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Thursday, January 24, 2008 

Enough of the Emperor's New Clothes act

Erik Larsen, who'd once been a Spider-Man contributor, wrote what he thinks about Joe Quesada's forced breakup of the Spider-Marriage. And I'm glad to see that his thoughts coincide with mine - that an Emperor's New Clothes path is not the way to go:
So...what should Marvel do now? Hasn’t the dye been cast?

Honestly?

My first thought was that Marvel should stick with it -- what's done is done. They backed off from the Clone Saga and the cure was worse than the disease and that they should simply tough it out.

But...

I really do think it should become undone -- I think Mephisto's scheme should unravel and bits and pieces get discovered and the word should get out.

And I think they should do this for several reasons. First, I think it’s unfair purely in a storytelling sense to have the Devil just “make things right” and vanish forever. That’s not the way Mephisto has been established -- and it’s not playing fair. Second, it throws far too many stories into a murky semi-limbo. It’s very vague what really happened over the course of the last 200+ issues of the “Amazing Spider-Man.” Too many issues hinged on the marriage or MJ’s knowledge of Peter’s dual identity. It’s simply asking too much to expect readers to reconcile all of that themselves. It would work better and some exciting stories could come out of it.
I'm glad he's saying it as it should be here, that to go along with this would be just more Emperor's New Clothes acts. Maybe now, someone will come along and say the same about Elongated Man, Sue Dibny, the Silver Age Atom, and Jean Loring. Come to think of it, maybe they'll even say it about Capt. Boomerang and the Silver Age Trickster, who seems to have died as well in Countdown recently. And maybe even about how Dr. Light was turned into a rapist, something that DC still seems to be sticking to. That it should all be undone.

After taking some time to read some of this, I've done a little extra thinking myself about Peter Parker and Mary Jane, and I think I know where Quesada and company misread everything about the two:

From all the material I've read of Spidey over the years, I've never gotten the impression that he was ever meant to completely remain a bachelor a la Tony Stark, and certainly not to remain a pauper. And even if he were still to have considerable money problems, that doesn't mean he would keep on living on the verge of losing house and home, or being forced to live with Aunt May much of the time. What I don't get the impression of is that Peter were to ever become a literal millionaire, nor Mary Jane, even if they do get jobs that pay well.

That's one of the reasons why Howard Mackie's story in 2000, where Peter had trouble affording to pay the rent for a house, simply didn't work. And to depict him as they are now, living once again with Aunt May and still having money problems, is no improvement. Come to think of it, even the membership with the Avengers doesn't make much sense either, as even Spidey himself concluded years ago, since he works better alone or just as a guest member of any team.

Also: Peter and Mary Jane Parker have a family-style, down-to-earth quality about them that few other Marvel protagonists have.

In fact, by breaking up Peter and MJ the way they did, they've trashed some golden opportunities to explore how as a couple they can raise money to take a vacation outside New York, or even to buy a good car. Or how they plausibly lose money on the stock market and then have trouble paying certain business debts. Those are the kind of problems that could be explored, if they had editors who really cared, but alas.

However, if they undo all the damage they've inflicted now, there IS a chance to explore these kind of ideas. What they need, of course, is an editor who really cares about characterization and entertainment that's served up honestly, something that Brand New Day isn't doing.

And that's one more reason why it's high time already that Quesada retired from his position as EIC of Marvel.

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