Sunday, March 30, 2008

One More Say/Same Old Day

The specter of One More Day seems unavoidable. I can't go to a Spider-Man message board without being reminded of it, as some forums have become a somewhat nasty place to discuss Spidey related things depending on which side of the camp you're on. In January I'd written a lengthy rant expressing everything I had to say about the what I felt was one of the worst Spider-Man stories of all-time. There was also some stuff in there about Brand New Day and while I originally wasn't going to post it anywhere, I decided to throw it up here in my blog since the horrors of both stories seem inescapable. As the saying goes, "Its my party and I'll cry if I want to." If you're pro-OMD/BND, you probably won't like what I've got to do. If you're anti-OMD/BND or you don't care either way, make yourself comfortable and enjoy my rant.

Stories with a Married Spider-Man Suck!

Well, this is what Joe Quesada thinks, anyway. Its no secret that the man has been against Spidey being married. He's been very vocal about it on numerous occasions. Joe feels that Peter being married takes away from the character, hurts the books, and makes Peter harder to relate to. As a 26 year old single man, I've never had a hard time relating to Peter. He's always been this hard luck guy that despite having spider powers, has to deal with the problems that come with everyday life. The only difference was, he had a loving wife by his side and while it wasn't perfect, I'd say Peter and MJ's marriage was a very beuatiful thing. Now I know all about the adventures of solo Peter. I've educated myself by reading reprints of all of Spidey's early adventures and though they may be old, some of them are still some of the best Spider-Man stories I've ever read. That being said, I've read a lot of good stories where Peter was married. In fact, Spider-Man being married has always been one of my favorite aspects of the character. For all the hardships he's had in his life, why shouldn't he be given a break? Last I checked, even every man characters caught some of those, no matter how scrubby their luck.

Despite Joe Q's disdain for the marriage, he has stated that splitting Peter and MJ up would "be even worse." You'd think that with words like that, he'd have no intention of screwing up Peter's married life along with continuity. That's what I thought it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong. When I'd heard about One More Day and what the story would deal with, as a huge supporter for the marriage, I feared the worst for Peter and MJ, and unfortunately the worst thing that could happen did and then some.

Deal with the Devil

Now I don't know a great deal about Mephsito, but I do know a character that's supposed to represent the devil when I see one. Mephsito is for all intents and purposes the devil of the Marvel universe.

When Aunt May was dying from a gunshot wound meant for Peter due to his revealing his identity to the world in the Civil War storyline, Peter does everything he can to save her. Not only can Dr. Strange not be of service to Peter, neither can any of the other countless powerful beings in the Marvel universe. But Mephisto can save May! Let's stop right there for a minute. How is it that with everything Dr. Strange is capable of he can't save May but the prince of darkness can? I just don't understand that at all. Then you've got a city crawling with other super powered beings and none of them can help. I guess Joe Q just wanted everyone's hands tied so only the devil would be able to do anything. Mesphisto is evil incarnate. Why would he be interested in doing a good deed? He has his own motive for helping the Parkers, of course. He'll save May at the cost of Peter and MJ's marriage.

All his life, Peter has been raised to be a responsible person. We all know the words that have been echoed throughout Spider-Man's career through Uncle Ben; with great power, comes great responsibility. Part of being a man, being an adult means being responsible enough to deal with the consequences that your actions have caused. Peter's whole reasoning behind saving May was not noble. It wasn't really even about keeping May among the living. Peter didn't want May to die because if she did, it would be on his conscience, because she was shot due to his actions during Civil War. He said the guilt of having to deal with that would "break him in two." The Peter Parker I've know never would have stricken a deal with the devil and for such a childish reason. It really is insulting to see Peter written in such a way that goes against everything he stands for. Uncle Ben, Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy, Peter has blamed himself for all of these deaths and he's managed to keep moving. Why should it be any different with May?

Mephsito gave Peter and MJ one day to think over his offer, as shown in part 4 of OMD. Of the two of them, MJ was the only one really shown to even think about saving their marriage and letting May go. The way Peter acted, his mind was pretty much already made up to kiss his married life goodbye because he couldn't take anymore guilt. Yeah, sure Peter was crying when the deal was done and all but as I said before, the way he was written, you'd think he didn't give two craps about his marriage. And MJ is actually the one who, impulsively, accepts the devil's deal first. This doesn't strike me as the strong willed MJ I've read about for so many years. To me, both Peter and MJ come off as characters just caving in to the easy way out. It really is just sad.

