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The Reread Reviews — Spider-Man: One More Day

Oh no? Oh yes! With Amazing Spider-Man #600 coming out this week, it’s the perfect time to reread this particular story. Why? Because it will be fun! For me, at least. So, let’s all get our angry fanboy faces on and, remember, there will be spoilers, but like anyone doesn’t know them already…

onemoreday00“One More Day” was done by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada to conclude Straczynski’s run on Amazing Spider-Man, which he had been on for just over six years. It also acted as the final issues of Sensational Spider-Man and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, setting the stage for Amazing Spider-Man to go weekly for three weeks of the month. The story was built up to with a teaser image, leading everyone to wonder what the one more day was going to be: Aunt May dying, Mary Jane dying, something else? Things became clearer during the “Back in Black” story in the Spider-books where May was shot and critically injured by an assassin sent by the Kingpin to kill the fugitive Peter Parker, on the run after publically exposing his identity and then turning on Tony Stark in Civil War.

(For those who are curious, Steven Grant penned a fantastic What If…? issue that came out in December where Mary Jane is the one who gets shot instead of May, and really uses the one-off nature of the story to do interesting things with the character that would have changed things for good. I discussed it then in more detail in my CBR review. Mentioning it mostly because it was a good comic that got ignored. It was also a candidate for a Reread Review… I’m betting many would have preferred it, actually.)

Initially, the book was meant to ship weekly during August 2007, but that was quickly abandoned thanks to Quesada, firstly, being the editor-in-chief at Marvel; and, secondly, never being the quickest artist in the world additionally. What was meant to be a one-month event turned into a dragged out, five-month internet hate-fest. I won’t get into all of it now, but let’s just say that this story was universally loathed, even by those who agreed with what Marvel was ultimately doing: getting rid of the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane. Plus, there was the controversy where Straczynski apparently asked to have his name removed from the final issue only to have Quesada compromise by sharing the writing credit — a move that didn’t quite work since Straczynski told people that he requested to have his name taken off of it. Ah well. [EDIT: Sorry, it was the final two issues of this story, not just the last one, that Straczynski requested to have his name taken off of.]

I want to take this issue by issue, prefaced each time with my thoughts on each issue when they were first released and, then, conclude with general thoughts. Let’s do this.

onemoreday01Part One — Amazing Spider-Man #544, in which Aunt May is brain dead, Peter is angry at a doctor for suggesting that having no money to pay for his medical bills somehow makes her a charity case despite that being the definition of ‘charity case,’ so he rushes off (sans costume) to Avengers Towers wherein he confronts Tony Stark and takes on him on Spider-Mano-a-Iron-Mano, busting his hand open on his helmet and everything. He eventually webs Stark up completely, rips off the helmet and rants about how Stark should do something to help May, while Stark rants about how Peter is going to jail for a long long long time, because he is a criminal. Ultimately, Stark using Jarvis as an intermediary to pay for May’s medical requirements. Also, Jarvis nearly breaks down at the sight of May in the hospital bed, but recovers quickly to act kind of snooty to the doctor about the bill. The issue ends with Peter swinging off in his costume to find a way to help save May’s life.

My original thoughts:

The initial irony of this book is the cover: in the upper left-hand corner, it proclaims “Still only 399¢”… and, out of the eight comics I bought this week, it’s the most expensive by a dollar. Every other comic is $2.99 US.

Oh, and then there’s the irony of the cover asking “What would you do if you only have one more day?!” My answer: not read this comic.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Spider-Man and figured I’d check out this soon-to-be-landmark storyline and… this is it? Aunt May is dying, Peter won’t let her be a charity case, so he beats up Iron Man and shames him into funding her healthcare only to run off at the end to find some magic cure to being really fucking old and shot. If the preview for next issue tells me anything, his first stop is Dr. Strange, which makes sense, because the only logical way to cure being old and shot would be magic.

One question: if Peter is in too much of a hurry to put on his costume before fighting Iron Man, why does he put it on at the end of the issue when she’s in no better shape other than the fact that her bill is covered? Just wondering.

My opinion is a bit more tempered now. Though, the narration that begins this comic did jump out as some of the worst writing I’ve ever read:

TUNE YOUR EAR TO THE FREQUENCY OF DESPAIR, AND CROSS-REFERENCE BY THE LONGITUDE AND LATITUDE OF A HEART IN AGONY.

Now, this is Mephisto narrating, because we see the red(ish) bird and that’s Mephisto, and it reminds me of that really lame poetry Data recites in that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where aliens are abducting people, and Riker falls asleep during the recital. It strives for emotional significance while using scientific language in an effort to be clever and it’s just godawful. Remember, the above: THE DEVIL SPEAKING. Seriously. I know.

This issue and Peter’s obsession with May not dying reminds me of comics in general where death just cannot happen. How many times has May died already? We want the illusion of death as a possibility, complain when it’s treated like a joke, but don’t actually want any of these characters to die. Why? Because, we want them to remain the exact same so we can, someday, write their adventures the way that we want to. The end of “One More Day” is the best example I can think of to prove this. Why doesn’t May die in this story? If she did, they couldn’t do the time warp (basically) and reset Peter Park to his life circa college (except not in college). Peter is willing to do anything to keep her alive — and so is Marvel, as we’ll see soon enough.

Of course, Peter says that it’s not simply her dying that’s the problem: he blames himself, because she got shot as a result of him. I really like this element of the story since it places the responsibility on him. The best Spider-Man stories revolve around him confronting his various responsibilities and how he’s failed to live up to them, most often because he has such a narrow view of the saying “With great power comes great responsibility” that he usually only applies it to his superpowers. Here, Straczynski follows up on Peter misusing the power of his identity during Civil War and failing to fully consider the responsibility that would come with revealing his true identity — really, his failure was to turn his back on Stark. No matter his personal feelings, unmasking was a ‘no going back’ decision and he went back. As a result, his aunt pays the price and he is responsible. 100%. There is no question or debate about this: his actions directly cause her critical condition, and should she die, that’s on him, too.

At this point, I wish she would have died in this story. That would have worked thematically far more and acted as a great parallel to the death of Uncle Ben. In that case, it was Peter’s inaction that contributed to a death; this time, it’s his conscious actions that do it. He hasn’t learned a damn thing — not really at least. Mostly because he can’t learn anything. “One More Day” is really about the need for these characters to live on forever, never changing, never growing, always returning to that safe, comfortable place that we fondly remember from our youth, and that means that Peter can never learn a real lesson about responsibility, because learning and applying that lesson to his life in any way beyond fighting crime would mean that he’s reached the end of his hero’s journey. He’ll have become a man.

But, Peter Parker is a child. He is a little fucking baby. He throws tantrums, he acts rashly, he thinks of nothing but his immediate wants. When people say that Peter would never make the deal with Mephisto he eventually makes, I almost have to disagree, because that’s exactly the sort of thing Peter Parker does: takes the easy way out. For a book about responsibility, he will ultimately do anything to avoid taking responsibility for his actions. In this issue, he says to Mary Jane, “IT’S MAY, MJ. I’LL DO WHATEVER’S NECESSARY TO SAVE HER LIFE. / I’M ALREADY A WANTED CRIMINAL, SO WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? I’D SELL MY SOUL IF I THOUGHT IT WOULD HELP HER.” And I believe him. Mostly because he very nearly does just that.

At least Straczynski planted the idea early in the story.

onemoreday02 Part Two — Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #24, in which Peter goes to Dr. Strange for help. Dr. Strange tells him that there’s nothing he can do, but offers a means by which Peter can contact others for assistance, some magical thing that allows you to go throw time and space. Strange limits him to travelling through space, so he can ask everyone who could possibly help for help at the same time. They all have no means of saving May’s life. When Strange leaves the room, Peter uses the magical hands (as that’s what they are) to go back in time to save May, but simply experiences the shooting again, because he’s a ghost. Strange tells Peter to accept her death, he says no. At the end, Peter follows the red(ish) bird and a voice into an alley where a little girl says that she can change what happened.

My original thoughts:

What the fuck happened in this issue? I know nothing actually happened, but is it just me or was that nothing really fucking confusing? What the fuck?

I wasn’t too far off with my original assessment of this issue. Nothing meaningful happens. This is a filler issue. It restates the problem with Peter Parker: he wants a quick fix to this problem and doesn’t care what the consequences are. He’s a child who lives in the moment, acts rashly, and is always surprised when those rash actions come back to bite him on the ass. He claims he wants to save May because it’s his fault, but that’s not accepting responsibility, that’s trying to avoid it — especially when the means by which you attempt to save someone is by altering the past. After all, if it never happened, there’s no need to feel any responsibility for it, is there?

This issue is interesting as it acts a critique of “One More Day,” and the actions of Peter and Mary Jane since they do what Dr. Strange warns Peter not to do: change the past. The more I think about it, the more I realise that “One More Day” is a vicious critique of the limitations of Spider-Man (and all franchise characters), Straczynski’s final statement of frustration with having to play in someone else’s sandbox, especially since he is a writer that embraces change in his own work. His characters change, grow, wind up in places you never imagined they would — and I suppose this story ends like that, just not in the way we’d expect things to change.

Moving on…

onemoreday03Part Three — Sensational Spider-Man #41, in which the little girl makes cryptic remarks about her parents that are SO obvious that only a self-centred moron wouldn’t get the meaning and, then, causes Peter to enter an alternate reality version of It’s a Wonderful Life where he, first, meets a version of himself that never got superpowers and became an overweight video game geek, working in that industry, always wanting to be something bigger and better than what he is. Peter than meets another version of himself that is wealthy, but lonely. The rich Peter speaks about how this life came at the cost of his one true love and how that is really very awful. Then, Peter meets a sexy/creepy lady in red who spells all of this out, turns into Mephisto and claims he can save Aunt May. Peter rushes to Mary Jane who has also been approached by Mephisto. He doesn’t want their souls: he wants their marriage, because that will make their souls suffer and he gets off on that sort of thing. They have 24 hours to decide: give up their marriage or allow Aunt May to die.

My original thoughts:

You know what? The Mephisto stuff doesn’t read as bad as it could. When I read the spoilers for this issue online, I thought it was a pretty retarded idea — still do, actually — but the issue itself presents the idea in a better light than the spoilers let on. There’s at least some logic at work here. Is it great? No. Not even good or average, but it’s better than it could have been. That’s what I took from this issue: better than it could have been.

It’s no coincidence that the two versions of Peter we see here bear passing resemblances to Dr. Octopus and J. Jonah Jameson (more Doc Ock than Jameson). Like the best villains, Peter’s enemies have always been twisted versions of himself. Doctor Octopus was the social reject geek that’s taken all he can and snaps, something Peter easily could have become. J. Jonah Jameson, like Peter, feels that he has something to prove always, that he’s got to stay on top — he’s selfish and short-sighted like Peter. Just something I noticed.

The message of each of these Peters is pretty obvious, as is the parentage of the little red-haired girl, all of it pointing to telling Peter to man up and embrace the future with Mary Jane. The geeky Peter always wants to be a hero, to make a difference, but never does anything about, never accepts the responsibility that comes with his desires. The rich Peter was too proud to accept a less-than-perfect life with the woman he loved, which, ironically, would have more than made up for what he had to give up to be with her. The critique and suggestions of what Peter should do, what he should become, continue.

Actually, it’s all spelled out at the beginning of the issue by the little girl who is pissed off at her father (oops, spoiled that one a little early):

YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR PROBLEM IS? YOU’RE SELFISH!

