Controversy surrounding Marvel’s decision to separate Spider-Man’s alter ego Peter Parker from his beloved Mary Jane thanks to a deal with demonic Mephisto to save the life of the superhero’s Aunt May has been picked up by The Guardian.
The paper reports some Spider-Man fans are outraged that in a four issue story, One More Day, Marvel Comics has turned back the clock and dissolved the marriage of its wall-clinging superhero, which happened way back in 1987 in the comic. “While followers of the movie version know the character is single with a sweetheart, as far as comic book fans are concerned Spider-Man has been married to Mary Jane Watson for the past 21 years,” the paper explains.
The change and some other major continuity reversals apparently reflects the fact that the marriage made life “difficult for [Spider-Man] writers and had been a source of regret” but comment by writer J. Michael Straczynski’s about re-writes on scripts by Marvel Comics’ editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada, have provoked plenty of online debate about the story.
Straczynski is particularly concerned that the changes in continuity have been explained away as magic. “There’s this notion that magic fixes everything,” he commented. “It doesn’t. ‘It’s magic, we don’t have to explain it.’ Well, actually, yes, you do. Magic has to have rules. And this is clearly not just a case of one spell making everybody forget he’s Spidey… suddenly you’re bringing back the dead, undoing wounds, erasing records, reinstating web shooters, on and on and on.
The writer does not want the matter to become a “public pissing match” but feels the story changes were sloppy. “It violates every rule of writing fiction of the fantastic that I and every other SF/Fantasy writer knows you can’t violate,” he feels. “It’s fantasy 101.”
In a lengthy interview for Comic Book Resources Quesada, who has made it clear he was not a fan of the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane, explained the reasons for the end of the marriage. “On one side, there is a contingency of fandom that wants Peter to age along with them and live life as they do. He needs to get married, have kids, then grandkids, and then the inevitable.
“On the other side, there are fans that realize Spidey needs to be ready for the next wave or generation of readers, that no one can lay claim to these icons, no one generation has ownership and that we need to preserve them and keep them healthy for the next batch of readers to fall in love with.
… “At the end of the day my job is to keep these characters fresh and ready for every fan that walks through the door … while also planning for the future and hopefully an even larger fan base.”
In a separate posting, Straczynski, while expressing regret at the changes made to the story which almost led to him removing his name from two issues of the series, acknowledged that despite his disagreement with Quesada, he was absolutely certain that “What Joe does with Spidey and all the rest of the Marvel characters, he does out of a genuine love of the character. He’s not looking to sabotage anything, he’s not looking to piss off the fans, he genuinely believes in the rightness of his views not out of a sense of “I’m the boss” but because he loves these characters and the Marvel universe.
“And right or wrong, you have to respect that.”
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.