to fit that eventual format.

    Like you, LNF, I have all but stopped reading most of the new comics, especially those from Marvel & DC.

  4. The problem at DC is not so much that writers are working with decisions made by the Highers-Up months before, but they are being forced to work with decisions made days, weeks and even months AFTER they've completed their scripts.