[…]

YOU’RE SELFISH AND YOU’RE SELF-INVOLVED AND YOU ALWAYS PUT YOUR PAIN AT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE!

AS LONG AS YOU CAN GO TO SLEEP WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE, YOU DON’T CARE WHO ELSE HAS TO PAY THE PRICE FOR THAT GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP!

THE WHOLE WORLD HAS TO ANSWER FOR YOUR PAIN AND YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE MAKING THE PAIN BIG MAKES YOU BIG, MAKES YOU FEEL BIG.

[…]

NEVER MIND. YOU’RE AN IDIOT. YOU’RE JUST WHAT EVERYBODY ALWAYS SAID YOU WERE.

She knows what his decision will be. She knows she will never be born as a result of his inability to grow up. He’s a young superhero struggling with personal problems and always will be, because that’s what everyone says he is.

A minor/funny note: geeky Peter seems to be reading two books at the exact same time when we come across him. The front cover is for Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, but the back cover appears to be for Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Make of that what you will.

I don’t mind the concept of Mephisto getting enjoyment from the suffering of the pure/good/innocent/whatever. The idea that people who sell their souls for a noble cause suffer eternity in a displeasing manner, because they know that they did good makes sense. My favourite part of the exchange, though, is when Mephisto says, “BESIDES, KNOWING WHAT’S TO COME THERE’S STILL A MORE THAN EVEN CHANCE I’LL GET YOUR SOUL STRAIGHT-UP, AND THAT’S A FAR MORE APPETIZING PROSPECT.” So, there’s a very good chance that Peter Parker is going to Hell. This is one wacky comic book.

onemoreday04Part Four — Amazing Spider-Man #545, in which Peter and Mary Jane discuss the deal offered, and then hold each other quite a bit. Mephisto arrives, asks what’s what, Mary Jane pushes for the deal, adding that Peter’s identity will once again become secret and that he’ll be happy for reasons only she and Mephisto know. After Peter agrees, Mephisto reveals that the little red-haired girl was, indeed, to be their child and, now, she’ll never be born, because Peter Parker is a short-sighted, selfish idiot. Mary Jane insists that they’ll find one another again, they say they love one another, we get a double-page montage of the two as a couple, and, then, Peter wakes up at Aunt May’s, heads off to a party welcoming Harry Osborn back from Europe, almost has an awkward moment with his Mary Jane, his ex-girlfriend, and everyone toasts “A BRAND NEW DAY!

My original thoughts:

So, I finally got the last part of “One More Day” yesterday. Was at the campus bookstore picking up Through the Looking Glass and an awesome book on The Big Lebowski when I saw the infamous comic. I said to [my friend and roommate] Adam, “Aw, what the fuck, I guess I’ll pick it up, see how it actually went down.” And, yeah, it wasn’t any good for all of the reasons everyone says.

I think, aside from all those things, what bothers me is that the story never actually lives up to the tagline of “What would you do if you had one more day?” It didn’t seem to me like Peter and Mary Jane really got one more day. They’re laying in bed and, BONG!, it’s midnight already. That day just flew by.

As for the other stuff… meh. It just wasn’t handled well. I much prefer Tom Bondurant’s solution where you just jump ahead six months or a year (or whatever) and have the new status quo in place, fuck explanations. Maybe (and I stress the maybe) you go back and fill in the blanks, but, otherwise, you face forward, true believer, and deal with things as they come.

By writing this post, I’ve strangely talked myself into not hating this final issue as much as I did before. I also dislike certain elements just as much as I did initially.

Some gave Straczynski praise for making the marriage/relationship meaningful here, but I don’t think he did. It feels empty and hollow ultimately. It’s a lot of silence (which is smart), but even that doesn’t impart the feeling that something Big and Pure is being lost forever. I don’t know how Straczynski could have made it better, but it doesn’t work for me.

What I like is that Mary Jane is the one who steps up and accepts responsibility. She doesn’t want to do this, but she knows that allowing May to die will destroy their relationship anyway and thinks beyond herself. I’m rather convinced of two things here (things I don’t know if they played out since this issue since I’ve read a grand total of four issues of Amazing Spider-Man post-“One More Day”):

1. She is pregnant. This is probably the biggest misreading of a scene you’ll ever see, but it was my first thought when Peter wakes up and finds Mary Jane in the bathroom, hugging herself tight, struggling to speak, and only moving from that voice to her normal voice after making a “–HHUCHHHH” sound. This suggests to me that she was just throwing up, possibly with morning sickness. As a result, she immediately suggests that they let May die. She doesn’t raise the baby, because she… I don’t know. That’s where this theory falls apart, honestly, but it does tie into my next point…

2. Mary Jane asks Mephisto to make life better for Peter and, in exchange, she will remember everything, thereby making her suffering ever greater — possibly including giving up the baby in the process. If you look at how the two react to Mephisto’s revelation of their never-to-be-born daughter, Mary Jane just looks heartbroken, but not angry, while Peter is nothing but rage. Her reaction could be explained by their different personalities, but I think it goes to her knowingly giving up that child. Of course, the baby elements don’t work, because I have problems with her so casually tossing their child aside. I don’t want this to turn into an abortion issue since I’m looking at it from a “they’ve been together for several years, so you would assume she would have some strong feelings about them having kids together” perspective.

But, I stand by Mary Jane requesting that she remember everything to increase her suffering as that is her accepting responsibility. She doesn’t go for the quick fix like Peter, because that’s what this is: a quick fix. Yes, he made a deal with the devil; yes, a small part of his soul is permanently listening to Blood on the Tracks; yes, he did not act heroically.

However, by the nature of the deal, it also never happened.

Peter and Mary Jane were never married, so they could never have given up their marriage in a pact with the devil, therefore, the events of this issue are irrelevant because they never happened. Without saying it, Peter avoids responsibility by eliminating the situation in which said responsibility arises. The entire story was pointing to this type of decision — that, or him growing up. An alternate ending to this issue would be the end of Spider-Man (at least in the broader hero’s journey pattern), because, if he had turned down Mephisto’s offer and let May die, accepted that the pain and suffering he feels is the price for his actions, learn his lesson, and move on, the Peter Parker we know would be a thing of the past.

This could have been the final Spider-Man story. That’s another reason why I think there’s a hint that Mary Jane is pregnant: it’s been long accepted that pregnancy is the end of Spider-Man. Knowing that he will soon have a child is what will cause Peter to end his superhero career and focus on living up to his other responsibilities. That thread has to be dangled out there a little, because we have to see that this story could have gone in either direction: avoidance and continuation, or acceptance and termination.

Marvel opted for the former, because they had to. For all we bitch and complain about the means by which this happens, and the sacrifices that are made to accomplish it, we would choose the former as well.

OneMoreDayTeaserIt’s been over a year and a half since “One More Day” ended, and I still can’t figure out this teaser image that was released after part two came out when Marvel announced that parts three and four would be delayed. Has there ever been an explanation? I mean, one person in the Marvel Universe does save “Spider-Man,” but she’s not among those characters, and that’s Mary Jane, as I just discussed. Her choice allows Peter to continue his life as Spider-Man. Her choice to forever remember what has happened is akin to our having to remember all of this. No one got off light when it came to “One More Day,” but it was necessary for things to move forward (and by ‘move forward,’ I mean ‘return to that special place where we all feel warm and cozy’). In the end, the means don’t matter. They just don’t. Not to me. Deal with the devil, Superboy punch, ‘it was all a dream,’ it all results in the same thing, and there’s no good way to get there, not in superhero comics.

I do like the idea of jumping ahead six months or so and never explaining, but that idea doesn’t work, because the readers wouldn’t allow it. They would keep hounding for explanations. At every convention. At every panel. Every chance they got, they would ask and pester and beg for some explanation as to what happened during those six months. How did May live? Why are Peter and Mary Jane split up? How did Harry come back? Why doesn’t anyone know Peter is Spider-Man? If they’d just instituted that status quo with no explanation, would you have allowed it?

Well, here is your explanation, fanboys of the world! Here is your handbook entry as to how “Brand New Day” came about! You don’t like it? Tough! How would you have done it? Is there any way to do it? You say they could just get divorced? I disagree, because Marvel is right: that would have aged Peter, but not in the way we’re thinking. It’s far from uncommon for people to get married too young and divorce as a result — divorce isn’t a matter of physical age.

Emotional age and attitudes towards the opposite sex, though…

How do you split the two up without it leaving Peter a bitter, mopy bastard in some way? The often talked about “oh, she goes off and models or acts somewhere and they slowly grow apart” idea works in theory, but you’re forgetting one thing: Peter Parker is a selfish baby of a person. He would never be able to get over such a thing. Some people would, he wouldn’t. She would. Mary Jane is mature enough that she would be able to see that these things happen, but Peter would hate her and hate himself. He would blame Spider-Man and gain serious trust issues and go on horrible benders and…

There’s no good way to do this. And Marvel wanted it done. Marvel needed it done. The longer Peter and Mary Jane were married, the harder not dealing with kids would be, because it’s established that they want them at some point. Hell, she’s been pregnant at one point. Personally, I would have loved to see Peter grow up, be an adult, learn about true responsibility, and leave Spider-Man behind as the adolescent power fantasy that it is, but that just is not going to happen.

Getting back to “One More Day,” I haven’t really addressed Joe Quesada’s art yet. I’m not a fan. I’ve never been a fan and not drawing books on a regular basis hasn’t helped him. The sad thing is that the style he uses in the “Brand New Day” sequence is MUCH better than his art on the rest of the series. Look at the cover to part three: does the little girl even look like a little girl there? I always thought it was some creepy teenager until I read the comic. Hell, the little girl often looks weird throughout.

Quesada can do something well, though. His use of darkness and shadow is nice in the final part. Some of the panels are obviously done using photo references, but still work since he still draws the characters. The panel where Iron Man is all webbed up still looks cool. I’m not sure he was the right artist for this book — John Romita, Jr. would have been my choice since Straczynski began his run with Romita and ending it with him would have been more appropriate.

I don’t have much to say about the art beyond that I find it ugly much of the time. As I said, not my taste.

I’m not sure what else to say about “One More Day.” Most of what I’ve said here wasn’t planned since I usually enter these posts with only the barest of ideas of what I want to say. I’ll pursue an idea and it will take me in unexpected directions. Ultimately, “One More Day,” to me, reads as an extended criticism of the Peter Parker character, Marvel, and the readers. All three want things to be a certain way, but none want to do what’s necessary to accomplish that goal. Peter avoids responsibility, acts rashly, is selfish, and will never grow up. Marvel wants Peter to be a man, to be heroic, to be someone to admire, but the only way for him to become that is for him to stop being Spider-Man. Fans want a fun, accessible Spider-Man comic, but are unwilling to allow for the steps necessary to get there, often unable to see that no solution is ideal and will please everyone — or even a sizeable fraction of the audience.

Now, commence with the comments that tell me exactly how wrong I am and how wrong Marvel was.

87 Comments

They should have made Mary Jane the new herald of Galactus.

