Spidember: One More day and writing backwards.

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Spider-man One More Day: a bitter thorn in the side of every Spidey fan. Source: http://comicbookdb.com/issue.php?ID=115394

I love superhero comics. Watching heroes save the day and live their drama-filled lives always proves entertaining for a read. In particular, I have a keen fascination with the way that superhero comic books tell their stories. The works are immensely serialised in nature, mixing high-stakes action and soap opera drama. The stories are presented in a way that they go on indefinitely, month to month or even week to week with new plots arising and characters changing and shifting, constantly evolving in a sprawling labyrinth of narrative. It sounds crazy but the only limits to storytelling of this kind are the realms of imagination and the quality of the artwork.

However, most comics serialised in this way fall into the same problem after a while. The TV Tropes page calls this problem: ‘Status Quo is God’, but I refer to the idea as ‘writing in circles’ or ‘writing backwards’. You see, the main flaw with such long running narratives is that it’s very possible to get left behind and buried under the weight of the sheer continuity of such a series. New readers can be intimidated by long sprawling stories and old readers might drop off when writers shift, struggling to keep up with a new status quo. People want to know where a jumping on point is and aren’t willing to start a series half-way through because they’ll be thrown into a situation they might not understand.

The main solution to this used by a lot of comic companies, particularly Marvel and DC, is to create a default notion of an unalterable status quo. For example, Batman will always have an Alfred, the Bat-Cave, the mansion, a variation of Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl on his team, his feud with the Joker, etc. With these default state of the world features locked in, readers are free to come and go, jumping on for single story-lines with an already easily established basic knowledge of what to expect of the main character’s situation, without needing heavy pieces of backstory to understand every little detail of these character’s pasts.

Now, this approach comes with an unfortunate side effect. In order to keep the idea of a generic status quo, superheroes are rarely allowed to advance in personal growth beyond the standard state of their dynamic and their interpersonal relationships usually progress and regress over time. A recent example of this was in DC’s Batman (spoilers for you that haven’t been reading the latest ‘Rebirth’ run). Admittedly, the most recent Batman feature I’ve read fully is the Court of Owls storyline by Writer Scott Snyder, who I have many mixed feelings about writing-wise, and Grey Capulo, but the recent run on Batman has sounded spectacular. Tom King seems to be doing great at the helm as writer, and though I can’t say for sure about the quality of his work, one of his most recent storylines has caused a bit of ire within the fandom. After a story arc called ‘The War of Jokes and Riddles’, Batman asked longtime villain/romantic interest Catwoman to marry him. And, for a good several issues, that seemed to be exactly what was going to happen. The two spent romantic nights together and went fighting crime as a couple. Bruce even introduced Selina to his BFF Superman, so that’s how you know it was getting serious.

Sadly, lo and behold, when Issue 50 dropped a few weeks ago, fans were not met with a new dynamic and interesting stories, but instead were jilted at the altar as the wedding fell through. Catwoman was turned away from Batman when she considered the possibility that Batman can never be happy, and thus leaves Gotham to ensure his continued revenge spree on crime. This, it turned out, was a plan from Bane and other Batman Rogues to break their nemesis once and for all.

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Batman #50: Proof that it’s not just Spider-man who faces difficulties with marriage. Issue 50 cover owned by DC, image taken from Newsarama.com.

I actually have read Issue 50 in preparation for talking about it here, and can confirm it is actually an amazingly done issue. There’s so many different artists all pulled together into one great book and King manages to pull off the confession letter of Selina’s love and revealed rejection with a subtle excellence that it really doesn’t deserve.

Because it doesn’t deserve it.

