Friday, January 18, 2008

One More Time. With Feeling

The weight of the world is on your shoulders, and there is nothing left to do, what do you do?

What would you do, for one more day?

Would you make a deal with the Devil? Or at least, Marvel Comics' version of the Devil?

Spider-man did. He did it. He made a pact with the devil and did the one thing a righteous superhero who believes in "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" would never do. A deal with the devil.

This story was such a paltry excuse to gather new readers and start fresh with the Spider-man mythos, that it takes the cake as being the worst thing to ever happen to Spider-man since the Clone Saga, Chapter One, or even Spider-man 3. It stands as the most disappointing event in comics history, more than likely, and my most disappointing thing or event of 2007 (into early 2008, which we will get into).

The story goes that in 1987 (our time) Peter Parker Spider-man and Mary Jane Watson supermodel were getting married in the daily comic strip that was published in numerous papers around the world. So it goes that Marvel Comics decided that Mary Jane and Peter Parker should get hitched in the regular Marvel universe (for all those that don't know, continuity in the Marvel universe is different from that of the comic strip, which is different from that of the movies, cartoons, and so on and so forth. It can be hard to comprehend, but I believe you'll get it). They wanted the stories to match, so Marvel made a whole event out of the marriage of Spidey and MJ. They got married and went off to Paris and were supposed to live happily ever after.

They didn't.

Because Peter was/is Spider-man, they had problems. Super-villains were always trying to kill Peter, and by proxy, kill Mary Jane and all of his loved ones. She had a job as actress/supermodel so she was leaving to go to LA, France, Luxembourg, wherever to do work so they were always separating for months on end.

Venom came around and nearly broke up the marriage because the black costume made Peter more violent and scared MJ. Numerous changes occurred. Then came the massive one.

The Clone Saga. The Event. The one that was supposed to make Spidey more interesting to kids around the world by wiping out all the pesky backstory of Spidey and bringing in his clone who was really the real deal but was in the end a clone. Ben Reilly became Spider-man for awhile, after being known as the Scarlet Spider and wearing a torn hoody as part of his costume.

People hated it. It was stupid. Peter Parker was Spider-man, not a clone. He married the super-hot model and life was cool.

Leading to One More Day. A storyline revolving around the idea that Peter would do anything to save his Aunt May from certain death from a sniper's bullet which placed her in a coma she would probably never wake from. A storyline wrapping 6 years of stories by one of Spidey's better writers of the last 20 years who made great strides to BRING MARY JANE BACK INTO PETER'S LIFE.

Made great strides to make Peter a more believable character. More human.

6 years of stories including Peter's other great love, Gwen Stacy, giving birth to two children fathered by Norman Osborn (the Green Goblin). Storylines like the Other which made Peter more spider-like and different, storylines which mimicked the films by giving Peter organic webshooters as opposed to the ones he built. Storylines that came out of Marvel's Civil War where Peter makes a bad decision and unmasks in front of the world and reveals his identity to everyone. Now the world knows he's Spider-man and I'm genuinely interested in Spider-man stories again, because his back is to a wall and his life and the lives of his family and friends are on the line.

His aunt gets shot by a bullet meant for him and he goes after the Kingpin, who set up the whole event, to get revenge for this action, all while his aunt is dying.

Now we're here. A story apparently 6 years in the making, where Joe Q of Marvel Comics (the EIC) decided, from day one of his tenure there, that he didn't like the marriage and it closed off a lot of story avenues that used to be huge opportunities to tell stories about a down on his luck superhero who was just like a normal guy.

So they craft this story in which the Devil, Mephisto, offers Peter a way to save his loving aunt, a woman who has been his mother for as long as he can remember. Mary Jane and Peter have to give their so-called perfect marriage and in exchange Mephisto will make the world forget Peter is Spider-man, Peter and MJ will never have married, and all the previous stories that happened and were read by a wide audience still happened but were different because people don't remember he's Peter Parker and he never had a wedding ring on his finger and all the changes made to Spider-man happened but are long gone.

