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Abandoned Love: Whatever Happened to Peter and Mary Jane’s Baby?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer while still acknowledging that the abandoned story DID still happen. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

This week, we take a look at how Marvel resolved Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson having a baby.

Spectacular Spider-Man #220 has Peter and Mary Jane (who were a bit estranged as Peter was acting really erratic as the Clone Saga began, especially as he had recently discovered that he was dying of some mysterious ailment. He’d eventually be cured) reconcile…

Writer Tom DeFalco definitely went for the purple prose here. Also, did Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz just not draw one of Peter’s feet in the above splash?

Now that they’re reconciled, Mary Jane hits Peter with some major news…

Nine issues later, Mary Jane worries about whether being Spider-Man is a good thing for a father to be doing (note that she has also been stricken with some weird ailment that Peter and Ben Reilly must find an antidote for in the issue)…

It is this situation that causes Peter to quit as Spider-Man (one of many times he’s quit)…

Fast forward roughly a year and the Spider-Man creators are ready to return Peter Parker to the book as Spider-Man. However, part of the idea of Peter and Mary Jane having a baby was that it would give them a good reason to LEAVE. Now that they were back, the baby suddenly didn’t fit their plans.

So in Sensational Spider-Man #11, part 2 of the “Revelations” storyline that ended with Peter being Spider-Man again, Mary Jane is poisoned by a mysterious woman…

She then goes into labor…

In Amazing Spider-Man #418, we see that a mysterious bad guy is seeing Mary Jane’s labor…

Later in the issue, Mary Jane appears to deliver a stillborn baby…

However, the mysterious woman we saw poisoning Mary Jane is there (now named Alison Mongrain), as we see her meet her mysterious employer…

The following issue, Peter Parker: Spider-Man #75, after Ben Reilly is revealed as the clone and then killed, Peter is officially Spider-Man again and he goes to visit his wife…

Okay, so the baby thing was pretty much dropped for the next year plus, but as you might imagine, fans couldn’t help but think that the baby actually DIDN’T die, but was instead kidnapped by Norman Osborn in one of those elaborate plans to mess with Peter Parker that he seems to love so much. So the plot really hasn’t been officially abandoned yet. More like “put off.”

Marvel, of course, fed into this with sporadic check-ins on Mongrain on the road (well, on the water, that is, as she was on a yacht) in Europe, with teases that made it seem like she was talking about taking care of a baby but it turning out not to be. The Peter Parker clone Kaine was hot on her trail, as well (as he had a mad-on for Norman Osborn because of Osborn killing Ben Reilly).

Here’s a bit from Amazing Spider-Man #434 (DeFalco was still on the book at this time)…

Joe Robertson began to try to track Mongrain down and finally found her in Amazing Spider-Man #440.

That brings us to Amazing Spider-Man #441, where the mysterious Alison Mongrain dies, but before she passes she seems to suggest what fans were thinking, that the baby (which Peter and Mary Jane were going to name May after Peter’s Aunt) DIDN’T die!

That is what Spider-Man thinks, at least, although Mary Jane insists that her baby did, in fact, die…

So in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #97, Peter goes to rescue baby May and confronts Green Goblin, who says that the baby did, in fact, die (which would suggest that Norman Osborn killed Peter’s baby, which is pretty messed up)…

Peter doesn’t believe him and goes to where he thinks the baby is being held only to discover that the May who is alive is actually…

For more details on the death and life of Aunt May, read this old Abandoned an’ Forsaked.

And so that is that, Peter and Mary Jane’s baby died. Mongrain’s cargo that the Scriers took turned out to be some magical object for the Gathering of Five storyline (where Maddie Franklin gained superpowers and Norman Osborn was driven temporarily insane).

That said, Tom DeFalco did a What If…? she DIDN’T die that launched a whole new series of stories starring Spider-GIRL…

If YOU have a suggestion for an abruptly dropped storyline, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

69 Comments

Brian, you missed out the part in One More Day where Mephisto acknowledges the possibility of Baby May’s existence, by saying that she was going to become the greatest superhero the world would ever know but that Peter and MJ making the deal would wipe her from existence.

Also, the “Daily Grind”page has been posted twice. Is that Mark Buckingham’s gorgeous artwork? Looks like it.

Well, after OMD, I think that we can safely assume that the baby will never re-appear, right? Until some writer will come up with some explanation, or will undo OMD. For now it is the way it is.

I would be amazed if they didn’t have their baby turn up at some point.

Brian, you missed out the part in One More Day where Mephisto acknowledges the possibility of Baby May’s existence, by saying that she was going to become the greatest superhero the world would ever know but that Peter and MJ making the deal would wipe her from existence.