This whole event is a prime example of why I hate comic-book storytelling like this. Here, the writer had a new idea to propel the characters to new heights, exploring the depth and dynamic of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship and advancing the characters from the normal status quo. Of course, the storyline was aborted, because Batman has an established persona as part of his status quo. Despite his army of young children he raised to fight crime and his harem of love interests across the years, Batman himself is portrayed as a lone crusader, an eternal bachelor. Marrying Catwoman, sadly, goes against all of that. It’s unclear whether it was King’s decision to ultimately end the plotline or an editioral one, but I do expect it was the latter. From an editor’s standpoint, making an event out of the marriage meant that everyone bought the comic even though Batman didn’t manage to tie the knot, and therefore, didn’t have to change anything about the established dynamic. It seems to have worked, as well, considering Batman #50 had at least 21 guest artists drawing the covers, including legendary artist Jim Lee, whose pencil work is phenomenal (if people want to see his art in a great Batman comic, Hush. Warning though, spoilers for that are featured below). In the end, the Wedding event was ultimately just a disappointing experience, to fans and newcomers alike. From my point of view, at least, it certainly killed any of my urge to read any more Batman comics from the recent run.

What is probably the worst sin of this kind of status quo storytelling is something else entirely however.

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Batman Son of the Demon, proof that it’s not just Spider-man who has problems with his child being kidnapped. Source: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0930289250/sr=8-1/qid=1146333139/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-1102887-6176640?%5Fencoding=UTF8

We have already seen this kind of story.

In Batman: Son of the Demon, Batman asks long-time villain/romantic interest Talia Al Ghul to marry him. She does and the two even concieve a child. Talia, however, has the marriage dissolved and lies to Batman that the child died in a miscarriage because she realises it makes Batman happy and that’s something Batman can never be.

But it’s worse than that.

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Batman: Hush, proof that it’s not just Spider-man who can have an awesome limited series written by Jeph Loeb (Spider-man Blue people, read it.). Image taken from the DC Database.

We have already seen this kind of story twice.

In Batman: Hush, Batman starts a relationship with long-time villain/romantic interest Cat-woman. The two get closer, even to the point of exchanging secret identities. In the end, a complex plot involving Batman’s worst enemies leads to Batman ending their relationship and Catwoman fleeing Gotham.

Does that all sound at least big familiar?

This is the main flaw of comic-book storytelling, the cyclical nature of development. No character ever truly develops or grows because they always have to remain what their default status quo is. Seriously, look into the history of every superhero and you’ll see for every big change in their mythos, everything gets changed back to normal sooner or later. I feel I shouldn’t have to explain why this is bad because the reasoning is simple. It is disrespectful to ask a reader to care about a character when nothing of value is going to be produced from a story-line. Granted, this isn’t always the case with every story-line but it happens frequently enough to be a major issue in comics as a whole and a huge sticking point in my enjoyment of the media.

Now, what you must be thinking right now is ‘why has a post about Spider-man rambling all about Status Quo and Batman?’.

The answer is simple.

Hearing about Batman’s cancelled romance and his return to his default status quo reminded me of my least favourite moment in Spider-man history, a moment which has darkened every story that has come after it and ultimately has shaped the Spidey mythos in most recent years. But, to set up for all of that, I felt I needed to explain to you my frustration and showcase the problem with this style of comic-book writing itself before plunging into the topic of today’s Spidember segment.

This is One More Day: Writing Backwards, and I’m going to talk about what might be the worst Spider-man comic that has ever existed.

But first, some set-up

Mary Jane Watson; The Jackpot.

When I first got into Spider-man, I mostly got involved in the series by playing the video games. Spider-man 2: Enter Electro was a fun ride, but it was ultimately Spider-man 1 for the PS1 that pulled me fully into the world. It was the first time I got to meet characters like Venom, Doc Ock and, the main focus of this post: Mary Jane Watson. I remember playing the game and being shocked when Spider-man referred to M.J as his ‘wife’. It was some simple dialogue delivered strongly by Spidey’s voice actor: Rino Romano, but it was enough to establish in my mind that whoever this Mary Jane woman was, Peter loved her with every fibre of his being and would chase Venom into the very depths of New York’s sewer system to get her back.

