clOne More Day

December 6th, 2007 by | Tags: , , , , , ,

(Note: This was originally meant to be a few paragraphs, only it stretched into a full rant about a series of things. I’m not a Spider-Man expert and haven’t read every single thing he’s been in for the past few years. Forgive me if my information is off. But I feel that I know enough for my ire to be justified.)

Back when Marvel was in the latter days of the Spider-Man Clone Saga, the writers all got together to brainstorm a good way to end this massive story arc. They needed something big. A lot of the ideas weren’t so good, like revealing a big chunk of it to be a virtual reality program or have Peter Parker go public with being a clone or just kill off Ben during Onslaught. Some were a bit better, like revealing that Judas Traveler was Seward Trainer from the future and that Seward betrayed Peter into thinking he was a clone all this time. The most interesting and best way to keep both Peter and Ben fans happy turned out to be a time loop.

See, Ben would start remembering events that happened to Peter. Being buried alive by Kraven or fighting Venom. Then, during a big villain gathering climactic finale, Carnage would mortally wound the Judas Traveler and Scryer would reveal his true self. He is Mephisto, orchestrating this whole mess.

As part of this craziness, Peter is sent back in time five years with a distorted memory. Hence, neither is the clone. Peter Parker and Ben Reilly are both Spider-Man, just aged a bit differently. Not the best story ever, but it wasn’t too bad.

There were a handful of reasons why this idea was turned down. Ben should be more aged if this was true, but considering the healing part of his powers and the relatively less stressful life he’s had in those five years, I could buy that they’d still look the same. Then there are a couple continuity issues, like how Mephisto is supposed to be dead around that time. But the main reason why it was tossed out?

Mephisto doesn’t really belong in a Spider-Man story!

I mean, that’s what they agreed on. Mephisto is too big picture and cosmic for somebody as street level as Spider-Man. A huge ending was necessary for the Clone Saga, but even despite all the dumb stuff it was putting an end to and the epic feel to what needed to close the story, “Mephisto did it!” was deemed too retarded.

And yet, here we are. Mephisto is being used for a climactic ending that really isn’t necessary. In fact, One More Day is just counter-productive and a bit maddening to Spider-Man fans.

JMS’ run is a gigantic mixed bag for me. There’s a lot about it I love that keeps me from hating it as a whole. The Aunt May discovery arc and the New Avengers arc come to mind. Not to mention that he’s the guy who made Peter a teacher, which is one of the better developments in the past few years. But man, the guy just tries so hard to etch his name in Spider-History. A lot of the time, his stories read like he’s pointing at the comic and yelling, “Do you read that? I wrote that! That’s a major thing and I wrote that!”

Dude, Spider-Man isn’t about every waking moment being life-shattering. Sometimes he just hung back and spent the week beating on the latest blowhard with a silly animal gimmick.

The spider totem thing fits in here. Not that it was a horrible arc or even concept, at least in my eyes, but it still fits the bill. Spider-Man’s all mystical and shit now and who did it? JMS did it! Don’t you forget it!

Then we get the whole Gwen Stacy baby thing. Jesus Christ. JMS had this idea that Gwen was pregnant with Peter’s kids when Green Goblin killed her. That only seems to exist to make Peter even angrier at the guy who already made him about as angry as Peter can get, but I’ll let it slide. Then Quesada nixed the concept because suggesting Peter could have a kid ages him. Dude. He was a teenager. His junk worked back then. I’m sure his junk worked better when he was looking at Gwen.

The change is made and the kids belong to Gwen and Norman Osborn. Due to plot device, they look like they’re in their twenties. Peter having kids ages him, but somebody Peter’s age having kids doesn’t age him. Got it.

Damn it, Nocturne. Why do you have to age Nightcrawler like that?

This also ruins the whole point of Gwen’s death in that there wasn’t supposed to be any. Norman wasn’t supposed to have any motivation other than hurting Peter through his loved ones. That’s the entire basis for being protective of his secret identity. When we know that if Spider-Man didn’t exist, Norman would have tossed her regardless, it loses the drama.

In the end, JMS had a convoluted idea that became even worse because editorial changed the course of the river.

