Words of Questionable Wisdom: One More D’oh! (Or Joe Quesada‘s White Whale…)
By Paul Sebert
The best thing you can say about the current “One More Day” storyline in the pages of Spider-Man right now is that it’s the kind of awful storyline that only someone with an intense love of comics is capable of creating.
One More Day is the latest in a string of editorial driven Spider-Man comics which have been giving me headaches for the last two years. You see not that long ago it was a fricken’ awesome time to be a Spider-Man time. Back when I first began writing about comics JMS’s run on Amazing Spider-Man was at it’s peak, Mark Millar was doing a bang-up job on Marvel Knights Spider-Man, and Paul Jenkins run on Spectacular Spider-Man was the only book to ever make me give a damn about Venom. For a little while you also had anthology books like Spider-Man’s Tangled Web and Spider-Man Unlimited which were essentially the Spider-Man equivalent of Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. I had virtually every Spider-Man book on my pull list.
Then came a much hyped, much loathed storyline called “Sins Past” which was allegedly going to CHANGE SPIDER-MAN FOREVER! A lot of people bought the storyline thought it would set up a new status quo for Spider-Man, or perhaps had something to do with the Araña character who was being introduced in Amazing Fantasy. Alas the story centered around Norman Osborn carnoodling Gwen Stacy, a mental image which induced vomiting on a massive scale. The torrid Osborn/Stacy fling ended up producing two new Goblin Twin characters which were rushed into Spectacular Spider-Man and then never spoken of again. Fans who went into the story with high expectations ended reading a future candidate for Craig Shutt’s Mopee Awards.
But for all of the immediate fan backlash Sins Past begat a string of awful Spider-Man centric “events.” The mental image of Norman Osborn with his pants down was almost topped by Spider-Man Disassembled in which Peter Parker somehow turned into a giant Spider and gave birth to himself! Then came Spider-Man: The Other, in which Spidey got a new “stinger” super power which has been used all of two times ever since then. We were then treated to the Spidey’s brief run as an armored superhero, which was all a setup for Spider-Man Civil War, followed by Back in Black, which was just a set-up for One More Day! Spidey got organic web shooters, moved into Avengers Tower, unmasked, had a falling out with Iron Man, and became a fugitive in a two and a half year span.
Spider-Man comics started to suck. Some talented people worked on the books during this period: Peter David, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, etc. but it almost didn’t matter who was writing. We never had time to get used to Peter Parker living in Avengers Tower or living as a fugitive because no one could simply tell Spider-Man stories anymore. It was all setup for the next event which would CHANGE SPIDER-MAN FOREVER! REALLY! WE MEAN IT THIS TIME! HONEST!
Something clearly had to be done and Joe Quesada the visionary who gave us Ultimate Spider-Man, Civil War, and countless successes knew the exact cause of this problem. The reason Spider-Man comics now sucked was because… Peter Parker was married.
Now I’ll be honest. In a perverse sort of way I watched in train wreck fascination as Joe Quesada tried to explain why this move was necessary and failed in epic fashion. On a nearly weekly basis for the last year in every Joe Friday column and convention panel Joe Quesada tried to tell fans why this was a necessary. Despite having the charm of a politician and a reputation as a guy who could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo Quesada was actually at lose for words. For all of his gift of gab Joe Q. was simply at a loss of words, only able to chirp out lame excuses like “being single is an important part of his character” or “there are stories about a single Peter Parker you can’t write about a married Peter Parker.”
Yet despite the fact that unlike any of the post one-more-day status quo’s, the marriage has been a change in the character that people have honestly liked, and stood the test of time. Yet Joe Quesada still insisted this was somehow bad for the character. Forget the fact that Peter Parker’s been married for 4/9ths of his history. Forget the fact that there are people old enough to vote for whom Spider-Man’s always been a married hero. Forget the fact that every story that’s attempted to separate the two (such as the Clone Saga, or Chapter One) has ended in disaster. Joe Quesada knew he was right! The Parker/Watson marriage had become his white whale.
My best guess is that the Quesada’s real issue with the marriage comes from when he came into comics fandom. For awhile after Gwen Stacy’s death in the late 60s/early 70s there was a period in which Peter Parker had half a dozen different romantic interests which stretched on to the early 80s before the marriage kicked in. Joe Quesada wants Peter Parker on the dating scene for the same reason why I want Bart Allen alive, young and in the Impulse costume. It must just irk him to no small degree that no one ever wrote a Peter Parker/Gloria Grant romance.
Ok so what is there to be said about the One More Day Fiasco that hasn’t already been said? The story’s a lame continuity re-writing event that only works in DC Comics, and then only barely. (Peter and Mary Jane were never married! 20 years of character history… POOF!) Quesada’s collaborator writer J. Michael Straczynski has publicly distanced himself from the work before the final issue of the storyline ever shipped! The ending was also a rejected idea from the Clone Saga! It’s all catastrophically stupid!
“Joe Quesada apparently loves Spider-Man so much that he’s willing to put his name on a comic that a significant portion the character’s fans are pre-disposed to dislike.”
But in a weird way I kind of admire Joe Quesada for having the chutzpa for going ahead and being personally involved in the story to the point of actually drawing it himself. Back in the heyday when DC’s editorial board decided they wanted Hal Jordan to become a villain, they gave the project to a still wet behind the ears writer named Ron Marz, whose career was forever branded by Emerald Twilight. Similarly when DC’s editorial board decided that Batgirl should become a villainess in the pages of Robin, they shoved a wet-behind the ears Adam Beechen in a position to be labeled as “that asshole who made Cassandra Cain evil.”
He’s doing this because he honestly seems to think this will somehow make him a better character. There’s an honest, albeit highly misguided integrity to that.
In the meantime I’ve opted to avoid one more day and wait for the next line of SHOKING EVENTS WHICH WILL CHANGE SPIDER-MAN FOREVER! Tune in in future months for when Spider-Man gains energy based powers, learns Araña is really his illegitimate half-sister, fights a 50-foot tall reanimated cyborg Harry Osborn, and joins the X-Men.