Tuesday, January 01, 2008

12/28/07 - The Day Marvel Pulled a Wall Punch

Last Friday will be a day that will live in infamy for comic books as a whole. It was, at the exact same point, Marvel's (or should I say Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada's) stupidest and most brilliant move ever. Spider-Man was retconned by 20 years in our time (who knows how many years it actually is in comic's time) and the 6 plus years that J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) has written Amazing Spider-Man. We no longer know if "Sin's Past" (I will get to this somewhere in this post since it does relate very closely to "One More Day") even happened, if Ezekiel ever came to Peter or even, going way back, if "Kraven's Last Hunt" ever really happened.

Most of us guessed early on when "One More Day" (OMD from now on) started (and even when it was first announced) exactly what was going to happen, but it was extremely sad to see that everything we guessed would happen came true with one stray thing we never saw that I will get to later.

Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson made a deal with the devil (Mephisto in this case). Let that sink in for a while. Remember that Joe Q was against having Peter and MJ divorce because it would send the wrong message to the younger readers. Instead he decided a pact with the devil was a far better message to send to younger readers. Good one there Joe Q! We all know Joe Q has been against the marriage for a long time and in one felt swoop he gets the ending he so desperately wanted. He says that the need for a single Peter Parker had much more story potential than a married Peter Parker has. I call bullshit on that, but what do I know?

You may ask where the brilliance in this move comes from. Joe Quesada was smart enough to totally destroy the Spider-Man universe, but have the next arc, "Brand New Day" (BND from now on), be headed by some of the best and brightest in the Marvel camp. Starting off will be Dan Slott writing and Steve McNiven penciling for 3 issues. Then Marc Guggenheim writes and Salvador Larocca pencils, then Bob Gale (best known for writing Back to the Future) writes and Phil Jimenez pencils. Finally Zeb Wells writes and Chris Bachalo pencils. This also enters the cycle of Amazing Spider-Man coming out 3 times a month. I am going to guess given the delays in OMD that these guys could be several months ahead of schedule with issues. Many people would love to drop the book from their pull list over OMD's finale, but then you look at the talent coming up and the fact that the arcs will hit hard and fast and you can't help but see it through at least through the Slott/McNiven issues, the first ones up, right? It's a tough game to play because Joe Q is counting on the issues bought increasing because of the great creative muscle behind the "relaunch" and that will validate him doing the DC Wall Punch on Spider-Man as a whole. It's an evil circular cycle and one that every comic fan has to choose to take or not. One thing I highly doubt is that an increase of new readers will come from this simply because Peter is single again.

The saddest part of the OMD ending is that JMS leaves the book on a low note. He will be blamed by many for the ending much like he was blamed with the "Sin's Past" weak reveal that totally screwed the innocence of a character long dead (Gwen Stacy). Thing is neither flub was his fault and we can lay all the blame for both at Joe Q's feet. "Sin's Past" was supposed to reveal that Gwen Stacy's twins were indeed Peter Parker's children. This is logical given the title of the arc, but instead Joe Q wanted to keep Peter somewhat pure and editorially mandated JMS to have Norman Osborn be the father of the twins. This goes down as one of the biggest mistakes in Spider-Man history and I wonder how pure Peter is going to be now that BND starts up. Supposedly there are plenty of new women along with MJ in Peter's life in BND. Is he going to live the chaste life or is he going to get down and dirty with some of the girls? If it's the latter it will make most of us laugh at Joe Q's attempt to keep Peter innocent during "Sin's Past". It is also very obvious reading the last two parts of OMD (and the extra Joe Q writing byline) that although the words may come from JMS that Joe Q is standing right over his shoulder saying what needs to be portrayed.

So, what does the ending of OMD leave us with? A whole bunch of questions that supposedly will start to be answered with ASM #546 coming in a week and a half. It is an extra sized issue that supposedly will give us info about the new people in Peter's life and, we hope, explain how exactly he can:

1. Still be part of the New Avengers
2. How the reversal of his unmasking couldn't have changed the outcome of Civil War
3. Any number of other questions

There are lots of questions and they stack up each and every day. I feel sorry for former DC editor Steve Wacker (who did half of 52 before moving to Marvel) whose task it is to sort out this mess with continuity that Joe Q has left him.

The lone hope is that this will be just as short of a change as Peter's unmasking (which supposedly had TONS of story potential, but only lasted a little over a year thanks to the Civil War delays), the Other powers and the change to Iron Spidey was. That's the hope at least, but who knows what is going to happen. In some small way I hope this is just Peter and MJ in Mephisto's little world living through "eternity" until they come together again. Maybe that is what MJ whispers to Mephisto, that she wants Peter to be in a world he can be happy and he is no longer in the Marvel Universe as a whole (but can be explained away as being gone for a few minutes from the MU after everything wraps up). That's a big wish though I think. However this could be very akin to the X-Men's "Age of Apocalypse" or the end of Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men where this is indeed an alternative universe and everything is on the up and up in the regular universe. We can only hope though.

The lone plus to the ending of OMD is that Harry Osborn is alive again. In many ways it is akin to Aunt May resurfacing years after supposedly dying in ASM #400, it's just that this is a retcon. Are they trying to say that since Peter and MJ never married that Harry didn't go crazy during Inferno (if Inferno even happened that is, remember this retcon affects the MU as a whole) and eventually die?

I am interested in what Brand New Day is going to bring, but I also hope many people are outraged enough by One More Day that they don't pick up the 3 times a month ASM. That will send a message to Marvel, but I have a feeling with the creative power behind the new arc that people will at least try the first 3 issues with Slott and McNiven.

Just pray this doesn't last very long...