Saturday, February 28, 2009

One Year Later

I'm feeling too good today, and that's not natural (but Oak Express is!), so let's blog about something that's been ticking me off... For over a year!

I don't talk about it much, but I follow some comics, and might be considered a geek or a nerd. (Which is cool!) I mainly follow Marvel's Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four.

At the end of 2007, Spider-Fans got a bomb with the One More Day story arc. After Spider-Man unmasks in Civil War, he becomes an easier target for any number of the villains he's faced. A sniper hired by the Kingpin tries to shoot Peter Parker and shoots Peter's Aunt May instead. She is in a critical condition and highly likely to die, no matter where they go for help.

The One More Day story arc climaxed with Mephisto (Marvel's version of Satan) offering Peter and his wife Mary Jane to let Aunt May live if he can erase their marriage from ever existing. After much thought, Peter and MJ agree.

I remember reading that and seriously saying, "Did they just do that? Did they just seriously do that? DID THEY DO THAT?"

Yeah, so Peter Parker is single again, Aunt May is well and working at a homeless shelter and unaware of Peter's superhero identity, Mary Jane is a model and actress, somehow, although nothing in Civil War was retconned, no one remembers who Spider-Man was when he unmasked, Peter is no longer a teacher, and all the effects of The Other story arc have been eliminated. (That story arc was a death/rebirth arc for Spider-Man, where he gets organic web-shooters and other powers.) In addition, we saw the return of Harry Osborn.

So, this leaves fans asking "WHAT THE...???"

Now, I know they had to do something about the unmasking, because there was no way they could do basic Spider-Man stories, but it raises the question, did the stakes have to be the marriage of Peter and MJ? And although Aunt May was a fixture of the Spider-Man stories from the beginning, couldn't we finally say good-bye? Ah, well...

Now, these changes brought about "Brand New Day," a bit of a continuity reboot for Spider-Man, the problem being that about 20 years of beloved comic book stories were either retconned or altered in ways unknown to the fans (right now).

The problem with "Brand New Day" is that their purpose behind it has faltered. They said they wanted stories that focused more on Peter Parker, but we haven't seen him out of costume recently, and I've forgotten if he ever managed to get employed. They only recently gave him a romantic story, which really focused on his friend, Betty Brandt, and was pretty thin, and was overwhelmed by the other story in the issue where Peter gets to photograph Barack Obama's inauguration, which is crashed by The Chameleon.

And some of these stories get cheesy, and I mean CHEESY. Like, we have Freak, a supervillain who was a junkie who got turned into a monster when he took what he thought was crystal meth. Yeah... Sounds like a rejected Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen plot. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you're better off not knowing.)

And another story arc had a mysterious girl who is trying to hunt down Spider-Man, and catches his roommate, think he's her prey. If you're familiar with the Spider-Man rogues gallery, she brings to mind Kraven the Hunter. And I immediately thought, "She's his daughter." And in the last issue of the arc, it shows the girl returning to her mother, who comments she's Daddy's girl, revealing pictures of Sergei Kravinoff, the original Kraven. Now, this would be all right, if it just ended there, but no! There's a text box that reads some blurb like, "Wow! She's Sergei's daughter! You didn't see that coming!" Uh, actually, I did. Like a mile away.

Another thing that annoyed me was during a fight scene, Spider-Man suddenly had the angel on one shoulder, demon on the other complex. Cheese...

The only thing I'm really glad about "Brand New Day" is the return of Harry Osborn, who they revealed would have returned without "One More Day." In much the same way his father Norman Osborn died and then returned, so did Harry, and both have taken the mantle of the Green Goblin. Harry's a good character, and I appreciated his return.

The reason why I liked Mary Jane as Peter's wife is that she completed his character and offered leverage to his life from going out there and beating the villains. She just felt right.

I'm betting someday they'll either find a way to remove the retcon, or get Peter and MJ married again. It'd cause a big rage from the fans if they tried to marry him to someone else.

Whatever. It's their comics, let them screw it up how they want.


Nathan said...

I've never really been a comic reader, although it's something I've been considering getting into. But I think all the constant reboots would bug me (and I know Spider-Man isn't the only series to have done this; DC is constantly having Crises on Infinite Earths, from what I hear). I always think it's a bit lazy when writers come up with ways to undo past plots, rather than working with them.

Jared said...

I agree.

Jared said...

Actually, my future brother-in-law wrote a story that involved the complete destruction of the universe, and at the end, the sole survivor has unlimited power, and uses it to stop what led up to the destruction, and manages to let himself live in this re-set time line. It was a kind-of retcon, but it was either that, or make the guy be the God of a new universe, so he went for what would ultimately be the less controversial conclusion.

Huh... His next story has the character known as an "Anomaly."