Now while I can certainly understand where you’re coming from in terms of Peter needing to be Spider Man because he’s childish, haven’t you considered the opposite point of view? Maybe it was selfish of Peter to get married to Mary Jane in the first place (as some writers clearly have thought) because the world needs Spider-Man more than ANYBODY needs Peter Parker. While I agree that Mary Jane was still the adult in this scenario (she let go of her personal happiness so the world could have their hero), Peter was perhaps only being selfish by considering if Aunt May had died as a result of his actions, he couldn’t BE Spider Man anymore because he wasn’t a hero to himself. I certainly can’t speak for Joey Q on this matter, but I don’t suppose that they had the intent of making Peter look like a coward for not dealing with the consequences of his actions. The intent could simply have been a continuation of “Great Power…” by saying that Pete was doing everything in his power to correct what could have been one of the greatest mistakes of his life (and I’ll admit there have been some doozys) and if he didn’t then he wasn’t being responsible. Just playing “Mephisto’s Advocate”, as it were.

Nero — Interesting point, but if you take that line of thinking to its natural end point, you find yourself in a position where Peter CAN’T have any personal relationships since to not devote himself entirely to Spider-Man would be irresponsible. If his being that hero is his primary responsibility, personal relationships are liabilities he can’t afford, as evidenced here.

I have a problem with undoing an action being seen as taking responsibility, though. Making sure it never happened is avoiding responsibility — and another rash decision since he doesn’t take into account how this decision will affect others.

Regarding the teaser, I am guessing that it was originally going to be Loki, rather than Mephisto, which was going to deal the change. JMS had a storyline where Spider-Man helped Loki, thus Loki owned him a favor. Loki, however, was incapacitated at the time of OMD, so I guess they had Mephisto do it instead.

Having Loki provide the change would have worked better, he is the Trickster God after all. Peter would have wanted the best for everyone involved, and Loki would have twisted his wish by returning them all to a previous stage in their life, before it became so dramatically dark and twisted.

That being said, this story angered me to no end when it came out, and still does.

I think most readers were cool with Spidey growing up. Actually, I think most readers like for characters to develop and progress beyond what is considered the norm. It’s Marvel that doesn’t not the readers. Marvel wants Spidey stuck in this little time loop where he never gets any older or more mature because they feel like it’s easier to write him if he never changes…or maybe it’s because that’s how they remember him from their childhood. My biggest hope is that eventually it will lead to a bigger story. I mean, the bad guy pretty much won, right? Surely, they’ve got to come back to this eventually….

I think this was a critical point were Marvel and its fanboys could of had their cake and ate it too. Aunt May could have very well of died ,allowed Peter Parker to grow up, have a daughter and start the hero cycle again with Spider-Girl while at the same time preserving the timeless young peter in Ultimate Spidey and Marvel adventures (which are both good comics). To be hones,t I’d have to disagree with the idea that this decision would finally make him a man, since it can be argued that he’s been a man since ASM #33 or when Gwen Stacey died.

I think “One more day” is more of a commentary on the immaturity of the heads of marvel and some fans for not letting a fictional character grow up.

An excellent critique, but something to also consider is how the events of Civil War, whether one enjoyed the series or not, were a catalyst for Peter Parker’s journey into adulthood, and those events were retconed.

1.) There was the Peter’s having to face responsibility, not just in his personal life, and not just as the vigilante Spider-Man, but as a citizen and soldier who has to make decisions regarding what’s best for his society (both when he agreed to serve as Stark’s lieutenant and when he broke with stark when he decided that Reed Richards and Stark were engaged in human rights violations in their secret detention facility.)

2.) He also started to see the limitations of his own hero-worship of Stark, Richards, and Steve Rogers and was along the way to seeing them as flawed human beings.

You’ve got an odd definition of fun, Chad.

Michael P. — I had an absolute blast writing this post. Why would I do this if it wasn’t fun for me?

Weren’t there rumors and/or official statements (I’m looking at you, Quesada) that there would be a Mephisto-centric crossover in the future? Hell, the rumor-mill screamed that Mephisto was the catalyst behind Civil War, given that the dead little boy in the story was named “Damien.”

I hadn’t considered Chad’s comments regarding the little girl as being indicative of Peter’s selfishness. At the time, I considered the little girl as being a giant “SCREW YOU” to Spider-Girl fans, akin to “Hey, we’re making sure your beloved future-kid of Spidey will NEVER EXIST.” In the larger context of Mephisto, though, I’ve often wondered if there isn’t some larger plotline of Mephisto wanting to prevent a second generation of Marvel heroes from ever existing. Mephisto has targeted Franklin Richards in the past; I would find it completely believable if Marvel retroactively involved him in, say, the deaths of Karen Page, Betty Banner, or Jean Grey, or the breakup of Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters, or whatever.

My fanboy theorizing aside, yeah, this story was best left unpublished. I’d rather they just changed out the creative teams and took things in a new direction than…this. I remember when the creative teams on the Superman books changed around 1999, when it switched from Dan Jurgens and Louise Simonson and all those to Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly. Not a lot of fanfare, but it definitely injected new lifeblood into the books. They were completely shaken up without anything changing at all. There’s better ways to change the status quo than what we got here.

An aside: Chad, I notice that your reread reviews have focused largely on recent books. If that’s the pattern, can I request a reread review on World War Hulk (which just came out in a new hardcover)? It was mildly panned at the time; I’d like to see how it holds up two years later.

Adam — That would presume that I’ve READ World War Hulk. And these posts tend to skew more recent only because most of my comics pre-2006 are still at my parents’ house, and I’m drawing upon items I’ve gotten since moving out. I plan to get those at some point in the future — or, at minimum, get some items specifically for these posts. One of my original ideas was a two- or three-part look back at the death and resurrection of Superman, and I really want to do that one.

As well, some really interesting ideas about Mephisto’s role in the Marvel universe…

Great post. I especially enjoyed your ripping apart of Peter’s notions of responsibility.

Batman can work as a static character; Spider-Man can’t. It’s one of the reasons why I have no interest at all in Spidey stories anymore. The Peter Parker I want to read about is married and has a kid– he ages, he continually learns about responsibility. He grows up. But Marvel will never let that happen; Peter Parker will never turn 30. We had decades of ever-slowing aging, growing, and changing; and One More Day pretty much served as a dead stop, freezing the character in Carbonite forever.

I like Nevett Sundays.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 19, 2009 at 1:12 pm

I’ll trot out my dead horse, which is now especially ripe for my having dragged it all over the internet for months now, putting on beating demonstrations with an increasingly worn oaken stick.*

Joe Quesada has directed two stories that, in plotting terms ought to be ongoing problems for the characters: One More Day and Decimation. In both cases, however. Quesada considers the stories not setups or problems but as metafictional solutions. This is, frankly, not good editorial policy, not least because it forces writers to avoid the elephant in the room forevermore.

The X-Men can’t be allowed to fix the Decimation, because the Decimation was a “solution” to the perceived problem of the ubiquity of mutants following Grant Morrison’s X-Men stories. Likewise, the Mephisto suggestions and elements of OMD will likely never be examined or seriously revisited because, in order to preserve the Quesada-ordained “classic” setup of the book, they can’t become the sort of consequential or weighty matters Peter might have to reexamine or reconsider.

It’s possible to twist and turn so that this is a commentary on Peter’s immaturity, but really, as Chad says up-front, it’s a symptom of fans’ and fans-turned-pros’ immaturity in demanding “their” character *as they first encountered said character* and no other way not nohow.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 19, 2009 at 1:15 pm

* The stick was riven from a tree by a bolt of lightning; I considered making a baseball bat out of it, but I couldn’t find a lathe. Instead, the stick is now director of human resources for Wizard Entertainment.

Well, if anything 10 or 20 years from now, the writers and people in charge of Marvel are going to be the ones that grew up with Spider-Man married and will attempt to fix it.

Some points that still stick in my craw after 1.5 years.
Quesada claimed writers wanted an unmarried free wheeling Peter Parker to write about. I contend exposing Peter’s identity in Civil War painted Marvel into a corner that they couldn’t get out of without a major shakeup. The current expanantion of why no one remembers Spiderman’s identity still hasn’t been fleshed out. Knowing Marvel’s track record of not explaining difficult changes ( remember how Heroes Reborn never explained what happened to young Tony Stark after the older version had been killed by Kang?), I would venture they will wait until people stop asking and never really explain it.
By doing OMD Marvel broke a pact with their long term readers (i’ve been reading S-M since ASM issue 15). They basically said they can retcon anything they want when they decide to by totally erasing events that “have happened”. This is groundbreaking because previously they always worked changes into the continuity. Aunt May died, but then they brought her back saying she was kidnapped and a stand-in died. Lame, but in continuity. Gwen came back, but it was a clone. MJ died in a plane crash, but really didn’t. Then they broke up, but got back together. Norman died, but came back. You may or may not have liked these events, but at least they kept the continuity. Now that’s gone. we have no idea which of the events of the past 30+ years really happened and which didn’t because Marvel hasn’t said. To me that’s a betrayal of trust with long term fans.

They still haven’t fixed this whole Spider-Man mess eh? Gods what a conflict, you basically piss off a ton of people, without providing much that would entice others to read. Everytime I pick up a new issues it’s more of the same. I’m really not sure why Marvel didn’t go for the old cheap “Peter Parker is dead, who is the new Spider-Man?” bit like they did with Capt America (and DC did with Batman).

Spot on, Chad. I recall thinking at the time that with OMD Marvel had essentially ruined the Peter Parker character for me. I just could no longer relate to such a horrible human being, such a shit of a person to have acted that way. Now, I may in fact be a bad person myself– all of us may be– but I don’t want to think of myself as such a selfish fuck. And I don’t really want to read the continuing exploits of such a prick.

Maybe Parker was all those things before OMD, but OMD really threw it over the top for me. Maybe that was because, to use your analysis here, it nailed it down that he would never really change.

I did try reading some of Brand New Day– tried putting aside my revulsion at Parker’s actions in OMD– but I still can’t get behind the character. In Brand New Day he just seemed rather pathetic- the “creepy loser” still living with his aunt, still not having his shit together.

I do realize that to some degree, as you explain, this is a function of the Big 2 Companies not allowing their characters to really change– of viewing them as properties rather than true characters. And as Marvel and DC are in the business of making money, not necessarily telling the best stories, that’s their prerogative. I remember Kevin Smith had some quote about how writing super hero comics is very hard because you’re stuck writing the Second Act– the First Act, the origin, is well-established, and you can never really write that Third Act where the hero’s journey is complete. You always have to return the characters– certainly the BIG characters at DC and Marvel– to roughly the status quo.

[Although to my personal taste, Marvel actually may have gone too far with Parker– having him make decisions that essentially break the character for my further enjoyment.]

But my personal taste is this: I’d rather read other characters, with other personality traits– traits that I admire or aspire to or enjoy– than this character whose personality is so annoying, so obnoxious, this Parker– even if none of the characters really develop or change all that much in the end.

Mind you: I have no problem with characters having flaws– it may indeed make them more interesting in many cases. But in the end I would like them to be heroes, to act heroically– to overcome their flaws and not be defined by them. To me Spider-Man– the 616 variant, anyway– is now defined by his flaw– his obnoxious, petulant, pathetic personality, after he gave himself over to it completely and acted like a real prick in OMD.

Chad, I think this is my favorite thing I’ve ever read from you. What a wonderful, insightful essay. Really gets to the core of the character and honestly summarizes what I’ve always thought about Peter Parker with a lot of eloquence.

Why’d you keep writing “chance” as “change”?

The word was on my mind. Corrected. Thanks.

