There are certain things that I can't get over; certain injuries that just seem to never heal. Hey, that's just life and it can be terribly unfair. I grew up in Boston surrounded by die hard Red Sox fans whom every year had to come to terms with the fact that another year went by and they didn't win the World Series. Well, comic book fans have a similar problem, except we can't say "maybe next year".
My Red Sox is Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man, especially the run from 2001 to 2007 written by Babylon 5 writer J. Michael Straczynski. This was a very important run to me. Those stories were filled with action and adventure but there was such an emotional depth to it. It allowed Peter's world and struggles feel so real that you'd have to be heartless to not cheer him on. Most importantly, and I find this rarely in today's comics, character development.
We actually got to see Peter transform from boyish man to man. Now, it wouldn't be a Spider-Man comic with out seeing him living from check to check and worrying about Aunt May, we still get that. However, we also see Peter returning back to the high school were he was bullied and takes on a teaching career. Aunt May, in a shocking turn, discovers that Peter is in fact Spider-Man...only took her how long?
Besides, the single issue in which he finally confesses his involvement with Uncle Ben's murder was heartbreaking, brutal and touching. The comic always preaches about great responsibility and Peter finally takes responsibility for what happened to Ben. The arc that follows where May learns to trust Peter again is wonderful. I've said it before and I will say it again: Having colorful costumes and big fights is fantastic in a comic, but when the series has the heroes facing real issues then you have something beautiful, a story. A story that keeps me coming back for more and more.
Naturally, Marvel fucked it up with this....
To sum up: Peter is reeling from the events of Civil War. He's revealed his identity, his mentor Iron Man betrays him, and in an act of revenge Kingpin hires an assassin to kill Peter but instead Aunt May is shot in the cross fire. Now I don't mean to belittle these story elements, when I first read about May I was shocked; it was what followed that disturbed me.
Peter and his wife Mary Jane are coming to terms with Aunt May's condition. In an encounter with Mephisto (Marvel's Satan), he provides Peter with an option to restore not only his Aunt but his secret identity. Of course everything comes with a price and that is to sacrifice the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane.
Its been 8 years and I still don't understand the point of all of this. What the hell does one do with a "marriage"? Is Mephisto going to curl up by his pile of burning souls and flip through their wedding album?
This is so unbearably lame. LAME. At the time, then Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada wanted to find a way to make Peter Parker well... still be Peter Parker for the next few decades. Basically its a retcon. He wanted keep him single and living with his aunt and have it be the 1960's again for next few decades. Which again, I don't understand. I guess a character can't be interesting if he's a devoted husband and father. Its severely disappointing to have that element taken away form the comic; it was something that had I loved the most.
It's what separated Spider-Man from the other heroes at the time. Having Mary Jane by his side during the hellish superhero ordeals was interesting and the writing never made her feel like a side kick or worse yet a dreaded refrigerator girl friend. Mary Jane was a character who did stuff and showing how Peter's life impacted her kept the series fresh. It also showed how her life impacted him as well. Actually, Peter is pining over her through most of the series; He is constantly trying to get out of his own way to be reunited with the woman he loves. Years I had to read about them missing each other. When they finally make up and get back together, the devil comes along and messes everything up.
Like I said: some wounds never heal. If you've stayed with me this long in the article then I'm sure you can tell that I'm still very upset about this story and the lack of creativity, respect for the characters and its audience. Just when I think I'm finally able to close that chapter of my life, this happens...
According to Entertainment Weekly, Marvel has announced a new story line to take place during their upcoming Secret Wars event. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS.
What the fucking fuck??
From the article, Spidey writer Dan Slott explains:
“There are legions of Spider-Man fans that are passionate about changes that have happened to Spider-Man continuity,” says Renew Your Vows writer (and current Spidey scribe) Dan Slott. “They are upset that the baby went missing, that the marriage went away. Spider-Man has been around for fifty years, and the marriage was around for twenty-five. So now we’re seven or eight years into a world without a married Spider-Man. It’s a big itch that people want scratched.”
I'm happy that Mr. Slott acknowledges the fact that 1.) We are legion and 2.) That it pissed us off to disrupt years of continuity and by disrupt I mean completely erase. However, this announcement pisses me off because this too will not last. This feels to me more like a Marvel What If? title. Which is funny because the House of Ideas is about to wipe out all that we know for a brand new Marvel Universe.
It's a slap in the face. We finally get the story that we want but it'll be limited and won't matter at all in the end. It basically comes down to the fact that Marvel made a stupid move to retcon a beloved character for no reason, and then years later they're going to have another retcon that shows us where Peter would be in life, and then retcon it again. I'm kinda bad at math but that's 3 retcons. Good grief.
I would have loved to have Marvel recognize that the One More Day storyline was stupid (I know I'm wishing for the impossible). Have the spell or the "deal" made with Mephisto begin to fade and Peter and MJ start to remember what life was like before. They would also remember May and Harry's death (spoiler the deceased Harry Osborn was resurrected as a bonus. It was a limited time offer made by Mephisto so Peter had to jump at the chance). That would present some interesting psychological drama for the couple and they can slowly try to rebuild the life that they once had. And what if slowly the world began to remember who Peter was? Maybe Matt Murdock a.k.a Daredevil could help him with that transition...
Meanwhile in hell, the devil is loosing his shit because he can't flip through the photo album anymore and wants some revenge. Why would the spell be fading?
I know it's lame but I'm a softy. Think about it though: MJ and Peter have been through so much and what kept them together even when they were apart was love. I just don't believe that that energy, that bond would not survive such a deal or rather ordeal, especially when they made that deal for the love of Aunt May!
The retcon felt like a betrayal. It was Marvel saying: "Hey, all your loyal years of reading our comics didn't happen. Spending all your hard earned money making memories with your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man doesn't matter. You don't matter."
Now they're going to bring back the Peter and MJ that we lost only to take them away again. It is cruel. Marvel is like a high school Flash Thompson in this regard.
Maybe next year. Maybe next year I'll have a solid story not riddled with retcons. Either way, we'll see what happens this May in Marvel's Secret Wars and The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows.