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Continuity Used to Matter at Marvel

Make no mistake about it. For a long time, continuity was a really big deal at Marvel. They would use continuity as a major selling point. “You have to buy this comic book – because it COUNTS!” That was a major factor in how their books worked. Heck, it was practically the whole point of inter-title crossovers, wasn’t it? You might not care at all about Power Pack, but if Wolverine is guest-starring, and it COUNTS, then you best buy the issue of Power Pack featuring Wolverine!!

Continuity is the exact reason why Spider-Man has stayed married up until now. Take into consideration that, from a creative standpoint, practically no one wanted him married. We know from Joe Quesada’s interviews at CBR that basically none of Marvel’s current writers and editors like the idea of Spider-Man being married. Michael Eury’s great Back Issue magazine did a round table of PAST Spider-Man writers and editors about the marriage, and most of them (Jim Shooter, Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman and John Romita, at least) did not like the idea of Spider-Man being married, either. And Shooter was one of the driving forces behind the marriage in the FIRST place! Yet today, he agrees that it was not a good idea.

Editors for years have been trying to get rid of the marriage, but they were all too worried about continuity to actually DO it. Marvel has stressed continuity for years, so how can they ignore it now? Even now, Quesada tries to argue that continuity HASN’T been changed with the erasure of the Spider-Man marriage.

He’s wrong – continuity has been changed. One of the hallmarks of Marvel Comics has been changed – the reliance on continuity has been, if not shattered, at least severely crippled.

And it’s not even for financial reasons, really.

Paul O’Brien mentioned in the comments to a recent blog entry, and I totally agree with him, that Brand New Day most likely will NOT see much of a positive change in Spider-Man sales. The move to 3 Amazing Spider-Mans a month likely WILL see an increase in overall sales, but that’s not because of the change in Spider-Man’s marriage status. The fans never seemed to care much about Spider-Man being married. The sales WILL go up, though, most likely, but just because it is three Amazings a month rather than one Amazing and two lesser books. Odds are, Amazing’s sales go down to about 75,000-80,000 a month (down from about 90,000-95,000), but the increase over the sales of Sensational and Friendly Neighborhood (about 50,000 and 45,000, respectively) will make the change a profitable one. But that’s not the main reason why the marriage has changed (although I suppose Quesada HOPES that these phantom “new readers who want to read a single Peter Parker” will show up, and hey, maybe he’s right – I just doubt it highly).

No, it’s mostly just a creative change. The fans don’t really care all that much, but creators have long disliked the marriage. They wanted a single Spider-Man. But continuity wouldn’t allow it. And since Marvel has always followed continuity, they couldn’t do it.

Now, continuity has been broken, so it is all fair game.

And while it is unfortunate that it had to be done via a ridiculously lame story like One More Day, I am glad.

The idea that we have gotten crappy stories for YEARS in the Spider-Man titles due to editors trying to “fix” the marriage while still following continuity irks me. The idea that a succession of writers for years (going all the way back to the very first writer on Amazing Spider-Man post-marriage, David Michelinie) were forced to write stories they don’t want to write just because of a story from twenty years ago that most regard as a MISTAKE irks me.

Yes, make no mistake about it – Marvel has used continuity to their financial advantage in the past, and now they want to ignore it to write the stories they want. Heck, as recently as Civil War, they used continuity to sell Spider-Man comics. “Look! His secret identity is revealed! This is very important because THIS STORY COUNTS!” I can see how this might be angering to some people (although I don’t buy the whole “Quesada lied to us!” Come on, gimme a break, what was he supposed to say? “Don’t worry, the unmasking will last only about a year, because we have a major reboot coming up…oops, spoiled that twist!” Of course he is going to say the unmasking was going to stick around longterm), but if anything, shouldn’t you just be happy that we are finally done with the whole “you have to buy it – it COUNTS” sales pitch?

The old comics, who tried to convince you that you HAD to read Web of Spider-Man, because “it counted,” were full of crap. Heck, besides, say, JMS referring to his own work, how many of the comics that were “erased” because of One More Day were even referred to anymore BEFORE One More Day? A LOT of comics from BEFORE the marriage get referenced a lot in the comics (Uncle Ben’s death, Gwen’s death, some other stuff), but I’m really not seeing the big footnotes

“As seen in Sensational Spider-Man #10″

or

“As seen in the classic ‘Planet of the Symbiotes’ storyline.”

or

“Last seen during Lifetheft”…man, remember how lame Lifetheft was?

So even if the marriage stuck around, your complete run of mid-90s Spider-Man crossovers did not really seem to “count” for modern Spider-Man stories ANYhow. Heck, “The Other” was barely referenced to a month after it ended! But anyhow, even if they WERE referenced, it is ridiculous to try to sell you on a whole bunch of spin-offs just on the notion that you can’t possibly turn down Spider-Man stories that “count.” So you should be happy that Marvel is finally not doing that anymore.

Now, sure, I am sure someone at Marvel is going to make the argument that Brand New Day still “counts,” as well. Marvel certainly is not averse to hypocritically denouncing continuity and then trying to cash in on adherents to it (just see Quesada’s consistent mentions of how One More Day didn’t ACTUALLY change continuity), but you now know better – Marvel continuity has been broken, so you no longer have to worry about whether a story “counts” or not – you can just read the stories that are good (which may or may not include Brand New Day) and skip the stories that are not.

So you should be glad that continuity does not matter that much at Marvel anymore – it is freeing.

And if your decision is to just stop reading Spider-Man comics, period, then that’s fair enough.

But the current situation is basically how Mark Waid and Grant Morrison viewed Hypertime. If the options are to write stories they don’t want to write (or worse, come up with absurd “in continuity” fixes) or ignore continuity?

The former should not be given too much of a consideration. And for that, I say good for Marvel.

If only One More Day wasn’t so bad, then I’d really be pulling for them.

156 Comments

“how many of the comics that were “erased” because of One More Day were even referred to anymore BEFORE One More Day?”

They don’t explicitly refer to ‘Amazing Spider-Man Annual’ #21 every time they refer to the fact that Peter and MJ are married, but it is still an event being referenced.

Likewise, there were always stray references to Harry being dead, even if they didn’t all include the footnote “As of Spectacular Spider-Man #200″.

And, of course, “The Other” was still being followed up on, it seemed.

And Peter publicly unmasking.

So, really, I would say that the only four stories that we know of that were completely erased (though we don’t know how they were yet) were all being referenced fairly regularly. You’re right that the random stories over the last 20 years weren’t that important, and can probably fit in with the new changes, but you have to admit that they have, in one swoop, completely erased every important event that happened to Spider-Man in the past 20 years.

I don’t mind the change itself being made either, but I just don’t understand why divorce has, apparently, been entirely out of the question for everyone. Spider-Man is the first hero to be kinda in the real world and deal with real world things… so why is a deal with the devil needed to end his marriage, instead of someone writing him and MJ falling apart and divorcing? I just don’t get it…

From what I gather, the rationalization is that divorce makes the character seem “old”.

Looking at the handy “reference sheet” in the earlier blog post, it looks to me like they’re doing an implied de-aging of Peter Parker.

Well, to me…

Coninuity IS still happening, and “counts”. The ACTUAL events that happened in the MU, as far as I can tell, are the same as they always were.

Peter DID get married.
Harry DID die.
Then Mephisto DID alter reality.

Just like House of M happened. That story “matters” even thuogh the events that occurred no longer occurred. they DID happen, then something changed it after the fact.

Plus, all the cynical readers out there say it’s going to get “re-undone” later, so then it will be important what the continuity is.

My two bits.

While divorce may make him seem old (although I know everyone can think of at least one divorcee in their mid20s) making him live with his aunt again makes him seem lame. And no amount of continuity changing and de-aging short of a full scale Crisis can change the fact that he has experienced 40+ years of story and is NOT a teenager anymore. That’s what the Ultimate line is for and it’s been doing a bangup job of it.

But I’m not saying anything new.

[...] This has been a long time coming… Posted in Comics by Smith Michaels on January 8th, 2008 After reading this post by Brian Cronin mournfully applauding the death of continuity  in Marvel comics I couldn’t help but come away with the impression that Mr. Cronin is implying that it was impossible to tell a good story with a married Spider-Man. And I have to call bullshit on that. [...]

Didn’t this really start years ago, with the death of Mattering Continuty in the Incredible Hulk’s world, starting with the Byrne reboot and going on through the hyperdecompressed era that may or may not have been an illusion of Nightmare’s, and arriving at a point where you can have a storyline that starts with the assumption and assertion that the Hulk’s rampages have high civilian bodycounts (The Illuminati special) and ends with a direct negation of the the same concept (Amadeus’s explanation) without batting a gamma-powered eyelash?

As has been stated elsewhere,

Peter’s now a single man in his 30′s living with his aunt (mother-figure)

Just like the majority of readers that Marvel wants.

Elijah, you see, divorce was out of the question because then, according to Joey Q, all the little kids would ask their parents why Spiderman got a divorce. That would start a huge problem for Marvel, because it’s (I guess) not so good for the family values. Making a deal with the devil was a much better choice. For the kids.

When it comes to crazy Morrison ideas, I’m a lot fonder of “living universes” than Hypertime myself.

I personally think that a 28 year old who is married seems *younger* than a 28 year old who is still living with his mother (figure).

It’s a question of being a somewhat immature adult versus somebody who’s way too old to be living like a teenager.

And that’s speaking as an unmarried 26 year old who, financially, should probably move back in with his parents for a few months.

Ohhh, of course, for the kids!

Same reason Nick Fury, Wolverine, and The Thing stopped smoking cigars!

grumble grumble

Dan (other Dan)

January 8, 2008 at 12:24 pm

A deal with the devil is a lot easier to explain away as make-believe than divorce. I agree with the logic behind that one (or at least this portion of it).

My sense from a newsarama interview a while back (when he was prepping the ground for OMD years ago) is that Quesada didn’t want divorce because he feels Peter Parker should be a role model and, I guess, divorce is one of those things role models should do.

I liked the marriage. I disagree with Quesada about doing away with it profoundly. I wish it had stayed. But there are loads of things that I wish stayed in the world of comics today ranging from Captain Marvel being a fun character to the 1980s Krypton staying around. And in the 1980s I wished they could have kept the pre-crisis Jason Todd and Hawkman. But everything changes in superhero comics depending on the whims and fannish opinions of those in charge. It shifts one way. It might shift back.

I guess I agree with Augie in last week’s Pipeline where Quesada reveals three years from now the marriage was always going to come back and past continuity is hereby restored.

Peter is definitely not in his thirties.

“A deal with the devil is a lot easier to explain away as make-believe than divorce. I agree with the logic behind that one (or at least this portion of it).”

I think that it’s this kind of thinking which caused this thing. A four-year-old child could see the problem with “Peter Parker makes a deal with the devil.” The problem is, the editors were thinking like adults, thinking, “Well, it’s easier to explain than divorce” and “We can technically say it’s not a retcon — the things still happened!” and “The fans are going to hate this story anyway, so it can be as stupid as we need it to be!”

A wiser man than myself once said, “You can’t shake the devil’s hand, then say you’re only kidding.”

i had assumed that Marvel had mostly chucked continuity during the Jemas era… every book seemed to be in its own little world back then.

So are the X-Men still unable to be seen by electronic devices or what?

Just kidding, and felt like throwing some old continuity out there.

For me, it’s become about trust. I don’t trust Marvel anymore to ensure that their events will be great. OMD was over hyped and it seems now like it wasn’t just over enthusiasm that led to the company hailing it’s arrival in shops, but outright deceit.

The “We figured a number of our fans would regret this purchase, but we’re okay with that.” attitude really makes me sad.

You’re absolutely right, Quesada couldn’t have said, “The unmasking is going to last for about a year or so and then we’re rebooting it.” He could, however, have said, “This is just the beginning of a major storyline that’s going to be playing out in the Spider-titles for the next year, one that no Spider-Man fan is going to want to miss.” See how it’s honest, yet sells the upcoming stories?

And for the record, I think that the reason Marvel is trying to downplay the idea that they’re getting rid of continuity is that…well, to be blunt, do you know how few Marvel titles I’d buy “just because they’re good”? I’ll give you a hint. Currently, it’s five, all in digest form, and none of them in the “mainstream” (616, if you’re obsessive) Marvel Universe. When I was locked into continuity, I spent forty bucks a week on Marvel’s stuff. Once I stopped caring (and it became clear that Marvel had stopped caring too), my pull list dwindled away to nothing. Sure, fans will be happier if they stop caring about crappy comics, but I guarantee you Marvel won’t be. They need continuity. That’s why OMD was such a mistake.

I’ve still never heard a writer give a good explanation for why the marriage was such a massive impediment to telling Spider-Man stories. There are writers who say they think it was a mistake for various rather thin metafictional reasons, but those reasons don’t seem borne out when one looks at marriage-era sales or the evident reader attachment to the marriage among certain segments of the fandom.

The problem for a lot of long-established superhero characters and books is that today’s writers seem to want to write something other than “their Spider-Man” or “their Batman;” what they want to write is “their version of Stan’s/Steve’s/Gerry’s Spider-Man,” or “their version of Denny’s/Frank’s/Doug’s Batman.” And that very rarely results in quality.

To clarify, I should add that the vibe I get from the preview pages of ASM #546 is very much a bunch of creators who really, really want to imitate the Spider-Man they grew up with because they liked it fairly closely, right down to many of the plot beats and the character setup.

In effect, it’s a bunch of writers deliberately limiting the directions they themselves are willing to go with the story, writers more, not less bound to a particular notion of continuity and the status quo. And what we’ve been teased with reads rather blandly as a result, as eight pages of setup for a series of hamster-wheel plots. It’s not that they’ve undone or tossed decades of continuity, it’s that they’ve also given up on the idea of making waves today because the Bronze Age status quo must be preserved at all cost.

It’s just sort of hard to get enthused over a book whose clear and avowed direction is abut nostalgically running in place.