Later, for quite a while, Spider-Man comics were all-around fantastic. He had just been inducted into the Avengers, he moved into Stark’s building and at the same time, Millar was writing some decent stuff with him in Marvel Knights Spider-Man. That’s right, hermanos. I said it.

The New Avengers story arc in Amazing Spider-Man was wonderful. It showed that while Spider-Man could hang around and do background fighting in the pages of New Avengers, he could be the star of the show in his own comic, while the others play supporting roles. One of the more interesting parts of his new supporting cast was that Peter Parker, a guy who is in desperate need of a father figure, now has two to choose from. Tony Stark was the obvious one, but JMS briefly played around with the concept that Captain America filled in the hole left from Uncle Ben’s death while Spider-Man did the same for the hole left from Bucky being Bucky.

Being that Peter has to suffer because it’s his natural habitat, a good story twist was brought in with House of M. The wished life with Gwen was a great excuse for Peter to find something new to mope about. Unfortunately, nobody really did anything with it, except for a couple pages in Son of M.

Instead we were given the Other. I tell you, if there was ever a story to define breaking momentum, it’s the Other. From what I understand, JMS only wanted it to be a short arc, but editorial mandate pulled it into a twelve-issue disaster written by JMS and the other Spidey writers Peter David and Reginald Hudlin. It reads like it too because nothing really happens. It’s stretched out like taffy. Spider-Man finds out he’s dying, has 76% of Marvel’s superheroes tell him this individually, spends a few days enjoying his final moments with MJ and May, dies, then comes out of a cocoon with new powers. He also fights Not-Morbius and Robot Jesus.

As a side-note, Marvel really should reveal Tracer to be the underused Andro the Doomsman in a new form. He was a robot mummy clone thing that Dr. Doom created so he could put his brain into it so he could conquer in a more powerful body. The Doomsman rebelled and became worshipped by Doom’s other robots. The Silver Age is awesome sometimes.

The big problem with the Other is that it was a retread of the organic webshooters story we got about two years prior. How many damn times is Spider-Man going to cocoon himself and be reborn?

I never read much of the new Sensational series after that. I did read the Eddie Brock arc, which I thought was really good, but nothing other than that. Peter David’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man had its ups and downs. His ideas were a little too out there and by the time he got his groove, the series ended. That’s a shame, since I want El Muerto back.

Tony Stark forged his mask to have a jerk face.

JMS’s Amazing continued along well enough with the Road to Civil War and Spider-Man’s new threads. Then things turned very, very sour once Civil War started. Say what you will about Mark Millar, his take on Civil War did a good job keeping it down the middle in terms of writer bias. That said, when the issues were still coming out and there was still story left to tell, it didn’t look so good for the pro-registration side when the whole Clone Thor thing went down. To add to that, JMS was in the middle of writing the most sinister incarnation of Iron Man in Amazing Spider-Man and Frontline wasn’t doing Tony any favors either. This was very one-sided as the Iron Man and New Avengers issues that told Tony’s side of the story were still on the way.

Things calmed down over time. The complete Civil War story came out, Iron Man’s comic came out, those two excellent Captain America/Iron Man meeting comics came out and the general consensus that “Tony Stark is the new Hitler!” isn’t as bad as it used to be. Then we see that the crux of this is JMS, because as shown in Thor and One More Day, Tony Stark remains a total douche with a mean robo face. Remember how cool Stark was in that Amazing Spider-Man: New Avengers story? What happened to that? JMS totally gave him a total 180 and refuses to set it back.

I also need to mention the Spider-Sense nonsense. During the beginning of the Iron Spider story, Spider-Man instinctively kicks Iron Man. He apologizes while admitting that he has Spider-Sense and that it’s currently out of whack. Only a few issues later, Iron Man references that power in hopes that Spider-Man can use it to help out. Spider-Man reacts with, “Hey! How does he know about my super secret Spider-Sense power?! I’m suspicious of him now!” What?

The Spider-Man Civil War stuff was fine for what it was, though meant to merely pad out the Spider-Man parts of the main miniseries. Unfortunately, it then led to the awful era we know as Back in Black.

Back in Black… oh boy. Where to start. Obviously, this was a tie-in with Spider-Man 3. Quesada and Friends admitted to that immediately. That’s not bad. It’s the story itself that’s horrible.

