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Sunday, March 15, 2020 

Marvel's disrespect for Tony Stark and Mary Jane Watson continues

In the first example from CBR, from the 3rd issue of Iron Man 2020, it appears Tony Stark's been shoveled into the grave yet again:
The Marvel Universe might have to contend with the loss of a founding Avenger... again. At the beginning of Iron Man 2020 #3, Arno Stark defends his plan to instill an obedience program within all A.I. on Earth while fighting a bevy of classic Marvel robots. Arno also battles his adopted brother, Tony Stark, who's become the leader of all artificial intelligence in their fight for freedom. Arno attempts to reason with and convince his brother to join him with the help of their recently resurrected parents. Unable to listen to reason, Tony continues to fight, resulting in Arno blasting Tony out of the sky. But the image of Iron Man, dead and surrounded by friends and allies, is one that has become a familiar sight to Marvel fans. [...]

It's clear that Marvel has made a habit of killing Tony Stark, but there are a few reasons why. For one, Tony Stark's origin is built around the notion of cheating death. As his technological prowess has developed, his many deaths have allowed him the opportunity to reveal new means of resurrecting himself. After all, it makes sense that Iron Man has multiple ways to return from the dead. And since anyone can take on the suit, Tony's deaths allow others to take his place and serve as the Armored Avenger. Most recently, Riri Williams suited up as Ironheart, something that could happen in the MCU as well.

Still, the question remains: how long will Iron Man's latest death last. Arno Stark has shown his superior abilities and intellect in the battle for supremacy between humans and machines, so this death could stand as one of Iron Man's greatest failures. But if Tony Stark has taught us anything, it's that no problem is without a solution—even his own death.
Big deal. It doesn't solve the issue of retconning Tony into an adopted orphan, while Arno becomes the biological heir in his stead. Nor does it solve retconning Tony into the son of Mephisto. This only amounts to another example of writer Dan Slott trolling Marvel fans again. It began with Spider-fans, now it's against Iron-fans. And removing Tony from the picture is only a cheap excuse not to focus on him for a time, if at all.

In the second example, from Screen Rant, which is owned by the same company as CBR, Spider-Man enters a bizarre alternate world where Mary Jane Watson is put in a role similar to what the Atom's wife Jean Loring suffered at DC back in 2004, while Gwen Stacy, in a manner of speaking, ends up in the Sue Dibny role:
Girlfriends aren't always fond of their significant other's exes, but Mary Jane Watson has taken it to a new level in Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #4... by murdering Gwen Stacy all over again. Yes, Gwen is dead, and this time at the hands of Peter's most famous lover.

The death of Gwen Stacy has always been regarded as one of the most important and influential moments in Spider-Man history. The death of Peter's first love interest came as a bit of a shock to readers, and to this day laid much of the groundwork for the Peter they know and love. Mary Jane may be the better known romance for Peter Parker, but many forget that without the love of Gwen before her, Peter would have never faced the emotional turmoil that made him the man he becomes. Despite the event taking place almost 50 years ago in real-world time, the fact that it is still being brought up in 2020 just goes to show the lasting impact the story arc had on the entire franchise.
Oh, please! Does Peter have to face any emotional turmoil at nearly every turn? Sure, making Mary Jane into Peter's girl Friday may have led to some wonderful storylines, but the whole notion that Gwen had to die just to get there is ridiculous. Yes, the 1973 story was handled well enough in its time. But that still doesn't mean Marvel had to do it in order to make MJ the main squeeze. Killing a character via murder has long become a grossly overused cliche.
In a fit of rage enhanced by the Symbiote, Spider-Man jumps on the Green Goblin and removes his mask... to find Mary Jane's face. This truly is a world of nightmare as Spidey falls back in disbelief that his lover just murdered his past love, and that he almost killed her in the process. Mary Jane taunts him, claiming Gwen's death was a necessary step in his development, and without Gwen dying he never would have met her, his true love. While this might not be the actual Mary Jane that murdered Gwen here, it's born of Peter's actual thoughts and fears. And for that reason, absolutely shakes Spider-Man to his core.
It's no better than the message Identity Crisis sent - that girlfriends/spouses/relatives/friends are all inherently dangerous if you share secret IDs with them. That's not a good message, because it also implies Lois Lane is unreliable and dangerous. It's also a form of lecturing the audience, which is just as negative.
Issue #4 not only reuses this monumental moment of Spidey history, but twists and warps it in such a way that actually acknowledges its own importance. Since this is all occurring within Peter's subconscious, even he knows Gwen's death was a huge turning point for his life and development. Proving even Peter, as hard as it is to let go of Gwen, realizes that this moment in his life was a defining one that made him the man he is today. What's also particularly interesting about this specific issue is how it flips the typical Symbiote-Peter Parker relationship on its head. Typically, it is the Symbiote messing with Peter's head, however here it is actually the Symbiote that is being messed with by Peter's head. When the Symbiote is usually a nightmare for Peter, here Peter is, quite literally, a nightmare for the Symbiote.

To experience the rest of the nightmare and to know what happens to everyone's favorite web-slinger and sorcerer supreme, you'll just have to pick up Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #4, available now at a comic shop near you.
I don't think many people are going to bother for the moment with the Coronavirus epidemic a major concern. Even without it, this is one of the worst examples of justifying a past storyline, rather than let the audience judge for themselves. Metacommentary of this sort is not what superhero comics should be all about.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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