Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"One More Day"

Hi. J. Michael Strazynski's 'One More Day' storyline caps an excellent run on Spider-Man which, like fabled Ouroboros, eats its own tail. And most of the other snakes that were nearby.
This final coda on a brilliant Spidey tale was (obviously) a well-written, deeply moving, cop-out.
(Contains spoilers)
To sum up: JMS took a separated, depressed Peter Parker complete with secret identity. JMS explored Pete's origins and purpose with a shady mentor. He examined his life as a schoolteacher. He brought long-missing, long suffering MJ back into Pete's life in a lovely, believeable reunion. He exposed Peter's secret identity to Aunt May, (Who, far from dying of shock became an advocate for Spider-Man). He expanded Peter's circle of friends to include the Avengers, especially Iron Man whose benevolent offer of a home for Peter and his family led inexorably to Peter's fateful decision to unmask on live t.v. in support of superhero registration. Though done with his families total support, he regretted the choice immediately. Faced with the increasing fascism of the Avengers, SHIELD, the FF, the government et al, Peter tried to divorce himself from the Pro-Faction and quickly found himself with no support structure and under supervillain attack. An assassin's bullet meant for Peter struck Aunt May.
May has been dying inside a week for Peter and MJ, almost a year for the monthly reader.
Peter has lashed out at the assassin, raged against the hospital system, pled with Dr. Strange, sought every avenue, checked every possibility and it seemed the story was shaping up to Aunt May's death.
Because, honestly, May's been a frail dying old woman for 13 Peter years and 44 reader years.
I was prepared to have this be the realistic end. See Peter face a realistic tragedy.
Learn a little something while I'm entertained.
Instead, the finale gave me a DC-esque reboot that throws about 25 years of baby out with the bathwater.
Peter with MJ's reluctant consent, makes a deal with the literal devil to save May's life at the cost of erasing P & M's entire (approximately 6 comic years?) marriage, and their memory of it. It has the secondary effect of erasing their potential daughter (May 'Spider-Girl' Parker). MJ also makes a side-deal with Mephisto to put Spider-Man back in the closet worldwide in exchange for something Peter and the reader do not learn here.
I thought the story was heading for the inevitability of death and I was prepared. I lost MY Aunt. It hurts. I lashed out, too. Now I would see how a hero dealt with it.
Answer: HE DIDN'T!
He bargained with the devil to avoid a painful truth at the cost of his marriage. With great power comes... irresponsibility. Peter doesn't man up. He doesn't learn from anything or grow. In fact he erases every mature choice he's ever made.
Were I Aunt May I'd be pissed.
I would resent him saving my life at this cost.
Being sorely disappointed in Spider-Man is a new experience for me. I understand the pressure and madness of grief. I sympathize with the choice, but damn!
One word to the devil and this guy's single and drinking with his high school buddies with an aunt to feed and protect him again.
Are you jealous? Wish you could be a hero too, like this jerk? What's next, crawl back into your crib?
Man up!
But of course, Peter doesn't even remember the change. The only thing that can reverse this irresponsibility is MJ's love... but can she still give it?
I love this stuff, I do. Obviously it has me worked up. But the ding-blasted consequences!!!
JMS just erased decades of 'history'!
I like to think that sort of reboot is limited to DC where every ten years Batman is reinvented.
I like to think that Marvel's kooky attempt to keep dragging internally consistent, interlinked, extensive 'histories' down through the decades in their Marvel Universe is most of what makes them so freakin' awesome. Kudos to them, I say!
1940's Batman, 1950's Batman, 1960's Batman, 1970's Batman, 1980's Batman, 1990's Bat-Azreal, 2000's Batman- it's like 7 different guys who wouldn't know each other across the gulf of crisises, zero hours, generalized silent re-maginings, movie retcons.
Peter Parker 2007 is the same as Peter Parker 1962. Impossible as that is temporally speaking. I really, really enjoyed that this was meant to be the same person, passing (albiet incredibly slowly), from high school to college, to job, to marriage. (Even, in a brave parrallel world future that somehow lives on in Spider-Girl, parenthood).
I think that was the comic's greatest strength. Simulated life.
A reboot undermines that, I feel.
I guess I have no choice but to accept temporally choppy, inconsistent, or unpalatable changes as an inherent part of the comics medium. Probably.
Like, Bart Simpson never gets older. Nor does Archie.
Of course, I don't care about them or read their comics.
I read somewhere that comics feature only the illusion of change, but since the examples they gave were from DC comics I actually thought Marvel was capable of being better than the illusion. Of course, how can Batman have been fighting crime for 60 years? Real life is fleeting and simulated comic life would have to be, as well. Maybe four times less fleeting at the outside. But fleeting. I'm concerned that the death infesting Marvel comics is saying something about the content. Captain America has died. (Permanently?) Maybe that's o.k. Maybe a super-patriotic steroid-filled soldier is an icon the twenty-first century can do without. But the zombies? I'm worried this is an indication that Marvel's silver age magic is ending and these fantastic, symbolic characters are all walking dead. Can that be true?
I'm told some Spider-Fans never wanted Pete to marry. Like some dudes figure Clark should never have married Lois.
I'm of the opposite opinion. I want my heroes to show me the way.
I'm afraid of the future, deep down. I love it too, but there is fear. I'm afraid of the terrifying changes that come with growing old, finding love, marrying the right person.
I'm trying to get my first mortgage, my first home with my fiancee.
I couldn't possibly manage it without her help. Face down these supervillains if you dare!
Real-Tor: Falsehoods, Fabrications, Finagling. (twists moustache, chortles: "NYa-ha-ha!")
Dr. Entropy- Gaze into Nothingness and Wonder where your Misspent Youth has GONE!

I need comics at a time like this. O.K., so REALLY what I need is to man up. If my heroes fail then in the words of cartoon superhero Freakazoid's anime examplar Heroboy:

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