In 2007, Marvel Comics launched the most controversial Spider-Man story of all-time. For years, the company had been attempting to reverse the decision to marry Spidey to Mary Jane, which they believed damaged the core brand. Finally, editor-in-chief Joe Quesada pushed for the shocking “One More Day,” which saw Peter Parker literally enter into a deal with the devil for the sake of Aunt May’s life. The cost was that his marriage was wiped out of continuity, as though it’d never happened.
The Spider-Man fanbase has never recovered from that decision. Although Marvel insiders routinely defended it, insisting the marriage went against the core brand, vast numbers of readers were furious. Now, in Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man #1, it looks as though Marvel’s actually beginning to go back on “One More Day.”
On the face of it, Amazing Spider-Man #1 should be an innocuous start to an everyday Spidey story. Spencer launches an arc in which the wall-crawler is down on his luck yet again, a victim of an evil plan once more; although this time, the evil plan is a rather amusing one. Wilson Fisk is currently Mayor of New York City in the Marvel Universe, and he hits upon the idea of making Spider-Man the one hero who’s celebrated by his administration.
It’s a genius move, because it sets the wall-crawler against the rest of his peers and isolates him in just the right way to hurt him. Meanwhile, Peter’s academic career falls apart when it’s discovered his doctoral thesis was actually written by Otto Octavius. Needless to say, Peter can’t defend himself against that charge; how do you explain that your body was possessed by Octavius’ mind at the time you did your doctorate?
But it’s the echoes of “One More Day” that will make fans sit up and take note. The issue opens with Peter dreaming of a time when he and Mary Jane were together, and it feels like a kick in the gut for anyone who remembers the Spider-marriage. Peter’s even wearing the “back in black” costume he donned around the time he made that deal with Mephisto. Then, there’s a secondary character – the one who exposes Peter’s doctoral thesis, no less – who makes reference to a “Brand New Day,” as well as an ill-fated student who sold his soul to Mephisto for an LSAT score.
Combine that with a constant refrain that something’s missing in Peter’s life – even focusing on the fact Mary Jane isn’t wearing a wedding ring while stating it – and it’s clear Nick Spencer has something in the works. By the end of the issue, Peter and MJ are sharing a lip-lock once again.
Spencer’s script is otherwise entertaining, with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes facing what seems to be a monstrous alien invasion, and Spider-Man being the one with the brains to spot an opening and a chance to end it all. It’s a reminder that Peter’s no idiot, but rather, that he’s one of Marvel’s smartest heroes. It’ll be exciting to see where his life goes after the final twist. Meanwhile, there’s one conversation with Aunt May that’s sure to break hearts.
Ryan Ottley’s art is generally good here, although not every panel really feels as though it’s got a sense of motion or kinetic energy to it. Unfortunately, the kiss scene – which should be the highlight of the issue – just doesn’t quite work, partly because of the strange, slightly angular approach Ottley takes to faces. That’s a shame, because that kiss should have been the highlight of the entire issue.
Nick Spencer is well-known for his controversial stories; his is the mind behind last year’s Secret Empire, after all. And though it’s still early days, it looks as though this Spider-Man run will be every bit as controversial.
Nick Spencer courted controversy with his take on Captain America and with Amazing Spider-Man #1, now he's done it again.