OMD is a trainwreck. And I say that having enjoyed most of BND and beyond. But ultimately I don’t get the loathing. I think the question is what do you want serialised licensed superhero comics to be? There are always sucky stories but at the end of the day the train keeps moving and something new (or something old you’ve not seen) rolls into view and damage is gone. All real character work always gets done on books that will never have their own animated series or sell pyjamas. And that’s probably the way it should be.

Maybe Jonah can ask Joe Q about the teaser image for one of those Cup o’ Joe’s? I’m sure the thought behind it is very close to the explanation that was posted- mistake by someone in promotions but it would be nice to have it cleared up for conspiracy people out there.

I’m curious, is One more day… worse than the Clone Saga?
I never read the latter : (

What’s a mistake about that promotional image? It got people talking. That was all it was meant to achieve. It says “only one person in the Marvel Universe can save Spider-Man”. It doesn’t say that person is one of the characters pictured.

” It’s possible to twist and turn so that this is a commentary on Peter’s immaturity, but really, as Chad says up-front, it’s a symptom of fans’ and fans-turned-pros’ immaturity in demanding “their” character *as they first encountered said character* and no other way not nohow. ”

You could say the same thing about fans who started reading when Peter was married and refuse to give BND a chance, and to a lesser extent, fans who ardently defend the marriage because ” It’s what Stan wanted “. The online fan mentality tends to be one possessed of a monstrous amount of entitlement, regardless of the particulars for what they want. Progress and regress, as you’ve surely encountered, are just different choices on the whiny, annoying man-child menu.

I’m not going to defend OMD, but the good thing about it is that while it retcons away the marriage ( questionable choice ), it also erases clones, totems, symbiote wars, public identities, and all manner of other nonsense that has long since stopped serving any purpose beyond backstory clutter.

No, Snapper, it’s not worse. People enjoyed the Clone Saga at first, but then they made some baaaad decisions, and lost the goodwill of a lot of readers. Clone Saga lasted forever- over a year and a half’s worth of comics- but OMD is one trade paperback of material. Easily skippable, and considering the new Brand New Day status quo, not even really necessary.

Thanks for this. I think you nailed what I detested about what happened to the character of Peter Parker. He reflects the selfish, self-involved creators and not the character that developed over the (first/early) 40 years.

The character Peter Parker, to me, was not this self-absorbed, wheat cake-eating, slacker-child-boy in the guise of a man who tries at being hero. To me, he left that behind when at around 15-16 years of age, his uncle got killed and he stepped up to take care of his aunt and recognized that with great power came great responsibility. The character of Peter Parker as hero was not just as Spider-Man, but when he took what was bad for himself, paying the cost of doing the RIGHT THING for someone else. And every once in a while, he got some good for his efforts.

This guy, I don’t recognize. Actually that’s not true. Peter Parker OMD/post BND is reflective of the times. These times suck.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 19, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Unfortunately, Nitz, the Clone Saga is being referenced as of right now in the Brand New Day stories, the public identity is apparently a separate subplot involving Spidey causing a mindwipe, we’re getting symbiote wars anew with Venom and Anti-Venom (really), and Morlun of the totem saga just turned up over in Black Panther.

Seriously, except the marriage, every single element you mentioned in your list…is still in continuity and is even being actively used right now, as we type.

Beta Ray Steve

July 19, 2009 at 5:24 pm

OMD is a retcon done with utter contempt for the audience. A magic wish? In Marvel which has always prided itself on it’s realism?
What would have been so bad if MJ’s acting career had taken off & she spent more and more time away from Peter? So they decide seeing each other for 6 weeks out of the year is not enough & split. It would be an adult choice & would have brought Spider-Man back to his loser roots.

People still think that all these events from past comics got wiped out? Really? How many times does Marvel have to tell you that all those stories, Clone Saga, SInister Six, Civil War, Symbiotes, happened? They were not erased from the memories of any characters in the MU. The only thing that was changed was the marriage. Jeez.

Indeed. Nitz, the only things erased were the marriage and revealed identity — and even the latter still happened, it’s just that no one remembered it happening. Some very good points, though. I do want to point out that I haven’t not read many Spider-Man comics since because of spite, but because nothing has really appealled to me with regards to creators or stories. If something had, I would have gotten it, most likely.

Adam: “Weren’t there rumors and/or official statements (I’m looking at you, Quesada) that there would be a Mephisto-centric crossover in the future?”

Supposedly, at one time Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was building to a Mephisto related event. He seeded several things in his runs on both Nightcrawler and Marvel Knights: 4. But after Mephisto was used in OMD, nothing ever came of it, possibly do to the fan backlash. I’d really like to know what was planned before.

” Thanks for this. I think you nailed what I detested about what happened to the character of Peter Parker. He reflects the selfish, self-involved creators and not the character that developed over the (first/early) 40 years. ”

Ad hominem, much? That you happen not to agree with what the creators did to Spidey, or even find it stupid from an objective storytelling perspective, has noting to do with the integrity of the people involved.

” Unfortunately, Nitz, the Clone Saga is being referenced as of right now in the Brand New Day stories, the public identity is apparently a separate subplot involving Spidey causing a mindwipe, we’re getting symbiote wars anew with Venom and Anti-Venom (really), and Morlun of the totem saga just turned up over in Black Panther. ”

I haven’t read the current issues ( been following it in trades ), so I can’t speak to the Clone stuff, but the apparent mindwipe still has the result of making Peter a masked vigilante again ( and one who isn’t living in an ultra-luxurious Avengers headquarters, at that ). The warring Venoms are two men affected by the same symbiote ( Eddie owing his Anti-Venom power to Mister Negative’s influence on his damaged cell structure ), and while Morlun may have popped up in Black Panther, does his re-appearance affect Spider-Man’s book in any way, shape, or form?

It seems to me that if these events weren’t outright erased, then they were at least streamlined in a fashion where they require minimal or absent exposition.

Aunt May would never have wanted Peter to make that choice and would have chosen to sacrifice herself, especially for Peter and MJ, who had their whole lives ahead of them. Even *I* know May better than Peter seems to, which is idiotic.

Also, if you choose to take a religious tack, why listen to a godless being like Mephisto? Would God have wanted Peter to change reality? This whole thing never made a lick of sense.

One thing that always bothered me when fans talked about “One More Day” was that some acted as if Peter giving up his marriage in exchange for Aunt May’s life was somehow less selfish than giving up May’s life to keep his marriage. I’m not saying that’s what you’re arguing, Chad, but it’s something I thought was worth mentioning while we’ve got this whole can of worms reopened.

Nitz has a point- OMD was NOT just about the marriage. That was just the smokescreen; the part focused on the most, intentionally, so as to distract from the point that what they really wanted was to reboot the Spider-Man franchise (which, with its new origins, powers, costumes, characters, attitudes, identities etc. was resembling “classic” Spidey less and less.) I bet they specifically chose Mephisto to make it even more controversial. And while everyone was raving online about Quesada’s hate for marriage, the reboot itself drew (comparatively) less attention. My personal proof of it: MJ was still in the book. If they really wanted to avoid the marriage again, they would’ve dropped the character *entirely*. She and Peter WILL become an item again, we all know it, and will even likely marry in some point in the future (probably after Quesada leaves Marvel.) The other elements might return in time, as well… but for now, we get back-to-basics Spider-Man, and that was always the plan.

Do I mind this? Not really. Spider-Man IS Marvel’s character, they can do whatever they want with him. It DOES however feel unnecessary, a step back after all the progress. It certainly doesn’t draw me back to the title, nor many other fans, apparently. But comics publishing is a always a gamble; far better storylines than this have failed before (and worse ones have endured.)

That said, on its own, as a story, OMD was STILL a terrible comic; full of logic holes (come on, if SATAN himself offers you a deal, would you take it, knowing he HAD to have some evil planned out of it??) people acting out of character, and a heavy-handedness that makes it obvious it was written TO accomplish a goal rather than tell a good story. So, while I don’t really mind its changes, I certainly don’t care for the comic itself.

“I’m not going to defend OMD, but the good thing about it is that while it retcons away the marriage ( questionable choice ), it also erases clones, totems, symbiote wars, public identities, and all manner of other nonsense that has long since stopped serving any purpose beyond backstory clutter.”

Actually, save for the public identity, it didn’t erase any of those things.

And while I’m here, I’ll just go ahead and say it: I’d wager money that the only reason they did the identity reveal in Civil War was to have something extra to retcon in One More Day, to shore it up. In other words, they created the mess so they could then fix it.

It’s hard to believe there’s been almost 60 issues since OMD took place, I guess the time flies when…it flies. I’ll be honest I wasn’t even reading 616 Spidey at the time, I was introduced to Spider-Man through the Ultimate line while my uncle would lend me books like “The Other” and the Civil War tie-ins. They weren’t amazing but they were entertaining at least, and everyone was just starting to buzz about OMD and how it was supposed to “change everything forever”.

The first time I read OMD I didn’t know what to think. I mean, certainly Peter Parker and Mary Jane had been married since before I was born and there was no doubt in my mind that this was a bad decision, but I just didn’t have the “bile” that others seemed to have for it. It’s been two years since then and while others have managed to cool off, my hate for this book has actually increased with time. I could rant about this book for hours, but I’ll try to be concise.

This storyline was entirely pointless; no development whatsoever for any character involved. Aunt May is back to being semi helpful, basically doing her own thing with Jonah Sr. (I’ll admit, that’s a decent idea) but contributing nothing to the main plot. Sure there’s the fact that she’s working at F.E.A.S.T. with Mister Negative but honestly, what’s gonna happen? Should we really believe that Aunt May is in any real danger after they just changed the ENTIRE STATUS QUO to keep her alive? I’m on the edge of my friggin’ seat.

Mary Jane has been pushed to the side to make way for Carlie Cooper, who spends all her time telling readers what they’ve already pieced together, and Lilly Hollister, who makes for a one-dimensional supporting cast member and a worse villain. Meanwhile Mary Jane has been relegated to the C-list at best and undoubtedly remembers everything that really happened, so I can’t wait for them to drag that plot point along. I mean, is there any way she’s just going to dance around that subject for the rest of their unnaturally long lives? The whole plot is starting to fall apart already.

Not even Harry Osborn, who had the (mis)fortune of being brought “back to life” which, according to the story Norman gave, would have happened anyway with or without Mephisto’s help. Thank you for that extra tidbit. But please, after sixty issues, don’t you think it’s time to talk about what happened during those six months we missed. But as someone already pointed out I’m sure they’re just waiting for us to move on before deciding to just @#$% it.

Peter Parker, the man who always talks about great power and great responsibility, sold his marriage to THE DEVIL! It doesn’t matter if it’s Mephisto or Loki or Galactus, Spider-Man took the easy way out. Heroes do not take the easy way out, Pete, villains do! He’s a freaking role model to millions of people around the world, and not one of them would ever say that decision was “taking responsibility”. That’s the textbook definition of SHIRKING responsibility! Not to mention that Mephisto went on a whole tangent about how special their love was and taking it only comes every few generations or something, and Spidey still went along with it. Not stopping a burglar is one thing, making a deal with the devil is another thing entirely.

I’m not going to get into BND (audience applauds) simply because it really doesn’t matter where we are now, because no one will ever remember it in a few years time. With the exception of a few characters being forced down our throats what will people remember in a few years time? It doesn’t matter how great the stories are (and indeed, a few of them are exceptional) because everyone will always remember how we ended up this way. One More Day WILL BE UNDONE, it is simply impossible for this new status quo to last, and I sincerely hope JMS is the one who will write that story. Spider-Man has to grow up some day.