“Coninuity IS still happening, and “counts”. The ACTUAL events that happened in the MU, as far as I can tell, are the same as they always were.

Peter DID get married.
Harry DID die.
Then Mephisto DID alter reality.

Just like House of M happened. That story “matters” even thuogh the events that occurred no longer occurred. they DID happen, then something changed it after the fact.”

That’s my take on things too.

But here’s the deal: Joe Q and Marvel in general think that by altering the continuity if the comic universe, that it changes the readers person perception too. Like we’ll read an old comic where MJ is called Peter’s wife and our minds will automatically read it as “girlfriend”.

THAT’S how egotisticall they are about it…

-D

Spider-man is one of those character’s whose cultural proliferation is such that his merchandising brings in more than his core product. As such, decisions about him tend to be made on what could potentially hurt the license rather than what hurts or makes sense for the comic. Going on the assumption that this isn’t a temporary stunt (which it could very well be), I could see an executive type believing that divorce would garner enough press to carry a potentially damaging stigma to it. Magic marriage retcon, on the other hand, would likely be (and pretty much is) looked at as dismissive comic book silliness and unlikely to get the same level of attention.

Sure, when you think about it I don’t see how a deal with the devil could be perceived as being better than a divorce but they’re likely counting on people (or rather the consumer public at large) NOT thinking about it. Such is the world of the corporately controlled character property.

Ever since Quesada’s become in control at Marvel it’s alwys felt like the result if a
Fanboy got control of his favorite characters and does whatever the hell he wants to with it.

His consensus, that we can’t have Pete get divorced because… “Oh won’t someone think about the children!” is such BS.

“Yes kids, making a deal with the devil, the ultimate of evil (the devil being WORSE than Doctor Doom, Magneto, Hitler and that rapist down the street, because he’s, you know… THE DEVIL) is bad, but at least it’s not bad as divorce!”

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2006/06/14/reaction-to-the-civil-war-2-spoiler/

1.Greg Burgas said …on 14 Jun 2006 at 12:07 pm

How long before someone mindwipes the world to forget the revelation? Hasn’t Tony Stark unmasked at least a dozen times, but people keep forgetting? I give this a year. Maybe less.

BAM!

I don’t know why everyone is acting like there isn’t going to be continuity anymore. It’s going to be just like it always was. Some stories will refer to old stories, some won’t Obviously, no one will be referring to Spidey’s marriage. Just like no one talks about Ben Reilly or baby May. Or Aunt may DYING. Remember that?

But the fact is, Mephisto’s change has seen print. It’s now PART of continuity! So, everyone who is so protective of continuity needs to be protective of this, right?

If, in two years, this DOES get undone, because Marvel “gives in to fan pressure”… are you going to buy the restored marriage comics that wipe out OMD? Because if so, you are supporting destroying continuity! This IS continuity now. Part of the one long chain of events.

I know, you’ll say that would be undoing what you thought was a mistake… but that’s what OMD is doing! Undoing a mistake… a couple of them, in fact! Peter is single and Harry is alive! Both of these things were mistakes! So really, it just comes down to opinion, not the sacredness of continuity. “Changing things I like is bad, changing thins I hate is good.”

The story un-killing Aunt May was not a great one. The story un-killing Doc Ock was not a great one. but they were both done, because they realized that killing them off in the first place was a mistake. Hell, the issue where May DIED was great! I loved that issue! BUT I have to admit… Aunt May is too important to kill. So it was WORTH a so-so undoing in order to get there. And no one dwells on the lameness, they just accept the restoration and go forward.

That’s where I am right now.

And, one last note, I am NOT just reverting to the Spidey of my youth. He was married when I started reading, and when I fell in love with him. Since then, though, I’ve read more about the character, and he CLEARLY works better 9from a storytelling and thematic POV) as unmarried. Yes, emotionally, as someone who relates to Peter, I want him to be happy and married. But looking at it from the POV of a writer, I see that he needs to not be.

I can’t help but feel sorry for all those Spider-Man comic book writers who apparently were just not talented enough to write compelling stories with Peter Parker married. Much easier to fashion an otherworldly tale than deal with down-to-earth ideas like a committed relationship. An Amazing Cop-Out if you ask me.

Like the gent at Blurred Productions, I also have to call bullshit on the idea that you can’t tell good stories with a married Spider-Man. (Regardless if you were saying it, Brian, a lot of people have said it, and it’s a transparently stupid idea. Married, unmarried, it ultimately makes no difference except one way you have to draw him kissing the same woman every time. And since when was Peter Parker *ever* a player?)

It’s a good thing the movies aren’t about to have Spider-Man get married. That’d ruin the character.

What? Engagement ring? Constant mentions of marriage and weddings on a hill? Does Sam Raimi even know who Joey Q is?

Incidentally, Peter David wrote a *great* story about Peter and MJ called “Five Minutes” in The Ultimate Spider-Man short story anthology about 13 years ago. And much as I love Peter David, there’s nothing particularly special about him or his style that makes him the only person who can pull that off.

Actually, Brian, I think this is very different from Hypertime. As I understood it, Hypertime was designed to validate all stories, whereas BND seems to be designed to negate certain stories in favor of others.

Which is just more continuity-slaving.

“You’re absolutely right, Quesada couldn’t have said, “The unmasking is going to last for about a year or so and then we’re rebooting it.” He could, however, have said, “This is just the beginning of a major storyline that’s going to be playing out in the Spider-titles for the next year, one that no Spider-Man fan is going to want to miss.” See how it’s honest, yet sells the upcoming stories?”

I don’t think that’s fair. If somebody says, “Is this change permanent?” and his answer is anything other than “Yes”, then people will say, “Oh, okay, it’s not permanent, then why should I care?”

Of course, the fact that your quote is just a platitude *would* bother me if Quesada generally spoke in anything other than platitudes and cliches.

Michael: The Editor of that book, Keith DeCandido has written 2 wonderful Spider-Man novels that have Peter Married and shows that Mary Jane is more than just the girl in his life, but his partner. It’s not that writers can’t write married Spider-Man..it’s that BAD writers can’t write married Spider-Man.

One of the things that is essential to the theme of Spider-Man is that doing the right thing sucks, but it has to be done, even if it is to your own detriment. It goes along with the “with great power” bit.

There are only two things to do with the marriage.

1) It helps him do what he needs to do. this is what is most often done with it in Spidey. It is emotionally satisfying, but goes against the thematic idea I just mentioned. Doing the right thing becomes easier for him, because he has someone who loves him unconditionally FOR doing that.

2) He loses the marriage BECAUSE he is doing the right thing. Him being a hero results in MJ dying, or leaving him, or something like that. I think this is what Joe Q was going for in this issue, Peter saving a life rather than doing what he would like to do. Now you can argue whether it did that well or not, but that was the point.

NO ONE thinks that you cannot tell good stories about marriage. They think the marriage is detrimental to the overall story of the comic. People keep saying that Spider-Man is a story about growing up… but it isn’t, not really. It’s about doing the right thing, even when it’s hard. And that is part of growing up (I hope) but growing up isn’t the point, I don’t think.

PS Good writers can write a good story about anything. Single, married…

…even about a guy who used to be married but forgot everything because a cosmic being altered reality.

So, like I said, all you continuity lovers… you should be embracing this! This IS continuity now. To go back to the marriage would mean they were lazy writers, incapable of dealing with events as they happened in previous issues.

Right?

For decades, I think continuity has been more of a marketing tool than a reality. Also, as someone who has drifted in and out of comics over the years, starting in the mid-70′s, in most cases, I think continuity is unnecessary baggage that makes it harder to read a given comic. I don’t want to have to know the last 20 years of continuity to read a particular comic, because, I haven’t read any series consistently for the last 10 years, much less the last 20 years.

And it’s not like I’m hostile to Marvel’s history. I have all of the Marvel Masterworks and have used the Masterworks to read all of the Marvel Universe in chronological order starting with FF #1. However, one thing that is instructive of reading Silver Age Marvel in chronological order is that you learn that back in the 60′s, continuity was violated on a regular basis a various characters were developed. Peter Parker and Spider-man as depicted by Lee-Ditko in the early 60′s are barely recognizable as Peter Parker and Spider-man characters depicted by Lee-Romita in late 60′s.

I also think that thanks to marriages, births, deaths and other events, too many of Marvel’s characters feel almost middle-aged now and that has to be limiting from a story-telling standpoint since Marvel’s biggest stars are adventure heroes.

I will also note that some of the greatest runs on several Marvel Comics in the 70′s and 80′s were, in many ways, a break with the continuity of their respective series: Claremont-Cockrum-Byrne’s X-Men, Miller’s Daredevil, Byrne’s Fantastic Four, David’s Hulk, Simonsen’s Thor, and Micheline-Layton’s Iron Man. Whether or not “facts” in these runs were consistent with the “facts” in previous runs, in terms of characterization and themes, these runs were often significant departures from previous runs.

To go back to the marriage would mean they were lazy writers, incapable of dealing with events as they happened in previous issues.

Right?

Of course, there’s the fact that the current state of things is already due to them being lazy writers who couldn’t deal with the way it was.

So, we already know that they’re not very good. The only difference now is that they have pulled all the rope over to their side, and it’ll only be their own fault when it becomes a noose.

The sales WILL go up, though, most likely, but just because it is three Amazings a month rather than one Amazing and two lesser books.

I agree, but I think that’s just going to last for a little while; specially if the book is going to have a different creative team every 2 months. Plus, as the months pile on, and every story becomes more self contained, you are going to see more contradictions between story arcs and less continuity overall.

Remember how well JLA Classified was doing when it started? …and Marvel Knights Spider-man before it? Well, I see Amazing falling into that category (as opposed to the Ultimate Spidey category) on account of the rotating creative staff.

And in the end, if all this is Quesada’s way of “increasing revenue”; he’s failing to see one very important thing… once a reader “drops” a book, it basically takes an “event” to bring him back. Those events usually fall into 3 categories: 1-a new #1 issue, 2- A new creative team, 3- A story “stunt”. With Amazing having a rotating creative staff, option two is out of the question. Option 1 is redundant, since Amazing has been rebooted, re-numbered and double numbered more times than I guess to count. So what does that leave us?

Well, take your pick:

1- The Return of Harry Osborn as some sort of Goblin.
2- The death of Harry Osborn (again).
3- The death of Aunt May (again).
4- The return of Mary Jane.
5- The death of another Gwen Stacy (again).
6- The death of Mary Jane.
7- The return of the Married Spidey.
8- Whatever…

In the end, the only thing that all this will accomplish is the mass exodus of fans from the industry, and Quesada’s smug proclamation that Amazing Spider-Man #600 was the best selling comic of 2009 with a total of 62,000 copies sold for the still incredible low price of $5.99.

It’s just so nice not to rail against Countdown all day. Did we all get the memo not to buy it anymore? Here’s hoping for BND…

I never had problems with the marriage, and I welcome changes to the status quo as long as they’re executed well and make sense (yes, I even liked his unmasking, though I knew it wouldn’t be long before they would paint themselves into a corner). I must say, though, that the pseudo-reboot of Spidey in the ’90′s when Ben Reilly took over the mask for awhile was a more palatable reboot than this was. At least Ben Reilly becoming the new Spider-Man, as bad a storyline as the Clone Saga was, made sense. The stories that happened before still happened, but they just happened to a different Spidey, and that didn’t affect anything having to do with Ben Reilly.

But with OMD, they took their “everyman” character with a linear history (and I have to stress the point that Spider-Man had one of the least convoluted and most linear histories of most any Marvel character), and had him make a deal with the devil. And now his history is anything but linear.

Cloned Spidey? It sucked, but I accepted it and I could explain it to a non-comics reader in a couple of sentences. Mephisto erases memories and changes continuity? Well, that’s a harder one swallow and to explain. This thread alone shows that us fanboys can’t even get our heads around this one, nevermind a potential new reader.
-r-

Scavenger: I’ve read both of DeCandido’s Spidey novels. I don’t recall her playing much of a role in the one he wrote with Jose Nieto, but I thought he handled MJ very well in the other, more recent one.

And, of course, while flogging Spidey novels I’d be remiss if I left out Jim Butcher’s The Darkest Hours. Now there’s a guy who gets Spider-Man.

Like the gent at Blurred Productions, I also have to call bullshit on the idea that you can’t tell good stories with a married Spider-Man. (Regardless if you were saying it, Brian, a lot of people have said it, and it’s a transparently stupid idea. Married, unmarried, it ultimately makes no difference except one way you have to draw him kissing the same woman every time. And since when was Peter Parker *ever* a player?)

You scared me for a bit. I was all, “Wait, is someone really arguing against something I didn’t argue?”

But I checked out the link, and he allowed that it might not have been my position. And it’s not!

Of course you can tell a good story with a married Spider-Man, but if 80% (probably more) of your writers and editors would prefer to tell a story with a single Spider-Man, I think it’s silly to let continuity get in the way of just doing what they ALL want to do.

Now that Joe Quesada has brought Spider-Man back to the status quo of how he used to be, mnaybe he should do the same for other Marvel characters:

Fantastic Four:
Stories were much better when Reed and Sue were newlyweds. The FF is confronted with Galactus and Reed offers up Franklin Richards as sustenance in order to save the earth. Galactus devours Franklin in one gulp while Dr. Strange fashions a spell in which everyone forgets Franklin ever existed.

Iron Man:
Tony Stark was never more compelling as a character than when he was a raging drunk. Jim Rhodes is stepped on by Stilt-Man who is battling Iron Man. With Rhodey near death, the Mandarin makes Tony choose between the death of Jim Rhodes or being infected with a nanovirus that will kill Tony if his blood alcohol levels fall below 1.8%. Tony chooses the booze and the Mandarin fashions a spell in which no one remembers anything Iron Man has done in the last 20 years.

