Amazing Spider-Man

One Moment in Time - One Man's Opinion

It wasn't ever really Peter Parker, or even Spider-Man, that got me interested in reading Amazing Spider-Man. It was J. Michael Straczynski. I had read Rising Stars and had been floored (floored I tell you) by Midnight Nation and had kept myself away from his Amazing Spider-Man run until I started working for The Fantasy Shop and after I had read, and fallen in love with, Bruce Jones' run on Incredible Hulk which featured art by John Romita Jr. that I decided that maybe I should check out the adventures of the Amazing Spider-Man. I realize that for some people that invalidates me as a reviewer for this story arc. That I never read a single issue of Amazing Spider-Man prior to his marriage means that I didn't really have an attachment to the character as a romantic bumbler that he seems to have been. I've only ever seen him with the stunning red head at his side. His own version of the incredible woman that stands behind and beside every great man. And when I read JMS' run on Spider-Man I loved it. Almost to a fault (with the exception of the Other story-arc which I liked up until the strange "Spider-Spikes" made their appearance). It made me love Spider-Man and understand what my best friend Tim Kaiser had seen in the character when we were in 3rd Grade and he had decided it was his favorite character (which meant instantly that it couldn't be my favorite character, clearly). Hell I didn't even see the Spider-Man movie in the theater in 2002. So let me get that out of the way. To me, JMS Spider-Man was excellent and I acknowledge that it colors my review. 

When it was announced that Joe Quesada believed that you couldn't tell interesting stories with Spider-Man as long as he was weighed down by his marriage to Mary Jane (the quote is actually "Peter being single is an intrinsic part of the very foundation of the world of Spider-Man") I didn't understand. It didn't sit right with me. And when he decided to draw the One More Day arc of Spider-Man I knew it was a dark portent for my favorite neighborhood web-slinger. I had always enjoyed Mr. Quesada's artwork but it just made me feel uneasy knowing his opinion of the marriage I had come to admire and to understand in a way. I, myself, had lucked into a beautiful woman who I always thought was too good for me once and reading Peter Parker as a High School science teacher and husband had always just felt right to me )I mean what is a brilliant scientific mind doing being a photographer anyway?). The problems had really started in the pages of Civil War where Spider-Man revealed his secret identity to the world based on less on the reasoning of a character than a desire to build hype. So when things started to go downhill for Peter & Mary as well as Aunt May it certainly wasn't any surprise. 

When the One More Day story arc kicked off it pretty immediately soured my opinion of the way the story was going to go. But, being a retailer I read the story so I could be conversant with customers. The story started to feel less and less like JMS was really writing the book (which has been revealed in recent years was in fact the case). Then what happened happened and the book started anew with a crew of writers and artists to get the book cranking out 3 times a month and readers started to have opinions. Some were negative. I remember customers dropping the book who were die hard fans of the series (I remember specifically the statement "I read this book through the Clone Saga and even how much I hated that I kept reading it ... but I can't keep going."). But at the very same time there were customers who were saying "I haven't enjoyed Spider-Man this much in years!" and "The stories are great!". 

And they weren't wrong. Either groups. Despite how divisive the story was and how heated the discussions might become they were neither wrong. The readers who had invested years and felt like they had grown with Peter were understandably upset. The readers who longed for a change of the status quo (and particularly fans who had become disenchanted with Straczynski's more mythically toned run) had what they had wanted. And the stories were good. Joe Kelly's issues focusing on The Rhino were some of the best Spider-Man comics that I have read in a very, very, long time. But I didn't really see how these stories couldn't have been told with a married Peter Parker. It was a question that plagued me more and more.

And then there started to appear these "OMIT" ads. The only additional information provided being: "Joe Quesada & Paolo Rivera". And rumors started to spread that the story might finally be the return of the former status quo. Readers who had been disinterested in the storyline started to get their interest piqued. Without doing a thing aside from deciding to release the black background and white lettered ad they had created a buzz again. But perhaps we should have looked at the definition of Omit a little closer:

to omit (third-person singular simple present omits, present participle omitting, simple past and past participle omitted)
(transitive) To leave out or exclude. (most common usage)
(transitive) To fail to perform.
(transitive) To neglect or take no notice of. (Obscure)

They meant "To leave out or exclude", that they had omitted the telling of how things had actually changed. They were going to finally reveal the moments that had changed in order for the reality to become what it currently is. But by keeping quiet they had achieved what they wanted, they got readers who had left to come back to think about possibly coming back.

But once they came back they were subjected to a story that no one wanted. By defining the events that resulted in Peter & Mary Jane no longer being together they showed us how you make the sausage. And if there is one thing that no one really wants to know it's how the sausage gets made. Also the story was contrived. Let's go ahead and define that one as well:

contrived (comparative more contrived, superlative most contrived)
unnatural, forced.

The story, to me, felt like Joe Quesada telling us all "See! I was right! The character is more interesting and more viable when he's single! I told you all!". But I still don't, for even one second, understand how the stories over the last three and a half years couldn't have been told while he was married. Why is it that only with a single Spider-Man that we can tell interesting stories? I just quite simply don't believe it to be true. Honestly what it comes down to as well is that Amazing Spider-Man, for the last 3 years has really been the second definition of Omit: "(transitive) To fail to perform". The book hasn't sold nearly as well since it changed the status quo and went to three times a month ... and I think that everyone realizes that.

But maybe I'm wrong.

But I don't think I am.

And if you wanted an ongoing Spider-Man story with a single Peter Parker, Joe, then you need have looked no further than your own company. It is called Ultimate Spider-Man.