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Friday, March 20, 2015 

Nobody should be fooled by Marvel's Spider-marriage carrot dangler

Entertainment Weekly's written about the alleged return of Mary Jane Watson and the child she and Peter may have borne in the mid-90s. It's predictably very sugarcoated, starting with the first paragraph:
With just over one month remaining before Marvel’s huge Secret Wars event kicks off, nary a day goes by without more details about the event’s many crossovers and tie-ins. Some of these are exciting returns to beloved characters and storylines, some are entirely new things, still others are wonderfully strange mashups. But one of them is different; choosing instead to revisit one of the most controversial decisions in recent Marvel history: The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows.

EW has the first details about the Secret Wars tie-in that will bring back Peter Parker’s marriage and child for what’s being billed as “The Last Spider-Man Story.”
Isn't it pretty obvious this'll lead nowhere, and it's only being brought back because they intend to reboot the whole MCU, something not many thought possible before?

And with Quesada and Alonso's track record, I don't think "exciting" is a great way to describe this. Not when there's every chance it'll all end as badly as we could expect. After all repeated efforts they made to troll the audience, buying this tale would only be doing them a favor they don't need.
Ever since EW revealed the first tease for Vows, speculation has run wild. While there isn’t much of a way to objectively measure these things, the dissolution of the Spider-marriage in 2007’s One More Day is easily one of the most widely disparaged story decisions for the character in recent memory. (The “death” of Peter Parker leading up to Superior Spider-Man may have come close, but a lot of people have come around on that front. Not nearly as many have said, “Hey, the Parkers selling their marriage to the devil to save Aunt May was actually great.”) Mourning the lost Parker marriage has become a regular tradition, most recently practiced by celebrated Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates earlier this year.
But boycotting Marvel products in protest hasn't. The mindless addicts certainly aren't. I don't like how they infer fans are "whiny", because not all are, though every reader who vehemently refuses to quit these books when the editors/writers slap them in the face has no business complaining to start with.

And why do they say people have "come around" on the "death" of Peter prior to Inferior Dr. Octopus? Even after that was reversed, storytelling by Slott remains pretty awful and stunt-laden.
“There are legions of Spider-Man fans that are passionate about changes that have happened to Spider-Man continuity,” says Renew Your Vows writer (and current Spidey scribe) Dan Slott. “They are upset that the baby went missing, that the marriage went away. Spider-Man has been around for fifty years, and the marriage was around for twenty-five. So now we’re seven or eight years into a world without a married Spider-Man. It’s a big itch that people want scratched.”
No, the marriage was only around for barely 2 decades, 1987-2007. And people are disgusted that Slott writes revolting fanfiction laced with sexism, among other elements that don't qualify as genuine character focus.

I wonder if people really were bothered about the loss of Peter and Mary's child in the mid-90s? It's hard to say, and besides, the Spider-Girl series offered a pretty good alternate world premise when Tom deFalco was working for Marvel. Whether they were, it was nothing compared to the disaster of the Clone Saga, which does come up in this otherwise fawning mess:
Of course, as any longtime Spidey fan will tell you, the baby is probably the most bananas part of all this. One More Day was a very clear story decision—Marvel felt the character needed revitalizing, so they made some changes. One of those changes was making him single again. This sort of thing happens all the time—but what made One More Day particularly contentious was how this change was made. Because it really did involve a deal with the Marvel equivalent of the devil, and that seemed a bit…off.
Oh, do tell us all about it. It may happen "all the time", but the finished product is not always impressive. Just look at some of DC's crossovers and other stunts intended to make "changes" that impress nobody thanks to the increasingly bad writing accompanying them. In fact, DC's penchant for using crossovers to serve as a springboard for retconning instead of doing them stand-alone
But that baby! The baby was just altogether forgotten and never really definitively addressed—in the long, winding mess that was “the Clone Saga,” Mary Jane told Peter that she was pregnant (in Spectacular Spider-Man #221), only to be poisoned and be told by doctors that the baby girl was stillborn (in Sensational Spider-Man #11) while readers are led to believe that she was still alive and in the hands of the Green Goblin, even after a fakeout that led to the return of the previously-dead Aunt May (in Amazing Spider-Man #441).
I've been wondering lately: could suggesting the baby was still alive have been a mistake? But a definite mistake was bringing back Norman Osborn, culminating in his ridiculous elevation to a major adversary in crossovers like Civil War, and so too was the whole Clone Saga. In fact, if the child stemmed from so awful a mess, that's why the pregnancy too was ill-advised.
In fact, one of the most popular Spider-Man spinoffs, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz’s Spider-Girl, was set in a world where that baby definitively survived and grew up to replace her father. In Renew Your Vows, Slott is particularly interested in really diving into how the role of husband and father would affect Peter’s heroic mission.
Ah, now there's a telling hint where this could end up, beside the oblivion they have planned after Secret Wars: it's basically an alternate reality situation, not unlike House of M's meaningless time/space warps. Which, come to think of it, is what it's been like for years.
“Spider-Man, when you get down to it, is a character about responsibility. And the second he’s a father and a husband—he has a responsibility to share his powers with the world, but suddenly he has two people that are his whole world. That changes everything, the complete dynamic of what it means to have great power and great responsibility,” says Slott. “You need to be there for your daughter, you need there for your wife—in a way that he hasn’t had to be there for anyone else. And that drastically changes what it means to be Spider-Man.”
And Slott is a writer who's all about self-importance and laughing his way to the bank. Responsibility applies to all but people like him. In fact, the following strongly hints this will not be what everybody's hoping for:
So yes, Baby Parker is a pretty big deal to both fans and the general goings-on behind Renew Your Vows. But, as Slott notes, there’s a purpose to it all, and it’s probably not what you think it is.