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Mary Jane from the 90’s Animated series, an odd blend of girl next door and party girl that somehow really worked. Image from Spider-man (1994), https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17032437

In the months and years that passed, I began to see Mary Jane in more Spider-man related material. Kirsten Dunce played her in the Sam Raimi movies, Mary Jane appeared in both the animated Spider-man 90’s series and the 2000’s Spider-man animated series and, of course, she was Spider-man’s wife in the Astonishing Spider-man I started reading and became his girlfriend in Ultimate Spider-man. (Really quickly, that 2001 Animated Spider-man is so good, SUPER dark and I recommend it to anyone who wants a different type of Spider-man series, but one really in-tune with the original Spider-man dynamic. Plus, Peter is played by Neil Patrick Harris! It’s amazing!).

With each meeting, I learned more about M.J and learned more of her relationship with Spidey and, like many other readers, fell in love with the character. For the sake of this post, here’s some history:

Mary Jane Watson was teased for years before she finally arrived on Spider-man’s panels. Aunt May was constantly trying to set Peter up with their neighbour’s niece since Amazing Spider-man #15. Being far more interested in other things, like not letting the city get over-run by super-villains, Peter managed to avoid them meeting, until they finally went on a blind-date at the end of Amazing Spider-man #42. Quick note: Stan Lee asked the artist at the time, John Romita Sr, to draw the most beautiful woman he could imagine for the reveal of Mary Jane’s face. And, of course, Mary Jane entered with her well-known catchphrase: face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot.

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If this doesn’t scream ‘how I met your mother’, then there’s really nothing I can do to help you. Art by John Romita SR, Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1573400

Mary Jane, admittedly, didn’t have the best of beginnings. Their blind-date went well, though Peter was eventually pulled away from her towards his relationship with Gwen. Mary Jane and Gwen were the first great love interests of Spider-man and arguably, there haven’t been as compelling love interests since. Gwen was the girl next door, whilst Mary Jane, designed to be her rival, was a party girl. It was like Peter had his own Betty and Veronica love triangle. Despite falling out of their relationship, Peter and Mary Jane remained close friends, even when Mary Jane moved on and began to date Peter’s housemate and walking Daddy Issues’ man-child, Harry Osborn. Sadly, Mary Jane really didn’t fancy being tied down in a relationship for long and left Harry, leading him turning to drugs and leading Norman Osborn to becoming the Green Goblin once more. Despite these struggles, Peter and MJ remained close, despite her party girl persona. There was a steady status quo and everything seemed good.

Then, in Amazing Spider-man #121, Gwen Stacy was killed and the Silver Age of Comic Books died with her. However, Gwen’s death marked another strong turning point, this one for Mary Jane and Peter’s relationship. After Gwen’s passing, Mary Jane tries to pull Peter from his despair only for Peter to rail against her and her care-free attitude, even commenting that MJ wouldn’t care if her own mother had died. Hurt, Mary Jane goes to leave…and in three panels that would change the fate of their relationship forever, she closes the door and turns back to Peter, unwilling to leave her friend in such a state.

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How to make a ship in three panels with one sound effect. Beautiful minimalism at its finest. Art by John Romita Sr, source: https://comicvine.gamespot.com/mary-jane/4005-13380/.

The truth was the writers of Spider-man planned for Gwen to be Peter’s true love but the more they featured M.J, the more they appreciated not just how attractive she was but also what a fun character she was compared to Gwen. Gwen was a simple sweet girl, but M.J was funny, fiery, opinionated, passionate and overall, just more interesting. She was just more human than Gwen’s ideal romantic character. With this in mind, Spider-man’s romantic focus shifted yet again.

After many issues of trying to help build Peter back up, Peter realised the truth. He was in love once again, this time with Mary Jane. Of course, true love never did run smoothly, so the pair’s romance started and stalled a lot. The two dated a long time for several stretches before Spider-man duties pulled Peter away. He even asked her to marry him several times but M.J refused whenever it was brought up. She was, after all, still a party girl at heart.