Aunt May would never have wanted Peter to make that choice and would have chosen to sacrifice herself, especially for Peter and MJ, who had their whole lives ahead of them.

JoeCab-

I certainly agree with you on that. If for no other reason than that in JMS’ run of which an on-going theme of which was trying to make Peter grow up, once May realized Peter was Spider-Man, she came to be a trusted confidante. She and MJ had both encouraged him to reveal his identity because they were proud of him, and they were willing to take the risks that come with being members of a superhero’s family.

It wasn’t simply that this story wiped out continuity– it wiped out some genuine character development.

I even like Chad’s points about how JMS wrote in an implicit critique of the editorial mandate that Quesada had handed down– and that JMS had at least tried to handle it as intelligently as possible– and some of JMS’ ideas could have worked as an origin story for a new hero– in which there was a planned beginning middle and end.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 19, 2009 at 7:37 pm

I’ve always been confused by the ‘need’ to separate the marriage – I totally get the arguments of everyone involved for it, makes sense, but to me, he’d always been married.
From before I started reading comics he was married – it just seemed to me that Peter and MJ was natural as Clark and Lois.

I also found it a bizarre choice as there as such a big hype at the time that JMS was bringing MJ back into the book.

But ignoring that this story makes me seriously superhero books – god we suck for them thinking we want this (THIS is why I have no problem with Johns spending a panel on explaining Hal’s hair colour change… because some knobs needed four issues of this shit) – I jumped into Brand New Day to check it all out… wasn’t going to, but they had some impressive artists on board.
It started pretty good, first three trades (those marked ‘Brand New Day’), are pretty good, until… it starts to really drag.
Claremont style subplots, played across different writers, some of whom think Subplot A is super-duper exciting, whilst others think sub-plot B is.
I think I’ve got the first five or six trades, and not one damn sub-plot has been wrapped up, and side characters come and go.
SOME cops like to try and arrest Spiderman again, others don’t.
If MJ remembers what happened, she sure wasted no time jumping into bed with a rather shallow actor.

It just seems to me that they could have salvaged the franchise after one of the stupidest storylines ever, but instead showed that it’s possibly the character itself that has become flawed (boring) beyond saving, not the fact he was married.

After the Spider-Man 2 game – better than the film – I think video games are a much better medium for Spider-man.
(Every game since argues that point, but that game – no continuity and YOU were spider-man – was better than any other version in any other medium I’ve seen in a long time).

“…five-month internet hate-fest…”

Which has now turned into a 24-month internet hate-fest. And I’m one of the haters.

Like Matt Ampersand, I thought they were going to use Loki, which did indeed tie in with earlier JMS Spider-Stories.

But what I think pissed off the most people was “It’s magic. We don’t have to explain it.”

“…Marvel and its fanboys could of had their cake and ate it too. Aunt May could have very well of died…”

“Could have” is correct, not “could of”. The shortened form of “could have” is “could’ve”, which does sound like “could of”, but isn’t. And the same is true with ‘well of'; it should be “well’ve” or “well have”.

I’ll only do the short version: I hated OMD, I didn’t like the couple issues I read of BND from the beginning, but I read the stories that JRJr drew and while I’m iffy on the continuity and where it fits, I find them to be pretty entertaining Spidey stories.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 19, 2009 at 8:03 pm

But what I think pissed off the most people was “It’s magic. We don’t have to explain it.”

Made even more hilarious when you think that the EIC has said he doesn’t want a book starring people who use magic as it inevitably leads to cop-out ‘it’s magic!’ endings!

The current run is just fine. The only people who have a problem with OMD at this point are (a) continuity obsessives or (b) people who feel wounded or insulted by shit Quesada said on the internet, and to a lesser extent, the story itself.

It wasn’t a good story by any means, but the JMS run had deteriorated into utter garbage well before it got to this point. Anything they could do to wrap up the run and move onto something new was welcome by the time OMD came around.

As a guy who only picked up spidey when the cover interested me, and being one of the tools that did pick up one more day, I have to agree with most of Chads critiques on the actual comic produced. It was poorly executed, even if you accept the Quesada fact that people didn’t want to see Peter married, the execution was poorly done, and for a major storyline like this that dramatically changes the status quo, better execution should have been attempted.

I disagree with Aqualad, people complain because it was poorly done, even those who wanted the result that happened disliked it, because of many of the reasons Chad listed. Peter acted out of character, threw away development and ruined a lot of growing up that he had shown previously. Brand New Day interested me for about a month or two then it was just a mess of supporting characters who were randomally given more or less value depending on who was writing.

Personally I’m in the camp that thinks Quesada was wrong in guessing what the fans wanted, Peter being married doesn’t age him, it puts him in the mid 20’s, age, struggling to make the ends meet should be a big deal, and heck they can even play up the bad economy by saying MJ’s money went to a Ponzi scheme type of investor or whatever. There are only so many stories that can be done with the same cast of characters where you have to say “give us something new”.

I mean this wasn’t the first time that Marvel wanted to de-age Peter and the fan backlash in both of the major storylines that attempted to do this(clone saga, and death of mj), resulted a return to the prefered status quo.

The thing that always peeved me about OMD – and yes, I’m going to trot out my dead horse, with proper deference to Omar Karindu, naturally – was the apparent driving logic that Peter Parker’s marriage somehow weighed down the Spider-Man stories. However, in OMD, Mary Jane is quite literally exchanged for Aunt May, a character who has consistently proven a ball and chain on the Peter Parker character.

Overall, there seem to be three ways of writing Aunt May. The first way, patented and mostly spent of its worth by Stan Lee, twists the damsel in distress motif by forcing Spider-Man to rescue his “mother,” as opposed to the more typical lover or love interest. While perhaps more unique, I would argue that drama is heightened most when it’s the safety of Peter’s wife being jeopardized, since Peter is nearly thirty years old now and his spouse plays (or should play) a more active role in his life than his surrogate mother. Not to mention Aunt May’s dozens of close brushes with death over the decades render the “Endangered Aunt May” prototype largely vapid.

In the second way to write Aunt May, she mollycoddles her nephew, working to take control of various aspects of his life, for example, when Peter quits graduate school and she refuses to speak to him. Stories that follow this line for Aunt May, I feel, make her an incredibly unlikable character. Do people still get a kick out of hearing Aunt May caution “Be careful, Peter! You’re such a frail boy!” Ho, ho, that’s funny, you see, because he actually isn’t frail at all! Every time I read something like this, a part of my brain shrivels up and dies, and yet, the editing teams fail to stop this joke at the printer’s, a joke that’s been told in hundreds of permutations to an audience which hasn’t changed in ten years.

Writing Aunt May in this way stirs up an additional problem in that the more overbearing she grows, the more pathetic / losery Peter Parker becomes for putting up with it (or more dickish he becomes for not). This dynamic works well in a show like Everybody Loves Raymond, where Raymond’s obsequience to his mother is an object of ridicule for the supporting cast, thus generating laughs for the audience. This, however, fails for an escapist fantasy like Spider-Man, where readers desire a few character failings to keep the lead from becoming remote or inhuman, but ultimately wish to read about a superhuman that they themselves would aspire to be. In brief, the fans of superhero comics won’t be clamoring for the next issue of Mama’s Boy, so Spider-Man would do well to stray from that territory.

The last way of writing Aunt May, and the best, casts her as a real character with a life of her own, an example of this being the Nathan Lubenski and boarding house pseudo subplots of the 1980s. To their credit, the BND crew have attempted to do just this, giving May a job of sorts under one of BND’s main villains and sparking a new love interest for her in the form of JJJ Sr. Nevertheless, neither of these beats are terribly interesting, and on the whole, I’d have to imagine it being quite difficult to write an elderly person into an action-adventure comic. Senior citizens, in truth, are mostly boring. Having already lived out the exciting parts of their lives, most of them, by choice, take on a more tranquil existence. To spice things up, there’s always the temptation to modernize them, make them hip, and we’ve already seen Aunt May texting and twittering in the pages of ASM. This annoys me to no end as it comes across as exceedingly phony and unfunny, calling to mind all the rapping geriatrics you’d see in one of those godawful, crank-turned movies by the Wayans brothers.

The Aunt May character seems to egg on this type of base level pandering, which we find prominently in Peter’s awkward discovery of Aunt May’s post-OMD love life. Again, I can’t help but feel that this scene damages the Peter Parker character (and no, I don’t mean his corneas). Walking in on one’s “mom” having sex, that’s an embarrassing situation typically associated with an 8 year old. It seems the more Aunt May appears in ASM, the lower my opinion of Peter sinks. Though we’re talking about this in completely different contexts, Aunt May’s presence highlights the unflattering “child” facets of Peter’s personality that Chad was getting at in his Reread Review. Just as divorce would emotionally age Peter Parker, Aunt May’s ubiquity in the BND status quo emasculates him and threatens to reverse years of character growth.

None of this is to say that I’m convinced that Aunt May is an unsalvageable character, but at the same time, I’m not surprised that a bunch of 40 something male writers are struggling to sell their interpretation of this 80 year old woman. Most of these guys have probably never been close to any one of this age, that is, aside from their own mothers, which is why this aspect of Aunt May is played up constantly. Overall, Spidey scribes only rarely botch the Mary Jane character to the point of outrageousness (Todd McFarlane comes to mind), whereas the vast majority of writers fumble big time with Aunt May. Considering that her career allows her to be shuffled off-panel whenever the story requires her absence, to say nothing of the salient likeability of her character (badass model who married the high school nerd), it really baffles me as to why Mary Jane was turned down in favor of Aunt May.

P.S. Excellent review, Chad. Apologies for the long, mostly OT ravings.

“This could have been the final Spider-Man story. That’s another reason why I think there’s a hint that Mary Jane is pregnant: it’s been long accepted that pregnancy is the end of Spider-Man.”

Let me see if I distilled this correctly… Like Marvel, you feel that Spidey was getting old and after so many years of marriage; they couldn’t put off the baby issue, which equates to the end of Spidey.

Fair enough.

Let’s say that Mary Jane, a model, wants to have a baby.

Let’s say that Peter Parker, the guy with radioactive sperm, wants to have a baby.

Well, they either can or they can’t. Issue resolved. My money is on they can’t, or they won’t.

Now for arguments sake, let’s say Spidey has a baby! Great! It’s the end of the Spider-man Titles!
With 50 variants, of course. But that’s followed by the “Spider-man: No More Again Saga”. Followed by “Who is the new Spider-Man” Mini-series. Followed by “Another Death in the Family”. Yup, because let’s face it… This is comics. And if you think that Parenthood is the end, and Norman Osborne won’t Fricassee the Spider-baby, well… you haven’t been paying attention.

I mean, it’s like Shakespeare said in the old Testament… Tragedy is the begining of a good story!

Let’s face it, it fits in with the “tragic aspect of Spider-man”, plus the whole Gwen Stacy thing is very passé by now. Most “new” readers weren’t even born way back then, when she was originally killed, when she meant something; and if marrying MJ doesn’t say “I’m over Gwen” then, nothing will.

Plus, it gives you “A Great Out” of the whole Spider-baby dead end/controversy; which is… “We can’t have a Family until Norman Osborne is dead. But I’m no killer.”

Great stuff’. Marvel could have done another “Who killed…the baby” Spider-mystery (ala Capt. Stacy, Hobgoblin, etc. etc. etc.) Hell, they invented that crap… Did the Kingpin steal him? …did Venom eat him?
Hell, the only downside to that is that Spider-Man would’ve had new experiences, he would have grown, matured. He would have been interesting!!! Just like Aquaman was for like a year! (…err… or maybe 6 months!)