Aunt May gets shot due a hit the Kingpin ordered. Peter gets mad. So mad that he finds his old black costume (threads, not goo) and goes on an angry rampage. He should probably remember that he promised not to wear this outfit ever again because Mary Jane’s traumatized by Venom, but damn it, Spider-Man’s SO ANGRY THAT HE’S GOING TO KILL!

Therein lies the main problem. First off, no, he’s not going to kill the Kingpin. According to Daredevil, we already know that the Kingpin’s going to be let go of prison so he could hang in Europe, mourn his wife and possibly deal with his personal demons. Second, no matter how you try to play this game with us, it’ll never work.

I read through Daredevil Volume 2 at the same time Back in Black was going on. I realized there what the big difference between Peter Parker and Matt Murdock is. They both have a habit of being shit on day in and day out. Murdock reacts to this by acting like at any moment, he could snap and kill a fool. He won’t, of course. The same way he probably won’t die in the comic. That doesn’t make it any less suspenseful or dramatic when, say, Gladiator is standing over him with a buzzsaw to the throat. That’s how I feel about his murderous anger. He probably isn’t going to waste anyone, but I feel like he just might this time.

Now, when Spider-Man acts like this, it’s different. I can’t buy it. Vengeful Spider-Man screaming, “This time I’m really going to kill you!” while shaking his fist is the comic equivalent of Scrappy Doo. At worst, he annoys the hell out of you. At best, you look at him and say, “Aw, he’s trying to be all tough and violent. Isn’t that cute?”

Finally, after several issues where nothing actually happens (thrill as Spider-Man moves Aunt May to another hospital!), we lead into One More Day. Remember the black costume Spider-Man wore because he’s angry and in mourning? You’d think that One More Day would be the reason why he’d stop wearing that and go back to his classic costume. Nope. Here, he just goes back to the regular costume with no explanation.

Much like the first few issues of the Other, a lot of time is wasted by character after character telling Peter to stop whining and let it go with him reacting with, “But I don’t WANNA!” JMS was nice enough to skip over most of this with a two-page spread that showed Peter’s ghost reenacting this scene with every brain and magic guy on Marvel Earth, from Black Panther to Doom.

This all leads to the infamous Mephisto appearance. Sure, he certainly looks cool, but it still grinds my gears because we all know exactly where it’s going. Quesada hates the Peter and MJ marriage. He wants it done with, though promised he wouldn’t kill off MJ or have them divorce. This deal of marriage vs. Aunt May’s life is his creative way of getting what he wants.

Just what he wants. Does anyone else want this? I don’t. Pretty much every other person with an opinion on the internet doesn’t. Even JMS wanted to have his name taken off One More Day’s final two issues because he thinks it’s stupid. But hey, the guy in charge has an axe to grind with married redheads and he says what goes so he has to be right.

I didn’t have much of an opinion when he shrunk the mutant population, because I don’t care all that much about most of the X-Men stuff. In the end, I thought they did a well enough job. I can understand his need to do the Civil War/registration stuff to bring back the distrust and unfriendliness between superheroes that was so rampant in the 60’s. But this? Crap. They already tried separating Peter from Mary Jane a couple years back. You know what? Didn’t take.

Rubber-banding character development always bugs the hell out of me, but you know this is more than that. This is another case of New Coke. It’s a monumentally stupid and unneeded change that nobody wanted that’s going to be served to us until they start selling the status quo back to us and make a big deal about how we demanded it. Just like DC and Cassandra Cain, but worse.

What was Quesada’s reasoning again? He wants Peter Parker to be a single swinger? I can see where he’s coming from. If only there were other realities and other comic lines where Peter Parker was still a teenager with a bare ring finger. A single Peter Parker having some marvelous adventures on his own would surely be the ultimate take on the character. I don’t care what you say. I’m hilarious.

There’s a chance that they’re just playing with us and this is just Quesada’s mega-ruse. If so, pretend some of this article never happened. Even so, I’m not too thrilled with what we’ve got coming in the future.

