Infinite Spider-Man 13.10: In Conclusion

Posted by Mister Mets 30 November 2012

When determining the future of the Spider-Man titles, Marvel also has to figure out what the series is about. What makes this book different from any others? One group suggests that the book is about growth, and another that it's about the adventures of a young man. These views are somewhat irreconcilable. Though there's also a group that wouldn't have minded the series freezing a status quo in place at some point in the middle, where it's no longer a series about a man younger than the typical superhero, nor is it a book about a guy who will continue to change in significant ways.

There are also questions about what type of stories should be told, and what type of events should be allowed. Should there be a commitment to change approach, as the writers and editors stick with previous developments whenever possible? Should there be an illusion of change approach, with writers and editors mindful of making sure that their successors can ignore their accomplishments?

One More Day changed the rules, as then Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada picked a side. While the erasure of the marriage was controversial, it wasn't the only thing that happened. Harry Osborn came back from the dead. And if any of the writers had been interested, he would have been joined by Gwen Stacy. Aunt May forgot that Peter Parker was Spider-Man. This was all preceded by the entire Spider-Man Unmasked era, which only occurred because all involved in crafting the stories knew that a magic reboot was coming. This may have backfired as the resulting "Back in Black" period, essentially meant as a filler to give the Brand New Day creative teams more of a head start, resulted in the best sales of J. Michael Straczynski's run on Amazing Spider-Man, as readers demonstrated an interest in a status quo unlike any they had seen before on the title.

One More Day is going to figure into many discussions about the future of the Spider-Man comics. Should Peter Parker ever learn about the deal with Mephisto? Should the marriage be restored? It seems that the intentions of all involved were to later ignore the story as much as possible, although that will be problematic, considering how important those four issues were to the status quo. Of course, writers can focus on their own stories, as well as the backstory from earlier arcs, and the 150+ issues since, but the lack of follow-up to perhaps the most consequential Spider-Man story of the last twenty years is glaring.

The decision to ignore One More Day still represents a choice in how to deal with the aftermath. But it's possible for Peter and Mary Jane to reconcile, without ever remembering that they've already been married. It could be that the post-One More Day era was mostly a speed bump in their relationship, with a reunion as obvious in retrospect as their reconciliation in Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 #50. Peter could go back to being a high school teacher, Aunt May could learn his secret once again and Harry Osborn could die a hero once again. Though, for the moment, there is something refreshing about not knowing how all the stories are supposed to end.

Even if the decision is made to bring Spider-Man's story to an end, there will be other debates. Is this a character who is supposed to have a happy ending? What comes next? Should the Marvel Universe keep ticking along without the Peter Parker Spider-Man, or should it be replaced with something else?

Until we figure that out, my recommendation is to go with the approach that works best in the long term. An illusion to change approach is key to preserving what works best about the character and the series, while also helping avoid bringing it all to a premature end. We'll still get great stories like Unscheduled Stop, Spider Island.and even Dying Wish. With a commitment to change approach, we might get some stories. But then it would stop. And I'm not ready for that just yet.


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