And at the end, Marvel would have kept all of their Spidey fans! And they would’ve sold a bunch of comics!
But then again, why would they have wanted that? It’s obviously a way better idea to lose a good chunk of your readership, and then lose a couple more by increasing the price to $3.99 (But I digress…)

Now, If all they really wanted was to reboot Spidey…

Then as the song says:

“There must be fifty ways to leave your lover…

Just slip a Beyonder, Jack.
M’Kraan is the plan, Stan.
You don’t need a new clone, Roy.
Just get yourself a Matter Shaping Kree!

Hop on the Time Cube, Gus.
You don’t need to retcon much!
Just drop the Infinity Sphere, Lee…

And get yourself a Scarlet Witch!”

By the way, the previous post is a joke. Don’t no body take it personally. I know Spider-man already had a baby. And I know that Norman Osborne stole it. But as far as I know, no one knows what Norman did with the baby (I think?), and I’m pretty sure that MJ and Peter thought the baby was a stillborn; which takes the whole drama out of a Superhero trying to save his family. Heck, I can picture it now…

Norman– “Guess what?!?!? Spider-Man!!! I stole your baby! But you where told she died! But she didn’t! But I killed her anyways!”

Spidey– “Oh! Okay?!?! So you are telling me that the baby I thought died, …died anyways. Just not the way, I thought.”

Norman– “YES!!! Well, maybe… I think she died. But I don’t remember if I cloned her into Aunt May, and then killed her. Or killed her first, and then cloned her. Then again, she might one day show up and grow up to be Spider-Girl. That is, unless we need to piss-off DeFalco furthermore! In all honesty, I don’t know! I can’t keep this shit straight! I mean, in all honesty… Who’s brilliant idea was to save all this crap for the future?!?!? In the old days… When you had an Evil Plan, you IMPLEMENTED IT!!! And if it failed, you moved on! Now a days I need to have, at least 7 ongoing plans! All concurrent! It’s exhausting! Oh shit, look at me, I’m rambling! I must sound like the Monarch!”

Spidey– “That’s okay. I never get to see this side evil. Who would’ve thought that being evil was so much work.”

Norman– “Oh yeah! You should see my TIVO! I haven’t been able to watch TV in decades! But no worries, though… Once you are gone, I’m finally going to be able to sit down and watch all the new episodes of Cheers! That show rocks! Am I right, or what!”

I think the same thing about Aunt May, Cass. She’s long been an anchor around the character’s neck. There’s really nothing more that can be done with her, so bringing her back into the series in her old pre-JMS role is just plain pointless.

Anyway, I can’t imagine a scenario where I would sacrifice my wife and daughter for my mother. Sorry, Mom….

One thing that always annoyed me about OMD is that it could have easily have made a lot more sense just by dropping in a couple of call-backs to eariler stories. First, it could have spent a little time on what happened in ‘Back in Black’, and the fact that Peter knew that, were May to die, he would not be able to do any other than to kill the Kingpin [He doesn’t, of course, know that the Daredevil team has dibs on that character, not being metafictionally aware, of course]. And, secondly, he has seen, (twice I think), the future that that chain of events leads to. So the idea that the death of May means the end of Spider-man is not entirely a “I’d lose my will to fight” thing, but rather a matter of concrete foreknowledge.

Of course, it’s still a story that really only works as the end of Act I of a long term metaplot, and so can only be appreciated if one actually believes that we’ll eventually see the Devil get his Comeupance in Act III down the line…

I’m trying to look at OMD at a different angle. What I’m wondering is what is Uatu’s view of the events in OMD. Sure, it’s just “a marriage” between Peter and MJ and not some cosmic stuff. But this is still Earth 616, and Peter kinda messed it up, with dead people such as Harry coming back to life (and possibly even Ben Reilly).

Wouldn’t other powerful beings (say, Loki) recognize the switch? And wouldn’t they be pissed off (not with the marriage thing, but with someone tampering with the timeline)?

Heck, is this still Earth 616 we’re talking about? If events branched out differently how then can it be so?

Re: The teaser image. This confirms my suspicion that Strazinski wanted to bring back Gwen Stacy instead of Harry Osborne in ‘Brand New Day’.

OMD was completely out of character for Pete. Terrible story.

Aunt May died in ASM #400 and should have stayed dead. That was a pretty good signoff for the character, and bringing her back was worse than bringing back Norman Osborn. I never saw the point in that.

BND has been interesting so far, but the new ASM Annual had a panel that confused me. When discussing Ben Reilly and summarizing the “Clone Saga”, Peter mentions something about Ben coming on the scene making life difficult for him and MJ…. was this just lazy editorial / bad writing, or what? I though the entire point of OMD was that Pete has no memory at all of his life with MJ, that in fact the marriage never even happened.. Yes, the Clone Saga still happened, but it happened ‘differently’ because MJ and Peter were never married.

erra, arg, uh… sorry, 35 increasingly rare brain cells just detonated violently somewhere deep within my cerebellum, taking untold thousands with them….

Peter and Mary Jane were still together the entire time, just not married — just boyfriend/girlfriend living a life strangely similar to that of a married couple… so similar that you may not be able to tell the difference!

I guess I’m one of the few people who read ‘One More Day’ with total naivete. Until this year, I’d never seen any of this online fan stuff and I’ve never been to a convention or anything like that. I had absolutely no idea what was coming up. All I knew was that it was to be a very important story that would have a big impact on everything coming afterwards. (And I’d seen the short preview in the Free-Comic-Book-Day issue.) But everything leading up to it made me assume it would be about the death of May, which I was really against. I guess after reading all these comments here, that I must be the only person who likes her. (Though I do admit that a lot of writers don’t know how to handle her correctly.) So I was actually relieved somewhat that the story veered off in a different direction. That doesn’t mean, though, that I actually approve of what happened.
I had no idea until recently that Quesada had been on some kind of crusade to get rid of the marriage. I knew some people didn’t like the marriage, but I still can’t understand why anyone would think a twisted supernatural plot would be necessary to get rid of it, when there are so many normal ways for them to break up. When I finished the story I assumed that the main point of it had been to erase the public identity. That was the problem that most desperately needed fixing, and unlike a marriage, would actually require some sort of supernatural miracle to accomplish.
And really, it’s because of the secret identity that I can’t detest ‘One More Day’ all that much, even though it’s badly written in so many ways. Unmasking Spider-Man had to have been the most idiotic thing ever to happen to Spidey. I can’t believe Quesada and the other editors ever allowed it to happen in the first place. There is absolutely no way a character like Spider-Man could ever have a public identity, and still retain any resemblance to the character as he existed before. It just turned him into a generic Avenger with no life outside of supering. (The same applies to Daredevil. Thank God his situation has had some degree of deniablity. With enough work and Iron Fist-decoys, he may be able to convince enough people that he was falsely accused. Unfortunately, Spidey’s situation was much harder to get out of.) I don’t understand the aversion Marvel seems to have towards secret-identities nowadays. Sure it works great that some heroes are public, but they shouldn’t ALL be, especially those that work mostly on their own, and on the fringes of the law, like Spider-Man.

I just don’t understand why they’re already trying to mess things up in this regard, what with Peter revealing himself to the Fantastic Four, and then the Avengers. And both of those unmaskings worked out differently, which shows the horrible degree of continuity between different series at Marvel these days.

Bernard the Poet

July 21, 2009 at 8:02 am

Chad, I thought that your line: – “We want the illusion of death as a possibility, complain when it’s treated like a joke, but don’t actually want any of these characters to die. Why? Because, we want them to remain the exact same so we can, someday, write their adventures the way that we want to”, is one of the most profound insights I have ever read on this site.

We are all frustrated writers, we all think that we can do it better than the professionals and that colours our enjoyment of the series we read.

OMD is an abject failure because it is so clearly the result of an editorial decision to annul Mary Jane and Peter’s marriage, rather than a story in its own right. Even Marvel’s youngest and most naive readers couldn’t fail to see Quesada standing behind the curtain.

When an actress or actor wants to leave a soap opera, there is a tried and tested method of dissolving their marriage no matter how rock solid they have previously shown it to be. The actor or actress who is planning to leave has something terrible happen to them – kidnapping, miscarriage, nervous breakdown, whatever – they then inform their spouse that although they still love them desperately, they need a few months away to get ‘their head together’. There’s a teary goodbye at the airport/bus depot/ train station and then the missing spouse is not mentioned for about a year. This gives the viewer time to get use to the remaining actor or actress now being single. When enough time has passed and memories of the missing spouse are not as clear, then the character who is still in the show receives a “Dear John” letter. They then mope around for the following episode and are footloose and fancy free within the month. This would have been a far easier way of annulling Spiderman’s marriage, and it would have meant that when a writer decided to bring Mary Jane back – and they will – then they wouldn’t have to explain how you go about reneging on a deal with the devil.

I know that you feel that a divorced Spiderman would become a bitter and depressed misogynist, but it would have been down to the writer to convince the readers that Peter would face the end of his marriage with sang froid. It is not impossible. In order for the Civil War crossover to work every single character in the Marvel Universe had to have a complete personality-change, but that didn’t stop it being one the top grossing series of the year.

“One thing that always bothered me when fans talked about “One More Day” was that some acted as if Peter giving up his marriage in exchange for Aunt May’s life was somehow less selfish than giving up May’s life to keep his marriage.”

Except Aunt May was an elderly woman who’d been badly wounded and her body couldn’t repair the damage. And they even did a story in the Sensational Spider-Man title where Peter telepathically spoke to Aunt May in her coma (with assistance from Madame Web) where she told him she was ready to move on. I mean, really, the only person who didn’t want Aunt May to go was Peter Parker. At least they threw in a line where he explained that he was prepared for Aunt May’s eventual death (not surprising, since he’d lived through that pretty well once before), but not when it was his fault. Sure it makes Peter look like a selfish bastard that way, but at least it covered that angle, I suppose.

I don’t know… I think Chad’s a brave man for re-reading it since I haven’t touched the damn things since they first came out. I’ve got to say though that if some of those bits brought up where intentionally put in by Straczynski , then maybe he deserves a little more respect and less blame for the whole OMD debacle. Ugh. Difference between this and the Clone Saga is that there was actually some good stuff in the Clone Saga (amid the convoluted, tortured, drawn-out stories). There is no good in One More Day. Except for maybe the handbook content and those swell variant covers. But those don’t count.

Have a good day.
John Cage

I would love to see a one-panel story with Uatu set immediately after Mephisto resets everything.

Uatu: …Hang on, did you just alter the entire fabric of reality in exchange for a marriage license?
Mephisto: I collect a lot of weird crap. Wanna see Hitler’s bottle-cap collection?

Make it happen, Twisted Toyfare Theater!

Bernard the Poet — The ‘failed/wannabe writer’ influence is one I’ve believed to a driving force behind the resistance to change for a long time.

John Cage — There’s nothing brave about reading a comic and then writing about it. (Excluding all scenarios that involve dictators and such…)

comicbookreader

July 21, 2009 at 8:52 am

I remember that Quesada talked about wanting to undo or “put the genie back in the bottle” for three things. As Omar Karindu discussed, two of those three Quesada-driven edicts resulted in “Decimation” and “One More Day.” My question: Has Quesada ever hinted what the third thing was that he wanted to undo?

