Monday, January 7, 2008

Why doth the fanboy rage?

Mary Jane and Spider-Man are no longer married. You may have heard. The title of the epic comic is ONE MORE DAY.

What, you think, they are divorced? Nope. Spidey made a deal with the devil (more about which in due course) to dissolve his marriage (of an unspecified number of years, in comic-book time), in exchange for the life of his beloved Aunt May.

This sort of cheap trick is the kind of flimy-ass plot contrivance Marvel fans used to rank DC fans for. Well, I guess the chickens have come home to roost, haven't they? (((dances DC-fan superior dance)))

As a feminist, I find it interesting that these guys have decided to make Spider-Man single just as he would likely be entering his male-midlife crisis. I am referring here to his actual chronological age, not comic-book age. Spider-Man first appeared in Marvel's Amazing Fantasy in August of 1962, which makes him 45. Time to shed that good-hearted wife, the one who keeps him on the (boring!) straight and narrow, and start partying with the babes, as the new comic makes clear. BRAND NEW DAY! is the triumphant name of the new comic. GET RID OF THE WIFE! should be the subtitle.

In fact, I view this primarily as Marvel's male midlife crisis.

What's interesting to me is how angry most of the fanboys are over the ending of the marriage. It isn't ONLY the plot, but the nullifications of so many plots over the nearly two decades (?) of Mary Jane and Peter Parker's union.

And guess what? I think the fanboys liked her. She was like their surrogate wife. What are you doing, taking her away like that? From Newsarama, Lucas Siegel writes:


To very briefly recap, Peter Parker, Spider-Man, and his then-wife Mary Jane, made a desperate deal with Mephisto to save Aunt May. Mephisto saved May’s life, but in return took Peter and MJ’s marriage. He also brought Harry Osborn back from the dead, reversed (elements at least from) the “Disassembled” (and presumably, “The Other”) storylines (giving Peter toned-down powers with no organic web shooters again), and left a twinge of pain of loss in MJ and Pete’s psyche. Mary Jane, at the last second, appeared to make some sort of side deal with this devilish being, whispering an as-yet-unrevealed something into his ear. Peter once again lives in Aunt May’s house, which is no longer burned down, and no one knows he is Spider-Man. That’s where One More Day ends, and Brand New Day begins.
So he is NOT the Devil (but sure looks like him!) but someone named Mephisto.

The number one issue in most fans’ complaints has been the deal with Mephisto. The fact that this character is commonly Marvel’s representation of the Christian Devil is a contention point for some. Others note he is not really a character Spider-Man has had much, if any, relationship to; he belongs to the mystical (Ghost Rider, Dr. Strange), and even cosmic (Silver Surfer) realms of the Marvel Universe. Still others are miffed by just how much power the guy seems to have now. Suddenly, Mephisto is put on level with The Beyonder or a living cosmic cube, or say, Scarlet Witch, on power level.

The idea of Peter Parker making a deal with the devil is perhaps the bitterest pill for most fans of the character to swallow. [Co-author Joe] Quesada’s main contention is “Peter didn’t seek Mephisto out...he appeared at just the right moment, when Peter was at his lowest and completely out of options.” Also, MJ made the deal first, with Peter just tagging along for the ride at the end, but still, agreeing to Mephisto’s terms.
Mephisto also shows MJ and Peter their not-yet-conceived child, that will never be born... tugs a bit at the heartstrings, no?
So what of the rest of the stories featuring Mary Jane from the last twenty years of comics? Well, they were either simply removed from continuity, or changed in an undisclosed way by magic. Joe says all the stories happened, but looking at post-OMD continuity, they simply couldn’t have. Harry couldn’t have died, or been the Green Goblin. Mary Jane couldn’t have had a miscarriage, unless Joe wants to promote Peter Parker, Spider-Man as having unprotected premarital sex. More recently, the various stories featuring Peter’s totemic link to other Spider-men either didn’t happen or had no real change or effect upon him. Aunt May’s house never burned down. If Tony Stark, Iron Man didn’t know Peter’s identity, he may have still made the Iron Spidey costume when Peter joined the Avengers, allowing for the three Iron Spideys currently in the pages of Avengers: Initiative, but that still bears problems. Peter and Tony grew close because of the shared information of his secret identity. How would Peter have worked for Tony in the civilian identity and super-hero simultaneously without his ID being known? Unfortunately, no answers to these questions seem to be coming.
You can see the problems, then.

Some comments from some of the fanboys over at Newsarama:
:: I think for me one of the biggest and most insulting things that Joe Quesada has brought upon himself with this story is his continuing assertion that if Peter divorced MJ it would make him a bad person.

This sounds like he's suggestion divorce is always bad, and that people who get divorces are bad people. This is an incredibly bad thing to say, and totally wrong. People get divorces for good reasons all the time.

I mean, what if Peter divorces MJ so she can at least live a normal life without having to follow him into hiding? He divorces her to, in effect, save her life. Isn't this altruistic and in the end a 'good' thing to do?
:: I have a feeling this story is kind of like Star Wars - Lucas had an ending for his story and basic plot points to hit on, but his epic was cobbled together over time, there was no grand plan to the whole thing.

:: OMD was a terrible story. Want to do away with the marriage? Fine, but do it through a GOOD STORY. OMD was a story that felt like it was written by someone with no common sense or understanding of the subject matter.

I can only hope all this is a "clever" ruse, that this story will run over a few months with Peter realizing what has happened and reversing it. I'm not a big fan of continuity, which is why I don't read much DC since it's so continuity-heavy, but you can't, as a reader, logically accept that this one thing (the marriage) has just been plucked from existence with no major ramifications. It just doesn't work.
:: Does anyone seriously thinking there are just throngs of kids out there picking up Spider-man books, flipping through them and going, "Dude, he's married? Ew, I can't relate to that!" then tossing the book aside and going home to play video games? It's certainly Marvel's right to try to change their readership's demographics and try to aim the book more at kids than at the older men who make up most of their audience today. If it works, good for them. But you can't expect us to be happy about it, especially when it was done in such a silly, cliched and out-of-character way.
:: Seriously, "One More Day" was like Poochie going back to his home planet on "The Simpsons."
In short, nobody thinks this is good, except the people at Marvel.

And to judge by ONE MORE DAY, Mary Jane is also very sad. :(

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