Wolverine:
Too much backstory and what’s up with all that Japanese crap? Logan opens up his fridge and discovers Kitty Pride murdered by the Serpent Society. The Scarlet Witch senses Logan’s pain and makes him a deal to bring Kitty back to life, but all traces of his adult life would have to be erased from time. Logan takes the deal and wakes up hours after the admantium was grafted onto his bones with no memories of the past 20 years.

Actually, Brian, I think this is very different from Hypertime. As I understood it, Hypertime was designed to validate all stories, whereas BND seems to be designed to negate certain stories in favor of others.

Which is just more continuity-slaving.

Yeah, it’s definitely not as good as Hypertime. It would have been a lot cooler if it WAS just like Hypertime, instead of a silly deal with a devil.

So, really, I would say that the only four stories that we know of that were completely erased (though we don’t know how they were yet) were all being referenced fairly regularly. You’re right that the random stories over the last 20 years weren’t that important, and can probably fit in with the new changes, but you have to admit that they have, in one swoop, completely erased every important event that happened to Spider-Man in the past 20 years.

Yeah, that’s fair, Sean.

I don’t think that’s a big deal (especially as most of those changes, save the marriage, were pretty weak – even if the stories involved with them, like JM DeMatteis’ excellent Harry Osborn storyline, were good), but yeah, you’re right – there are a handful of events that are still being referred to. My bad!

Looking at the handy “reference sheet” in the earlier blog post, it looks to me like they’re doing an implied de-aging of Peter Parker.

I think their argument would be that, instead of de-aging Peter, they view it as just establishing his “real” age.

Going by the classic 1991 “Ages of superheroes” estimation letter that appeared in an issue of Avengers West Coast, Peter should only be about 25-26 years old now (2-3 years in 17 years sounds about right), but we all sure think of him as much older, don’t we?

Which is probably another one of Marvel’s problems.

Didn’t this really start years ago, with the death of Mattering Continuty in the Incredible Hulk’s world, starting with the Byrne reboot and going on through the hyperdecompressed era that may or may not have been an illusion of Nightmare’s, and arriving at a point where you can have a storyline that starts with the assumption and assertion that the Hulk’s rampages have high civilian bodycounts (The Illuminati special) and ends with a direct negation of the the same concept (Amadeus’s explanation) without batting a gamma-powered eyelash?

Oh, sure, Marvel has been subtly messing with continuity for years (Iron Man, for instance, has had TWO brand new origins since 1990).

This is the first outright reboot, though.

You’re absolutely right, Quesada couldn’t have said, “The unmasking is going to last for about a year or so and then we’re rebooting it.” He could, however, have said, “This is just the beginning of a major storyline that’s going to be playing out in the Spider-titles for the next year, one that no Spider-Man fan is going to want to miss.” See how it’s honest, yet sells the upcoming stories?

Like another commenter mentioned, that’s basically saying, “Yeah, it will not end up counting.”

And for the record, I think that the reason Marvel is trying to downplay the idea that they’re getting rid of continuity is that…well, to be blunt, do you know how few Marvel titles I’d buy “just because they’re good”? I’ll give you a hint. Currently, it’s five, all in digest form, and none of them in the “mainstream” (616, if you’re obsessive) Marvel Universe. When I was locked into continuity, I spent forty bucks a week on Marvel’s stuff. Once I stopped caring (and it became clear that Marvel had stopped caring too), my pull list dwindled away to nothing. Sure, fans will be happier if they stop caring about crappy comics, but I guarantee you Marvel won’t be. They need continuity. That’s why OMD was such a mistake.

Like I said, it is definitely hypocritical of Marvel to do this story and then ask folks to buy into “continuity” still, as this story basically broke continuity.

I agree, but I think that’s just going to last for a little while; specially if the book is going to have a different creative team every 2 months. Plus, as the months pile on, and every story becomes more self contained, you are going to see more contradictions between story arcs and less continuity overall.

Remember how well JLA Classified was doing when it started? …and Marvel Knights Spider-man before it? Well, I see Amazing falling into that category (as opposed to the Ultimate Spidey category) on account of the rotating creative staff.

I dunno – this is going to be the only “Marvel Universe” Spider-Man book in town, so while sales may dip down if folks hate Brand New Day, I don’t think it’ll ever see a drop like those two books you mentioned.

And Steve Wacker is a strong enough editor that I think he’ll keep the books running in sync with each other.

The story un-killing Aunt May was not a great one. The story un-killing Doc Ock was not a great one. but they were both done, because they realized that killing them off in the first place was a mistake. Hell, the issue where May DIED was great! I loved that issue! BUT I have to admit… Aunt May is too important to kill. So it was WORTH a so-so undoing in order to get there. And no one dwells on the lameness, they just accept the restoration and go forward.

That’s where I am right now.

You’re preaching to the choir on that point, Jordan.

I absolutely agree that, if a past plot development is in the way of keeping you from doing a story that everyone wants to do, then you shouldn’t let continuity get in your way.

You and I just differ on how this affects overall continuity. You think this is just another standard retcon (like Reed Richards and Ben Grimm no longer fighting in World War II), while I think it is a much larger change in the way Marvel approaches continuity.

Iron Man:
Tony Stark was never more compelling as a character than when he was a raging drunk. Jim Rhodes is stepped on by Stilt-Man who is battling Iron Man. With Rhodey near death, the Mandarin makes Tony choose between the death of Jim Rhodes or being infected with a nanovirus that will kill Tony if his blood alcohol levels fall below 1.8%.”

This sounds like the best Iron Man story I’ve heard in a while. I would read it. I left out the “everyone forgets” part, as that was silly. Forcing Iron Man to be drunk? Brilliant.

I suppose I could understand the “divorce makes him seem old” argument, but not how that’s supposed to make him impossible for “the kids” to relate to. As a kid, closeness in age was never a factor in what allowed me to relate to a character. When I was first reading Spider-Man (mid 70s), he had a job, was dating, and lived on his own (so if they really wanted to reset to ’76, as many are accusing, they’d put him back in that crappy apartment, but I digress), which was already different enough from my experiences as an adolescent that divorce is a relatively minor incremental difference. Also remember, “real” Spider-Man’s high-school era lasted a fraction of the issues that Ultimate has (bring on again the argument that if you want Young Spider-Man, Ultimate’s right there…).
Again invoking my 70s childhood, I can’t begin to say how many sitcoms and other TV of the era hammered home the message “divorce doesn’t make one a bad person”, so it’s distressing to me to see the grunting caveman attitude illustrated by the “having him get divorced would make him a bad role model” argument.
I was thinking recently how the only thing that would make the “Jackpot” storyline interesting would be if they had gone with divorce, especially if MJ was sick of Peter’s dangerous superhero double life and split up with him over it, only to get powers right after (though separation might be more appropriate for such a story than divorce).

SanctumSanctorumComix

January 8, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Truthfully, while I like the married Peter Parker, it makes no difference to me if the marriage is “magically” undone.

What DOES bother me (and pretty much everyone else) is that it was a handshake with “the devil” that did it.

However, even THAT might have been forgivable (heck… I’d even dare say it WOULD be forgivable across the board) would have been if it was M.J. who was shot and dying and the deal was to save her life.

Of course, it needn’t ever have come to this.
It could easily have been undone in any number of ways without ever using Mephisto.
But, I’m not alone in stating this.

———-

One thing I WOULD like to know is;

Knowing his deeply rooted feelings about “good” and “evil”, “right” and “wrong”, “black” and “white”…
how much would Steve Ditko LOATHE having Peter make a deal with “the devil” (if he, y’know… even cared about Spider-Man anymore)?

———-

As for where I see myself in this “Brand New Day” is that I no longer have any interest in Spider-Man OR, even worse, Peter Parker.

I’ve always stated to others that while I might not be a huge Spider-man fan, per se, I AM (or was) a huge fan of Peter Parker.
His ability to do the right thing no matter what it cost him was something that I carried inside me as a personal lodestone pointing the way to doing what is right, no matter what.
Perhaps, even moreso than my strict Roman Catholic upbringing.

However, even though my religious standpoints have relaxed a bit over the past few years, there is NO WAY that I could understand ANYONE of a heroic bent, above all, Peter Parker ever shaking hands with Mephisto.
It just wouldn’t happen.

Doctor Doom did so, seemingly screwing over Doctor Strange in the process to save the soul of his mother.
But Doom had a plan and executed it perfectly, thereby screwing over Mephisto, allowing Strange to be freed and reclaiming his mother’s soul in the process as well.

However, that was Victor Von Doom.
Peter Parker is not Dr. Doom (nor is M.J., and her whispered secret offering).

Joe Q wants to point out that M.J. made the decision first, and Peter just complied, but if I read that book correctly, they had a whole day to really sit and go over the pros & cons of whether or not to accept this offer, but after a very brief discussion they just sat there holding each other for nearly the whole day (“Until Midnight. Less than 24 hours”) in relative silence (Peter kept trying to bring up “remember when’s” which would have kick-started the dialogue, but M.J. kept shushing him) until suddenly Mephisto came a-calling.

Then suddenly a hasty decision is made?

Just poor writing.

Look.
I’m not wailing and gnashing my teeth over this.
I’m not.

Long and the short of it is, it was a bad way to end the marriage, poorly conceived, poorly executed (although JoeQ’s artwork IS fantastic).
But, that said, it’s no less poorly executed than many other “fixes” that have occurred in the M.U.

I won’t be buying Spider-man as an ongoing title, but then again, I have never been an “ongoing” Spider-collector.

I’ll buy the occasional issue here and there, much as I have done so for the past 20+ years.
I’ll know that the Spider-mythos is poorer for the loss of the marriage and the laming of Peter as any kind of adult, but I’m not the core audience.

Sadly, while it doesn’t affect my buying habits of the Spider-title, it DOES affect my “belief in” Peter Parker as ANY kind of role-model… for anyone.

~P~
P-TOR

Like another commenter mentioned, that’s basically saying, “Yeah, it will not end up counting.”

It’s not, though. We read it as such, because of how we’ve been conditioned by the industry, but all it’s saying is that the un-masking isn’t the final status quo.

That doesn’t mean it will be undone, just that the character will progress from there. And I think people would much rather hear that, than an outright lie.

Going by the classic 1991 “Ages of superheroes” estimation letter that appeared in an issue of Avengers West Coast, Peter should only be about 25-26 years old now (2-3 years in 17 years sounds about right), but we all sure think of him as much older, don’t we?

Which is probably another one of Marvel’s problems.

I think you’re dead on with that age estimate. That was sort of a shock to me, finding out that I’d become older than Peter Parker without noticing it. I still remember when I became older than Kitty Pryde, and that threw me off. This is even weirder.

But, like you said, that’s the problem- the fact that, given everything going on in his life, the readers felt like he was a 30-something.

You and I just differ on how this affects overall continuity. You think this is just another standard retcon (like Reed Richards and Ben Grimm no longer fighting in World War II), while I think it is a much larger change in the way Marvel approaches continuity.

Yeah, I guess we do differ there. To me, this doesn’t seem any less continuity concerned that any other book. After this, there will certainly be continuity, just like there was before, it will just be a little different.

In fact, from a certain point of view, doing OMD implies being very concerned with continuity. They bent over backwards trying to make this new status quo make sense with the old continuity, in a big event. Compare this to, say, Warren Ellis’s Iron Man revamp. Now, that was great, I amnot bashing it, it was good stuff. But there was no “in-world” explanation for the changes that were made. The only explanation we had was that it was a good decision from the POV of a publisher to change his origin around.

If anything, it seems people like this less BECAUSE it was so focussed on the continuity. It seems like people would be LESS upset if they had just cancelled Spider-Man and started up Brand New Day, no explanation.

Yeah, it definitely is a bit weird to hear people think Peter is so much older than he is meant to be. He got married really quite young.

As for the continuity stuff, Ellis did give an “in-world” explanation for the identity being a secret again, and I actually loved it. It was “I told them I wasn’t Iron Man.” I love that. Because if he says everyone believed it, who are we to say he’s wrong?

But yeah, he didn’t give an explanation for the new origin, but that stuff is different because changing the origins of characters (if done well) should not change what happens in the current comics at all. Reed and Ben not fighting in World War II really doesn’t change anything. Iron Man’s origin changing doesn’t change anything.

Heck, the Reed and Ben thing was never even explicitly changed until, like, 2000, even though it was obviously not the case since, what, 1970?

However, if Ellis’ story opened with Howard Stark still alive, it WOULD have been a big deal. That’s a major change – that’s the sort of thing Marvel never did before. They never did flat-out reboots. Until now.

And hey, I’m glad. I think Marvel should have the freedom to do this stuff if they want to do it.

They never did flat-out reboots. Until now.

And hey, I’m glad. I think Marvel should have the freedom to do this stuff if they want to do it.

I think that’s what all my problems with the whole thing boil down to. I don’t understand why they didn’t just say, “it’s a reboot.”

All this bending over backwards, lying, double talk, and TERRIBLE stories just to appease those dwindling fans obsessed with everything being in continuity is the biggest turn off to the whole story(aside from the awful writing).

Joe Q said they were prepared for a fan backlash. If your going into it prepared to write off a certain amount of fandom, why not just go the distance and do it right?

I’d bet there’s just as much backlash against OMD because it’s such a terrible story as there is because it’s erasing the marriage.

I think that’s what all my problems with the whole thing boil down to. I don’t understand why they didn’t just say, “it’s a reboot.”

I understand why they felt they had to do it this way, but yeah, I think it is silly, too.

It’s a reboot without wanting to call it a reboot. Silly.

Read your old Spidey’s if you like them. Read the new Spidey’s if you want to. It all exists in your long boxes. Calm down. Breath. Read you comics. Move on.

It never really happened in the first place.

Slott is writing Spidey. Life is good.

Don’t you see that by complaining about how bad OMD was you all are letting Mephisto win. The internet is the tiny piece of Peter’s soul that is shrieking about the loss of his marriage to MJ. Every time someone posts a negative comment about OMD, Mephisto wins a little more. STOP WHINING ABOUT OMD, it just makes Mephisto’s nipples hard.