Or…so we all thought…

Amazing Spider-man #257 dropped the biggest bomb in the pair’s ‘will they, won’t they’ dynamic. Mary Jane reveals to Peter she’s known for years that he’s been Spider-man and, finally, she fully opens up to him about her feelings. #258 and #259 flipped everything on its head and fleshed out Mary Jane far more than, honestly, a lot of leading ladies in other media get. Saddled with an abusive alcoholic father and a troubled home-life, Mary Jane adopted her party lifestyle to hide from the pain, even moving in with her Aunt Anna to escape. Her parent’s troubled relationship was exactly why she didn’t want to be tied down: fearing a loveless marriage.

Peter was still head over heels and though M.J loved him back, there was still a buffer present between the two: the idea of their marriage being an unhappy one that would fizzle out. It was a main source of drama and tension between the two friends/lovers for a span of issues. Then, finally, in Spider-man #292, the unthinkable happened.

Mary Jane said yes.

In the comics, this was mainly out of a growing development between M.J reconciling with her family, working out a lot of internal struggle and ultimately coming to terms with her feelings for Peter. It happen in a span of a few issues and might have seemed randomly quick at the time, but this was based on a relationship several years in the making by now. On an editorial side, the reason was a different one entirely. Stan Lee had been writing the Spider-man Newspaper strip and wanted to marry the two. When he suggested the idea to the head of Marvel comics at the time, he agreed and the two events were synced up. The two officially married in Amazing Spider-man Annual #21 in 1987.

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A moment in time and how it all fell apart. Art by John Romita Jr. Source: https://comicvine.gamespot.com/the-amazing-spider-man-annual-21-the-wedding/4000-27607/

And, for twenty years afterwards, the two remained married, with MJ always there to support Peter through all of his struggles as Spider-man and him there to help her in turn. True, it wasn’t always plain sailing. There were stalkers, monsters and other forces threatening to tear the two apart, but despite miscarriages and marriage problems, the two remained together and became one of the most iconic couples in comic-books, if not all of fiction.

The Failure of the Old Parker Luck

However, all was not as perfect as it seemed behind the scenes.

Remember how this blog all started with the people at DC cancelling Batman and Catwoman’s wedding for fear of breaking the status quo? Well, the Marvel Executives had done just that. Peter Parker was now a married man. The bumper annual of the wedding sold well, but the editorial staff soon realised they had written themselves into an unfortunate corner.

You see, there’s a concept in Spider-man called ‘The Old Parker Luck’. The premise of it is simple: Peter messes up. A lot. Being Spider-man isn’t good, it’s painful and hard and bitter. The struggle is the main central conflict of the entire comic. Now, however, all of a sudden, Peter was married to a beautiful supportive woman who loved and cared about him. Oh, and was also a model, so that didn’t help with the whole ‘relatable’ aspect either. No matter how much Peter got things wrong, he and M.J were always still together supporting one another. The old Spider-man dynamic was broken, in some people’s minds. And, in those same people’s minds, it needed fixing, which meant finding a way of removing Mary Jane from the equation, instead of working on a new dynamic for the series.

Remember all those details about stalkers and monsters I brought up earlier? Most of those plotlines were constructed for the Spider-man canon, not just to cause drama, but also to find a definitive way of resetting the status quo, of removing Mary Jane from her position as Spider-man’s wife. Mary Jane was kidnapped, killed off in air-plane crash and even left Peter for a time when strains on their marriage started to show, solely because the Marvel editorial team desperately wanted a return to normal for the comic-book they had read growing up.

The desire to remove Mary Jane from the Spider-man equation even led to the creation of the most convoluted event in Spider-man history: the Clone Saga. In the 90’s, the success of DC’s ‘Death of Superman’ and ‘Knightfall’ made Marvel want to invent their own event which would allow them to compete. The result was reviving an old clone of Spider-man from Amazing Spider-man #149, by the name of Ben Reilly. Ben would return, take up the mantle of Spider-man, and ultimately allow Peter to settle down with Mary Jane and start a new life. It seemed the easy way to fix the Mary Jane problem: just to write Peter out of the Spider-man role, considering removing Mary Jane was proving difficult, and have Ben become the new Spider-Man. It was a simple back to basics idea which gave Peter a happy ending and inserted a new character into the Spider-man role.