And speaking of mindwipes, retcons, bad Spidey continuity, et al., here’s another tangential question: Did anyone else find it exceptionally amusing that all throughout “American Son” storyline, as Norman brags how happy he is to soon have another son who isn’t Harry, that he’s clearly forgetting that he *did* have another son (and a daughter, too) with Gwen Stacy, according to the JMS “Sins Past” storyline? (Chad, now that’s a storyline you should force yourself to go back and re-read… if you dare!)

So for those keeping score at home, Norman has conceived children with both Peter’s and Harry’s girlfriends! Seems very odd/funny that Norman should be turned into both the Marvel Universe’s version of Lex Luthor and the MU’s DILF-in-Chief apparently.

I’ve never read “Sins Past,” which precludes rereading it…

It seems strange that Peter Parker, someone who runs himself ragged saving lives and stopping criminals, would be selfish and self-involved. On the other hand, fictional characters like Tommy from “Rescue Me” save lives, and are selfish bastards. I thought it was more of a “running gag” in the comics: People who don’t know Peter is Spider-Man think that Peter is self-involved.

I’m personally more interested in how Spider-Man and other mindwiped characters remember Civil War. If no one remembers Spider-Man unmasking on live TV, do they remember why he started on Iron Man’s side and then switched to Captain America’s side?

Hey, never read the OMD comics [although i did see OMD in concert once] but as a newly married person, i would never give up the person that i made a lifelong committment to to save my parents. Marriage should be a committment that takes precedence over every other relationship that a person has. Otherwise, don’t get married. Your spouse should come before any person on the earth.
DFTBA

Great analysis on the character of Peter Parker.

My personal preference would be that DC and Marvel did a hard re-boot on their entire universes on some set schedule. Just announce the new versions are coming in 2014 and have writers pitch them on third acts for everyone. Spider-Man would obviously start his third act with Aunt May dying as an indirect result of his career as Spider-Man and end with the birth of his first child named May for his beloved Aunt.

You know, Peter finally becomes a Man.

Most of these characters have great first acts, or at least the elements to build them. Lois Lane meets Superman. The Waynes are murdered. Steve Trevor tells Princess Diana of Themyscira that the world is on the brink. Tony Stark has his chickens come home to roost in the form of shrapnel. Steve Trevor wakes up from a long sleep to find a different world. Professor X realizes that teaching mutants is an intrinsically political act. The list goes on.

What makes these beginnings great is that they imply an ending (or a range of possible endings). You can put Lois and Clark through just whatever you like as long as the possibility of their ultimate marriage is still on the table. No matter how clever he is, Batman is just delaying the day when he is a step slow. From the minute Sheira Sanders meets Carter Hall, it just a matter of time before Hath-Set gets them.

By attempting to delay the inevitable into the indefinite future, these stories become increasingly complex. To a point, that is a good thing. The Silver Age Superman acquired really interesting layers of metaphor during the Weisinger era as he kept putting off Lois. Tony Stark acquired a drinking problem that further deepened his character. However, there is a limit.

“One More Day” appears to be the step past the limit for Spidey. It is no longer the story of a boy becoming a man, but instead of a boy who REFUSES to become a man. That is totally different and less sympathetic. It is better to end it and re-start it. Break from the established continuity and start a new one. Tell people at Cons that the 616 story is over and we are moving on to 617.

That is closer to the effect they were looking for from “Brand New Day” anyway.

[…]When enough time has passed and memories of the missing spouse are not as clear, then the character who is still in the show receives a “Dear John” letter. They then mope around for the following episode and are footloose and fancy free within the month.

Hey Bernard, you forgot the part where the character, who is still in the show, gets a letter from City Hall stating that they made a mistake and never filed their Marriage License, or better yet, that the old Courthouse burned and all the computers crashed the night the Clock Tower was hit by lightning!

Who says you can’t learn anything by watching soaps, tv and movies!

This was Mephisto’s plan all along: bring more suffering to Spider-man readers.

It worked!

But, to be honest, I think the resulting BND is okay. It made the stories more dynamic. I don’t want to pinpoint at the marriage as part of the problem, but the marriage did put a “Happily ever after” syndrome to it. Sure, Pete and MJ would have occasional problems, but you really can’t shake it up short of divorce or dealing with the devil. And I think the writers don’t want to pile up mundane marriage problems to the book.

Peter is always a boy. Marvel wants to keep it that way. And MJ knows that — that’s why she’s the one who decided first to accept Mephisto’s offer. It’s kinda like a mother giving in to his kid in tantrum. Twisted love, but love nonetheless.

Sorry I came in so late, but I did want to say that this was a very interesting analysis. I do disagree with it on two counts, though. The first is the central one, that Peter Parker is actually a selfish child who avoids responsiblity, and the second is that this is done because once he grows up, the story’s over. (Which is, I realize, a polite way of saying, “I disagree with just about everything you said,” but hear me out.)

The second one first: This one seems kind of…well, silly to me, because it suggests that growing up is a finite process with a definite end point, and that at some point you can say, “Aha! I am mature and responsible now, and my journey to manhood is over!” We are all constantly negotiating new challenges and situations in our life, learning and relearning new lessons about the human condition. “Civil War” is actually a good example, as Peter has to negotiate a number of complex moral issues that any adult, no matter how mature and responsible, would have trouble dealing with; his personal loyalty to Tony Stark, his responsibilities to his family, his own ethics, all of which come to be at odds over the course of the story. At no point can I say, “Oh, Peter was being selfish doing that!” when I look back at “Civil War”, even though it turned out to have disastrous consequences for his family.

Which segues neatly into my first point, that I don’t think Peter was being selfish. Instead, I think he suffered (and as a basic personality trait, suffers) from the opposite problem; he takes on too much responsibility, ascribing burdens to himself that others would rightly say, “That’s not my fault and it’s not my problem.” In ‘Civil War’, he believes that he has a responsibility to Tony, a man who has helped him and his family immeasurably, and so (after consulting with May and MJ) he unmasks publicly. (Note the key bit there: He consults with May and MJ. Both of them support his decision and believe it to be the right thing to do, and all three of them believe Tony when he says he will protect Peter’s family, no matter what.)

Over the course of “Civil War”, it becomes pretty clear to Peter that he’s made a terrible mistake. His friendship with Tony, his belief in Tony’s fundamental decency, have blinded him to the horrible wrongs that the Registration Act has caused. Peter’s caught in an ethical quandary. Does he continue on his current path, and do things he knows are wrong, or does he break his word to Tony and potentially risk hurting his family? Neither one is a “selfish” option. They’re both going to cause Peter great pain.

Again, Peter consults with May and MJ. Again, they support him. They know the risk that they’ll be under if Peter crosses Tony and becomes a fugitive, and they’re willing to take that risk because they believe that Peter is doing the right thing. That’s the key point; May pretty much openly says, “I don’t care what happens to me, you do what’s right.” When she does that, she is taking responsibility for any harm that might come to her.

But Peter can’t let go of his responsibilities. What happens in OMD isn’t an act of epic selfishness, as he refuses to let his aunt go because he needs her; it’s a case of misplaced responsibilities, as Peter ignores the fact that the gunman pulled the trigger, the Kingpin ordered the hit, Tony went back on his promise to protect May no matter what, and May said she was willing to accept whatever happened, and places the blame squarely on himself for unmasking to begin with. He’s not trying to save Aunt May because he needs her and loves her, he’s trying to save her because in his mind, it’s his fault she’s dying. Peter can never let go of his responsibilities, even when they’re not his to hold.

But in this case, there are no good options. It’s not that Peter makes a selfish choice, it’s that he can’t make any choice at all. No matter what he chooses, he fails someone he loves. And that’s why MJ has to make the decision; not because she knows Peter can’t live without his beloved Aunt May, but because she knows he’d be haunted forever by the fact that he failed to save her, just like he’s still haunted by the fact that he failed to save Uncle Ben. She commits the ultimate act of love, by saying, “This time, I will take responsibility, Peter, because I know that having to bear one more burden would break you. And I can’t see you broken.”

At least, that’s how it’d work in a good version of the story. Can’t speak for what actually got written. :)

Bernard the Poet

July 22, 2009 at 5:37 am

I’m surprised by how many of the comments here seem to think that Spiderman should have sacrificed Aunt May for the sake of his marriage. It is all very well to say that May had lived a full life and her time had come, but once Mephisto had put the deal on the table then that was no longer the case. By refusing to deal with Mephisto, Spiderman would have been ACTIVELY choosing to kill his aunt. That is hardly the actions of a hero.

And anyway, we all know that if Gwen Stacey hadn’t died then he would never have married Mary Jane. Peter is a young man, he could have loads of wives, but he will only ever have one Aunt May.

Bernard the Poet

July 22, 2009 at 5:42 am

Red Ricky wrote:-

“Who says you can’t learn anything by watching soaps, tv and movies!”

Absolutely. Or comics. Everything I know about the Middle East comes from Tintin, I learnt about the Second World War from the All Star Squadron and sex from Howard Chaykin. That’s why I’m such a well rounded individual.

I’ve been really slow catching up with CSBG… and I haven’t read all the comments, so apologies for any duplication…

I came back onto ASM because of JMS. He seemed to be evolving Peter Parker. He was giving us a man who was maturing, going back to his roots at High School by becoming a teacher, working out his marriage problems with MJ, finally coming clean with Aunt May about Spider-Man (admittedly by accident, but he could have covered with some kind of “I was coming home from a fancy-dress party and got mugged” story).

Okay, the Totem and Stingers issues were unexpected and a bit off-kilter, but they fitted with the whole concept of Peter growing up and learning that that was more about his past that he could have found out if he had been bothered to look deeply enough.

When OMD happened my first thought was “Aunt May is finally going to die, and Peter is going to use the Dan Slott Loop-Hole presented by the Scarlet Spiders in Avengers: The Initiative…”

Then I read that last issue…

Boy, I felt pissed upon. I cancelled my standing order. Switched to ASG as part of that pathetic protest that may have helped keep that ttle going for One More Year…. My LCS still had three months of ASM (which now amounted to issues), so after a month or two, I gave those a try.

Here’s the thing. BND *IS* well-written, well-drawn, etc. But, it’s also full of problems.
Marvel kept saying “The only thing that has changed is the marriage”… BUT
1) What happened to Peter’s job at the High School?
2) Are the Stingers gone?
3) How is Harry’s death/return linked to the Spider-Marriage?
4) When did Flash stop being Gym teacher at Peter’s School and become a soldier?
5) Why did NONE of the “On the Run” Avengers suddenly say “Hang on! Who are you under that mask, again??”

We had Young Peter over in Ultimate Spider-Man. The BND stories would have working BRILLIANTLY as “Spider-Man Classified” or similar.

ASM *could* have led to a birth, which could eventually built up to Amazing Spider-GIRL… I was looking forward to the teased future costume design as well…

Ah well.

DC have the Legacy heroes. Marvel have the Immortal Heroes with the constantly slipping origin date…

2000AD have characters that age in “real” time…

I don’t read ASM any more. I *did* read USM… but even that’s over now…

Pity. Guess it’s some kind of Peter Pan Syndrome.

Bernard said — It is all very well to say that May had lived a full life and her time had come, but once Mephisto had put the deal on the table then that was no longer the case. By refusing to deal with Mephisto, Spiderman would have been ACTIVELY choosing to kill his aunt.

