Infinite Spider-Man 9.15: Anti-OMD grab-bag

Posted by Mister Mets 30 March 2012

In earlier parts of the essay, I mentioned a few further arguments for retconning One More Day, or restoring Spider-Man's marriage and a few other aspects of the pre-OMD status quo. Aside from the various Part 9 stuff, I thought Mephisto's role worked for the storyit was characteristic of the Parkers to choose Aunt May's life over their marriagethe depiction of time travel was satisfactorythe backlash to "It's magic, we don't have to explain it" was exaggeratedQuesada's version of OMD was superior to what JMS wanted to do, and that it was quite unlikely that any writers are scared away from the series by questions about the backstory, or fear of a backlash.

There's also some stuff that doesn't merit a complete page, although in the process of writing this piece, I decided that some of the points that I thought would be part of this hodge-podge merited separate entries. Fortunately, that isn't the case with a question asked at CBR: How would you explain One More Day to a child?

I didn't think it was all that difficult, relative to other superhero stories. Peter Parker was once married to Mary Jane. Someone shot his Aunt May, and the only one who could save her was Mephisto. He's a weird alien with magic powers. But Mephisto's not a nice alien. He wanted something in return: Spider-Man's marriage. He was going to remake the world so that Peter Parker and Mary Jane were never married. This is obviously fiction, but in life, there are situations when you don't have a good option, and you have to choose between two things which are less than ideal. In this story, Peter and Mary Jane decided that Aunt May's life was more important than their marriage. So they agreed to the deal. Now Mephisto remade the world so that Peter and Mary Jane were never married. Most of the stories set in that period happened almost exactly the same way, except their relationship was different. It's sort of how these stories (point to Lee/ Ditko) still happened, even if the material's all set in the 1960s, when the computers we use, video games and cell phones had not been invented.

If There Was No OMD

It's been a long time since One More Day, so we have no idea what the Spider-Man comics would be like now if Quesada had decided to go in a different direction. As noted earlier, JMS's last two years of Amazing Spider-Man were consistently tied to major EVENTs, which represented a sales strategy that couldn't be sustained in the long-term. Sales on the title were slowly, but steadily declining before “The Other.”

Without this major change to the status quo, something else would have had to be done to keep readers interested in the series Post-JMS. Otherwise, sales might have reached the levels of the pre-Flashpoint Superman titles. Though without One More Day, Spider-Man would not have unmasked in Civil War, nor would Marvel have opted for the Back in Black era. There would not have been as significant a sales drop percentage-wise if the numbers weren't so high to begin with.

From a narrative standpoint, the pre-reboot writers would have had more time to deal with the consequences of "The Other," although that might not have been a good thing considering the poor quality of the storyline. JMS might have been able to conclude his run largely free of any editorial interference if his last arc wasn't used to get the characters from Point A to Point B. There also wouldn't be any controversy generating interest in the work of his successors.

I'm not sure if the creative teams would have been radically different than the ones we got in One More Day. Dan Slott would write Spider-Man under any circumstances. The same was probably true of Guggenheim and Wells. Waid would probably not have come to the title, but there were other writers available.

You might think that there would have been more focus without BND on getting A-list writers to follow JMS, but that gets complicated. Bendis, Marvel's biggest writer, had no interest in Amazing Spider-Man. Millar developed a preference for creator-owned comics. Brubaker actually favors Spidey as a bachelor. Warren Ellis doesn't particularly like the character. That leaves Jeph Loeb, so it's possible that he would have been in charge of the post-JMS direction of the Spider-Man comics. It would have come at a literal cost for Marvel, as A-list writers are much more expensive.

The (almost) weekly schedule is more essential when the title's about a bachelor, as his status quo is more prone to change, and that's easier to coordinate with one title where most of the major stuff happens. Though the increased output of Amazing Spider-Man was something that Marvel had been considering for a long time, so it could have happened without One More Day. Marvel probably would not have wanted a back to basics approach for the book if there hadn't been as deviations from the norm. Maybe they would have developed out a new direction.

There's often a cycle of back to basics periods followed by departures from the norm. You could see it in the Spider-Man comics when Brand New Day was followed by the Big Time. Perhaps without One More Day, JMS's run of Amazing Spider-Man would have been followed by a 101 issue mega-arc with Spider-Man unmasked. This was something he had set up in Amazing Spider-Man #500, and the Back in Black sales showed there was a demand for that. But where do you go from there?

That genie would have to go back in the bottle, a task which was hard enough after an year. Eventually it would have to be time for the series to go back to basics. If the marriage remained part of the title, that would have been one element of the status quo that wouldn't be touched, so it's a storytelling avenue closed for any subsequent directions.

It's easy to try to compare something tangible, such as the stories that were actually published, to an ideal, such as stories that could have been published. I think Brand New Day was a solid stretch of Spider-Man comics, so it's entirely possible that an alternative would not have been as successful, either artistically or financially.

If Brand New Day Had Failed

Some fans of the marriage and opponents of the retcon tried to discourage readers from buying the post-OMD Amazing Spider-Man issues arguing that if Brand New Day was a success, Marvel would have no incentive to undo the marriage. They were correct that the success of the current status quo means that a reversal is less likely.

The big reset strikes me as something that can only be done once, so I’d hate to see it wasted. If it's used more than once, any illusion of drama is shattered as it can become a habitual deus ex machina. But the big reset could itself by reset.

As s a magic retcon is a relatively easy development to undo, there was no need for JMS to carefully craft an out within OMD in order to allow future writers could being back the marriage if necessary, although he pretty much did that anyway. Thanks to the nature of the retcon, there would be several ways for the writer to reconcile the couple. There are several magic related stetcons, to use Peter David's term for retconning a retcon, that the next writers of Amazing Spider‑Man could do. Marvel could do a story in which Mary Jane remembers the world in which she was married to Peter, and they decide to get engaged, allowing Marvel to get stories out of the engagement this time around. Hell the writers could use magic to bring about any status quo they want. They could even reunite Peter, MJ and baby May if they so desired.

The ease with which Marvel could reverse the retcon brings up the major question. What exactly would they get by this?


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