One More Day suggested that they could possibly later have another baby, not that their previous child didn’t die at birth.

Also, the “Daily Grind”page has been posted twice. Is that Mark Buckingham’s gorgeous artwork? Looks like it.

That was a weird case of cropping gone horribly wrong. It’s fixed now. Thanks!

There was also the weird scene in the first issue after “Revelations,” where dialogue implied that Mary Jane had held a live baby May, at least briefly, only for the baby to die soon after (rather than being stillborn).

So, the baby was killed by Norman?

So, the baby was killed by Norman?

Looks like it. Pretty messed up, right?

when i read the story line i kind of got the idea norman had paid alison to take the baby with her to europe since the drug she put in the food might have made the baby drugged up so she could not cry. even though norman told spider man he had aunt may instead of baby may. plus the fact that norman did send alison away should marvel do so still leaves the possibilty that maybe even though marvel word is the baby did become still born thus proving that the green goblin is marvels version of the joker. that maybe still if some writer chooses baby may may still be alive some where .

Isn’t there a scene with Kaine rescuing young May after she was kidnapped, though? Far as I know, that was the last we saw of her.

Yeah, I thought for sure there was something about Kaine and the baby. Has it come up at all in the new Scarlet Spider stuff?

“Also, did Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz just not draw one of Peter’s feet in the above splash?”

His left foot is blatantly there. His right foot is facing towards the reader.

The thing with Kaine and baby May I think came from Spider-Girl — that’s how they tried to stay kinda in-continuity as a possible future, saying that Peter and Mary Jane thought May was dead, but Kaine returned her to them later on.

” Looks like it. Pretty messed up, right? ”

It was explicitly referenced in Mark Millar’s Marvel Knights Spider-Man that Norman killed Peter’s unborn child. The fact that Peter hasn’t outright killed Norman for that makes me wonder if he’s made of human parts.

Hoo boy, there’s a lot of ugly art on display here.

So, if Peter and MJ were never married, does that mean they were going to have a child together out of wedlock? Pete seems like the type of dude who would be so guilty about knocking up MJ before marriage that he would insist on getting hitched.

Is there any super-hero that has had more support characters violently killed off than Spider-Man? Off the top of my head:

Uncle Ben
Bennett Brant
Federick Foswell
Captain Stacy
Gwen Stacy
Jean DeWolff
Ned Leeds
Nathan Lubensky
Baby May Parker
Marla Madison
Billy Connors (eaten by his father!!!)

I mean, that’s off the top of my head, and it doesn’t include characters that were violently killed and stayed dead for a decade or so before they ‘got better’ (via retcon), like Miles Warren, Harry Osborn and Norman Osborn (who were all support characters in addition to being villians).

@Luis Dantas

Indeed, I do remember that scene, which happened in Greece as I remember.

There were two “packages” in the scene – one would be revealed as one of the pieces of that “Party of Five”, which gave powers to Mattie Franklin; the other package was never revealed, but it suggested to be a baby.

We can remember that Norman Osborn lying isn’t anything weird or new… see when he orchestrated to Ben Reilly being identified as the real Peter Parker (okay, for the sake of chronology… hehe).

So, the simple fact of Osborn claiming that the baby was dead could be put in doubt… or not.

I remember Quesada saying that the whole baby May stuff would be put in standby for some time (never determined) until some writer had something good to say about it. He said that about the whole Clone Saga, by the way.

Well, the Clone Saga was revisited many times since then, but nothing about the baby May, except for that mention of her (or another daughter) in One More Day.

And remembering that even with the marriage being erased from continuity (sort of…), Peter and MJ did live together for years… so the Pact with Mephisto didn’t erase baby May, dead or alive.

Anyway, as that mysterious package was never revealed, we can’t say that it was baby May for sure.

It wasn’t just fans thinking the baby could be alive: they were outright teasing it in the books. I remember at least one scene of Alison on a houseboat dotting over something unseen in a baby crib. It was later revealed to be….a cat. Oy.

JoeMac307, all of that death occasionally makes Spider-Man tough to read. Billy Connors’ death was a terrible moment in comics for me. I think it made it worse because I have a young son around Billy’s age. It seems like every Spider-Man writer tries to put their own stamp on Spidey by killing somebody close to him. Peter became Spider-Man in part because of the death of his Uncle Ben. Now everyone wants to kill the next “Uncle Ben”. Some of the Spidey comics I enjoyed the most were the late 80’s and early 90’s stuff. The comics were fun.

