The Sensational Spider-Man #41
Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Pencil Art Joe Quesada, Ink Art Danny Miki, Colorist Richard Isanove
Alright the cat is officially out of the bag and the god that is being descended by wires from above is Mephisto. Yes the Devil has come to make a bargain with Mary Jane and Peter Parker to exchange their marriage in order to save Aunt May’s life.
Say what? Yes no longer are souls the currency in trade as JMS explains to us there is no fun in taking souls, instead the devil loves the sound of a soul in pain. The actual dialogue is too much unbelievable tripe to quote word for word, but the book ends with Mary Jane asking “What is the bargain?” Mephisto says you have one more day, at the end of the day you must say if you want Aunt May to live or continue your marriage. If I end your marriage you will not remember this bargain, this moment or the life that you lived, but there will be a small part of your soul that will remember and will know what you lost. My joy will be to listen to that part of your soul screaming. No seriously that highlighted part is almost a verbatim quote.
I really think the true joy for the devil is listening to the comic fans across the country screaming I paid $4 for 23 pages to get to this lame a** crap. At least they took out all the ads so the “story” read better.
I don’t really care because I haven’t followed Spider-Man religiously for years as I’m tired of no growth in a character after 40 plus years. Occasionally I pick up a few adventures here and there and read them, but essentially unless they are willing to let Peter grow up a little more and move on I have lost the affection I had for the character.
This is obviously Joe. Q.’s wet dream as he has hated Spider-Man being married for years. The image he wants is Spider-Man as the loveable loser, where I always felt that growth would have Peter as a confident and mature hero who knows how to do the right thing.
So now we get a magical fix and we have a thousand questions as to what is canon and what is not canon. The reset button has been pushed and I may still follow the character for a few issues, but what has been gained by doing this, except to muddle up things even more and to leave one of the super-star characters in your universe with their feet stuck firmly in cement.
This is a constant theme for me and one that I know I blather on about incessantly, but why can’t we move on. If Bruce isn’t Batman the fans want to cancel their comics and quit buying DC. If Captain America is dead, then Marvel is dead to me and I won’t read their comics.
These are all fictional characters and yet as the fan base has shrunk and gotten increasing older everyone wants to play nostalgia games. I rather read about the new kids on the block. Invincible, Blue Beetle, Dynamo 5, JSA (is full of next generation heroes). Give me Donna as Wonder Woman, Dick as Batman and Clark still as Superman – whatever let’s turn the page.
Spider-Man as the eternal teen-ager is being done in Ultimate Spider-Man, do something different with this book. Or at least end the marriage by divorce, have Mary Jane die in a car crash, don’t confuse the story for people who have invested in your character. Make it an honest ending not this made up tripe.
At least DC has a bunch of second and even third generation characters running around and if you count Wally’s kids you have Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, Bart Allen and Jai and Iris West as a fifth generation. Almost every Marvel character is 40 years old and is still playing the same damn role. We have told every story we can about these characters, but still we just go on and on.
No wonder Gwen, Lee and I have more interest in the smaller press stuff. Left on Mission, Bad Planet, Wormwood Gentleman Corpse, Wasteland, Local, Fell, Fear Agent, Criminal Macabre, 30 Days, Atomic Robo, Neozoic, Black Summer, Killer, Gutsville, Proof and on and on have fresh faces.
Bottom Line this book is the poster child for why characters have to get older and grow up and move on, otherwise we get the magical reset button that makes us un-suspend the suspension of disbelief we have when we read a comic.