Dan Slott is writing Amazing Spider-Man soon. What happened to that guy? I used to love his work and Spider-Man/Human Torch #5 is one of my all-time favorites. Now he’s become the writer who pisses on other people’s work while holding his hands over his ears and yelling “LA, LA, LA, LA! CAN’T HEAR YOU! LA, LA, LA, LA!” Plus his latest issue of Initiative is bad news for anyone who thought Peter Parker revealing his secret identity was in any way interesting and exciting.

Spider-Man revealing his identity to the public was just taking an eventuality and giving it more publicity. With characters like Spider-Man, the whole point of a secret identity is the character moments that comes from others finding it out. Mary Jane, Norman Osborn, Aunt May, Matt Murdock, Johnny Storm, etc. By this point, the only guy left who didn’t know was Jameson. If Spider-Man was to return to a secret identity, what real purpose would there be?

You might wonder if there are any Spider-Man comics out there that I’m not hard on. Yes. While the Ultimate and Marvel Adventures stuff is great fun and I love any Spider-Man/Avengers story, I have to shill Spider-Man Family. Nobody ever talks about this series. I’ve yet to read a single bad issue.

If you haven’t looked at it, Spider-Man Family features one or two original Spider-Man stories from various points in continuity, followed by a reprint of a classic comic and other extras. So far we’ve been given stories involving Symbiote Spider-Man, Venom, the Fantastic Four, Agents of Atlas (hells yes) and Doctor Strange/Morbius. Each one has some kind of bearing on current events, whether it is the recent movie or the One More Day garbage. That Venom story is easily the best Venom story in the past ten years. No question. I believe that one is collected in the recent Back in Black hardcover.

I’m not the Spider-Man expert that Wanderer is and I’d be lying if I said he was my favoritest character, but he is the heart and soul of Marvel. I feel like if he’s messed with, the entire line gets tainted for it. I was once told that these companies need to have their core books under good care for the rest of their comics to work out. Considering the shape Spider-Man may be, added to whatever is going on with Wolverine, I may have to be concerned for Marvel’s future.

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16 comments to “clOne More Day”

  1. I kinda feel you, although I liked most of JMS’s run.

    Ezekiel was probably my favorite element. He was a good character with a lot of potential that I was sorry to see go to waste. (The same was true of Ben Reilly.)

    I was cool with The Other – maybe because I didn’t know Peter’d already spun himself into a cocoon to grow some web-shooters or whatever you said.

    I loved the Iron Spider costume. I’m pretty unfamiliar with Back in Black (except for the Kingpin ish that you disliked and I loved – one of the few actual monthly comic book issues I’ve purchased in… years). And, while I’m not fond of a Spidey/Mephisto match-up, I’m not too bothered that he showed up (although I had no clue until I read this post).

    What IS ridiculous, imo, is Mephisto wanting their marriage… or whatever. Now that I think about it, DC did something remarkably similar with Wally West (The Flash) and Linda Park (his wife/wife-to-be, at the time?). Their “devil” is called “Neron,” I think.

    Finally, I thought there were a bunch of comic fans out there who think different than you suggest. They do think that every waking frickin’ moment of Peter’s life has to be horrible and they do complain (like Hal Jordan fans) about the changes to Spider-Man… over the past twenty years… like his marriage.

    Put those two together and I get sick of fans (and Quesada) saying Peter shouldn’t be married to a super-model. I like MJ. I like comic book to marriages. And I like it when comic book companies are willing to make bold moves that make sense.

    Batman’s no longer shooting people. Supes can fly. Spider-Man got married and craps web-fluid.


  2. I can understand his need to do the Civil War/registration stuff to bring back the distrust and unfriendliness between superheroes that was so rampant in the 60’s.

    Geeze, when reading the New Avengers title, you wouldn’t think that this was the case.

    I think I’ve stopped reading Spider-man comics not because of the marriage, but the whole “Let’s make him weepy every single day.” thing. It gets depressing after a while.

  3. Great rant, and you hit the nail on the head with most of it.

    One thing. I like Peter and MJ together. She’s the one element in his life that grounds him and gives him some happiness, and it’s a testament to how much Peter has matured. But I also think that breaking them up, if handled properly by the right writer, could be a fantastic story. The problem with One More Day is that it’s not actually a story about Peter and MJ breaking up. It’s just an excuse to get rid of the marriage through a horrible plot device. Magic doesn’t really belong in Spider-Man’s comics in the first place.