Wow. I didn’t know how this story ended. I remember reading about all the situation, but I didn’t know the baby was born and then Norman killed her. My introduction to Spider-man was Ben, so I didn’t really care about Peter’s life at that moment.

At least we had Spider-girl. I always wanted to see how the Marvel U proper would deal with a Spider-offspring. It feels like Peter should be trading stories of parenthood with the FF, or Cage and Jessica.

No wonder Quesada wanted to get rid of the marriage. While I’m not a huge fan of Spidey, I certainly am not drawn to stories involving stillborn babies, or ones that are later murdered. At least not in comic books featuring superheroes. That is seriously f@cked up.

If the baby really was taken to Europe, maybe she was being raised by Gwen’s twins from JMS’ other much-maligned storyline, “Sins Past”? That would make for one heck of a controversial storyline…

The thought of Gwen’s twins raising and brainwashing Baby May against Peter and MJ is a seriously screwed up one!

@Jamie: There is no direct relation between Quesada’s anti-marriage decision and Baby May’s death/kidnapping, other than the fact that both were made for the same purpose- to keep Peter as young and responsibility free as possible.

@ultron
Way I see it, the only way OMD could ever be undone is if they kill Mephisto.

For all its “purple prose”, I’ve always liked the scenes that show MJ and Peter actually being happy together. yet another reason to hate “One More Day”.

It was explicitly referenced in Mark Millar’s Marvel Knights Spider-Man that Norman killed Peter’s unborn child. The fact that Peter hasn’t outright killed Norman for that makes me wonder if he’s made of human parts.

On the other hand, Peter’s also the kind of guy who’d probably insist on going to jail for life once he cooled down after his revenge. More generally, “Peter just kills Norman at long last” would be a *final* Spider-Man story in many ways. The lesson here is probably that implying the murder of a baby for the sake of a miserably convoluted “reset button” plot exemplifies bad plotting and even worse taste.

For some reason, superhero comics generally pretend like the horrible implications of “reset button” plots don’t count, because such stories are never actually about their plots — they’re about editorial machinations. For example, almost nobody points out that the central idea in Flashpoint is that the DC Universe is fine with a villain murdering innocent people using time-travel but breaks down totally if a hero tries to reverse the damage because the real idea is to set up a relaunch. The original Crisis is a story about the heroes *losing* an infinite number of Earths and barely saving one, then counting it as a massive victory so DC can reboot its continuity. Zero Hour is about Parallax winning and Green Arrow “killing” him after it’s too late to do any good because the real point is to clean up the continuity. Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade gives us Doctor Doom indirectly causing a genocide and getting a free pass from the “heroes” because the real point is bringing back the Scarlet Witch as a viable heroic character.

I’m not even sure whether any of these should be treated like stories where characters’ actions have ethical implications or emotional consequences. They’re certainly never written as such.

If Peter did kill Norman he should throw him in a volcano and say “You Goblin bastard, you killed my daughter!”

Yeesh. These are some badly plotted comics that didn’t play fair with the reader.

I think many people that are fans of the Pete/MJ marriage are fans of it in theory. Because for whatever reason, most of the comics during the marriage era was some really bad stuff (which probably had to do with the fact that so many writers tried to NOT write TO the marriage, but had to keep circling back to it so Pete didn’t seem like a bad guy).

@JoeMac307
Stuff like that is why JMS was upset with how Quesada wanted to (mis)handle the Mephisto deal.

Nothing actually changes. No, we don’t need an excuse like a linchpin time alteration. No continuity is erased. It is all mind wipes and data erasures. Except the marriage, that doesn’t happen at all. No, none of the rest of history is altered. What do you mean that doesn’t make sense? Oh, and Harry’s alive. Mephisto sneaks that through as an extra penalty for Peter. And Gwen’s alive–why is everyone looking at me funny? Okay, since everyone else objects, Gwen stays dead. Why are you asking all these questions? It’s magic!

Yeah, and the fact that they came up with all of these cockamamie explanations for how each part of it happened separately and that it’s all a big coincidence that they seemed to happen at the same time only makes it worse. Oh, everyone forgetting the identity? That was Dr. Strange, not Mephisto. And Harry? Nah, that was Norman Osborn who did that. It just made the whole thing look even more sloppy and stuck together with chewing gum than if they’d just said, yeah, Mephisto just remade reality with a wave of the editorial hand. It gives the impression that they didn’t have any of this stuff figured out when they made the change, whether or not that’s actually true.

” I’m not even sure whether any of these should be treated like stories where characters’ actions have ethical implications or emotional consequences. They’re certainly never written as such. ”

Good point. It’s probably better that we all pretend this never happened and move on, which thankfully, the books have done (other than jarring moments like in the Marvel Knights Spider-Man).