Only things didn’t go as smoothly as expected.

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‘Epic’ is a word used to describe the Clone Saga. Convoluted is another. Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9005251-the-amazing-spider-man

The Clone Sage story-line asserted that the Peter Parker the readers had been following for over the past twenty plus years was, in fact, a clone and Ben was the real true Spider-man, in an effort to make the transition between the characters easier. It backfired, and though Ben was well-liked by readers, the fact he was the ‘real Spider-man’ sabotaged the entire event and fans demanded Peter be returned to the role of Spider-man. The executives panicked, Marvel already on the edge of bankruptcy, and expanded the arc long past the point of enjoyment and ultimately ending with a hardcore destruction of all they had made. Ben Reilly was killed off, Peter re-assumed the mantle of Spider-man, and Mary Jane was reported to have had a mis-carriage. And all of it, especially the stealing of Peter and Mary Jane’s unborn daughter, was a plot arranged by the recently revived Norman Osborn, a reveal considered taboo by some hardcore Spider-man fans considering the character’s death several hundred issues prior.

For long after that, Marvel continued to try to tear Mary Jane away from Peter. As a reader of the comics at this time, I was still incredibly engrossed in the drama, rooting for Peter and Mary Jane to make up and get together and admittedly, the two struggling to reconcile their marriage made from some of the best stories I can still remember, such as ‘Doomed Affairs’, scripted by the Amazing J. Michael Straczynski and drawn by John Romita Jr. Eventually, the two did reconcile and it seemed, for a time, that the two would get their happy ending.

But it was not to be.

Finally, Joe Quesada, the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel comics at the time, revealed his plan to remove the marriage between Peter and Mary Jane in the Spider-man story-line: One More Day.

Dealing with the Devil

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Finally, we’re here, to the travesty of an issue I wanted to talk about. Artwork by Joe Quesada, source: https://comicvine.gamespot.com/one-more-day/4045-49939/

One More Day is a Spider-man crossover series produced in 2007, written by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada, with art by the latter. The event follows on from Marvel’s Civil War. In support of Tony Stark, Peter revealed his identity in issue #2 of the Civil War, before realising he has made a mistake after Tony Stark and Reed Richards unveil they cloned Thor and the clone kills the hero, Goliath, in an attempt to gain control over the other side of the Civil War (truly, another fine example of how Mr Fantastic is a horrible human being). Spidey switches back to Cap’s side with the support of his family, but now lacks the support of the government to protect him from villains. Whilst fleeing from the authorities, the Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk, arranges for his old enemy to be assassinated. The attempt is made but, instead, it is Aunt May that gets shot and bleeds out.

Broken and in despair from Aunt May’s death, Peter travels to every corner of the Marvel universe to find a way to save her from death. Somehow, in a universe with literal Gods and beings so powerful they might as well be called such, no-one is capable of reviving an old woman from a gun-shot wound. Not even Doctor Strange, whose magic can help erase the memory of Peter’s identity as Spider-man from everyone on the planet, engage a psychic link which stops anyone realising Peter is Spider-man AND splits up Peter’s consciousness, allowing him access every corner of the multi-verse at once in order to find someone who can bring his Aunt back to live…but can’t revive an elderly woman.

For those of you already in shock, it gets worse.

Frustrated, Peter contacts his Aunt’s spirit to encourage her to return to him. However, Aunt May informs him that she’s happy, content to be reunited with Ben on the other side and wants Peter to make the most of his life with Mary Jane in the real world, to live and to grow and to love.

And, in a sequence which ultimately destroys any character development that Spider-man has had over the past forty-five years up until this point, Peter refuses to accept her dying wish, demands her spirit to return to him because he can’t face the world without her and, later, when all hope is lost, he approaches Mephisto for a solution. Technically, Mephisto approaches Peter, but it’s still pretty bad that Spider-man is taking advice and dealing with the literal Devil of the Marvel universe. Peter then agrees to makes a deal with Mephisto to revive Aunt May. And what does Mephisto want in return?

