Spider-Island has failed me

When Joe Quesada dropped that steaming pile known as “One More Day” on unsuspecting fans I quickly stopped getting Amazing Spider-Man, which is a shame since I am a big Spidey fan. Spider-Man was the first superhero I discovered, I had re-prints of the ASM 1-20 by Lee and Ditko that I read over and over again as a kid. But OMD was just too much.

It’s not that the Peter/Mary Jane marriage was somehow sacred, the story was just crap. It was insulting and pathetic. It would have been better if they killed Mary Jane off, or had them divorce. Even saying that Mary Jane had been a skrull the whole time would have been better. As bad as that idea is, it would have at least been interesting to see the real Mary Jane try to return to her old life. Instead they just re-wound the clock to the 70’s and 80’s and decided to recycle the past.

Sadly they were on the edge of potential greatness after the Civil War. Peter had told the world he was Spider-Man and ASM could have gone in a truly bold and new direction. At the time I was impressed, and excited for the future. I didn’t see how they could get out of it, surely they weren't going to do some lame make-the-world-forget story like in Iron Man back in the day.

So much for “The House of Ideas.”

Over the past four years I’ve pretty much stayed away from ASM, but there’s was a little nagging voice in my head that says it’s just a comic book, lighten up, you love Spider-Man, why hold a grudge. Now I ignore the little voice since it usually says you’re a grown man, why the hell are you still buying comic books, but when the Spider-Island event was announced I thought I’d give it a shot.

It’s not working.

The problem is that OMD hangs over everything, we’re always being reminded of its effects. In ASM #666 Ben Grimm want’s to know why Peter and Mary Jane broke up, Pete brushes it off saying “It’s a long story,” and all I can think is no, it’s a pathetic, cheap and lazy story that was forced down our throats by the Marvel’s Ego in Chief. And several times Peter references the spell that Doctor Strange (really Mephisto) cast to make everyone forget that he’s Spider-Man.

Bad stories come and go in comics. I dropped ASM during the whole Clone Saga debacle, but eventually it passed and I started picking it up again, but with OMD there is just no escape.

I might be more accepting of this new reality if they went and did something interesting with Pete’s love life. Maybe have him date another superhero, having Peter Parker meet and start dating someone like Jen Walters could be fun. They actually are similar characters. Both are highly intelligent and were quiet and unassuming people before they got superpowers, after which their personalities blossomed. And if Peter didn’t realize that the Jen Walters he was dating was THE Jen Walters, hilarity could then ensue.

Instead we have Carlie Cooper.

There’s nothing really wrong with Carlie, she’s a likable character, but let’s face it, she’s just Gwen Stacy with glasses. It’s my understanding that Quesada wanted to bring back Gwen as a result of OMD but was talked out of it by other writers and editors (which is all the evidence you need to show that Quesada doesn’t have a damn clue). Well, they did bring her back, they just call her Carlie Cooper. She’s the nice girlfriend who doesn’t know Peter is Spider-Man who Peter has to constantly lie to and disappoint. Hell, like Gwen Stacy her father was even a cop.

Before she died Gwen Stacy was studying chemistry, so do you think had she lived she might have followed her father into law enforcement as, oh I don’t know, a forensic investigator? It’s like they’re not even trying.

As for Spider-Island itself, it’s just okay. Humberto Ramos’ pencils are fantastic but the story seems a bit disjointed and strung out. I think they stretched what could have been a 5 or 6 issue story to 8 (6 parts plus prologue and epilogue) so they can have their nifty 8 armed spider logo. It was fun to see J. Jonah Jameson turn into a monster but overall it’s not enough to coax me back.

I’ll see Spider-Island to the end, but until they can get out from under OMD in some way; another confrontation with Mephisto or at the least Peter and Mary Jane have to discover what their past really is, I’m going to continue to hold my grudge.


A short tribute to the original Spider-Girl

In October it will be a year since “The End” came for the original Spider-Girl and so here is a belated salute to May “Mayday” Parker.