I was thinking that Superior Spider-man was going to be a loophole that broke the contract between Peter and Mephisto.

@buttler
From what JMS was saying that the time, Quesada appeared to outright oppose figuring out the details. It sounded like Quesada wanted to focus on the future, and that meant sweeping under the rug the details of how that future was achieved. And Quesada didn’t want anything changed, except for the marriage to not have happened, and for Harry to be alive.

JMS came up with an explanation for what happened (a linchpin event change, a very minor alteration in the time line that just happened to have the ripple effect that delivered Quesada’s changes), and Quesada nixed the idea.

But then you bring in other writers to write Spider-Man, and they have their own opinions. So the various elements left flapping free are handled piecemeal. The only thing left untouched was the marriage nullification itself, as that was being saved for Quesada.

Its not really unlike how Marvel has appeared to handle other events. They just don’t seem to have any organization or coordination between employees, and their events are all big picture thinking, without work being spent to establish the supporting structure in advance. Thus we see the mess of Decimation, the mess of Secret Invasion, the mess of Civil War, the ever changing meaning behind “198”, different writers with different ideas of what Scarlet Witch actually did, different writers with different ideas of what House of M was, different ideas of what happened with Spider-Man, etc.

I’d still like a plausible explanation as to how having a child “ages” a character. My daughter was born when I was 27, which is more or less Peter Parker’s “official” age–that’s hardly “old.”

Meanwhile, Marvel has this weird trend of letting certain characters have kids, but only if childhood is completely skipped and we only meet the child as an adult: Legion, Cable, Skaar, Daken….

@Adam, didn’t Franklin Richards grow up from a baby to a toddler to whatever he is now without skipping years (except for the Psi-Lord phase, which didn’t last long and regressed him to a child once it was done)?

@Adam
Except for the eternal kid characters, it is the same trick soap operas used. Character has a kid. You get infant stories for a while. Then the kid ages a few years, and you get some kid stories. Then the kid goes off and comes back as a late teen or adult, and gets his/her own storylines just like everyone else.

It’s kind of funny that Tom DeFalco’s M2 universe is more closely connected to the Spider-Man I grew up with than the actual Spider-Man book.

Dan Slott may be writing a good book, but for all intents and purposes it’s still little more than an on-going “What If…”

Uh, okay, if the baby died in childbirth, where is (she) buried at? Good lord, was the, uh, body just disposed of? That’s awfully grisly.

Eh. I don’t buy it. That baby is still out there. Somewhere. And some day an editor will have the fortitude to hire a writer with the courage and stones to write an epic storyline explaining where she’s been all this time. Wacker’s always priding himself on “taking chances” with stories. Maybe he should go down that road.

I still prefer the Spider-Girl version of the story.

I always believed the baby survived and still do, even if they never touch on it again. I seem to recall a panel in an X-Men family comic during this time that I thought might have been related to the baby nabbing.

The baby should be with the “Gray Goblin” who can use ‘science’ to age her, and train her as a fighter.

I’m a big beleiver in the baby surviving and being kidnapped as well.

But the logic that an unwed Peter and Mary Jane wouldn’t have had a baby does make sense, which in my mind means that because of their deal with the devil that Mephisto got to keep Baby May’s soul. A much bigger prize than Spider-Man’s marriage.

It’s dark and twisted, but it fits.

after reading the bit about mark millar stating yes norman did kill baby may after. all still given how any thing can happen in fiction still have to believe that knowing the green goblin that could be another mind game and if marvel ever lets some writer. that baby may could wind up showing up down the road as a new future spider man foe. for after all norman did clone gwen stacy and peter and also turn some lady into aunt may to croak. so even if norman said yes baby may did die after all. still would not put it past as some plot by marvel as some future plan for spider man.

I thought I was looking at Mjolinir in that last panel of Amazing #418 for a second.

I thought I was looking at Mjolinir in that last panel of Amazing #418 for a second.

That’s partially why I included that page, because that panel made me laugh for that very reason.

What happened to the baby? The answer my friend is “One..More…Day”…..grrrr

@Bill Wanko: The early marriage years were good. It was when higher ups at Marvel started treating the marriage like an abhorrence, with regressive plotlines like the baby murder, MJ being “killed”, and then leaving Peter after being saved because she was too traumatized etc. that things started to go down the drain. But once JMS came on board and had MJ return with “Doomed Affairs”, the marriage stories really began to sparkle. But Quesada was unshakable in his mission and belief, and that’s how we ended up with One More Stinking Day.

