If you’re an older Spider-Man reader, then you remember the days when Peter Parker was married to M.J.
It was a rarity in comics-a happy, stable relationship. Peter and M.J. made one another stronger. She and he had careers and their own villains and, well, that dynamic lasted for more than twenty years. No matter how tough life became, you could always look at Peter Parker and realize that the nerdy kid grew up, got the girl, and lived (usually) happily ever after.
So Long and Thanks for All the Webs
Then in 2007 and 2008, Dan Slott and the creative team at Marvel undid everything.
Undid the marriage. Undid all of those years of web-slinging. Undid Kraven’s last hunt and Venom and “Secret Wars.” “One More Day” and the resulting “Brand New Day” reset the Spider-Man universe and tried to recalibrate the fun that they had felt the comic had strayed from. And yet it wasn’t fun. The stories weren’t light or deft. Critical reaction was mixed, to put it kindly. To me, it felt like Marvel dropped a lit match in my comic collection and burned up all of those amazing issues.
So Dan Slott and Marvel tried it again with The Superior Spider-Man, which ended Amazing Spider-Man at issue #700 and launched a whole new Spider-Man. To keep it short, Doctor Octopus switched minds with Peter Parker and trapped his consciousness in that dying body. That meant the new Doc Ock Peter Parker had all of Peter’s memories and understood Spider-Man’s mission. The final issue of ASM was a rushed story with a lot of backpatting and hat tipping from people who worked on the book. It is, perhaps, a hair less annoying than “Brand New Day.”
So I started reading The Superior Spider-Man with fairly low expectations. I felt betrayed that they erased all of the years of my iconic hero and then they decided that wasn’t enough so they went off and killed him, too.
What I Never Expected
Here’s the big surprise: I liked The Superior Spider-Man. I really like it. Once they dished off the whining ghost of Peter Parker and gave Doc Ock free run, it meant that you could see how a different person-one with a vicious streak to boot-would handle living as Peter Parker.
And the stories are tense and the kind of fun I think Slott was trying to capture in “Brand New Day.” In short, I hate how we were given The Superior Spider-Man. I disliked everything about the ending of ASM. I didn’t even care for the beginning of the Doc Ock era as Spider-Man, but I love the direction of this storyline and am glad that it has been extended.
Besides, if I want to see M.J. and Peter married again, I still have those issues bagged and boarded.