“The fans never seemed to care much about Spider-Man being married.” can you really say that with a straight face Brian? the reason Spider-man is so popular (and they keep saying that over and over) is he is the most relate-able Super Hero? he got his powers by accident and they didn’t make his life all that much better.

him being married came as his original fans were growing up and the ups and downs of that marriage has always been portrayed realistically, he was married to a hot redhead sure but that never stopped him or her from having problems like any marriage.
people relate to Parker cause of that marriage cause it reflects our own growing pains.

“I can’t help but feel sorry for all those Spider-Man comic book writers who apparently were just not talented enough to write compelling stories with Peter Parker married. Much easier to fashion an otherworldly tale than deal with down-to-earth ideas like a committed relationship. An Amazing Cop-Out if you ask me.”

Well said. The Spidey stories with both MJ and May acting as his supportive cheerleaders, confidants, image boosters and one wife/lover–they basically became somewhat similar to, and in many ways superior to what Alfred is to Batman. Some of the best Aunt May stories were her ability to relate to Steve Rogers in Stark Tower (really interesting, and gone now) and her budding romance with Jarvis (equally interesting, and gone now). She could have been the guiding force, the wisdom of age, for the New Avengers, but that’s gone now. Interesting to me that my favorite Spidey issues since Lee/Ditko have been the move to Stark Tower up to the end of “Back in Black,” Logan’s attempts to create a Pete/MJ/Logan triangle (could still have been mined for possibilities–but not now), the press still trying to link MJ to Stark whenever her career had an upswing (gone now) and on and on and on. I can deal with a married Spidey just fine, thanks, much better than I can this convoluted, continuity messing, and unadmitted retconning of OMD. Good heavens, Spidey is on his way to becoming as screwed up as my once-favorite DC character Hawkman. I guess I am a fan of linear, reboot-free storytelling. I have bought in my life 545 issues of Amazing Spider-Man; the worst one, to me, was the 545th. On every level. And I never perceived Peter as mid-30′s. He’s about the same age as the original X-Man, so they all should be about in their mid-20s. One more question–so in all the stories Joe Q says still happened, but THEY JUST AREN’T MARRIED, do we just assume then that when they’re shown in bed in those stories that, instead of being married, they were just fornicating? Great role model, Pete. Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna show my kids and grandkids. Damn you, Marvel. ‘Bye.

Don’t you see that by complaining about how bad OMD was you all are letting Mephisto win. The internet is the tiny piece of Peter’s soul that is shrieking about the loss of his marriage to MJ. Every time someone posts a negative comment about OMD, Mephisto wins a little more. STOP WHINING ABOUT OMD, it just makes Mephisto’s nipples hard.

This is officially the best OMD argument I have ever read. Brilliant.

Slott is writing Spidey. Life is good.

I was with you, up until there. One Peter David is enough for me, thanks.

Some of the best Aunt May stories were her ability to relate to Steve Rogers in Stark Tower… (etc)

Wow, there you go. Not to knock you, but those, to me, were some of my least favourite things about recent Spider-Man comics. I’ve been unhappy with his situation since he quit photography for being a HS teacher, and him living with the Avengers just made matters far worse, in my eyes. Not that good stories could not be told in those circumstances, but it certainly wasn’t very Spider-Man like, to me. All his cast was gone, except MJ and May, replaced by a bunch of superheroes. I mean… come on. I read Avengers for that. Spider-Man should be Spider-Man.

And on a side note, I also was very displeased with Aunt May in general in recent years, as her entire persona was a retcon. People complain about BND being something redundant with Ultimate Spidey around… Ult. Spidey is where we can have a Hale and Hearty Aunt May. 616 May used to faint when Spidey swung by. Say what you want about the realism there, but it was CONTINUITY, which is what everyone is harping on, right? All of a sudden, she’s making fun of Peter for thinking she can’t handle the truth? She’s wearing Iron Man armor? This is the same woman who was in the hospital for months on end with heart trouble? I found that MUCH more displeasing. This FIXES that.

I guess I am a fan of linear, reboot-free storytelling.

Me too. I don’t think anyone is a “fan” of their favorite comics being rebooted. I would have preferred that choices had never been made that went against the core elements of the series. But they did. So, if the choices are go on further down a road that diludes the essence of the series or backtrack a bit, I’d rather backtrack.

so in all the stories Joe Q says still happened, but THEY JUST AREN’T MARRIED, do we just assume then that when they’re shown in bed in those stories that, instead of being married, they were just fornicating?

No. In all the comics you own, they are married. Those all take place before Mephisto altered thing. When you read silver or golden age DC books, do you think that DC expects you to believe that the pages are blank? The marriage happened. All the comics since then happened. THEN Mephsto came along. Now, going forward, things are different.

someone may have already said something to this effect (like the house of m comment up top there), but i returned to reading comics regularly after nearly a decade of not really paying too much attention, and when i got back into things one of the first things i thought was, what’s the big difference between marvel & DC now? i mean besides the aesthetic ones that are of course there creatively and such, house styles, etc., but mainly the continuity difference.

marvel now had a multiverse – i walked back into marvel with several timelines going on all over the place and several parrallel “universes” that marvel markets as different products or for different markets (the “ultimates” line for instance), but after a decade (i did peek in here and there to see what was happening) peppered at the very least with the seemingly often time-space-bending events of the x-lines, marvel has simply shown its true colours.

its almost like marvel, ironically in the same way they were true, supposedly, to the “real” world, are being true to themselves, or really now, nostalgic. only now, nostalgic to the point of affecting creative mandates, which last time i checked was called fan fiction. look to byrne’s revamp of spiderman and such for the first inklings (nearly?) a decade ago. even before that in even having a villain like venom and the ensuing symbiotes – a metavillain of sorts – self-referential in a way that marvel often is not – i expect that more from the various versions of DC’s characters, good and bad reflections, bizarro’s, etc.

there are scads of stuff like this all over the place here and there, under various guises in marvel’s past, but its as if now this new marvel mutliverse is officially a part of continuity, and in that they are celebrating themselves within their own media. they’re not making great spider-man books anymore, but books that are JUST LIKE great spider-man books, which i find a very commonplace sensation in comics these days and also very unfortunate for them as a medium, creativly speaking. maybe its the information age – its happening everywhere – music is rife with it. irony that is all the more ironic for many of its own creators and consumers not even considering it.

babbley-doo!

I always just assume that Reed and Ben fought in WWII and Marvel time just runs differently.

The stories are more enjoyable if you don’t overthink it

There’s plenty of other stuff to overthink in comics. Time should be the least of it.

Apropos of utterly nothing:

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world Spider-Man’s marriage didn’t exist.”

“The fans never seemed to care much about Spider-Man being married.” can you really say that with a straight face Brian?

I keep seeing that quote brought up as though it is a shot at the marriage.

That’s not how it was meant at all.

By “the fans never seemed to care,” I am decrying the notion that it was the fans who were asking for this change.

They were not – they never seemed to care much about the marriage.

This is purely a creator-driven decision.

Which I’m fine with, even when it is something I personally disagree with.

I guess the long and short of it is different strokes for different folks. A reboot is as good a jumping off point
as it is a jumping on point. Gotta vote with my dollars on this one,partly because it is kind of bugging me that I care so much about this. Maybe it’s 45 years invested in the character. I guess Peter Parker never will grow up, but it’s time for me to. Just bought a pistol, solely for target practice. I’ve just found this new hobby and I can sure use $9 a month for bullets.

Continuity used to matter more, and comics used to be cheaper.

While it is certainly true that continuity has been overused as a selling device, it was still a treat to see, say, Hulk and Captain America’s storylines briefly merging from two very different perspectives back in the late 1970s.

But for a while there in the 1990s crossovers became just a marketing ploy and an excuse for rather weak (at times frankly unbelievable) extended storylines.

It’s such cheap exploitation that should stop, not continuity itself; if there is too little respect for continuity (as there is now) then there is also not much reason to care about plot developments. After all, they may take a year or more to develop and less time than that to be retconned away in unconvincing and disrespectful ways.

BTW – lying is lying. Quesada would hurt Marvel financially if he revealed that the unmasking wouldn’t last, yes.

He’s still a liar.

And it occurs to me that there’s something fundamentally flawed about this column (he says, 74 comments in.) It’s basically saying, “This kills continuity in Amazing Spider-Man, and that’s a good thing, because it means that now the story has primacy.” But the problem with that is that ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ is one long, open-ended meta-story, composed of dozens of smaller chapters (which can be broken up into 546 segments). This isn’t “continuity” in the sense that comics fans use it, the question of “Is this canon?”, this is continuity in the sense film fans use it, of “Hey, what the hell, his suit in the long shots doesn’t match his suit in the close-ups.”

I don’t have a hang-up over continuity in the former sense. I can pick up Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, or Mary Jane Loves Spider-Man, or Spider-Girl, and not obsess about how they “fit” together, or which one or the other is “real”, or anything like that. However, part of writing a story is understanding that you have to play fair with the reader. If you establish something as a fact in chapter one, and then ignore it in chapter seven because it’s inconvenient to you, that’s not “being free from continuity”, that’s being a sloppy writer.

If Joe Quesada wants to be “free from continuity” and tell stories about a single Spider-Man, a divorced Spider-Man, a Spider-Man who’s in a healthy, committed relationship with three other women, two other men, and a sheep, hey, more power to him. I can go read ‘Mary Jane’s Sheep Loves Spider-Man’, and enjoy it, and understand that it’s not important that it doesn’t use the same “continuity” as ‘Amazing’, because it’s a different series. The freedom that this column demands is already there (for all but a few very, very obsessive fans.)

What this column is saying is, “Hey! Joe Quesada has finally made Marvel so free of continuity that they no longer even care what happened a year ago! Soon, they’ll be so free of continuity that they’ll randomly change things, mid-panel, and just say, ‘Magic!’ whenever anyone questions it! It’s a wonderful day for storytelling!” When, in fact, it is a lousy day for storytelling. Meaning comes from context, context comes from setting, setting comes from history. A story _totally_ free of continuity is meaningless. If anything can change at any time for any reason, why should we care?

Yes, John, my point is that Marvel will now change stories mid-panel. You got me.

When comments start moving towards the level of quality we’ve seen in 73 or 74… Isn’t it time to turn them off?

I’ll concur that I won’t allow the sort of behavior that was Post #73 (note that now that I deleted Post #73, every post is moved down one number).

When comments start moving towards the level of quality we’ve seen in 73 or 74… Isn’t it time to turn them off?

Imagine how bad the quality gets when you get to comment 1173 and 1174.

(I don’t have to imagine, unfortunately, I’m living it)

The old comics, who tried to convince you that you HAD to read Web of Spider-Man, because “it counted,” were full of crap.

How is the new situation any different, though? There are now three Spidey titles coming out every month that Marvel says ‘count’. It’s basically the same thing, taken to a more extreme level.

It’s just the back issues that don’t “count”- the devotion to continuity (a new continuity, beginning now, and apparently cribbing heavily from the first hundred issues of ASM) will remain the same in the monthly titles. Which is cool, for people who are into that, but it just makes me happier that Ultimate Spider-Man exists.

Scott McIver said…

It’s a good thing the movies aren’t about to have Spider-Man get married. That’d ruin the character.

What? Engagement ring? Constant mentions of marriage and weddings on a hill? Does Sam Raimi even know who Joey Q is?

Yeah, Spidey talks about getting married in the movies, but it’s not going to actually happen under Raimi’s watch- he pretty much said as much in an interview I posted here awhile back.

How is the new situation any different, though? There are now three Spidey titles coming out every month that Marvel says ‘count’. It’s basically the same thing, taken to a more extreme level.

The difference is that it used to be “If they happened, they counted, no matter how much we don’t want them to count.”

Now it is, “If we think a mistake is made, we are willing to fix it.”

That is why this so freeing – no more being stuck with bad ideas (in Marvel’s viewpoint, of course) just because they are “in continuity.”

Brian Cronin said:

“That is why this so freeing – no more being stuck with bad ideas (in Marvel’s viewpoint, of course) just because they are “in continuity.””

Which will just mean that they’ll feel free to do more of them. :)

James "Detroit" Bryant

January 9, 2008 at 5:31 am

Ok I am divorced and it hurts as much as getting hit with Thor’s hammer. But that being said, since Spidey is single again ..we better see a naked Black Cat in his bed soon since he does not have to worry about getting over the emotional pain that comes when a divorce happens to someone that was truely in love with the person that left them. Make him the male version of the WASP of She Hulk (They sleep with everybody, hero or villian)

Basically it all happened before because you read it, but it didn’t happen to BND spiderman, as he is NOT PRE-BND spiderman.

Summary JQ, doesn’t care about the readers that have cared enough to follow 20 years of history of spiderman. Maybe he’s right, there may not be that many of us, who knows.

OMD-BND is not the same as House of M, AoA events.

House of M was meant to be temporary (its a comic book story line continuity progression), and after it was done MU reverts back with a side effect of depowering almost all mutants, which lets be clear everyone in MU is aware of the result of it but not the event and it becomes a fundamental part of the ongoing storylines for x-men and similar mutant storylines, its part of the story and progression of the x-men,x-factor etc comics.

Similar with AoA, AoA was temporary, and when it ended, certain things like x-man that survived it played a factor in starting the next epic story involving Onslaught (he inadvertantly showed Xavier how to materialise himself from the mental plane, when they first meant).

OMD-BND isn’t story progression or continuity progression, its a real world canceling of a series and starting again with a new character, its permanent as long as sales at worst remain the same as before.

SanctumSanctorumComix

January 9, 2008 at 7:19 am

Jordan White replied to an earlier post:

“so in all the stories Joe Q says still happened, but THEY JUST AREN’T MARRIED, do we just assume then that when they’re shown in bed in those stories that, instead of being married, they were just fornicating?”

