Two-thousand nineteen: A bad year for the media, by and large. Venture capitalists running amok, local news structures being torn apart and shut down, institutions being reshaped and ruined by the influence of massive tech companies like Facebook and Google. That’s the real world, at least. In superhero comics? It’s never been a better time, apparently.
That’s why, in the wake of DC’s wonderfully zany Jimmy Olsen series from Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber — which takes a lighter look at media antics in the year 2019 through the delightfully hapless pal of Superman — it’s interesting to see Marvel announce that New York’s paper of residence, the Daily Bugle, is getting its own comic book.
Penned by Incognegro’s Mat Johnson, making his Marvel debut, and with art from Black Panther and the Crew’s Mack Chater, the five-issue miniseries is called Amazing Spider-Man: Daily Bugle and will serve as a loose crossover between events spiraling out of the main Amazing Spider-Man comic series and Daredevil.
Following Bugle Editor-in-Chief Robbie Robertson and the tireless staff of Peter Parker’s occasional employer, the miniseries will see the paper attempt to tackle speaking truth to power in a New York where the Kingpin of Crime holds the mayor’s office.
But when Bugle sources track down a lead on a story about Spider-Man and Wilson Fisk, they soon find themselves caught up in a story that promises to change the way we see NYC’s friendly neighbourhood superhero. Presumably in a way that is perhaps not so friendly.
It’s an interesting way to tell stories about the media, through the lens of their role in such a weird society as one where superheroes exist — especially considering that journalism is a field that finds itself wrapped up in plenty of superheroic lives. Look at how Clark Kent is about to undergo his own ethical trial after revealing (again) that he’s secretly been Superman while also being one of the Daily Planet’s top reporters!
Although it’s likely going to focus on this mystery of whatever the story from Fisk and Spidey’s past ends up being, I hope Amazing Spider-Man: Daily Bugle will take some time to examine its media setting in a superhero world, and not just because I happen to be a member of the media myself.
It’s a longstanding relationship with superhero storytelling that deserves to be mined, as much as I want to see if Robbie and his staff also have to put up with things like a former colleague pivoting to podcasting, or weird banal quibbles like, say, autoplaying video ads eating away at the Bugle’s website to the chagrin of reader and writer alike.
Amazing Spider-Man: Daily Bugle begins in January 2020.