His marriage to Mary Jane.

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…I want a better comic than this. By Joe Quesada, from One More Day #4. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21664514

This is, quite honestly, the most stupid and insulting thing I have ever read or seen in any narrative I have experienced. I’ve glossed over most of the storyline because, honestly, it’s actually kind of painful to go into detail. There’s a lot of back-handed compliments about the comic industry and its fans and the events are so contrived to arrange for a state like this to come about.

Firstly, did no-one realise how horrible this idea was? Spider-Man made a deal with the literal Devil, with an actual fiend from hell, in exchange for getting his wife back. Did no-one consider not only how much it ruins Peter’s noble streak as a character, but how it negatively impacts on his relationship with Aunt May by directly refusing her wishes to bring her back?

Secondly, how can no-one, not even the Sorcerer Supreme, Galactus or Greatest Super Villain and Iron Man cosplayer extraordinaire, Doctor Doom, can heal an old woman that has been shot by a gun? Not even a fancy atom gun that that blasted Reed Richards might cook up, literally a normal average gun? Doom’s been to hell before! Galactus is an eternal force in the Marvel Universe. Surely, one of them could help in exchange for some deal that doesn’t involve Spidey making a contract with, again, the literal devil.

Thirdly, how actually stupid and non-threatening is Mephisto after this whole encounter? He doesn’t ask for Peter’s love, he doesn’t ask for his soul or any other Faustian bargain that might lead to a future conquest of Earth. Mephisto just wants their marriage certificate ripped up, essentially. Equal payment for bringing an old woman back from a gun-shot wound, I suppose.

And, finally, even from someone who likes Mary Jane and her relationship to Peter, there were a million better ways to do this that what we got. I decry writing backwards in comics, but any other decision would have been better than the Devil bringing back Aunt May and stealing a marriage. The romance isn’t even shown in a compelling way. Mary Jane agrees to sell their marriage instead of pointing out ‘hold on Tiger, this is the devil maybe we should take a moment on this’ (yeah, I’m still not over the whole devil thing). Their pair’s final moment together is also pathetically done. No grand gestures of love, or details of their last day spent together. Just a cut to an empty apartment and the two leaving each other with a lack of earnest writing.

As one might be able to guess, this issue did not go over well with fans. Even the creative team at Marvel seemed pretty split on the decision. J. Michael Straczynski wanted his name struck from the final two issues because he disagreed so vehemently on the approach. Quesada persuaded him not to cause a problem for Marvel by turning more aggression against them, so his name remains. However, considering Straczynski’s brilliant run on Spider-man and his love of M.J and Peter as a pairing, it’s obvious where the blame falls here. Joe Quesada himself. Quesada’s own personal reason for involvement on the project was that he felt that characters being married aged them and make them inexcessable to younger readers. Quesada hated the idea of the marriage, judging it as an editorial decision that ended in one big cash in, and sought to reverse the effect in a way that wouldn’t result in a divorce. Quesada even said he saw the story as a romantic story, about two people putting aside their love to save a human life and how compelling a story like that is. Then again, Quesada was also the man who said that getting rid of the M.J and Peter’s wedding with a big old retcon was ‘really not the way we do it here at Marvel’.

All in all, the approach ultimately doesn’t justify the events of One More Day.

I’ve read poor plots, I’ve experienced horrible scenes of acting in movies but I have never experienced something that actively destroyed almost half a century of storytelling and ruined character development for a fictional icon who has meant so much to me in a matter of seconds.

I shouldn’t have to explain why Spider-man, arguably the most famous hero of all time, making a deal with a devil is a bad idea, why him refusing the fact that his Aunt May was at peace is a level of selfishness even above Peter Parker’s worse moments as a human being.

One More Day not only dissolved Spider-man’s marriage to Mary Jane, it has also destroyed a large portion of respect I have personally held for the character and still stands in my mind today as one of the worst stories I’ve ever read, in comic-books or in any other form of media.

It is the worst example I have ever seen of ‘writing backwards’ in comic books.