“No. In all the comics you own, they are married. Those all take place before Mephisto altered thing. When you read silver or golden age DC books, do you think that DC expects you to believe that the pages are blank? The marriage happened. All the comics since then happened. THEN Mephsto came along. Now, going forward, things are different.”

—–

Well, while HISTORICALLY you are correct, the issues WERE produced, purchased and read with the marriage existing and now going forth they aren’t…
you SEEM to miss the point that according to the terms of Mephisto’s deal, the marriage NEVER HAPPENED.

JoeQ stated that the STORIES happened, but the difference is thet Peter and MJ were just DATING at the time, NOT married.

It’s a very selective retcon.

So, if this were “real life” (and, y’know… not a printed comic that is unchangeable), then the memories of everyone (and Marvel is hoping that the reader’s memories will also “bend” to this new “butterfly effect”) that when re-reading those issues, the relationship reads as “dating” and not “married”.

The kind of conditioning that Marvel is looking for is in the same vein as Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s “ILLUMINATUS!” stories.

In those, is written that the people were mentally conditioned NOT to see the “FNORDS” (a word used to make their brain ignore things that the Powers That Be didn’t want them to see or remember).

Marvel is substituting the MARRIAGE pre-BND to the FNORDS.

Only time will tell if they are successful.

HOWEVER, I used a magnifying glass to enlarge the “secret whisper” that MJ spoke to Mephisto, and while due to the problems incurred with printing processes (the color registers are a bit off), I’m pretty sure was able to read the LAST TWO WORDS:
“remember everything”.

So, perhaps her offer to Mephisto was that she could remember everything, so that her pain might be even that much MORE palpable to him, but she might try to use that to help bring them back together in the future.

It wasn’t until AFTER she whispered to Mephisto that she told Peter that no matter what happened, they’d be together again.

That could be the eventual “out”, and explain WHY MJ was standoffish during the party and left early.

She couldn’t stand to bear looking at Peter, knowing that he didn’t remember while she did.
The wound is too new and raw.

Get out your magifying lenses and see what you can read.

I also tried scanning it in (on such a high-res that it was ridiculous) but the color plates on the comic were ever so slightly misaligned.

~P~
P-TOR

you SEEM to miss the point that according to the terms of Mephisto’s deal, the marriage NEVER HAPPENED.

JoeQ stated that the STORIES happened, but the difference is thet Peter and MJ were just DATING at the time, NOT married.

It’s a matter of perspective. I would say that so long as even one person remembers the event happening, it had to have happened. I would say Mephisto probably remembers the deal going down.

In order for the marriage to have been undone like that, it had to first have happened, and things had to lead up to this point. Only after that point did he do what he did. And how can we really know if he actually altered the past or if he just altered the present to reflect a different past?

I’m not arguing the quality of the story, and I’m certainly not arguing that anyone has to like OMD itself. I am just saying that I don’t think anyone has forsaken continuity (EITHER type).

The most recent comments made me realize something: the Spider-Man issues on the stands “count” and the ones in the back issue bins “don’t count.” Is that right?

Which means, there is no reason for a new reader to search out and buy old Spider-Man back issues or trade paperbacks, right?

Marvel is basically shooting the secondary market for Spider-Man, while at the same time hoping for new readers who don’t want the burden of the history. It is actually a good move from some points of view. I mean, one of the biggest complaint about X-Men in the early 90s was that one really had to have read the past decade of books to understand what was going on.

So, I can see the advantage. When DC did their original Crisis, there were really only a few old back issues that still affected the new continuity. But, they were really ignorable. Honestly, only Wally, Dick, and Donna stuck out as continuity errors, and two of them were written well enough that most readers didn’t care.

But, Marvel didn’t do a Crisis. Only Spider-Man’s back issues don’t count. AFAIK, back issues of Avengers, FF, Thunderbolts, etc. still count as Marvel continuity. So, appearances of Spider-Man in those issues are in question as to whether or not they matter to future characterization.

DC’s reboots might be annoying. But, at least they are universe-affecting and easy to explain to a new reader. “Just don’t worry about any story printed before the reboot, and you’ll understand what is going on.”

But, can anyone, including Quesada, explain how OMD is going to affect Daredevil going forward? Or, Heroes for Hire?

You can’t just reboot the entire universe as seen through the pages of one title without removing that title from the continuity of the universe. Either all other titles start ignoring Marvel’s flagship character, or the ramifications of OMD have to be dealt with company-wide.

Now, with that said, I expect Quesada to go the route of ignoring OMD in other issues. This is because of other comments, above, and what they sparked in my mind. When Q. said that the unmasking was going to be long-lasting, he could have said that it was the beginning of the story and to stick with it, but he didn’t.

When Gruenwald had Steve Rogers quit being Cap, he said that it was the beginning of the story, not the end. When the Hulk turned gray we were told it was the beginning of the story, not the end. When Bane broke Batman’s back, DC told retailers that this was the first part of a trilogy of storyarcs, the beginning of the story not the end. What is the beginning of the story, here? Not the unmasking. The deal with Mephisto.

Based on that, I expect that this will be a finite story arc, and the status quo that has been established from 1987-2007 will be restored after a short jaunt to the status quo of 1975-1985. The real question to me is how many people will read the story, and how many will wait until it is over before returning.

Theno

Which means, there is no reason for a new reader to search out and buy old Spider-Man back issues or trade paperbacks, right?

Not unless they want to read them, or anything.

I’m 25 and I’ve been reading Spider-Man since I was about 12, and I’m really sick of the excuse that the marriage “aged the character”. I never had a problem with reading a Spider-Man comic about a married Spider-Man (people ‘do’ get married, you know), and it never seemed that great a stretch that Peter and Mary Jane might get married so young, beside the fact a lot of writers really sold the idea over the years, since I know a good handful of people I went to high school with are married now. One of them just had a baby. Did they get married young? Some might say that, but it does happen and it didn’t suddenly turn them into “old people”.

I think this has a lot more to do with Quesada and his cronies wanting to relive their comic-reading youth than actually having the best interests of their readership in mind. Unless you’re all for this, in which case I suppose I’m happy for you.

Have a good day.
John Cage

[quote] It’s not, though. We read it as such, because of how we’ve been conditioned by the industry, but all it’s saying is that the un-masking isn’t the final status quo. [/quote]

Not quite; as you wrote it, he would be saying that Spider-Man being unmaskes is not the final status quo.

Which is the same thing as admitting that, at some point, his unmasking will magically disappear.

Whether you say it’s because of conditioning or whatever, the fact is that if somebody asks him “Is the unmasking permanent?” *any* answer short of “Yes”, people will take as a “No”, because they are already expecting the answer to be No. He had to lie and say Yes in order to get people to buy it at all, because, even then, most people realized it was a gimmick.

When DC did their original Crisis, there were really only a few old back issues that still affected the new continuity.

Like the entire run of JLA, (because of Wonder Woman), the vastvastvast majority of Superman stories, the Earth Two Justice Society, which had had it’s own title for nearly a decade straight, EVERY Wonder Woman comic published pre-Crisis, and hundreds and hundreds more?

He had to lie and say Yes in order to get people to buy it at all, because, even then, most people realized it was a gimmick.

Here’s a novel idea, stop lying in order to sell gimmicks and hire writers to actually tell stories.

..we better see a naked Black Cat in his bed soon since he does not have to worry

We were joking about this at the comic book store last week. My favorite quote was…

Peter: “Shhh… be very, very quiet. We don’t want to wake up Aunt May!

Mephisto gives Morbo gas!

If Marvel had more respect for their characters and their readers, and stopped making spur-of-the-moment poorly thought out decisions regarding the future of those characters, there wouldn’t be any need for retcons in the first place.

Continuity is non-obtrusive and relatively easy to maintain when you aren’t rebooting the damned franchise every few years.

It’s been one bad decision after another ever since the 90′s when we entered into a generation of writers and editors who lacked the vision, talent, and simple respect for the intelligence of the readers. Shock value and “events” have taken the place of good storytelling. I remember when we had good stories that didn’t involve 3/4 of the Marvel universe, threaten the entire galaxy, randomly kill of characters, or had to show that “everything you thought about the character was WRONG.”

Most of the stuff that Marvel felt needing to be retconned out of Spidey happened from the 90′s foreward, with much of it occuring over the last several years.

They should dispose of continuity altogether. Somebody has a good story, hook him up with a good artist, and let them at Spidey for as long as their ideas last. When they’re done, wait for the next team.

I know Marvel has to maintain rack dominance, but they are full of it when they tell us continuity limits their options.

I know Marvel has to maintain rack dominance, but they are full of it when they tell us continuity limits their options.

I dunno, Wayne, it seems pretty clear that they were, in fact, afraid of messing with continuity. Look at what Quesada is saying even now!

But weren’t they doing this with all other Spider-man titles? Why do all Spidey titles have to be the same?
Big creators can tell their stories of an unmarried spidey in any number of titles or mini-series.

Aamzing could have been the only title to retain the marriage.

Thats what I don’t get.

To me, Spider-Man “continuity” was wrecked by the mid 90s clone saga. This smells similar to me. They throw out this new wrinkle and if there is an over-whelmingly negative response (like the Ben Reilly is the REAL Spider-Man fiasco) it would be simple to invalidate the whole “deal with the devil” and restore the former status quo (isn’t that what being friends with Dr Strange should do for you?)With the bait and switch of the clone saga, I had had enough and stopped buying the Spider-Man monthlies.

(If I’ve missed or misinterpreted something you’ve said Brian, please feel free to correct me)

I highly doubt “One More Day” broke continuity at Marvel. In fact, I’d argue that continuity matters MORE now than it did back when Jemas and Quesada took over*. The Illuminati is a perfect example of this: it’s using Marvel continuity to advance the title’s purposes, at times going so far as to alter it. And look at “Secret Invasion”: the premise is that at some point in continuity, certain Marvel characters were replaced by Skrulls. Is that not going to “matter” after “Secret Invasion” ends? If, say, Harry Osborn is revealed to be a Skrull in “Secret Invasion,” is that not going to be acknowledged in Amazing Spider-Man? Won’t that story “count”?

If we focus specifically on Amazing Spider-Man, the “continuity is broken” idea doesn’t hold up either. If J. Jonah Jameson is killed off, for instance, that’s not going to be ignored, even if later writers think it was a bad idea. The “continuity is broken” idea would only hold up is if the status quo remains mostly unchanged or is constantly re-established. In other words, no major supporting cast members die or move away forever and Spider-Man doesn’t do something both huge and “permanently” life-changing [like marry or publicly unmask].

I agree that continuity certainly took a beating from “One More Day”… but it ain’t broken yet. Marvel may not be at 90s-level continuity obsession (as Jeff pointed out, two recent comics give completely different answers to the “do Hulk’s rampages kill people?” question), but continuity continues to drive Marvel’s comics in varying degrees.

*Back when histories were altered and it wasn’t an “event”, characters came back to life without explanation, and appearances/characterization could vary widely (sometimes within the same month!). If The Illuminati had been introduced during this era, I suspect we wouldn’t have gotten a mini-series revealing when this group actually met in the past. In fact, just look at the Spider-titles during this era: Amazing and Sensational rarely acknowledged one another, and sometimes contradicted each other!

That said, though, the Jemas/Quesada era was one of Marvel’s better eras.

He had to lie and say Yes in order to get people to buy it at all, because, even then, most people realized it was a gimmick.

The lesson there being that if you have to trick people into buying your product, your product might not be very good in the first place.

WOW !!

The least you can say is that OMD & BND rouses passions, I’m the 100 post!!!

Nah, your points are fair enough, Gokitalo.

I still think this is the first time Marvel has had a prominent flat-out reboot, which is something they have held out against doing for 40 years, even explicitly pointing out how different they were from DC for NOT doing it.

So that’s what I mean by continuity being severely damaged here (I didn’t say broken, right? I meant to hold off from saying flat-out broken – did I?), which I am pleased with, because I like this approach better.

I think you just said “broken” once:

Now, continuity has been broken, so it is all fair game.

But I think I get what you’re saying. OMD/BND feels more like a “massive retcon” than a reboot to me, since Spider-Man history hasn’t exactly started over, but it’s a fine line. I agree that Marvel’s never changed a major character’s history on this level before [and made it stick].

Yeah, you’re dead right that I shouldn’t have said broken. That was dumb of me.

I say we retcon it so that I never said broken! :)

Seconded! We’ll call it: “One More Cronin!”

Mephisto: “By the way, ‘Gokitalo’… was your future SON!”

Brian: “NNNNOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

What was wrong with Lifetheft? At least it was only, what, two issues?

Wow!!! A hundred and seven posts!!! …MEPHISTO’S Nips Must Be HUGE!!!

SOOO0000ooooo huge!

…and razor sharp, too!

Got nothing to say but wish I’d seen the now banished comment #73. Sounds like it was a doozy!

It wasn’t that bad. Just a profane insult of Quesada.

Well, I think we’ve finally gotten the point well described:

Marvel will now fix a mistake, even if it means changing continuity, if they think it hinders storytelling.

I’m not sure if I would describe it at all in the way you did at the beginning. I probably wouldn’t bring in hypertime at all.

I’m pretty much ok with it so long as the decisions aren’t made lightly.

I’m generally of the opinion that it takes more creativity to do stories with the full weight of 30 years of comics on your back. I’m also under the opinion that if you’re a creator with enough talent to do so, you’ll be able to tell richer stories because of it, all other things equal.

I’m also generally under the opinion that it’s a lot easier to write Invincible or Walking Dead than a mainstream Marvel book.

The hope for me is that the writers rise to the challenge and craft organic stories that stem from the characters’ growth over the years. Part of the uniqueness of big 2 comics to me is that the Marvel Universe is one massive story made up of a lot of tiny chapters. You don’t really find that in any other medium. I’m not sure I can get that anywhere else, at least not to the same intensity.

But yes, I’m perfectly fine with them revamping continuity if it means undoing a major mistake, like, oh, I don’t know Austen’s The Draco story. I just don’t think it should be done lightly.