No organic webshooters. No additional spider-like abilities like the pincers that came out in the presence of his Other. None of the major changes stick.

The Devil, who generally makes deals that work more in his favor than others, makes a deal with Spider-man to take away his marriage to a beautiful supermodel in exchange for his aunt who is SUPER-geriatric and for the rest of his life to be like it was prior marriage.

Magic occurs after MJ says let's do it b/c she wants to "Save Peter's soul from the darkness that is surrounding him" and he is in the clear.

No marriage. No alimony needed to be paid. Just years and years of unprotected, pre-marital sex with a woman that wasn't his wife and somehow doesn't know that he's Spider-man after all that time.

That's it. The story was scheduled for the summer of 2007 and was pushed back into October and then November and the last issue hit right before the new year. It was supposed to be a weekly event where 4 issues came out quickly to get the new event, Brand New Day, started.

But it was late. After promise after promise that it would ship timely so that people would know how Marvel Comics destroyed one of their great institutions, it was late.

But that's not the issue. I grew up reading Spider-man when he was married. I grew up with the stories revolving around how his life was better because of the impact MJ brought into it. The fact that he could confide some things with another person was a natural extension of the Spider-mythos being told. He was married and was able to talk to someone who could coddle him, hold him, wrap his bandages and give him the love that the Spider-readers desired for their favorite character.

And it was taken away.

The character who provided him strength on numerous occasions not to jump off the deep end and lose sight of his motto "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" was gone. The character who provided a look into the awe of those around him, those closest to him, is now gone from his life.

The character that many a young woman reader may have slightly felt for because he was always running away and fleeing from them, is now gone.

The one character who was always there for him, just like Aunt May or Uncle Ben, is now gone.

I grew up with a married Spider-man. And then when they released Ultimate Spider-man, I was of the mind that it wouldn't work. And it did. It is an amazing book that features a 15 year old Spidey just starting out but tons of crazy things are happening to him.

I fell in love with the comic Spider-man Loves Mary Jane because it provided a different flavor of their relationship blossoming with them as young people in high school as well, but as a book that revolves around Peter Parker and Mary Jane.

I can't read Amazing Spider-man anymore. A promise was made and I have been let down. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, a motto that scores of people have used as their own life motto because they felt the power of the words. The power of the love that could never falter because it was real.

And now it's gone.

I can't read Amazing Spider-man because the stories that I read and were excited for and spent hard-earned money on have been wiped from the existence. According to Marvel, they still happened and you can still enjoy them, but they are different because they were never married and Peter never unmasked to the world.

I can't read Amazing Spider-man anymore because of the disgust I feel that has been thrown at the fans of the book. When there are numbers of ways to get rid of a character without it being magic or a pact with the devil, they went with the deus ex machina. They could have gotten a divorce. And it would have been huge. And real. For a character they pride on who is set in the real-world as Spider-man is supposed to, getting a divorce would touch on a number of things that have happened to millions of people around the world. There are any number of characters in the Marvel universe who have the power to heal people and Spider-man didn't even turn to the X-men for help.

She could have been a Skrull, part of an alien race sent to infiltrate every corner of the Marvel Universe and take down their pillars, and he is one of pillars, the strongpoints of the Marvel universe. And her being a Skrull WOULD have been a perfect jumping-on point for this summer's major Marvel event. And it would have been exciting.

And the Skrull storyline would have allowed Peter to have the world forget he was Spider-man. With hundreds of thousands of Skrulls inhabiting the Marvel Universe, how hard would it be to make the world think that it was actually a Skrull impersonator who unmasked in front of the world, not me.

There are so many ways this could have gone without a pact with Mephisto. But that is what they chose. And I choose not to read Amazing Spider-man because of it. I feel let down, I feel upset, and I feel like this shouldn't last too terribly long.

But it will probably be for the long haul.


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