What now?

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The show must go on. Artwork by Steve Mcniven, source: http://spiderman.wikia.com/wiki/Brand_New_Day

Spider-man has, obviously, continued. There have been more story arcs, new developments and the story continued from a fresh new point after the event, starting a new story-line called ‘Brand New Day’. Whilst I absolutely hate One More Day, the results of Brand New Day were at least interesting and some of the story arcs following the retconned wedding have been decent. I’m a big fan of the storyline ‘New Ways to Die’ that introduces Anti-Venom, though I admit the writer for that and the past ten years of Amazing Spider-man, Dan Slott, can be fairly hit and miss. Throughout Slott’s run, Peter has had a few love interests here and there, but Mary Jane was kept a severe distance from the plot, leaving the cast at the start of the ‘Brand New Day’ event, after a breakdown in her relationship with Peter. Though she did feature from time to time and romance, it ultimately proved fruitless and the two were not brought together in Slott’s run.

Mary Jane has appeared in a few Spider-man stories after the deal with Mephisto, and each of her appearances are just as hollow as one might expect. She’s since moved on to become Iron Man’s secretary and has moved away from the Spider-man cast. Whilst I’m glad Mary Jane is still out there, doing new things with different heroes, it feels wrong that she’s so far away from her one true love. Especially since, that part has definitely not changed. The problem with accidentally writing your superhero’s perfect soul-mate is that no other love interest is good enough. Carlie Cooper is a character I only remember because Quesada named her after his daughter and Black Cat has since left Spider-man for a Daredevil fling.

Recently, things seem to be looking up for our web-swinging hero, as apparently Mary Jane and Peter are dating again in Nick Spencer’s new run of the series, which has me interested in picking it up again, though we’ll have to wait to see how things actually pan out for their relationship in the future.

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Just in case you actually forgot how good this romance was, here’s one of the sweetest scenes in it from Amazing Spider-man #50, artwork by John Romita, source: https://www.universdescomics.com/2017/10/02/dans-les-coulisses-john-romita-jr/e0248b42a0520ea1dfade3170d09d334-john-romita-jr-marvel-vs/

Ultimately, One More Day is a story-line I hate for a lot of reasons. Mainly, I hate it because it represents everything wrong with comic-book storytelling: reverting to the status quo, an inability to adapt and try new things and reducing great characters as a result. This, everything that has been listed about One More Day on this post, is writing backwards, not writing forwards. It’s a poisonous road that drowns readers in nostalgia and hopes they enjoy without any solid reinforcements to the main plot beyond the superficial.

In all honesty, though, I’m glad I’ve written this. I’ve been angry at One More Day for so many years and it feels good to have a rant about it, even though I know a lot of other sources have already had a good go as well. But more than that, it’s also reminded me of the better times that came before it. It reminded me how much I love Mary Jane and her relationship with Peter, how the two of them are not just adorable and good together but, genuinely, good characters who fit well. It’s also given me some time to think about the ideal Spider-man comic I’ve always really wanted.

Considering how Mary Jane was written out of the Spider-man mythos, I would love to see a run of comics that allow the character to grow along with Peter, to take the next step of their journey. The pair going on into parenthood, the trials and tribulations they might possess and, ultimately, developing the Spider-man formula, whilst still keeping the heart of what this series is all about.

If only there were a comic like that…

Oh wait, there is.

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Spider-Man Renew your Vows: where fan-fiction and main-stream comics meet in perfect harmony. Artwork by Ryan Stegman, source: http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Amazing_Spider-Man:_Renew_Your_Vows_Vol_2_1

Which is why next week, I’m going to be talking about my favourite Spider-man comic in recent years: Renew Your Vows, a stunning mini-series turned actual full running series following Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson-Parker and their daughter, Annie, and their double lives as Spider-man, Spinerette and Spider-ling. That’s it for this segment. I hope you’ve enjoyed my passionate ramblings on Spider-man and remember kids, don’t sell your marriage to the devil.

It’s a really stupid idea.

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