I’m not saying that the pre-reboot issues aren’t worth reading (either pre OMD or Crisis), I’m saying that for the purposes of understanding the story, they aren’t necessary.

To understand Inferno, you needed to know some significant X-Men history. In order to get the most out of the story, you needed to see the dominos set up so that you could watch as they all fell down.

But, to understand Batman: Year One, or Giffin’s JL, or Byrne’s Superman, you didn’t need to read any pre-Crisis issues. You could have. You might have enjoyed them. But, they weren’t necessary.

My main point seemed to have gotten lost in my ramblings, though. I believe that single-title reboots simply don’t work. Not for a character as big as Spider-Man.

You can reboot Daredevil. He doesn’t touch other titles, anyway. Same with Punisher. Shunt the “Midnight Sons” titles off into their own little corner of continuity? Sure! But, Spider-Man and a handful of other Marvel Iconics (I’m thinking Wolverine, Captain America, people who guest star a lot), it simply doesn’t work.

If all of a sudden Mephisto or the Beyonder or whomever suddenly “finds” Captain America frozen in ice and everyone just “forgets” that there ever was a Captain America before this one, that will damage the continuity of every title that Cap has ever guest starred in.

If it is suddenly retconed that Wolverine never joined the X-Men, and all this time he was just an unofficial ally of theirs, it will impact titles other than his.

Since the Spider-Man status quo of 1975-1985 has been restored, I feel that all of the stories told since then are in question. Harry never dying is in and of itself a potential major impact on Thunderbolts, isn’t it?

So, either this is a massively wrong thing that will serve to confuse and infurriate all the rulers of Persei8, or this is a short jaunt into fairy-tale non-continuity land while trying to pretend it isn’t. It’s a massive (I predict 36 issues or so) What If limited series disguised as and replacing the mainstream titles, hoping to keep the sales figures of that main title and not the sales figures of other What If tales.

I think it is the second. I fully expect that on Dec 31 (unless it ships late) an issue of Amazing will end with the phrase, “And that is how Spider-Man saved the universe from Mephisto’s evil plans, and no one but he remembers.”

Theno

I don’t care about continuity all that much.
I don’t care about Quesada’s “lies” AT ALL.
I don’t care whether Harry Osborn is alive or not.
I don’t care about May, apart from wishing she would die already and be done with it.

My problem with this whole imbroglio is that from now on, Peter Parker is officially frozen in place as a young single guy who won’t commit to longterm relationships with women, and can’t hold down a steady job. Because according to Marvel, being in a longterm adult relationship and having a steady job (as a teacher for example) were somehow “aging” Spidey and contradicting his so-called “central concept”. That is Marvel’s OFFICIAL stance on the matter; their valuable property needs to be a single youngster who has problems making ends meet, and anything else is bad for business.

When this swinging-bachelor Pete starts going out with some brand-new babe, we will KNOW that the relationship won’t be allowed to go all the way, because being anything else than a swinging’ bachelor would make Peter look “old”. Parker can’t have a well-paying or even stable gig either, because supposedly he NEEDS to be a “hard-luck guy who can’t make ends meet” forever.

So Peter Parker was officially returned to this supposedly “ideal” status-quo, and we were expressly told that this is “how things should be”, and that having a steady job or committing to an adult relationship would “go against his central concept”. Essentially, Spider-Man was turned into Archie: the character’s owners want him as an eternal bachelor who can’t make ends meet, and that’s where Peter will stay.

And THAT is why I won’t be buying Spider-Man comics anymore: I don’t buy Archie comics, not even if Archie wears webshooters on his wrists. This new/old status-quo is just sad, and I’m honestly not interested anymore. In the future, whenever I want to read a Spidey story I’ll just read one that I already own.

(And before someone suggests that it’s only Quesada who wanted this, and that it will be reversed after Quesada is gone, I say WAKE UP. These changes weren’t pulled out of Joey’s arse, not with a property THIS valuable. Don’t kid yourselves, Spidey’s owners want him this way. Joe Quesada is only the face telling us how things are; Spider-Man is a corporate multimedia property and all this mess didn’t come from an editorial whim.)

But again, I have to say that I feel differently about not caring about continuity the way that Brian thinks of it, and the way that Marvel is actually doing it. I’ll try an analogy here, because I don’t think I got my idea across last time. (And yes, Brian, I know you weren’t saying that Marvel should literally change their plot points mid-panel. I was using hyperbole. In fact, that’s pretty much 99% of everything I say. Including the previous sentence.)

But let’s look at chess. Chess is a game with pretty rigidly defined rules. King moves like so, rook moves like so, et cetera et cetera. Brian could look at chess and say, “That game seems a little too rigid for me. I wish there was a way to change the rules.”

And there is. There are any number of variants, collectively known as “fairy chess.” These variants are limited only by the imagination of the two participants in the game. (Or three, four, five…some fairy chess variants allow for multiple players.) You can decide, “For this game, rooks and bishops will be replaced with extra queens.” “For this game, the board will be considered to be a cylinder–you can move from the left-most square to the right-most square directly.” You can change the rules, make them whatever you want them to be, whatever you can get everyone to agree on. This, I think, is the spirit of what Brian is advocating.

But what Marvel is doing is the equivalent of changing the rules mid-game, unilaterally, solely because they don’t like the way the game is going for them. “I made a move I didn’t like twenty moves ago, and it turns out that it’s going to make me lose, so, um…magic. I get my queen back.” That’s not fairy chess, that’s just cheating. I maintain that there is a difference.

I am starting to think this is a temporary status quo. Or maybe it’s all the work of Mysterio. Fingers crossed.

Out of curiosity, did anyone else — like me — buy and read ASM #546 and find it really, really boring? Leaving aside OMD and continuity and all that, the issue was just sort of…there.

But what Marvel is doing is the equivalent of changing the rules mid-game, unilaterally, solely because they don’t like the way the game is going for them. “I made a move I didn’t like twenty moves ago, and it turns out that it’s going to make me lose, so, um…magic. I get my queen back.” That’s not fairy chess, that’s just cheating. I maintain that there is a difference.

Fair enough.

If you’re working from the POV that rules in art are, for some reason, inherently a good thing – this is a good point.

With ya, Omar. I thought it read like a generic Spider-Man book. The trappings were all there, but no omph.

112.HammerHeart said …

we were expressly told that this is “how things should be”, and that having a steady job or committing to an adult relationship would “go against his central concept”. Essentially, Spider-Man was turned into Archie: the character’s owners want him as an eternal bachelor who can’t make ends meet, and that’s where Peter will stay.

That is such a great point that I hadn’t even considered. They have pigeon-holed him so that no matter the story, we can be pretty sure that he’ll end up back where he started.

If you’re working from the POV that rules in art are, for some reason, inherently a good thing – this is a good point.

Lemme rephrase -

I’d say the entire point of this article is that giving the creators the freedom to do what most of them want to do is more important than following the rules.

As a comic book fan and a married man, I am appalled at the message this move sends to young men. Play the field, never grow up, never get committed, whatever.

I liked the fact that Spidey was married, but alas only a married man can tell you that married life isn’t as settled as one would like to believe. There is plenty of conflict and decisions that would have kept with the storyline of Peter’s persistent moral dilemmas. This erasure just sucks to high heaven.

I love Aunt May but the chick needed to die. I mean, you want to keep Aunt may around for generations and generations of new readers? Puhleese!!! Why not have some Spidey kids and let new readers grow up with them and endure a world that Peter is forced to see in a new light?

Anyway, the only thing that might keep me interested is if this new storyline shows again that Peter and Mary Jane are truly inseparable. Even with the erasure, they still somehow, someway find each other. And at the end of the day, that’s what any single man really wants — one woman who he can love and just be himself.

“But the fact is, Mephisto’s change has seen print. It’s now PART of continuity! So, everyone who is so protective of continuity needs to be protective of this, right?”

Uh…if you assume that the only possible definition of ‘continuity’ is something that is printed. Otherwise it’s a strawman. There are a couple of more seemingly realistic definitions but I would figure that most people are looking at this as being “equivalent to” simply snapping your fingers and breaking established history in some way. If we use the “anything in print is continuous” theory then spider-man waking up one day and being unmarried with no explanation whatsoever, now or forthcoming. Is also continuous. In fact under that definition you can’t have a discontinuous story…since once it’s printed it’s continuous.

“If, in two years, this DOES get undone, because Marvel “gives in to fan pressure”… are you going to buy the restored marriage comics that wipe out OMD? Because if so, you are supporting destroying continuity! This IS continuity now. Part of the one long chain of events.”

Wierd. This is what logicians call equivocation. You are using the word ‘continuity’ in two different contexts in the same argument. If someone says that event A ‘breaks continuity’ it’s reasonable that event B which restores a system to the state prior to A to be considered as “restoring continuity”.

“I’ve read more about the character, and he CLEARLY works better 9from a storytelling and thematic POV) as unmarried.”

Interesting that you – like a number of people – give objective reasons as to why – or any reasons really. Just saying, in all-caps no less that something is clear doesn’t make it so.

What storylines are automatically impossible because the person involved is married? Not many that I can think of. Even if you assume that spider-man needs to be a moral role model in his married life then what do you exclude? Dating stories? and…..

Honestly I’m not that interested. The main Civil War plotline was so trite that I couldn’t be bothered to pick up much more of Marvel. WWH was, although incredibly simplistic in plot was a much more entertaining read. Too bad it ended stupidly. Hulk breaking Strange’s hands was a good start. He should have similarly destroyed Starks fortune and Richards mind.

MarkAndrew said:

“I’d say the entire point of this article is that giving the creators the freedom to do what most of them want to do is more important than following the rules.”

Except that everyone has to follow _some_ rules. Marvel can’t publish an ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ comic that’s 22 pages of pictures of cats vomiting every month. They can’t just slap together random clip art, or doodle pictures of the Eiffel Tower. They negotiate with the audience as to what’s “allowed” in a Spider-Man comic. Not necessarily consciously or overtly, but it’s a process every creative person undergoes with their audience. Call it a game of, “Do You Understand This?” We all play it when we write or draw or sing or dance. We try to make our ideas understood to our audience. We all play by rules. The more rigid the rules, the easier it is to get our ideas across, but the less freedom we have. The less rigid the rules, the more freedom we have, but the more risk of being misunderstood.

And as I say, there’s a difference between “relaxing the rules” and “cheating.” Marvel is not negotiating with their audience; they’re imposing new rules 546 issues into the game that happen to be more to their advantage, and telling them, “Hey, if you don’t like it, go read some other company’s ‘Amazing Spider-Man’.” :)

I’d say the entire point of this article is that giving the creators the freedom to do what most of them want to do is more important than following the rules.

Yep.

Well, I think we’ve finally gotten the point well described:

Marvel will now fix a mistake, even if it means changing continuity, if they think it hinders storytelling.

I’m not sure if I would describe it at all in the way you did at the beginning. I probably wouldn’t bring in hypertime at all.

I see your point, Matt, I would just argue (as I do in the piece) that this is a dramatic shift in how Marvel approaches continuity, which is why I made it sound so dramatic.

While obviously I disagree with John Seavey’s problem with the change, I agree with his contention that this is a significant change.

SanctumSanctorumComix

January 10, 2008 at 6:50 pm

Marvel’s stories used to rely on what was known as “the illusion of change”. Basically, that even though changes might seem to occur, over time the character would circle around to the status quo again.

Tiny, incremental forward steps, spread out over many issues (months, years), followed by one giant leap back (single issue, multi-part arc, mini-series event, crossover, etc..).

What happened here is the absolute worst case of such a thing, because it was rushed, messy (a DC reboot trait, not Marvel), contrived and contradictory to the end-point that it was trying to achieve (a Peter Parker that kids can “relate” with).

Now, IF this is just a side-trip into a convoluted “what if?” type story-line (limited to a year or so) where Peter & MJ eventually come back together and the “spell” is broken, then it will be another in a long line of “psyche-out”, reversible storylines (like the X-Men being dead and invisible to technology or HOUSE of M), but on a MUCH larger scale, because it would have dicked around with PAST history as well.

Either way, it’s bad storytelling, bad business (sure, they’ll make money, but lose buyer faith* – which they seem to be chipping away at with each stunt… *unless the stereotype of “all bark, no bite fanboy” is true and despite vowing to the contrary, they continue to buy ASM), and bad character stewardship.

But, that’s just how I see it.
There really is a LOT involved with this.
The more you examine the situation, the more layers of deeper problems and possibilities are found underneath.

~P~
P-TOR

SanctumSanctorumComix

January 10, 2008 at 7:17 pm

Y’know.. in a LOT of ways, this is VERY similar to the “clone” storyline;

What you once thought was true for 20 years is not true (clone was really supposed to be Peter, Ben was really supposed to be original), but Marvel caved in to fan pressure and produced the cock-up that most readers loathed.

Truthfully, I thought the idea of them making Ben Reilly the TRUE Peter Parker was a BALLSY move and one that I could get behind *CREATIVELY* as an “out” to the marriage, but, as a fan/reader I could understand how other fan/readers would feel that their collections/memories were turned to dust.

If Marvel had just stayed the course of the original Clone storyline, all of this would have been unnecessary.

Many would have respected Marvel as the maverick storyteller that it is purported as being, and moved on with the new take.
“Peter” and MJ go off to live a happy-ever-after life, and “Ben” would pick up his life.

Then, Marvel could have started a “The Lost Spider-Man Tales” book, to showcase the “missing” years of Spidey’s life, while continuing to detail the new adventures as well.

So… should they stay the course with THIS?

Probably.

It’s NOT a good story.
By ANY means.

But, now that it is told, it might behoove everyone involved to just do a double-take, as if they’ve seen something in the corner of their vision, realize that it vanished, and when we look front and center again, the new status quo just… IS.

Is it a good status quo?