“With any story where you give people what they want—there’s a difference, as a storyteller, between what your readers want and what your readers need. In a good Peanuts story, you want Charlie Brown to kick that football. But if Charlie Brown kicks the football, it’s over!” says Slott. “All the best stories in serialized fiction–it’s always about teasing the greatest wishes and wants, but monkey-pawing it. Always giving you what you want, but not the way you want it.”
I think that's pretty much a way of saying marriage restoration and parenthood won't last, and any so-called character focus could be quite the atrocity we're already expecting. After all, why should we be surprised a man writing a story about a crook with tentacles taking over Peter's body could turn out just as horrid a story in Renew Your Vows? Slott's done so much bad already, that buying his upcoming story would only be granting a reward he doesn't deserve.
So what else do fans want? What else might they see in Renew Your Vows?

You haven’t seen Spider-Man’s classic villains the way you know and love—I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eddie Brock as Venom in this story,” teases Slott. “Or Sergei Kravinoff as Kraven the Hunter in this story. There’s going to be a lot of bullets in the gun for things you wanted to see in a Spider-Man story that you haven’t seen in a while. This is the ultimate classic feel. This is the last Eddie Brock story. The stakes have never been higher for Peter Parker because he’s never had so much to lose. So he has never been this close to the edge. And these are the Last Days.”
In other words, it's just an excuse to guest star several familiar villains of the costumed variety yet again, another major problem with modern superhero comics, because a lot of these stories are only built on their presence alone, not on the story's writing quality. There's nothing "classic" when no serious talent is assigned. We haven't seen Spidey's rogues' gallery the way we knew them for a long time, and even then, that's not what we're looking for. What we want is talented writing without editorial mandates and writers' selfish biases replete with fanfiction elements.
Even with the return of all these long-missing classic Spidey elements, there’s also something new in the mix (besides the whole Secret Wars thing). If you’ve been following Secret Wars via Marvel’s interactive Battleworld map, you’ll notice that Renew Your Vows is set in a region of the world known as The Regency—it’s named after The Regent, the mysterious villain of Renew Your Vows. The Regent’s identity is top-secret—all that Marvel is saying about him/her is that the villain has a plan in place, and it’s one that Daredevil and Moon Knight have already fallen prey to.
Oh, that's all we need. And then, the Regent will turn out to be a Mary Sue.
As for Renew Your Vows’ role in the grand scheme that is Secret Wars, it’s Marvel’s intent to make the series—which will be the core Spider-Man book throughout the event—stand on its own two feet.
It can't if such awful puppeteers are pulling the strings behind the panels. I haven't even heard an apology from Quesada for forcing this upon the MCU in the first place, so why should we excuse them now?
“If all you care about is Spidey,” says Slott , “it’s totally cool if you have no idea what’s going on in Secret Wars.”
Nope. If they won't be transparent about their intentions, then it's not cool at all. "Surprises" went out of style long ago. And it's not just Spidey I care about - there's plenty of other MCU superheroes and co-stars I care about too, who've been subject to the worst writing ever to litter the genre this past decade.
But if you’re interested in the future of Spider-Man’s world after Secret Wars, Renew Your Vows is where you’ll want to go to see what’s going to make it into the new Marvel Universe.

“What I can tell you? No matter who or what or how Spider-Man comics will be made in the future—elements from this story will go on into the next incarnation,” says Slott, speaking extremely carefully. “Elements. Of this. Yes.”
Elements I'm sure no sane person wants to waste money on to find out what they're like.

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Slott and Brevoort have delusions of grandeur. They see themselves, not as entertainers, but as great philosophers, imparting wisdom. They prescribe our "medicine." And they give us what we "need," instead of what we want. Because they know what we need better than we do.

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." -Bertrand Russell

I sense a rise in Spider-marriage related fan artwork and stories once this hits the stands.

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