Images & Words – Amazing Spider-Man #638
[images & words is the comic book pick-of-the-week at OL. equal parts review and diatribe, the post highlights the most memorable/infuriating/entertaining book released that wednesday]
Spoilers Ahead. Forreal.
Sometime ago, Marvel unleashed an event on the Spider-Man universe called One More Day. This story essentially undid years and years of continuity and character development; in exchange for Aunt May’s life, Peter Parker and Mary Jane agree to allow Mephisto to retcon their lives any way he sees fit. Of course, he makes it so that they were never married.
For the most part, I feel that rewriting character history is a dangerous endeavor. By saying This and that and the other thing never happened, a writer is basically tossing out the stories that fans have spent years reading. The characters don’t really develop and readers can pretty much count on future tales coming to similar conclusions.
I’m going to pause for a second, to add some counterbalance to my tirade. I’m not opposed to reboots or reimaginings of all sorts. In fact, I think that harnessing fresh perspectives to relaunch franchises can lead to products that are better than the originals (see: Battlestar Galactica, The Dark Knight, etc.). But what I can’t stomach is the constant rehashing of tried-and-true formulas.
So Peter Parker and MJ aren’t together anymore? Years of marriage thrown out the window? A new opportunity for the two lovebirds to go through the rigors of courtship and be rejoined once again? Did anyone expect this to not lead to them getting back together again?
Truthfully, I haven’t read any Spider-Man titles since 2007; I’ve just been too turned off by the aforementioned turn of events. But at the comics shop today I saw that the first issue of One Moment in Time had come out. And I’ve decided to get back on board.
At first, and I admit this is due to nothing other than my own wishful thinking, I thought this event would be about undoing that which was undone. Wait, huh? Yeah, I guess I was just hoping that Amazing Spider-Man #638 would return readers to a state blissful Parker/Watson matrimony. We could all pat each other on the back, have a good laugh, and then say “Well, now that the foregone conclusion has been arrive at, fun new shit can happen.”
Hell, maybe Peter Parker has to reveal his identity to the public. Oh, wait.
Alas, this is not the case. Amazing Spider-Man #638 begins an arc in which we see what happened to prevent Parker and MJ from getting married. So, all we’re doing is going back and getting a glimpse of how Mephisto’s evil plan unfolded. Instead of righting the wrongs of the last three years and catching the story up-to-speed, One Moment in Time seems more focused on explaining how the shit hit the fan.
While I’m not terribly enthused about delaying the inevitable lovers’ reunion, I do think this story is being handled with novelty. Joe Quesada is writing an amendment to Spider-Man Annual #21, inserting changes and variations that thereby alter the wedding featured in the classic issue.
As Mary Jane and Peter think back to that day, pages of the 1987 Wedding Special appear. At the very least, I’m interested by the interweaving of what was once canon with the new twist. Some may see this technique as a affront to the work of the team that put together that comic, but I think Quesada may actually be paying tribute. Instead of having it been blinked out of existence, he is sharing portions of the original with a whole new generation of readers.
Fortunately, this issue ends in present-day with Peter and Mary Jane appearing none-too-thrilled, deflated by the reminiscing about their unfulfilled love. Again, I can’t say that I agree with this dancing around the obvious, the reveling in stagnant narrative waters. With that being said, this issue has provided food for thought and piqued my interest in Spider-Man for the first time in years.
That’s a small little victory.
Before we depart, I present some pictorial evidence. Some couples, fictional or otherwise, are just meant to be. Hopefully it won’t be too long before Mary Jane and Peter are be back together, picking up where editors forced them to leave off.