Hell no.
At least, right now it isn’t.
- Peter moving back in with Aunt May (her house was probably rebuilt after “a fire”, which may have been paid for either by insurance or Tony Stark – IF Stark was still helping finance all Avengers – which Peter HAS BEEN, even if no one knew his ID or not…now),

- Pete’s broke, with no job

- riding his bike around (living in and around NYC, MANY people don’t have cars or know how to drive, due to parking and driving conditions in NYC)

- basically, not any kind of success in life (BECAUSE of his dual life as Spidey?)

But, that might just be where he is for now.
(I haven’t received my pre-ordered BND issue in the mail yet, so can’t really say.)

But, you have to know that it’ll move on from here.

If only it wasn’t under the shadow of SUCH a monumental F#@%-up storyline where he deals with the “devil” to undo a “one in a billion” blessed love to save his Aunt’s life.

GAH.

What was that?
I thought I saw something on the periphery of my vision.
Nope. Nothing there. Must’ve been seeing things.
So, what’s in front of me here?
Looks like a Brand New Day.

Just a bit overcast though.

;-)

~P~
P-TOR

When this swinging-bachelor Pete starts going out with some brand-new babe, we will KNOW that the relationship won’t be allowed to go all the way, because being anything else than a swinging’ bachelor would make Peter look “old”.

Much like when superhero Spider-Man goes up against some brand-new villain, we will KNOW that the fight won’t end in his death?

Each reader has to make up his own mind. I’ve read comics for decades and enjoyed “settling in” with old favorites, and felt that the good writers could build on the continuity, add new twists, create new villains, etc. Each event did not have to be more earth-shaking, earth-threatening, cosmic, or more significant than the previous one. Remember the Spider-Man (I think it’s numbers 31-33, the “Master Planner”) storyline by Lee/Ditko from the ’60′s that just about everyone cites as one of, if not the best Spidey story ever? Where he has to lift the big piece of machinery up and off him? How cosmic or earth-shattering or Marvel-Universe-changing was that? Almost zilch. Yet it is fondly remembered, and it doesn’t encumber other writers with bogged down continuity at all. Some of the best stories are the ones set in a back alley of New York, as opposed to the center of the galaxy, where a hero has to make the kind of decision that defnies him/her as a hero, and maybe only two or three people even know what happened or are affected by the outcome. I started with DC, then added Marvel as I discovered heroes with personalities, but gradually my DC purchases kept dropping with each and every crisis and reboot. For me it’s difficult to care about characters and a situation I know will ultimately be negated. DC has completely rebooted itself off my buy list. Now I see the signs with Marvel; certainly makes Ultimate Spider-Man seem redundant. I say again, and I saw it repeatedly when I was a comic shop owner–reboots make jumping off points as easily as jumping on points.

Uh…if you assume that the only possible definition of ‘continuity’ is something that is printed. Otherwise it’s a strawman. There are a couple of more seemingly realistic definitions but I would figure that most people are looking at this as being “equivalent to” simply snapping your fingers and breaking established history in some way.

My point was that this doesn’t “violate” established history, it is a part of it and it changes it. There is an ‘in-world’ explanation for the events. Your example of Spidey just waking up single would violate things. It would make no sense, and there would be no explanation inherent in it. Here, the fact that the status quo has been changed has an in-continuity explanation. Peter and MJ made a deal with Mephisto, and this event happened in continuity. Mephisto remembers it.

(I assume.)

This is what logicians call equivocation. You are using the word ‘continuity’ in two different contexts in the same argument. If someone says that event A ‘breaks continuity’ it’s reasonable that event B which restores a system to the state prior to A to be considered as “restoring continuity”.

Not so. The definition I am using for continuity is, as you said, “all the events that have taken place over the course of the series”. Once an event happens, it is part of continuity, and ANY attempt to completely shrug it off would be a violation of continuity.

See, to me, your argument is indicitive of what I was saying before; when people say something is in violation of continuity, they usually mean that it goes against something they like. No one cares when Spider-Man comics blatantly contradict continuity established in the Clone Saga… except people who liked it. To me, if you are upset that something blantantly disregards a bit of continuity, you should really be that protective of ALL of it, not just the parts you like.

So, to me, your description of events A and B just describes two breaks. And maybe you can tie the end before break one with the end after break 2 seemlessly, and maybe it corrects a grievous error (like killing Aunt May, or Doc Ock… or Harry). But the second one still violates the continuity since the first one.

Did you know that Aunt May has lost, given up, or moved out of Peter’s Childhood home at LEAST 3 times before it burned down in JMS’s run? How does that work?

Interesting that you – like a number of people – give objective reasons as to why – or any reasons really. Just saying, in all-caps no less that something is clear doesn’t make it so.

I was just trying to emphasize that I wasn’t a reader who grew up on unmarried Peter, which is the most common argument being used to dismiss the idea that he is a better character that way. “You just want to bring him back to how he was when you were young!”

My “objective reasons” follow below.

What storylines are automatically impossible because the person involved is married? Not many that I can think of. Even if you assume that spider-man needs to be a moral role model in his married life then what do you exclude? Dating stories? and…

Well, to begin, “dating stories” is a really big category. So, yeah, there is that.

But mainly, I would say it’s more about the thematic element. Let me explain.

First off, I believe that the purpose of superhero comics is to continue telling an ongoing story for as long as possible, preferably forever. They don’t EVER want to end. Would you say that is a fair assesment? Spider-Man needs to be entertaining perpetually into the future.

What that means for the “overall story” is… that there really cannot be one. No one can plan out 40 years of story, let alone infinity years (the goal). Yes, you can read his whole series from issue 1 to the current issue (and I have made an effort to, but there is a good 5-10 years that has evaded me) but it’s just not going to read like a long novel. It’s not even going to read like a life story, because every once in a while, you come across parts that require you to forget something that happened. I’m not saying that is good, but over the 45 years, there have been stories that contradict earlier stories. Sometimes they are fixed later, othertimes, they are ignored and go away. But that makes the effect of the “overall story” seem pretty dumb.

But it’s also not meant to be an overall story. No one expects you to start with issue 1. They want you to feel free to hop on whenever you can. Then, when you no longer like it, you’ll hop off. It cyclical, just like the other never-ending stories, the soap operas. People start watching, they stop, others start, others stop. No one is expected to watch literally forever.

So, what does this have to do with him being single? Well, if there is no ongoing overall story, what is there? What good are they? I would argue that they rise and fall on the strenth of their theme. Each comic needs to have a strong central idea, which will act as a lens through which other stories are told. It’s my belief, as I’ve stated, that Spider-Man’s central theme is about how important it is to do the right thing, even when it isn’t the thing you want to do, or sometimes even what is best for you. And this theme is emphasized by the fact that Peter’s life as Spider-Man is in opposition with his life as Peter.

Once MJ married Peter with foreknowledge of his secret, she is no longer in opposition to his life. He does not have to hide it from her, or worry as much about letting her down. She becomes part of his support system. And yes, in real life, a support system is a great thing, and I recommend it. My wife is great. But my life is not a metaphor for doing the hard thing because it’s right even though everything is stacked against you. Peter’s is. And having MJ in his corner (and later, May as well, and then the entire freaking Avengers) goes against that. Having him hide his secret from girls he dates, having people get mad at him for not showing up because he was off as Spidey but cannot tell them that, having the people he cares about most dislike his alter ego, these are things that fit in well with it. If he said “screw being Spider-Man” his life would be easier and probably better, but he would not be a man worth admiring.

The problem (in my opinion) is that for many people (myself included) reading about Spider-Man’s struggle to do what is right was a formative part of their life and coming of age. This makes people feel that he should continue to grow, learn, and change along with them. I felt that way too. But when I really examined the thematic elements, I realized that a coming of age story is a very finite one. This made me question that Spidey really was a coming of age story, since it needs to go on forever. That’s when I came to see that all the “coming of age” elements of the tale are part of the theme of doing what is right against hardship. And that is a theme for people of all ages.

I cannot believe I just wrote this much about it.

I am such a loser.

Ditto from top to bottom.

With me? Man, I was thinking I was alone in this thread!

Just chiming in to say that I’m with Omar– the full Amazing #546 was staggeringly dull, with moments of light obnoxiousness.

(Yeah, I didn’t like the preview pages, but it only seemed fair to try the full issue. And no, I didn’t buy it.)

It doesn’t matter if Marvel can fix “mistakes” now, if they’re not going to do anything interesting with a new status quo once it’s there.

Unless this arc somehow experiences meteoric improvement or subsequent creative teams are better, these… aren’t really better Spidey comics than what we had. They’re different and I suppose novel in some ways, but waving the magic wand has failed to suddenly make Spidey better.

Which makes you wonder, did Marvel even fix the right “mistake”?

I usually like Dan Slott’s writing, but the new post-reboot Spider-Man came off to me as just….very forced.

It’s sort of like when you have a movie that is a mega-hit, and then in the sequel they try to take all the subtle things that made the first movie popular and amplify them to the nth degree for the sequel, upsetting the delicate balance and ruining the magic.

It’s like the comic was yelling at me, saying “SEE? THIS IS LIKE SPIDER-MAN USED TO BE!” while pounding me over the head with a hammer.

Yes, Jordan, I was agreeing with you. I’ll admit, I skimmed most of the article, but the major points were there. And snarkily agreeing with your last two points.

“My point was that this doesn’t “violate” established history, it is a part of it and it changes it. There is an ‘in-world’ explanation for the events. Your example of Spidey just waking up single would violate things. It would make no sense, and there would be no explanation inherent in it.”

So now your definition of discontinuity has to satisfy two previously undisclosed lemmas.

i) It must make sense
ii) There is an in-world explanation.

Let’s also cast our minds back into how this came out of you criticizing people who were complaining that this event breaks continuity.

Lemma (i) is at best a poor criterion to justify your argument since it can be argued that the events described don’t make sense.

Lemma (ii) is nice but is easily subsumed my lemma (i). Unless ‘make sense’ is being used to refer to something other than ‘make sense given the information within the story’. Some more avant-garde narratives might use “out-of-band” kinds of storytelling but in the case of comics I think this assumption is safe.

Anyway since Lemma (i) can’t be shown that it MUST apply then your criticism is unsubstantiated. Nice try though.

>This is what logicians call equivocation. Not so. The definition I am using for….

weird – my comment was truncated.

Lemma (i) is at best a poor criterion to justify your argument since it can be argued that the events described don’t make sense.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by “makes sense”.

Aside from the idea of the quality of the story, which of course can be argued about forever, I would say the story made sense. Peter’s aunt was dying, Mephisto offered him a deal, Peter took it, and the world was changed as a result. We understand it, and there is a logic to it. Peter randomly waking up with things changed with no explanation would make no sense. What you put as my i and ii were, in my mind, the same thing.

And I don’t mean ‘makes sense; meaning “Peter making that choice makes no sense”. That speaks to saying that you think Peter made the wrong choice. That’s fine, if so, then Peter making the wrong choice is part of continuity. And while that choice is not to everyone’s taste, it’s not as cut and dry as all that. It isn’t Peter deciding to make PB&J when it’s been established that he’s allergic to peanuts, it’s him doing something that you feel is unwise, when he has typically done things you feel are wise. And that is a fine judgement to make, but I don’t think represents something that actually goes against established continuity.

I’m not sure what you meant by “discontinuity”.

“It isn’t Peter deciding to make PB&J when it’s been established that he’s allergic to peanuts, it’s him doing something that you feel is unwise, when he has typically done things you feel are wise.”

Actually, I would say that it is exactly like Peter making a PB&J when it has been established that he is allergic to peanuts. Because, as you, yourself said, one of the prime elements of the Spider-Man story engine is:

“Spider-Man’s struggle to do what is right”

Making a deal with Loki, Dr Strange, Iron Man, etc. I can see and understand. Making a deal with Mephisto, someone who is a devil-figure in the MU and someone who Spider-Man has fought against in the past, goes against the struggle to do what is right.

On another topic, one of the other repliers reminded me that Spider-Man’s identity was revealed to other Avengers. Which reminded me of when Rage had to reveal his identity to the Avengers in order to become a member. Now, I also remember an old issue where Captain America offered to waive the identity issue for Spider-Man when he was offered membership back in the 90s. So, my question is:

Is Spider-Man still an Avenger?
If so, did someone waive his requirement to reveal his identity?
If he is still an Avenger, and he didn’t get such a waiver, but his fellow Avengers have forgotten who is beneath the mask, then won’t they wonder why it is that he’s the only member of the team whose name they don’t know?
And, most importantly, does anyone expect this to be dealt with, or will it simply never be mentioned?

Theno

SanctumSanctorumComix

January 11, 2008 at 10:11 am

Jordan D White,

You hit it on the head.

Peter Parker has ALWAYS (for me anyway) been about “doing what is right no matter the personal cost”.

That is why I was a fan of Peter Parker much more than one of Spider-Man.

But you hit it all dead on;

Soap-opera cylical nature and all.

I agree 100%.

~P~
P-TOR

Thenodrin-

I’ve been basically avoiding arguing over the specifics of OMD’s actual story, for the most part, in favor of the benefit that the outcome has.

But on this one small point, I would offer that, from a certain point of view, it could be considered ‘doing the right thing’. If he looks at it as him giving up happiness in favor of someone else getting to live, then it would be the right thing to do. The fact that Mephisto is thought of as the devil, and he is giving him what he wants does complicate things, but… from a certain point of view, its a good thing to do.

Thenodrin:
Is Spider-Man still an Avenger?
If so, did someone waive his requirement to reveal his identity?
If he is still an Avenger, and he didn’t get such a waiver, but his fellow Avengers have forgotten who is beneath the mask, then won’t they wonder why it is that he’s the only member of the team whose name they don’t know?
And, most importantly, does anyone expect this to be dealt with, or will it simply never be mentioned?

I’m gonna hazard a guess and say that with Spider-Man living a “Brand New Day”, he’s not gonna be an Avenger for much longer.

All the talk I have heard about him getting back to his roots, focusing on his supporting cast, and distancing himself from the other MU heroes have led me to believe that he’s not gonna fit in at the Avengers anymore.

