Amazing Spider-Man #545



January, 2008
January, 2008

Spider-Man has been very popular for many years because he is a person that everyone can relate to. Perhaps not the greatest of heroes in strength or speed or power he is someone who has the same everyday problems that we do. He is not rich or from another planet or gets his power from a ring or chants an oath. Although he is smart he is a nerd. There’s a little ‘nerd’ in everybody. He makes mistakes and is far from perfect but somehow saves the day. Like most young people, Spiderman is a smart-ass. He is guided by his life experiences and has a strong character because of his Aunt and Uncle who loved him dearly. He is a regular guy. He’s one of us.

So why it is that Marvel took the near death of his Aunt May to take away the one person in life that Peter Parker (Spider-Man) adored his wife Mary Jane. Editor Joe Quesada and J. Michael Straczynski developed a 4 part story that culminated in the undoing the Parkers’ marriage. It was a bizarre story that came after Civil War series that pitted hero against hero. In the Civil War #2 Spider-Man at the request of Tony Stark revealed to the world his secret identity that he was Peter Parker. This finally resulted in Aunt May being shot by a snipers bullet and near death.

Peter Parker seeks council with Doctor Strange. He informs Peter that he can do nothing to grant Aunt May her life back. However, he helps Peter seek the aid of several others including Doctor Doom, the High Evolutionary, Reed Richards, and Doctor Octopus. Peter attempts to go back in time using a magic spell without Strange’s approval, harming himself in the process. Strange heals his wounds and sends him on his way, encouraging him to be by his Aunt’s side at her death.

On his way to the hospital, Peter encounters a group of men; a woman in red informs him these are alternate versions of himself, from alternate timelines where he never became Spider-Man. The woman in red transforms into the demon Mephisto, who tells Peter he can save Aunt May. As payment, Mephisto wants not Peter’s soul, but his marriage to Mary Jane. Peter and Mary Jane are given until midnight the following night to decide their answer and, after several hours agonizing over the choice, they agree to the deal, as long as knowledge of Peter’s secret identity is erased from the world.

This comic conclusion to the 4 part story was very controversial. The “One More Day” storyline was heavily criticized by reviewers and fans alike. Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, and others at Marvel Comics felt dissolving the Peter Parker and Mary Jane marriage and returning Spider-Man to his roots was necessary to preserve the longevity of the character for the next 20 or 30 years.

I guess history will judge if Joe Quesada and others at Marvel made the right decision. It was a great story and leaves the door open in Peter Parker’s life for anything to happen. And Mary Jane Watson is still around and may know more about the truth about Peter Parker and the real history they shared together. Who knows what the future holds? Only the people at Marvel.

Did you know…

Marvel posted a sneak peek at the final pages of the first post-“One More Day” issue, Amazing Spider-Man #546, and a two-page spread penciled by John Romita, Jr. entitled “Spider-Man: The New Status Quo!”, which established the new continuity of Spider-Man. The retcon brings back Harry Osborn from the dead (in this new continuity, instead of having been dead he had been living in Europe for many years), and explains that although Spider-Man unmasked himself during the events of Civil War, no one remembers who was behind the mask.

In Brand New Day story, Spider-Man has not been seen for one hundred days because of the Superhuman Registration Act. Peter Parker is living at Aunt May’s house while he searches for an affordable apartment. Peter decides to check in on the Daily Bugle, to discover that the Bugle is suffering from extreme financial difficulties. J. Jonah Jameson suffers a heart attack, due to stress.

Joe Quesada
Joe Quesada

Later, it is established that Mary Jane and Peter were in a long-term relationship, but things ended badly, and their relationship is now frosty at best. As far as Peter is concerned, he and Mary Jane did not get married but cohabited as a couple since the day of the aborted wedding. It is unclear whether Mary Jane has an awareness of her previous marriage to Peter and their deal with Mephisto; in one conversation, Spider-Man asks, “Do I know you?”, to which MJ responds, “We’ve met. In another life.” Spider-Man is not aware it is MJ he is speaking to; she is concealing her identity as per her current boyfriend’s (film star Bobby Carr) wishes.

Due to Quesada’s known dislike of Mary Jane and Peter Parker’s marriage, fans began to speculate he intended to dissolve their marriage in one form or another. Quesada felt that 1987’s “The Wedding!” story happened due to an editorial decision and that Jim Shooter mirrored events Stan Lee had planned for the Spider-Man comic strip in order to maximize any publicity generated.