It was a wonderful kind of throwback, a classic superhero book. Today cynicism rules the day, everything is “dark” and “edgy,” heroes, at best, occupy a moral grey area and villains are sometimes nothing more than colorful mass murderers. Spider-Girl was truly heroic, idealistic, and maybe a little naïve. Her greatest moral lapse was that she sometimes lied to her parents (gasp!) And the villains, while there schemes were sinister, were also a little campy, or just plain weird (and that’s a complement.)

But now that it is gone I’m glad it has stayed gone. It’s rare for one writer to go from beginning to end on a character that he or she doesn’t own, but Tom DeFalco was lucky and so were we. He had a great run and was able to tie up the loose ends and wrap it up on a positive note. It would have been too bad if another writer came in and decided to “shake things up” and spin off in another direction, or worse, to somehow move Mayday Parker into the regular Earth-616 continuity.

It was fun; it was the kind of comic book that hooked you as a kid. It was optimistic with a real spirit of high adventure. It’s small but fiercely loyal fan base kept the book alive for over 10 years and that loyalty is testament to just how good it was.

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How to get rid of One More Day

Three and a half years ago when One More Day dropped like a sack of wet s#!t there were a lot of ticked off fans who dropped Amazing Spider-Man. This includes me and with a few exceptions I haven’t touched ASM and have been waiting for them to un-do it. I don’t think this will happen while Joe Quesada and his ego have any influence at Marvel but who knows, sales are dropping and if these “new readers” don’t materialize maybe they’ll need a stunt to bring back some of the old, loyal readers.

Which begs the question: How might they do it? How would you un-do OMD and move the Spider-Man story forward instead of re-hashing the past? I haven’t thought much about OMD over the years but recently this idea has been rattling around in my head and I decided to write it out and post it.

Now this is just an outline, I’ve fudged a lot of details and there’s probably continuity issues I haven’t considered, but here it is.

First we catch up with May “Mayday” Parker, life seem to go on as normal when one day she comes home and there is some other family living in her house, her boyfriend and friends don’t seem to know or recognize her. It’s like she doesn’t exist. When she’s near the end of her rope there is a flash of energy and a young man appears, it is Richie Parker (from the House of M or similar timeline) offering help. Something bizarre and unnatural happened in some timeline in the past that is affecting multiple timelines and it seems to be centered on the Parker Family. It didn’t affect his, but he did detect it and with his handy dimension-hopping equipment is investigating. The two head off together.

Mary Jane Watson has been having strange dreams recently, not nightmares, but odd and unsettling images of spiders, a red man and a pretty little red-haired girl. One day, while visiting her Aunt Anna in Forest Hills she’s doing her morning routine in the bathroom when the mirror goes black, out of the blackness in the mirror she sees the little red-haired girl from her dreams, she’s calling for her mommy. The little girl gets closer and closer until she actually shatters the mirror, reaching out to Mary Jane. Before she can react the red man from her dreams grabs the little girl and pulls her back into the darkness.

Another player is Anya Corazon, who receives a visit from Madame Web and tells her to head out to Forest Hills, something is going to happen.

Peter Parker, as Spider-Man, is hip deep in a fight with (insert generic villain here, it really doesn’t matter) when May and Richie appear. According to Ritchie they are in the correct timeline if not the actual point in time. They help Spider-Man in the fight and the villain is quickly defeated. Before Peter can make a smart comment about May’s costume he receives a call on his cell, it’s his Aunt May, she’s at Anna Watson’s and something’s wrong with Mary Jane, she’s calling for him and he needs to get there right away. He brushes off May and Richie (not realizing who they are) and leaves, but they, of course, follow.

At Anna Watson’s house Mary Jane is extremely agitated. She keeps calling for Peter and talking about a pretty little girl and saying she’s sorry over and over. When Peter arrives he asks her why is she apologizing, what does she think she’s done. Mary Jane holds him close and says, “I whispered in the devil’s ear.”