I also agree with the soap opera cylical nature. But, like soap operas, the story should go forward. It should restore old status quos by moving forward. Not by going back.

For example, who actually liked the fact that an entire season of Dallas was a dream? Most fans of the show agree that was the Jump The Shark moment that eventually killed the show.

Also, again, it is entirely unnecessary. There is only one story that could be told without a wife as told with: and that one involves Peter dating. And, even that story could be told if done properly. If the writer/editor didn’t want to deal with MJ, they could have written her out the same way that a soap opera writes out an actor that holds out for money and doesn’t renew for a season.

This is, I think, why so many people feel that this is a heavy handed, “this is the way it oughta be” action. It is entirely unnecessary from a story telling aspect.

Theno

“in favor of the benefit that the outcome has”

I’m still not seeing the so-called benefit.

How is it easier to write for an unmarried Spider-Man? How is it easier to write for an unmarried Peter Parker?

You gave a great example of how the story needs to have conflict and needs to circle back to a status quo on occasion, or establish new status quos in a moving forward effort. But, you never explain on how it actually affects the story engine of Spider-Man.

Just because the story of Peter keeping his secret safe from MJ is a resolved story doesn’t mean that the story of Peter keeping his secret safe from a romantic interest is resolved. A woman could develop an unrequited crush on either Peter or Spider-Man, causing him to have to keep his secret safe from them.

Just because Peter is married does not remove the romantic tension between him and MJ, and also does not prevent a GOOD writer from introducing love interests. In fact, even a decent writer could introduce a love interest for MJ to create such romantic tension and conflict.

Basically, OMD didn’t make the story telling engine “better.” It didn’t even make it “different.” What it did was reboot the engine with a poorly executed quick-fix.

I can agree that the story took Quesada to the point he wanted it to be. I disagree that it is a point that is better than where it was pre-Quesada. I disagree that it was the only way to do it. I even disagree that it will in any way make for better stories.

Theno

There is only one story that could be told without a wife as told with: and that one involves Peter dating.

Well… sure.

But, by that logic, there is only one story that can be told with awife that can’t be told single: Peter being married.

I can agree that the story took Quesada to the point he wanted it to be. I disagree that it is a point that is better than where it was pre-Quesada. I disagree that it was the only way to do it. I even disagree that it will in any way make for better stories.

Well, that’s fine. I think it will make for better stories, and i have no idea how good BND will be, but I think it’s got a better status quo than Spidey has had in a long time.

But I never said this was the only way to do it, nor did I say this was even my preferred way. I just feel that regardless of how it happened, I am glad it’s here.

Personally, I would have liked Spidey to fight Galactus, and MJ gets struck with a stray blast from the Ultimate Nullifier. ^_^ I’d miss her, but… it would be cool.

I wrote, “There is only one story that could be told without a wife as told with: and that one involves Peter dating.”

“Well… sure. ” Jordan replied, “But, by that logic, there is only one story that can be told with awife that can’t be told single: Peter being married.”

That may be true, but that negates your arguement that the single Peter status quo is better than the married Peter status quo.

You simply can’t reasonably argue that “X is obviously better than Y” without actually supporting X as being better. What value does the ret-con add to the story? I’m not seeing it. You are, but you don’t seem to be sharing.

I feel that the marriage added to the idea of Peter being the Everyman. I feel that it added to the idea of Peter being quickly identifyable to the audience. It was a picture-perfect marriage and union that still had troubles. Just like Spider-Man is a person with Amazing super powers, who still has troubles.

I feel that the marriage sent the message to kids that they can grow up to have problems, and yet still find happiness.

I feel that if the on-going status quo (assuming for a second that this isn’t a finite story as I expect it to be) as Quesada says it will be, that it sends the message that no matter how good a person is, fates will always intervene to deprive them of happiness. Bond’s girlfriend will always die. And Spider-Man will always go home to Aunt May, the only woman who never leaves him.

It’s sad in a way that Batman or the Punisher’s tragic story engine can’t touch, if you think about it

Theno

“Peter’s aunt was dying, Mephisto offered him a deal, Peter took it, and the world was changed as a result. We understand it, and there is a logic to it.”

“Peter randomly waking up with things changed with no explanation would make no sense.”

There’s a difference between an assertion and an argument. You have made the former…only the later is compelling. Otherwise it’s just “Yes it is” and “No it’s not”. Which might be stimulating for some but not for me.

However if that’s as far as your reasoning goes – and it sounds like it is. Then your argument falls right there and it should be easy for you to accept that you aren’t on any better footing than those who call these events discontinuous.

“And I don’t mean ‘makes sense; meaning “Peter making that choice makes no sense”.”

Long winded strawman. Not interested. This got truncated and I was too lazy to retype but the only thing that drew me to your comment was the poor logic. Nowhere, not even implicitly am I talking about what I like or don’t like about the story. I’m entirely disinterested. I don’t even buy this title.

So your “See, to me, your argument is indicative of…” comments were so off-base it was almost funny.

Dude, I wrote that huge post, and the last bulk of it, like 6 paragraphs of so, was about why I believe the unmarried Peter is better. I am happy to share. I won’t rehash all that again, because it took long enough to write the first time, and it’s still up there.

And yes, Peter’s story is sad. But the fact that it does not crush him is what makes him inspirational. He ahs it harder than any person can reasonably be expected to bear, yet he does. He always bounces back.

I don’t see how Peter being married makes him more identifiable, except to people who are married (like me). As a coming of age story, it works. Spider-Man cannot be a coming of age story, or else it fails at it’s primary goal of lasting forever.

I read your post, and while interesting it actually dances around the idea of an unmarried Peter being better than a married Peter.

You say, in that post, that the purpose of an ongoing series is to continue the ongoing story forever, or at least as long as possible. And, therefore, Spider-Man needs to be entertaining for as long as possible.

This hints that you find a married Peter to be less entertaining. That’s a reasonable opinion. But, an opinion doesn’t make something inherrently better than the alternative. You might prefer Ben & Jerry’s but that doesn’t mean the store should stop carrying Graeter’s.

You say that you don’t feel this should be an ongoing story, but a story that one can jump into and out of. You compare it to soap operas. I think it can also be compared to WWE. When the character of Hornswaggle was first introduced he was a vicious bad guy who bit people and hit them with sticks. Now, he is shown as an innocent in danger of being corrupted. Doesn’t make sense, but they don’t mention it and we don’t question it.

Kinda like how we really don’t question how someone can take a photo of Wolverine. :-)

You say that you feel that the central idea of Spider-Man’s ongoing theme is to always do the right thing. But, you never loop this back around to actually say how getting married is the wrong thing to do.

You say that once MJ and Peter were married the two were no longer in opposition to each other. That conflict was resolved. But, you don’t say that it is impossible to introduce new conflicts and new characters to have similiar conflicts. Again, comparing to WWE, it is like how Hulk Hogan’s tag team partner always turns on him eventually. Or, how HHH will always eventually turn on whomever he calls his “best friend.”

You conclude saying that Spider-Man’s story is a “coming of age” story about doing what is right against all hardships. But, again, you don’t actually say what is wrong about marriage. Isn’t getting hunted by practically every known supervillian on this and other planets a hardship to marriage? And, yet, he and MJ made it work.

A final WWE comparison: Vince always wants to “send them (the audience) home happy.” The villian may win a battle, but the hero always wins in the end. And, at the end of the night, the last show of the evening, a hero is almost always scheduled to win so that he audience can be happy with their experience.

Returning home to a loving wife is, IMHO, a much better happy ending to a chapter of the ongoing story than returning home to Aunt May. In the first, Peter has come of age and succeeded. In the second, Peter is still in many ways an irresponsible child, despite whatever victory Spider-Man may have had.

Theno

Only thing that drew me to your comment was the poor logic.

Ha, whatever. If you knew me personally, you’d laugh at yourself for saying that.

I’m entirely disinterested. I don’t even buy this title.

… Then why are you wasting both of our time here? I am spending way too much time arguing with fellow Spider-Man fans to spend time talking to someone who doesn’t even care. I’d take time to answer your actual critiques of my logic, but you’ve already said you don’t care, so no point.

Lighten up, and read more posts about comics you actually like. For Pete’s sake.

Get it? Pete? Like Peter Parker.

Returning home to a loving wife is, IMHO, a much better happy ending to a chapter of the ongoing story than returning home to Aunt May. In the first, Peter has come of age and succeeded. In the second, Peter is still in many ways an irresponsible child, despite whatever victory Spider-Man may have had.

Exactly. It’s both happy and an ending. That is why I don’t think it suits Spider-Man. Peter has come of age and succeeded. The End. Well, that was nice.

Regarding “coming of age”, I was saying Peter getting married works as a coming of age story, which is what Spider-Man is sometimes mistaken for, but should NOT become. Because a coming of age story necessetates an ending. Peter getting married would be a fabulous way to end the series. It would be a great, satisfying, happy ending. Finally, Peter can rest a bit. He can have something go right. He can get the happiness he deserves. But then the series is over. Why bother reading about someone who has already come of age? A “Came-of-Age” story? It becomes a different story entirely, when the point here it to go on forever, which necessitates the more cyclical, and yes, repetitive storytelling.

What I said regarding why him being single is better is that a single man trying to make it on his own fits better thematically with the idea of doing what is right against adversity.

Anyway, look, it’s no big deal. I love Spider-Man, I’ve been reading him since I was a kid. He’s my favourite character. I’ve been somewhat unhappy with the direction he’s gone in the last few years, but I stuck it out. I feel like BND is really promising. We’ll see if it is, if it lasts, or if no one buys it… we’ll see. I’m not going to try to get anyone to like unmarried Peter. Let’s see if the stories are better! Maybe they will surprise me, and they will be terrible. But really, aren’t we ALL hoping they’ll surpise you?

To me the important question here is not whether a single Peter Parker is a better storyline than a married one. The question presenting me is whether I want a Peter Parker who has made a pact with Satan and is therefore forever in his thrall.
The storyline used to revolve around great power having great responsibility. Now the primary focus must be that bad decisions have grave consequences. That’s the only way they could redeem this storyline for me. If Peter Parker is now used as a morality tale and we see him become corrupted, twisted and mutated a la Gollum, if he agonizes over his quite certain eternal damnation and if, say, Aunt May now contracts a grisly living death sort of condition but cannot die, and both she and Peter come to lament that she didn’t have the merciful death that God had intended before Peter’s tragic and OH SO OUT OF CHARACTER choice, and if Mary Jane goes on to marry Johnny Storm and have seven beautiful kids, then this might make at least a semblance of sense.

I haven’t bought a Spiderman book since the early 90s when I pretty much gave up on my formerly-beloved Marvel Comics. So should I maybe feel somewhat partly guilty, for not supporting/consuming the publications of the character I once felt such affection and admiration for? If the books hadn’t got so bad i would have kept buying. But they’ll sure never get me back this way.

Whatta revoltin development, as Ben would say, at least before his latest reboot.
Fuck Marvel. Fuck Marvel. Fuck Marvel.

in my opinion

Jordan, you are right. I think that we are all hoping for good stories, as I think most of us desire from all the titles we read.

I think we’ve come to agree to disagree that a married or unmarried Peter makes for inherrently better Spider-Man stories. And, I can respect that. I don’t understand or agree with your position, and you don’t understand or agree with mine, but we’ve both presented our feelings on it.

One thing that I would like to touch on: I said that returning home to MJ made for a happier ending than returning home to what many would consider to be a miserable inappropriate life for an adult. You seemed to think that I meant “ending” as in an ending for the title, and an ending to the Spider-Man story. I meant an ending to the particular chapter, going back to the circular story telling that you mentioned.

The “hero” John Cena defeats Edge, whose story then goes to attack the Undertaker, while Cena gets a new villian in Randy Orton. The story of Cena and Edge is over, with a happy ending. But, the story of Cena isn’t over, and the story of Edge isn’t over. The series continues.

Similiarly, Spider-Man defeats the Absorbing Man and returns home to MJ. The Absorbing Man goes on to fight the FF. Spider-Man next has to deal with the Green Goblin. The series continues, even though that particular story has ended.

On a side topic, I think that the complaint about the dissolving of the marriage (and stated reasons from Q.) and the complaint about the deal with Mephisto are two different complaints. Basically, I see it as a bad plot device being used for a bad story idea. But, I can see how someone with different expectations from Spider-Man stories could see it as a bad plot device being used to set up potentially good story ideas. I don’t think I could understand if anyone were to actually try to defend the deal with Mephisto, but then again I don’t think anyone here has tried.

We’ll just have to see what comes next. Although, to be honest, I’ll be finding out by reading reviews and spoilers because I have no interest in feeding into the idea that Spider-Man must be single, living at home, and have problems with money in order to sell.

Theno

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so ive been a comics fan for a long long time. i collected spidey from 1992-1998 so i have not been on the circuit for quite some time now. That being said, i still think i could lay some input on the situation. It seems Marvel is in the process of Rejuvinating the whole Marvel U. Civil war is evidence of that, they have been bringing back all these heroes and villains that no one has seen since the 60′s 70′s and 80′s. Bringing them back like they were jus outta the loop last month.I mean come on these Characters have been around for 40 – 50 years. Now i know that every 20 of our years equals only 5 of theirs, (the spidey clone saga is evidence of that). But these characters need to grow, not de-evolve. I like the fact that Marvel is bringing it back to the old days, it gives them so much more to work with. In the case of spiderman however.. he needs to move on. Why COuldnt MJ have been killed off or atleast cheated on him. Spidey would have mourned or cried in his pillow for a while but he woulda eventually got over it. He could of even changed cities, adopted a new identity. Became a Fucking Ninja… Whatever. i haven not been reading marvel comis since the end of the Onslaught era so i dont reallly know whats been going down or why they have to make such a big deal on the Marriage. Spiders been in trouble for a while especially with the movies that suck. I hope some decent writers can bring him to the status he deserves…

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