Spider-Man Controversy Makes UK Papers

[WARNING Spoilers for One More Day #4 released by Marvel 28 December]

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.”

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2 replies

  1. All of those artists who had argued against Peter marrying a “supermodel” have failed to realize that MJ wasn’t just some successful model that Peter happened to meet and marry. She was Mary Jane Watson, the same girl whom his Aunt May and her Aunt Anna had tried to hook him up with when he was still in high school. She was the same MJ who had been a part of his circle of friends during those years in college. And she was the same friend who had helped him picked up the pieces of his life, following Gwen’s death.

    It seems as if they have deliberately blinded themselves to the fact that Peter and MJ have a long history together. Instead, they try to dismiss the relationship based on the fact that she is a successful model.

    And why can’t Peter Parker be a 30-something adult? Why does he have to remain on the lower side of 25 . . . forever? Is that Joe Quesada’s idea of good writing, let alone good character development?

  2. More than that why destroy Spiderman’s integrity in ‘dissolving’ his marriage? They had him make a deal with the devil! What kind of ‘fresh’ hero is that for the next generation of fans?

    It’s comics – they could have had aliens abduct her fer Gawd’s sake.

    Instead you have a sequence of Spiderman stories which have shown precious little thought for future continuity

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