Let's not forget May's feelings on this. She lived a good, long life. Do you honestly believe she would have wanted Peter and MJ to sacrifice their marriage for her sake? Seeing as how May is a very sefless person, I doubt it. If she knew what Peter was doing she would be totally against the idea. Provided she wasn't being written out of character like poor Pete and MJ.

Divorce Wouldn't be Right

I've already said that I'm a big fan of Spidey being married, but if Marvel had to do away with the marriage, why not choose a method that would fit him more, like say, divorce? Many others have also wondered this. Well according to Joe Q, it wouldn't look good if Spidey got a divorce. Oh, but making a deal with Satan is? That's a stupid argument if I ever heard one. Joe Q doesn't want Marvel hero's to smoke. He also doesn't want Peter having sex outside of wedlock because it also wouldn't look good. But a deal with the freaking devil is fine and dandy? Sure, why not? I mean, we all know the devil is such a swell guy. There isn't a single deal you can make with the devil that won't have server consequences, something I'm sure Peter will find out later on but probably won't remember what bonehead decision he made that's causing him so much grief due to Mephsito making him forget he made the deal.

J. Michael Stracynski did a magnificent job on writing Peter and MJ as a married couple that in truth, I'd find it insulting if either one of them would want a divorce. With everything MJ has been through since being married to Peter, her wanting a divorce would make her seem weak and take away everything that was built up to make her so strong. Oh wait, deal with the devil. Too late.

Too Much Editorial Influence

OMD was supposed to be JMS sendoff to his six year run on Amazing Spider-Man. Instead it seems like a kick in the crotch. His response in Internet interviews make it pretty clear that he was not happy with the way OMD was concluding. He even wanted his name taken off the last two issue of the story but Joe Q talked him out of it. Most fans probably wouldn't have like JMS' ending to OMD either as it still would have split up Peter and MJ, but it probably would have made more sense and probably be far more acceptable than the debacle we ended up with.

It's abundantly clear that Joe Q's hand stretched far too much in this story. He was willing to go to any length, to any means necessary to end the marriage, because he felt it damaged Peter as a character. This is an abuse of EIC power at it's finest. In trying to make Peter appeal to younger readers (with all the garbage that took place in OMD and looking at some of the stuff in Brand New Day, I'm wondering just who Joe's target audience is), he's managed to alienate quiet a bit of longtime fans. All this so he can have his version of Peter. All it costed was Peter's integrity. Hero's don't make deals with the devil and no amount of "it was all for his aunt" argument is gonna make it any better. Joe really should have left this story to JMS.

It's Magic. AKA Retcon Gone Wrong
When Mephsito erased Peter and MJ's marriage it screwed with a ton of continuity. Joe Q says all the previous stories happened. Pete and MJ were just never married. Peter unmasked during Civil War, yet no one remembers who was under the mask. Um, explanation please. It's magic. Harry Osborn has returned from the grave. The reason? It's magic. What's with all the magic tricks? Well that's Joe Q's reasoning behind everything. No, I'm serious. Anytime you have to say it's magic and that you don't have to explain things, you know there will be problems with the stories and someone screwed up. It's just very unprofessional. Just trying to wrap your head around how everything fits will give you a migraine. This is the type of stuff you'd expect from DC, not Marvel. Looks like Joe Q can't criticize DC on making lousy retcon decisions anymore. This is arguably right up there with the Superboy Prime retcon punch.

And we're really supposed to buy "all the stories happened, Peter and MJ were just never married"? Is Joe Q flipping serious? We're supposed to believe that just because he said it? You can't just swap the word "wife" for "girlfriend" and expect everything to stay the same. It just doesn't work that out that way. Without going into too much detail, I can already know that some stories could not have happened. Or they did happen, but magic wiped them out of existence or altered them. More editorial mandating at work so the writers can take the quickest route to have single Peter Parker, without any regard for how crappy the story turns. Feh.

The "New" Status Quo

After Peter and MJ finish their deal with Mephisto, Peter wakes up alone... in his old bedroom in Aunt May's house. At the end of the first issue of Brand New Day there's a two page spread detailing "the new status quo." There's not anything new about "the new status quo." Not a thing. Peter is living with his aunt, broke, jobless, and obviously, single. I'm sure Pete will have a job and be in his own pad soon enough but I've still got some beefs with Marvel's new direction for Spidey. In fact on the two page spread of "the new status quo," they encourage readers not to dwell on the past. There's so much irony in those words because that's exactly what Marvel is doing. Joe Q keeps talking about moving forward with Spidey now that he's no longer married. Moving forward? That's funny because it seems to me like Marvel just hit the reverse switch on Peter's life.

