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This Week In Marvel – One More Day

marvel.gifThere’s really only one thing people are talking about this week in Marvel: the final issue of One More Day. Hopefully you’ll forgive me for adding to the online feedback, because, due to thelate shipiing of books, I’m a bit behind in my reading this week. And fairly warned be ye, there be SPOILERS AHEAD!


I’m going to start with my personal Spider-Man history. When I started collecting comics properly in 1989, Spider-Man wasn’t high on my list of books to buy. There were four Spidey titles, and it seemed like a bit of hard work to follow them. I drifted away from comics for a while, but when I came back to them in the late 90’s, I picked up all the Spider-Man titles, right at the end of the clone saga. And I actually really liked how the books were working…there was a momentum in them that I hadn’t seen before, and the supporting cast for Ben Reilly caught me. I didn’t even need the full clone history towards the end, and when the saga finished, I was happy to see Peter Parker spotlighted again and each book given a different feel, be they focussed on classic Super-Villains or street crime characters.

I dropped them again around the time of the John Byrne Year One retcon, mainly because I found them dull and unimaginative. Paul Jenkins came on board though, and I was back on board, and haven’t missed an issue since.

 

 

Overall, I’ve really liked JMS’s run. There’s been the glitch of the Stacy twins, but largely Spider-Man had momentum again. Things were happening in his life that mattered. Aunt May discovered his dual identity, the issue of a potential mystical basis for the powers reared its head, and then we had the unmasking. Whether you liked the concepts or not, new story avenues were being opened up. Possibilities were there.

As you may already know, I wasn’t averse to the possibility of the marriage to MJ ending. It had almost happened once before after all. As long as I could believe the circumstances and they were true to character, then fine, shake up some status quo.

So I eventually come to One More Day (OMD from here on in). And the truth of the characters’ actions becomes significant. More on that later.

To begin with the positives, lets kick off with the artwork. Joe Q has drawn an exceptionally good series here. Who knows if it was his artwork that caused the lateness, but it must be said that his capture of both movement and emotion has been fairly top notch. The art slips a little where he inks his own pencils in the final issue, but it’s been a pretty series to look at. The other positive comes in the capturing of the small moments. Mj and Peter feel tight throughout, a union that should not be torn apart, and their final moment together, simply holding each other, is surprisingly poignant.

That’s where the positives end though. As much leeway as I was prepared to give this story, as much as I wanted to see Peter and MJ deal with a terrible dilemma nobly, I cannot in good faith say that OMD has any redeeming features plot wise.

Mephisto has been an extraordinarily poor choice of villain for this shake up. He’s never played a major role in Spider-Man’s life before, and to inject him in now seems facile. Further, the religious tone that is evoked in the final issue of OMD is completely out of place. In Daredevil, his religious nature is an integral part of the character. Peter’s spirituality though has never been key to an understanding of his character. The references to God are unspecific and yet unsubtle, and have the effect of ripping you right out of the story.

In the end, MJ and Peter are given the option of a standard deal with the devil: lose Aunt May, or forget their marriage ever existed. It’s a trite way of ending what had been so crucial to Spider-Man’s existence for the last 20 odd years: the nerd got the girl. And with that came an extra responsibility in his life. Removing that repsonsibility is fine up to a point, but doing it via supernatural mumbo jumbo smacks of sheer ham-fistedness.

Unfortunately, that is the underlying theme of OMD. A hamfisted effort of plotting, with absolutely no subtlety within. The start of the arc was tedious and plodding, and the end seems hopelessly rushed and contrived. It’s a mess.

One can only assume that the mess will be carrying over into Brand New Day as well, given that we see the resurrection of the previously long-term deceased Harry Osborn. A whole can of worms has been opened regarding what events in the last 20 years of Spider-Man history actually existed. Hopefully the quality of writers coming on board can make sense of this absurd retcon, because, as it stands, a lot of stories seem to have been rendered meaningless.

And there’s the chief problem right there. A retcon like this only serves to alienate you. Halfway through the final issue, when MJ and Peter drift apart from each other, I became nostalgic for their relationship. That quickly. If the two of them had been pushed apart, aware of the ramifications of the decision, then you can deal with that, because the characters have moved on. With the cosmic reset button pressed however, the world has moved on without the characters, and any moments we may remember form their relationship now read like a sham.

Finally, One More Day doesn’t even really live up to its title. I’m going to diverge here, and recommend that you rent or buy Takeshi Kitano’s film "Hana Bi", or "Fireworks". In a nutshell, the film is about a cop taking his terminally ill wife on a journey, not to cure her, but so they can enjoy the last moments of their company together. One More Day implied, with all the solicitation information, that Peter and MJ would be spending their last day as a married couple together, in an important coda to their relationship. "What would you do, if you only had One More Day?" is what Marvel asked us. Pete and MJ don’t seem to get even that. The rushed ending seems to take place in half an hour, tops, and we are cheated of anything really resembling how someone would treat those last fleeting moments with the person they treasure most.

I’ve been as even-handed as I can with this book. There was a lot of negative reaction to it, sight unseen. And a killer story, with elements that actually mean Pete and MJ acted in character, and an inciting incident that actually had precedence in Spider-Man’s history might well have gone a way towards allaying the feelings of negativity towards the change in status quo.

Joe Q, you got it horribly, horribly wrong here. There was potential in everything introduced for Spider-Man up until now. There may be in the future, who knows but you? One More Day may have germinated with the best of intentions. But, frankly, it’s a turd. No-one who worked on the book intended it that way, but it’s a turd. And you just can’t polish it up, no matter how hard you try. 



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