Outside May and Richie aren’t sure what to do, and watching them is Anya Corazon. Suddenly, Richie’s equipment is detecting some kind of dimensional breach. Inside the house there is a rip in the air with darkness beyond. Reaching out from the rip is the little red-haired girl, calling for help from Mommy and Daddy. The closest person to the little girl is Aunt May who of course reaches out to help. Once they touch they both disappear. Chaos. Richie and May burst in, Richie says the breach is closing fast so May, Richie, Peter and despite Peter telling her to stay back, Mary Jane all head into the breach after Aunt May. At the last moment Anya Corazon flies in through a window and enters the breach just as it’s closing.

They are now in Mephisto’s realm. Aunt May and the little girl are nowhere to be seen but the five of them are together and they decide to head for the castle or keep in the distance. Mephisto’s spell doesn’t affect them here. Peter and Mary Jane remember everything, their marriage and the deal they made with Mephisto. Peter wants to know what Mary Jane whispered to Mephisto and when he finds out he feels utterly betrayed. She agreed to convince Peter to take the deal against his better judgment; he feels that Mary Jane took the devil’s side against him. May Parker is also angry. She confronts Mary Jane saying that her mother, the Mary Jane she knows, would never to something like that, she was never that weak.

Richie and Anya hang back while these family dramas unfold, especially Anya who wonders what her purpose here really is.

Eventually they fight their way to the castle and defeat Mephisto (details, details). Aunt May and the little girl are found safe and unharmed. The two of them have chatting for a while. We discover that Mephisto’s real motivation for striking a deal with Peter and Mary Jane wasn’t to destroy “their love,” (how stupid was that), but to get rid of the little girl, their potential future daughter, who as Spider-Girl plays a key role in Mephisto’s destruction. He tried to un-make her but the idea or spirit or essence of their daughter couldn’t be completely erased, so she was kept prisoner in Mephisto’s realm. (comic book philosophy I know, just go with it) But she is smart and stubborn fought her way out.

Aunt May now knows about the deal Peter and Mary Jane made and she is appalled. Peter tries to explain but she cuts him off, she says that she thought she raised him better, she says that his Uncle Ben would be ashamed. Off to the side the little girl pulls Anya Corazon aside and whispers something in her ear, we only hear the end when the little girl asks “You promise not to tell?”

Richie speaks up and says that they appear to be shifting back out of this realm and back to reality, but this is magic, not science and he’s not sure what reality they’re going back to. Maybe they have a choice. Peter of course doesn’t want Aunt May to die so maybe going back with Mephisto’s spell in place is best but Aunt may won’t hear of it. She says that she is an old woman, she's lived a long time and if it’s her time to die then so be it. It might be painful and it might be unfair, but she wouldn’t want to live one second more if it meant sacrificing these beautiful girls.

The bullet wound on Aunt May’s chest dramatically re-opens and she collapses. Peter, Mary Jane and May kneel around her as they shift back to reality.

Epilogue 1: Mary Jane wakes in the middle of the night. She calls out to Peter. He is there, putting on his Spider-Man costume. Their eyes meet but noting is said. He leaves. Mary Jane waits all day and when the sun is setting Peter returns. Mephisto’s spell is no more, they are still married, but Aunt May is alive, she came close to death but pulled through. And Peter’s identity as Spider-Man is still a secret. Doctor Strange cast a spell that erased everyone’s memory. Mephisto didn’t give them anything they weren't going to get anyway, he only took away their child. They did it for noting.

The future of Peter and Mary Jane is uncertain, Peter’s not sure if he can forgive Mary Jane, not sure if he can trust her ever again, which mean their red-headed daughter may never be, but the future needs a Spider-Girl so...

Epilogue 2: Richie, May and Anya travel back in time to the day little baby May was kidnapped from the hospital. They intercept her and spirit her to an unknown city to be adopted by a loving family. Maybe when she grows up and comes into her powers she’ll seek out her birth parents, but Peter and Mary Jane will never know where she is because Anya promised not to tell.

One final note, I do realize I kind of shoe-horned Anya Corazon into this story, she could be dropped without too much trouble, but I feel this is as much a Spider-Girl story as a Spider-Man story and I like the idea of having the two Spider-Girls meet. I also like the idea of Anya being the only one in the regular continuity knowing where little May is.

Anyway that’s it. Any opinions positive or negative let-r rip.