Now that Peter's solo again, they can take him in countless "new" directions. Yet they choose a path that was chosen for him decades ago. His potential new love interests? I've already got a good idea how those will turn out. The woman will hate Spider-Man, putting some type of strain on the relationship. Peter's supposed to show up for a date but some business as Spidey delays him. Woman gets upset and dumps him. Or he goes on a few successful dates but he's late for a few of those dates or just doesn't show up at all because he's got business in his blue & red tights. Then said woman dumps him. Sound familiar? It's all been done before, why would I want to read about it again? Quite frankly, after reading stories with a married Peter for so long, the idea of giving him new love interests, to me, sounds stupid, especially when I know none of them will succeed. If you already know how things are going to play out, who really cares? The story of Peter's-doomed-to-fail relationships is one of the many played out plot devices I no longer wish to see.

So basically, what we have here is Spidey made single so Marvel can tell the same tired old stories from "the good old days." I love the old Spider-Man stories as much as the next guy, but let's be real here: this isn't 1972 anymore. If writers can only make Peter broke, unsuccessful in love, constantly have trouble with his web-fluid/web-shooters, leave his aunt May oblivious to his life as Spider-Man, then they need to be shown the door. If you're gonna place the word "new" on your book then do something new with the character.

Peter also seems to display far less intelligence and common sense than what he did before he made a deal with Satan. I'm trying to think of when Peter has been portrayed as such a bumbling idiot who can't even catch a common criminal and I'm coming up empty. The Peter Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man, and Marvel Adventures Spider-Man is written a million times better and is much smarter than in moron running in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. The aforementioned books are also the superior Spider-Man titles at the moment. If you want a good Spider-Man title, I suggest you look there along with Spider-Man Family and Amazing Spider-Girl.

Peter made a deal with the devil had didn't have to suffer any real consequences for his idiocy. Although, living with his aunt, constantly being broke and now being a loser, could just be Mephisto's way of shafting Peter on the deal. I'd say Peter did mess up when he made that deal except the readers seem to be the ones paying for his mistake. As long as the devil doesn't show up in the other Spider-Man titles (Joe Q, Mephisto, take your pick), I'll think those books will stay safe.


Tommy said...

I especially get a bad feeling about that other deal Mary Jane brokers with Mephisto.

Even if this is a false reality, I get the feeling that'll one more middle finger down the line.

You have to be pretty crafty to trick Mephisto at his own deals. In Infinity Crusade, Mephisto will help stop the Goddess, but he wants a cosmic cube for his troubles.

Thanos does this, and Mephisto is set to destroy him with it. However, it doesn't work. Thanos says that Mephisto never specified that he wanted a working one, which obviously pisses off Mephisto before he takes off.

In the anthology, The Ultimate Super-Villains, a kid makes a deal with Mephisto to save his bedridden brother. Mephisto requires he takes care of Ghost Rider and will give him the power to do it, so the kid states, "Make me a hero, and give me the power to heal my brother, and I'll---I'll wipe Ghost Rider off the face of the Earth!"

Funnily enough, under the impression he's becoming a hero, he cites Spider-Man as an example and Mephisto plays with that and says, 'Yes, Just like Spider-Man.'

So during the battle, Ghost Rider learns more from the transformed kid and he goes to his bike and turns back to Dan Ketch. Since Ghost Rider is gone, Mephisto has to heal the kid's brother. Of course, Mephisto tries to pull more tricks to get the kid to kill Dan Ketch, but he doesn't fall for it and gives up his power.

Mephisto is angry and the kid has his brother back in healthy condition.

Reggie White Jr. said...

Tommy, thanks for that comment. Nice to know other characters in the Marvel world can make good decisions when dealing with a being that will probably screw them over without a second thought. I have a lot of respect for Nightcralwer and when I heard he turned down a deal Mephisto offered him, I gained even more respect for him.

You cannot make a good deal with Mephisto. Only a bad one.

PerfectDru said...

I read your rant. I know what you mean, but I guess I don't mind what they did to Spidey because he still has a bunch of good titles. Like you said, there's always Ultimate, Family, Marvel Adventures, Loves Mary Jane, Spider-Girl, and whatever else.

I'd probably be upset if Marvel messed with some other character who doesn't often get a chance to shine. Like Moon Knight, for example. Someone screws up Moon Knight and there won't be any Moon Knight stories AT ALL for a couple years. But it just feels like there's always going to be something interesting when it comes to Spidey.