    Some people are arguing that this might all be a fakeout, that Peter is actually going to let aunt May pass away and continue living happily with MJ. If that really is the case, then kudos to Marvel on creating the most elaborately constructed fakeout in history.

    And I don’t know what happened with Dan Slott. He used to be a generally enjoyable writer, but now a lot of his work just annoys me. It’s not even just the continuity wankery that he apparently just discovered he could get away with, the Initiative is a horribly aimless book and features a couple of really bad ideas.

    Sensational Spider-Man under Aguirre-Sacasa was pretty good, by the way. That is, when he was doing character-driven stories like the Eddie Brock one. The only problem is that most of it had hideous Angel Medina artwork.

  4. West: It wasn’t Neron who dealt with Flash and Linda. It was Hal as Spectre.

  5. Gavok, it was Neron who wanted their love, not Hal.


  6. My mistake. I was thinking of the story where Hal Spectre made everyone forget Flash’s secret identity, including Wally and Linda. People figured they were going to do a copycat of that story for One More Day.

  7. With great power comes great responsibility.

    This is an irresponsible editorial decision.

  8. That was a brilliant piece 🙂 I very much agree with you. :] You make great points and it rly seems totally unnecessary and forced. :

    Also I’m glad that you noticed the Spider-Man “omg you know my spider sense? nobody knows my spider sense!” thing >_> wtf!? when did THAT happen!?

  9. Hey, didn’t read Spidey comics before, won’t be reading them after the Quesadapocalypse, I agree that destroying this marriage just because Joey Q is the only person in the world that thinks that will solve the fact that no-one cares about Spidey any more is dumb. However, I have no problem with Mephisto being involved, and the thing about Spidey being too small scale for him is a daft argument. I know Paul O’Brien always CTRL-Vs a sentence about ‘The X-Men are all about persecuted minorities’ every time any of the X-Titles does a story that isn’t about the X-Men being a persecuted minority, but Spidey lives in the same universe as Mephisto and has surely tipped the balance in the good fight a few times in his life, so why wouldn’t old red take an interest? Peter David had him interested in the Hulk’s soul over a decade ago so wouldn’t anyone on earth who has powers beyond the norm interest Mephisto?

  10. Ami Angelwings: The spider-sense thing happened in the issue of Amazing where Spider-Man fights Captain America. They’re moving the anti-registration prisoners and Iron Man puts Spider-Man as the point man because he can sense danger.

  11. But since when is his spider-sense a SECRET? Dude’s been webslinging since he was fifteen, and practically since week two the supervillains have been finding ways around it to get at him. Not to mention all the times it’s gone out of whack or he’s used it in team-ups.

    The only scenario I can imagine is he specifically doesn’t want Iron Man to know. Like a really long running practical joke, and he’s bummed Tony didn’t fall for it.

  12. Hit: Yeah, and you have no idea how many bumps on the noggin Pete’s taken for the sake of this gag from roaming painters with ladders over their shoulder. Little did he know Tony was hiring them all. What a dick.

  13. I had a long gap between the beginning of New Avengers and Civil War. The net result was that when I read the book where Spidey gets paranoid over how Tony knows about his spider-sense, it was immediately after re-reading the Savage Land arc where Spider-Man asks the entire team “is anybody else’s spider-sense tingling?” 😐

  14. As a person who dropped all but one X title after M-day, I have to respectfully disagree. M-Day had no point. When most of your writers ignore an Event (at least one going so far as to have a year long space adventure storyline to dodge it) you can’t call it anything short of a failure. M-Day had the same basic problem OMD has, only worse because it’s spread out over more titles; that problem being that editorial doesn’t seem to want to look past the initial storyline. Maybe you can tell a good story where almost all the mutants in the world become demutated or where Spidey’s married life goes by-by, but what happens next? Are you suddenly positioned to tell better stories?

    In the case of the mutants the answer seems to be a resounding NO! I don’t really have any faith Spidey will turn out differently.

  15. I know Gavok, xD I said that I was shocked by it too!


  16. I’m not sure how I missed this one, I am now intrigued and must get it.