Yeah dude, but isn’t the point of a Faustian Deal the fact that you always get screwed in the end?
(I learned that from Ghost Rider!!!) And in an Ironic Way? (I learned that from Futurama!)

So even if Aunt May doesn’t get hit by a bus next week (like say, Ghost Rider’s Dad did); good old Pete still threw his unborn child under the same proverbial bus!!!

And remember… Ignorance is no excuse!

Oh damn you Peter Parker! You didn’t pay attention in Sunday School! You should have let life run its course! You should’ve let God decide who lives and who dies! But now you are going to hell! You are going to die and go to hell!

Either that, or he’s going to have to start collecting souls! …Or beat the Devil at a Fiddle Contest! (Wichever comes first!)

FunkyGreenJersualem’s comment about the hype that surrounded JMS bringing back MJ triggered some long lost, fond memories in my mind. I find it very, very interesting and full of irony that essentially, JMS was the guy who was tasked with bringing MJ back from the “separation,” and wrote perhaps the best marriage stories we’ve seen of Peter and MJ together, and then 5 years later, the same guy, was tasked with breaking up that same marriage. You have to wonder if this is part of the reason why JMS was so pissed off because Quesada was the guy who told him to do it in both cases. I really feel like even though people are ripping on JMS for his run being a disaster, the book became Quesada’s after the end of the JMS/JRJR Ezekiel run (at the start of Sins Past). True, it was just a change in the artist, you can’t just amplify that and say it changed the whole direction of the storyline but the end of JRJR’s run w/JMS IMO was where it all started to go downhill, and for some reason I just didn’t recognize the book from Sins Past onward. It even f***ed up Jenkins’ work over in Spectacular which I thought had been just fine/great/”spectacular” until “Disassembled” and the fallout from Sins Past.

I was able to stand all this until “The Other” for some reason. After that I dropped the book and stuck to USM only (this is 2006). Then I left comics because of some personal life issues, at this time about 90% of my collection was Marvel. I didn’t collect anything from DC. By the time OMD hit it had been over a year out of comics, and my reaction when i read it in the news was just to laugh.

I started getting back into comics last month. My entire collection now is 50/50 indies and DC, with one book being the lone exception (Spider-Girl/Amazing Spider-Family/wherever the hell they threw her stuff in now). Marvel, mission accomplished. Between pissing on my favorite character and jacking up the price of every book you’ve got because “you can,” you’ve driven me right into the arms of Image, IDW, Dark Horse, and Grant Morrison at DC.

I laughed bitterly when after OMD the pairing I had fantasized about in my wildest dreams, Slott on the story, Romita on the pens, came to fruition in 566. But I had to hold my principles and didn’t buy it. I kind of caved in to 600 today, but really only to collect it for the future. The cover to 605 has me laughing the same way I did when I hear about OMD. I haven’t been keeping up with anything on a real detailed level, just hearing that Peter has the hots for multiple women, MJ is nowhere to be seen, and Aunt May gets caught doing the nasty with the old guy she ends up marrying.

Wonderful.

Great article/post though.

Excellent analysis. I had just read this for the first time myself recently, in TPB form. I had bought the first issue when it came out, decided I didn’t like where it was going or how long it was taking. It was funner to read about it on blogs, as people bitched their heads off about how stupid it sounded. And sound stupid it did, indeed.

At least having read it, I can make up my own mind about it. And I agree with your write up on several points. 1) Parts of this, particularly #3, were pretty well done, effective even. 2) Peter really is a selfish, idiotic brat. 3) There’s no good or possible way to do a storyline like this.

Which begs the question; why do it? I read Spidey for years as a kid right around the time of the wedding. I read it for many years after that, only dropping it around the time of Clone silliness, and the massive dip in quality that accompanied that (and let’s face it–the Clone crap was one of the first attempts at negating Family-Man Spiderman–if fans had embraced Ben Reilly they wouldn’t have done away with him—as well as the first MJ pregnancy and her disappearance in the plane crash–more junk to try to reset the status quo back to the 70’s even then).

Why can’t Peter say he and Mary Jane can’t have children because of what he does? Or because of the radioactive blood (even better–what if they weren’t able to have kids and they adopted? Would this not have been a superhero comics first)? Why not have MJ and Pete end up having a kid and Pete still sneaks off to play super hero even though he promised not to?

Granted, these storylines would grate. I just don’t understand why Queseda specifically is so against having Peter be married that he would have Marvel’s flagship character make a deal with the fucking devil of the Marvel U to do it. No wonder Straczynski wanted his name taken off this piece, and really, I’m shocked that he would go along with all this in the first place, as it arguably negates his work (6 years?) on the character the most.

It really shows that Mary Jane Watson has to be the longest-suffering character of the entire Marvel U. Not only is she often a damsel in distress, not only do Pete’s enemies come after her, but she has deal with her ass of a husband and the whims of the Marvel braintrust and Spidey’s readership. Now that they’ve officially brought her back in #600, let the suffering begin anew. But is Brand New Day ever going to actually acknowledge what happen in One More Day, even though it (circularly) never happened? They have to, right? Right?

Sometimes being a comic fan, Spidey particularly, really sucks.

I will say this–aside from the Stan Lee era, certain Gerry Conway runs, as well as runs by JM DeMattias, Peter David and Straczynski, Spideys never had particulary visionary writers that really shake things up in an interesting or memorable way. Comic readers would no doubt balk at this, but what someone like Grant Morrison do given the reins of Spidey?

I think you’re write on everything but one thing, being spider-man isn’t just childish, I think that to grow up he doesn’t have to stop being spider-man, he can, but he doesn’t have to, he just has to be a spider-man that isn’t an idiot.

This whole discussion shows why Spider Man is not for me anymore. For an example of a recent superhero with kid and romantic trouble, how about Manhunter? That certainly got into a lot of the ground that is touched upon in some of the comments.

It is not a tragedy when the old die: it is sad, but not tragic – it is the essential order of the universe, and in fact shows that life is proceeding normally. If the young die before the old, it shows that there is something terribly wrong.

red Ricky you are the man… i laugh about an hour with this line:

Norman– “Guess what?!?!? Spider-Man!!! I stole your baby! But you where told she died! But she didn’t! But I killed her anyways!”

I hope that im done with mavel , i ve tried this before (after heroes reborn) but then i came back for avengers dissasembled… but i can’t keep spending my money on this anymore… I will do it on hookers now

[…] the surge of comic book movies, comic book cartoons, and the wearing of Underoos by hot chicks. 2. The Erasing “Reboot” of Spiderman’s Marriage – I find this a VERY important event in the mainstream comic book world. It was a blatant use […]

I have to say that after 20 years of being a loyal Marvel/Spiderman fan, I have never been so infuriated with a storyline.

I will admit that in the last 5 or so years, I stopped buying issues. However, I’ve always kept up with whats been happening. First, Osborn having kids with Gwen Stacy was utterly ridiculous. I could tolerate the mystic crap and even “The Other” storylines, but seriously, get over the Gwen Stacy character and let her and all remnants of her remain dead, buried, and alone. Why Marvel keeps dragging this corpse up, I have no idea. Its been a dead horse for decades.
As someone else on this blog stated, if marrying MJ doesnt say Peter is over it, nothing will. The fans are over it. Let Peter be over it.

Now, onto the main point. OMD was an even bigger slap in the face and kick to the balls of anyone who has been a long time fan of Spiderman. WHY, WHY, WHY does Marvel is Quesada or anyone in agreement with REVERTING and DEVOLVING a character who has GROWN and EVOLVED over time?

I am not a whiney fanboy.
I am not obsessed in any manner.
Im just a regular guy like most Spiderman fans who grew up collecting Spiderman comics and saw myself in him more than any other character.
I could never relate to Superman and his godlike powers. I enjoyed but could never fully relate to Batman and his obsessive nature and riches, gadgets, etc. SPIDERMAN was me in those pages. At first when I was young he was really cool. As I got older and faced struggles I could relate to as a teenager. As I grew, I grew into Peter, who was a univeristy student like me. As he graduated and got a real job, so did I. I enjoyed several relationships as I saw him happily living out his marriage with MJ.

Now, to have Peter the WOULD-BE MAN reverted into a BOY again…when Marvel has other titles FOR THE PURPOSE OF A YOUNG SPIDERMAN AUDIENCE, is a spit in the face.

This is why I have switched to DC. Superman’s life has changed. Batman has gone through 3 Robins. Green Lanterns and Flashes have come and gone. And you know what. Most of it was done great. I still cant picture myself or relate to Superman as well but its interesting. I’ll never be a billionaire trained in every known martial art but the stories are fantastic.

Im just a regular guy who likes to pick up an issues of Spiderman from time to time and see that Peter Parker, MY PETER PARKER, the one I grew up with, the one I WAS on those pages, has evolved in a way that IS NOT a kick to the balls to my favourite hero growing up. A comic that pays respect to characters like Aunt May and Mary Jane.

This OMD and post-OMD is the reason that after 20+ of collecting comics and being a fan, I finally say DC has won.

My Problem is that I don’t think that Spidey even in his most heartfelt grief would so stupidly and willingly walk into a pact with a demon. I mean how many of his enemies has he seen make deals with Demons and something always screws them over. He better than anyone should know that just because he’s suffering while making the deal doesn’t mean that he won’t suffer even more greatly later… That and I’ve always liked Mary Jane a great deal.

SInce OMD I have problem’s buying any comic Spidey is in (except Ultimate Spidey) of course and every hint at the new Status Quo in books like New Avengers or when he guest-stars in any other book, makes me cringe.

I hate the stupidity and laziness of Marvel so much, I really considered stopping reading comics at all.
I can never ever accept this, not even in a hundred years.

Is it logical? No! But I loved Spidey since I was a little kid and the marriage was an essential part for me.
I really can’t get over it. Reading this review such a long time after the initial storyline ran, still makes me angry and sad.

Didn’t Loki have a debt to Spider-Man? Spider-Man forgot or something? Why didn’t he go to Loki? At least Try Loki?!?!

[…] books and graphic novels as a young adult. Marvel Comics tends to reboot individual characters (see One More Day for Spider-Man) or teams (such as the Avengers Reborn) rather than its entire continuity at […]

I just finished reading OMD and OMIT, and I swear to fuck, it was like they dug a hole in one spot with Civil War, and were doing such an amazing job addressing SERIOUS possibilites (Superhero Registration Act and the division of standpoints), and then decided they didn’t like their spot. Each area was a different shade of gray, and there wasn’t one side that was totally right (Tony only fronted it because he knew it would happen and he didn’t want it to be tyrannical, and Cap fought for what he believed in, his definition of right and freedom.)

And then they were just like, “fuck it. His aunt gets shot or something, i dunno lol.” It comes out of nowhere right after he switches sides. There’s no justification, little reason or warrant for it, it just occurs. It was like the writers didn’t want to finish or didn’t know HOW to finish the Civil War saga and just spat ink on pages. Instead of filling in their plotholes, they drilled to China.

New powers, embrace the TOTEMIC SPIDER. The Other was cool and introduced new abilities, even bringing forth the idea that he just hadn’t explored the extent of his powers. His resurrection was honestly way more warranted than this “get rid of the woman, she’s in the way”.

And hell, in the Civil War saga, the way that MJ backed him up, the way she’s always backed him up, she was his rock. Why the fuck were they so intent to can her? She’s iconic with the way she’s always been by his side. And in OMIT he says “she set me free.” More like “we as the writers wrote ourselves out of a situation we didn’t like”.

Fuck this, man.

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