Spider-Man, One Dumb Day
When the writer of your big event wants his name disassociated with the final two issues that cap it all off, that’s half a hint for your ass that your big event is a rich full fucking waster, especially if said writer is J. Michael Straczynski:
In the current storyline, there’s a lot that I don’t agree with, and I made this very clear to everybody within shouting distance at Marvel, especially Joe. I’ll be honest: there was a point where I made the decision, and told Joe, that I was going to take my name off the last two issues of the OMD arc. Eventually Joe talked me out of that decision because at the end of the day, I don’t want to sabotage Joe or Marvel, and I have a lot of respect for both of those. As an executive producer as well as a writer, I’ve sometimes had to insist that my writers make changes that they did not want to make, often loudly so. They were sure I was wrong. Mostly I was right. Sometimes I was wrong. But whoever sits in the editor’s chair, or the executive producer’s chair, wears the pointy hat of authority, and as Dave Sim once noted, you can’t argue with a pointy hat.
I doubt very much that Joe Q’s intent is to sabotage Spider-man or pull a fast one on loyal readers. He genuinely believes that he’s doing the right thing, that a married Spider-Man drives readers away from the character, that he’s too old in his pre-One More Day incarnation for younger audiences to relate to, that it’s time for a change. Occasional Superheroine posted a wonderful analysis of One More Day. Her discussion is framed around the merits of rebooting versus generational succession to inject new life into a character. Certainly, long standing franchises like Spider-Man can use a booster shot now and then.
Suspension of disbelief is standard fare for comic book fans. We take for granted that a radio-active spider bite can give you super human strength, that gamma rays can bring out the great hulking beast within us, that a cosmic destroyer of worlds can poses your wife and drive her mad with power. These are our truths and we hold them most dearly. But even our suspension of disbelief has limits. When our characters act in unfamiliar ways, we know there’s something wrong. Batman cowers in a corner? Got to be that damn Scarecrow mist again. Hal Jordan starts killing Lanterns and stealing their rings all over again? Must be that Paralax thing for the umpteenth time. Spider-Man makes a deal with the devil to save his aunt and looses MJ? Um… WHAT?!
One More Day portrays a Peter Parker that is unfamiliar to us. The Peter Parker we know is a borderline genius. He’s strong, sure. He can walk on walls, yes. Spider sense detects when shit is about to go down, no doubt. But it’s his keen mind and quit whit that always saves him in the end. He’s a thinker, an intellectual. Surely he would know that no good could come from making a deal with the Devil.
Yes, yes, we all know Aunt May basically raised Pete and is more like a mom. But she’s getting on in years and has had a pretty long life (second life really. She died once). If the shooter’s bullet didn’t catch her, old age surely would have. Besides, May would slap the taste out of Pete’s mouth if she knew he was even thinking about making a deal with the Devil. His happiness is the most important thing in the world to her. Damn straight she’d rather pass on than to see Pete throw away his joy.
It would almost make more sense for MJ to be in the hospital. To save her life, he must sacrifice their marriage. That would have the bitter sweet taste we’ve come to know and love with Spider-Man stories. Save the woman you love and yet never be with her again.
The D Word
Peter’s choice is uncharacteristic and unfamiliar which is the chief reason One More Day reeks of sales gimmick.
If you want to end Peter’s marriage, there’s a solution that would make sense.
Instead of fabricating some convoluted cosmic deal with plenty of loopholes for future writers to exploit, why not use a slightly more mundane but completely realistic event. There’s no doubt in my mind that Mary Jane loves Peter Parker with all her heart. There’s also no doubt in my mind that staying awake waiting for him to come home night after night would drive her absolutely mad. Couples have divorced over far less. It’s not hard to imagine that one more night might just be one too many.
Instead of rebooting and starting over, let the characters grow. From personal experience, divorce is a fairly decent chapter marker. It marks a fundamental change in the way we relate to others. It shakes up your personal perceptions of the world around you. That’s the kind of character struggle we expect to experience along with Peter Parker. A straight reboot robs Peter and us of that exploration.
Marvel’s Ultimate line was intended to attract newer, younger readers and from what I remember of the initial numbers, Ultimate titles initially sold extremely well. Now it seems like Joe Quesada wants to do the same with the regular lineup.
Thing is, the only ones who remember Peter way back before MJ are us old farts. And this certainly won’t bring us back. Nor do I think it will attract new readers. Comics are bogged down in continuity. And even this reboot will have the stench of continuity. Peter will be all emo about losing MJ and a new reader will be thinking, but wait, didn’t he get back together with her in the movie? Then someone is going to have to explain One More Day and Another Day and Half a Day and Day by Day to them and by then they’ve fainted and will seize any time they see another comic book.
Congratulations. You’ve managed to piss off old fans and create a quagmire of continuity that’ll confuse new fans. Sounds like a winner to me.