The First Post of a New Year

I realize I haven’t posted much here in the last couple months and to be perfectly honest, it’s because I’ve been lazy. But that changes now, as I’ve read a comic story so mind numbingly awful that I simply must write down my thoughts about it if only to get them out of my head so I don’t get a tumor. So let’s begin the first installment of:

Ten Reasons “One More Day” Is the Worst Spider-Man Story Ever

For those you who might not know, “One More Day” is the story of Peter Parker and his wife Mary Jane desperately looking for a way to save the life of Aunt May, who is at death’s door after taking a bullet from an assassin sent after Peter, a direct result of him publicly revealing himself to be Spider-Man. Exhausting every possible option, Peter and MJ ultimately make a deal with Mephisto (Marvel’s version of the devil) to save May’s life. The catch is, Mephisto wants their marriage as payment. Phisty waves his pointy red hand and undoes the last twenty-some-odd years of Spider-Man continuity. Peter is single, living with Aunt May in Queens, his secret identity is once again intact, his organic webshooters are gone and his former best friend Harry Osbourne is back from the dead.

I honestly don’t care if I spoiled it for anyone. If I did, I see it as me doing you a favor. This story is so fundamentally flawed it’s ridiculous. I tried to sit down and write out how I felt about it in one concise entry but I couldn’t. There was simply too much to complain about. So with out further ado, here’s number ten…

#10 – Joe Quesada Said This Kind of Thing Wouldn’t Happen

In the late spring of 2006 the second issue of Marvel Comic’s Civil War series hit the newsstands. This wasn’t just another installment of what would turn out to be a landmark series for the company, this particular issue contained a huge event for what most would say is the company’s flagship character. At a press conference held by Tony Stark, Spider-Man took off his mask and told the world that his name was Peter Parker.

This was arguably the biggest event in the character’s 45-year history. The story garnered national media attention. Here’s an excerpt from a Los Angeles Times interview with Marvel Editor-In-Chief, Joe Quesada on the subject:

“It can be very intimidating if you don’t know where the story is going or how it ends; we do, so we’re just excited about where it takes us and the story possibilities it offers,” Joe Quesada, Marvel’s editor-in-chief, said Wednesday.

So they were excited about the possible story ideas? So was I honestly. There were forty-five year’s worth of Spider-Man secret identity stories on the books and it was exciting to think where they could go without it. Where did they go? Let’s see…since the unmasking there was “Back In Black” that ran thru Amazing Spider-Man, “The Lethal Foes of Peter Parker” and a Mr. Hyde story in Sensational Spider-Man, and something Peter David wrote about a crazy lady made of spiders over in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Not a lot in my opinion and the only things that really capitalized on the potential of the unmasking was “Back In Black” and a one-off issue of Friendly Neighborhood that featured a confrontation between Peter and J. Jonah Jameson. There was still much more fertile ground to explore with this new status quo. And creators seemed to have plenty of opportunity to do it, because the interview goes on to say:

He also promised that Marvel won’t be backing-off of Spidey’s big revelation by zapping the public with a forget-me ray or saying the press conference was a dream or a hoax. “We won’t be pulling a Bobby Ewing with this,” said Quesada.

For those of you who might not understand the reference, Bobby Ewing was a character on the hit show Dallas played by Patrick Duffy. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say in regards to “pulling a Bobby Ewing”:

At the end of the 1985 season, Patrick Duffy expressed his desire to leave the series. Thus, his character of Bobby died when he was run over by a car driven by his sister-in-law, Katherine Wentworth. This proved to be a mistake as it left the show without one of its most popular characters. Larry Hagman persuaded Duffy to return to the series the following season. Dallas scriptwriters created a storyline which featured Pam waking up to find Bobby in the shower (in the May 1986 cliffhanger episode) – with the realization that the storylines of the preceding season, including the accident, were nothing more than a lengthy dream sequence (thus invalidating the entire 1985-1986 season of the show).

So Quesada said that there wouldn’t be a story written that would magically undo the unmasking let alone any number of other Spider-Man stories. Less than a year and a half later, that’s exactly what happened. Now I know he didn’t say this in a courtroom with his hand on a bible but he said it nonetheless.

Quesada has also said that he wasn’t a fan of the idea of Marvel having a “crisis” or a DC-esque rebooting of continuity for any of the Marvel books as he felt it was entirely unnecessary. If a writer wanted to change a character’s status quo or something about their past that he didn’t like, the writer simply told the stories that logically got the characters from one point to the next. (As Ed Brubaker masterfully did with restoring Daredevil’s secret identity and bring Bucky back as the Winter Soldier.) You didn’t just zap the characters from one point to another and point to a big deus ex machina as an explanation for any changes. (Although there is a little of that in House of M.)

But if you ask Joe Quesada, he’ll tell you that “One More Day” didn’t change a thing about Spider-Man’s continuity. More on that later.

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