Pity poor Joe Straczynski. Here he is, the guy who’s redeemed Spider-Man from the hands of hacks and brought him back to greatness with a phenomenal run on Amazing Spider-Man, the sort of run that people will remember decades from now as a high point of the title. And how does Marvel repay him? By making him do an editorially-mandated reboot-retcon as his final arc.
And not just any editorially-mandated reboot-retcon. No, in J. Michael Straczynski’s Spider-Man: One More Day , Peter Parker chooses to make a deal with the devil to lose his wife in order to give a few more years to his elderly dying aunt. Let me repeat that: A deal with the devil!
This is an untenable premise, absolutely 100% unbuyable by anyone. It is ridiculous and insane and stupid and dumb. And it is a testament to Straczynski that he almost makes it work. He fails, ultimately, but he comes closer than anyone has any right to expect, given the raw stupidity of the material he’s working with. If you handicap for degree of difficulty, this is one of the greatest achievements in comic writing.
What’s really remarkable is that there’s a little Q&A with Joe Quesada at the end of the book where he prattles on and on about how the team really wanted to get Mary Jane away from Peter for a long time, and they finally hit on this “brilliant” way to do it. And it’s just amazing, because Joe Quesada is a guy who’s done a ton of good at Marvel, yet this is one of the stupidest fucking ideas in years. You take a guy like Straczynski, who’s managed to write about a mature, adult — yet still interesting! — relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane, and then you just shitcan all his work and start over from scratch? Gah! Maddening.
At any rate, as stupid reboot-retcon deck-clearing shit goes, this is less unreadable than Bendis’ Avengers: Disassembled, and that eventually turned into a really solid New Avengers title. So maybe it’s possible that Straczynski’s successor on the title will take the new Mary Jane-less setting and do something interesting with it.
Odds are it won’t be as good as Straczynski’s run was, though. Go pick up the first one and keep reading from there. There’s some good stuff in there, and it deserved a better “ending” than this. But then, I suppose endings are what monthly superhero comics really suck at, so what are you gonna