For once, this entry is not about my own missed opportunities (which easily it could be). This time around, I want to look at some missed opportunities with Spider-Man, namely spawning from One More Day.
For those of you in the know, I don’t have to explain what One More Day is. For those of you who don’t know, One More Day was a Spider-Man story line that ran in 2007. The basic gist of the story is that Spider-Man seeks to save his Aunt May. The story ends with Peter and May Jane willingly sacrificing their marriage to Mephisto (the Marvel version of the Devil), thereby saving Aunt May and erasing the knowledge that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, which had been revealed during the Civil War mini-series.
It is the story line that effective killed Spider-Man in my eyes. I have not read a Spider-Man book since (though, thanks to Marvel pushing him into everything, I was still exposed to him in Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Superextradelicious Avengers, and FF). I had a lot of problems with the resolution to the series, especially since it seemed to be directed by Joe Quesada’s inane belief that you can’t tell good stories about married people.
Naturally, as with any story line you hate that much, you start to think of ways that it could be better… so much better.
Spider-Man – Fugitive
The concept of this one is simple. Spider-Man does not take the deal. Mephisto goes away, and Aunt May dies (for the fiftieth of sixtieth time, I lost count… I think she’s really Phoenix). Peter realizes that as long as he stays, all of his loved ones are in danger. So, he cuts a deal with Tony Stark, the man who convinced him to reveal his identity to the world and started this whole mess in the first place. Peter calls in a major chip and Stark arranges for “Spider-Man” to be killed while being pursued as an unregistered superhuman (his status revoked when he switched sides during Civil War). Spider-Man goes out in a blaze of glory, though, unbeknownst to everyone, including Mary Jane, he survived. Parker assured Stark that he is done as Spider-Man (the only thing that Iron Man insisted on) and leaves New York.
After we see the burial of Aunt May, we catch up with Peter, catching a ride on a big rig and going by the name Ben Reilly. Throughout his Bill Bixby/Incredible Hulk like wanderings, he finds himself in various towns which always seem to have trouble. Parker, unable to set aside the mantra “with great power comes great responsibility” immediately goes into action, using his powers and his web shooters to save the day. In the end, he wanders off, knowing that if he stays, they will find him.
The story line comes to a head with Marvel’s Dark Reign event, where Peter is forced out of his wanderings when he discovers that Venom has been posing as Spider-Man for Osborne’s own Avengers line.
Peter Parker – Serial Killer
This story line follows through with the events of One More Day, though there is an alteration to the events that followed. The deal is made, Aunt May is saved, Spider-Man’s identity is a secret once more, all for the cost of one marriage, or so they think. Everything seems to be going okay for our web-slinger. Sure he’s still wanted as an unregistered superhuman, but he’s making ends meet and has met a nice new girl.
At least until she ends up dead.
Tragic as it is, Peter is able to regroup, even eventually finding someone else.
Until she ends up dead.
The police get suspicious. Peter knows he’s innocent, but also can’t explain his whereabouts for when they are killed. To do that would force Peter to expose his identity as Spider-Man and open up a whole can of worms. The police start to dig through Parker’s past and uncover another anomaly: the death of Gwen Stacy. Things don’t add up about her death which makes the police zero in on Parker that much more (remember, no one knows that Parker is Spider-Man, so the Green Goblin would not have much reason to target Stacy). It doesn’t help Parker’s cause that she was the daughter of a police officer, either. As the police close in, Aunt May begs her beloved nephew to run and prove he’s innocent, which he does. By the time the police come to arrest Parker, he is long gone.
As Parker tries to piece together the mystery behind the deaths, Mary Jane goes to visit aunt May to reassure her that Peter is innocent.
“Oh, I know that, dear,” Aunt May answers, her eyes turning devil red, “because I killed them, just like I’m going to kill you.” Mary Jane barely escapes Aunt May, but now knows the hidden cost of her deal with Mephisto: Aunt May was not saved, but replaced with a demon, one that is working to make sure Spider-Man is completely ruined.
Eventually, Mary Jane and Spider-Man find themselves at the one place where they could possibly find help: Doctor Strange’s House. Working with the Master of the Mystic Arts, Spider-Man and Mary Jane capture the Aunt May Demon. But, in the attempt to send it back to Hell, Mary Jane is mortally wounded. Nothing Spider-Man nor Doctor Strange can do will save her and Mary Jane dies. Mephisto returns once more, mostly to gloat over the fact that Parker has lost everything, his marriage, Mary Jane, even his Aunt, who he tried to save in the first place. The devil disappears, leaving Spider-Man in despair. Doctor Strange offers some help, conjuring an illusion over the dead body of the Aunt May demon and pinning the murders on it (not really that much of a stretch since the demon was indeed responsible).
Spider-Man is in the clear, but once more Peter Parker learns that with great power comes great responsibility.
Like story line above, this one picks up with a post deal Spider-Man. He and Mary Jane are not married, and his identity is still a secret to everyone. The curve ball hero comes up when Parker goes to hang out with some friends and there she is: Gwen Stacy. When he sees her, he feels that something is not right, though he cannot figure out what. We learn through some convenient dialogue that Peter had always been torn between Mary Jane and Gwen, never really able to commit to either. The sad effect of all of that is that he grew more distant to both, since Mary Jane and Gwen both wanted more of a commitment from Parker. He ended up losing both.
The problems begin to manifest when Parker dreams. The nightmares as always the same. The Green Goblin, the bridge, and the fall. The only detail that seems to change night after night is who falls: Gwen, or Mary Jane. Parker starts sleeping less, which adversely affects him both as Peter and as Spider-Man. When he near sleepless state nearly leads to the death of a family, Spider-Man knows he needs help. First he turns to Doc Savage, hoping that he might have some insight into what is behind the nightmares. Unfortunately, Doc Savage is forced to refer Spider-Man to another Doctor: Doctor Strange. Knowing that the only way to find out the meaning behind the nightmare is to experience the nightmare, Doctor Strange calls in a sort of specialist, a little known superhero called Sleepwalker. Using Sleepwalker’s dream traveling powers, the trio enter the nightmare and learn the truth. The nightmare is a remnant original memory somehow pushing its way to the forefront in spite of Mephisto’s manipulations. The only detail they cannot seem to learn is the identity of the woman who dies in Peter’s dream.
Mary Jane, or Gwen?
Knowing what the dream means, Peter starts to pull away from both women, unable to deal with the fact that one of them should actually have dies years before. The nightmares abate, but now Peter risks losing the two women in his life that he had ever loved.
And somewhere, Mephisto laughs at the true cost to save Aunt May.
Posted on June 23, 2013, in Comics, Media, Opinion, Personal and tagged comics, Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, media, One More Day, Opinion, personal, Peter Parker, Spider-Man. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.