Yeah, that’s what sucked so much about the wiping away of the marriage–JMS was actually some good work with it for a while there. It’s a pity that all the good of some of the rest of his run will forever be overshadowed and negated by how it ended.

@buttler: True. And JMS’s refreshing and warm depiction of the marriage also inspired many great Peter and MJ stories like Matt Fraction’s “To Have and To Hold”, Tom Beland’s “I (Heart) Marvel: Web of Romance #1″ and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s “Sensational Spider-Man #32″. But Quesada was having none of it. He had made up his mind.

“Also, did Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz just not draw one of Peter’s feet in the above splash?”

What is it with comic book readers and their obsession with feet?

“Uh, okay, if the baby died in childbirth, where is (she) buried at? Good lord, was the, uh, body just disposed of? That’s awfully grisly.”

Not only that, but would a baby go in the trash or the recycle bin? My green chart makes no mention of babies.

My theory is Baby May is still alive, being raised in secret by Osborn and Miles Warren. Indoctrinated by Osborn, force aged by genetic manipulation, spends every day fighting and killing endless clones of Peter Parker.

So basically she’s Spidey-23? :D

This article forgot to mention the 2009 clone saga. That is the official clone saga now and in that Peter and MJ were married which was strange since OMD happened in 2007 and the baby was born alive but then taken by Jakel, I believe, from the hospital.

The 2009 Clone Saga is not the “official Clone Saga.” It was just DeFalco and Mackie’s version of Claremont’s X-Men Forever (here’s what we WOULD have done).

But Marvel called it the real cone sage though and I could have sworn they said the 2009 series was cannon.

The “real” Clone Saga because it was what DeFalco and Mackie wanted to do. But no, it is not in canon. Ben Reilly, for instance, was alive at the end of the mini-series and he is not alive in the current continuity.

Thing that always bothered me about the “Baby died at birth” idea is, if that’s the case, shouldn’t there still have been a body that needed to be buried? Don’t still borns still get funerals?

Wait, didn’t Spider-man end up with a second kid? Or maybe it was only one? I thought the last time we saw Peter and MJs kid the Jackal was running off into the night with the kid and we haven’t seen her since.

You should check out the Next Avengers Spider-Girl who looks like Peter Parker but with Felicia Hardy’s hair color.

Here is the link:

http://fans.marvel.com/go/thread/view/108222/28064109/?pg=last

http://spidermancrawlspace.com/wwwboard/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4903&start=30

I will assume that she’s the daughter of Peter Parker and Felicia Hardy.

It’s so funny that Marvel not only ‘ships couples, but also shows us what their children would look like.

I would love to see an epic storyline of baby May’s return, also revealing that the OMD, version of Peter and MJ’s relationship was all an illusion by Mephisto and that they are actually married! Somehow, I don’t think I’ll ever see that though.

Wouldn’t it make sense for the superhero who has “everyday problems” to have a kid? I mean, do kids make your life any easier? (Or any less complicated than an elderly Aunt?) And where is it appropriate that you have “great power, great responsibility” than raising a child? The editors who keep wanting to regress Peter Parker have issues, or no grasp on reality.

@M-Wolverine: Marvel is too afraid to let Peter grow up because he happens to be the face of Marvel. It’s strange they never did this to any other character but Spider-Man because Peter is a reflection of their upbringing. They could have let Ben Reilly remain as Spider-Man while allowing Peter and Mary Jane to raise their child in peace. Sooner or later, things will change within Marvel. The people in charge now were influenced by Spider-Man during the 1970’s to the 1980’s. If Dan Slott had his way, he would have undid Peter’s relationship with Felicia Hardy.

As for Mayday, I am sure that she and a few of her other alternate reality timeline adult siblings(Same father(Counterpart) but different mother) will arrive to set things right, which will led to Earth-X where they will all reside.

Such a disastrous mess. Not for a minute do I buy that Peter and MJ wouldn’t be thinking about their daughter for probably ever (I have friends who lost a baby under much less traumatic circumstances and it’s not something you get over easily).
It also annoys me that they seem to think Peter’s situation–how can a father put his life on the line–is something unprecedented. Cops deal with it, soldiers deal with it, Reed and Sue deal with it.
The Astro City story involving Jack-in-the-Box’s kid was partly in response to the spider-baby mess.

[…] I’m pretty sure there was some major outcry, or at least dirty feelings of regret, since Marvel  wrote a bunch of contradictory plot moments over the next several years to try and make us believe that the baby was never stillborn, and just kidnapped. As I type this, I’ve just realized that Comic Book Resources wrote a really in-depth article about those plot twists, so I’ll just link you to that in case you’re really interested. […]

@joemac207 Don’t forget Lance Bannon!

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