Overview

Sensational Spider-Man #41

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Sensational Spider-Man #41

Credits

  • Words: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Art: Joe Quesada
  • Inks: Danny Miki
  • Colors: Richard Isanove
  • Story Title: One More Day Part 3
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Nov 29, 2007

In Ultimate Spider-Man this week, Peter confronts the Green Goblin in his Aunt’s house in Queens. In the latest issue of Sensational Spider-Man, Peter contemplates making a deal with the devil that would effectively erase his marriage. Does anyone else see anything wrong there? I’ve been a fan of Spider-Man all my life, and one thing I’ve never understood about some runs on the series is why certain writers would remove Peter Parker from his natural element of street level skirmishes in Manhattan and drop him into some supernatural story he doesn’t belong in in the first place. Spider-Man has never been the Silver Surfer or the Fantastic Four. He doesn’t work in space. He doesn’t work in the astral plane. His powers include sticking to things and shooting webs. His rightful enemies are the comparatively minor threats: the Doctor Octopuses and Rhinos of the Marvel universe. He has no business punching out Galactus.

Each issue of One More Day has been worse than the last and part three does nothing to break that alarming trend. If you were appalled last month when Spidey fought time traveling demon dogs, prepare to actually implode upon seeing the webslinger consider a deal with the devil. Marvel’s made no secret that the Peter/Mary Jane marriage is on its way out, and despite how you feel about that, its actual implementation is worse than you could have ever possibly imagined. Mephisto literally cackles and says, "I want your love. I want your marriage." If I wasn’t so utterly disgusted I’d be rolling on the floor with laughter.

Moments like these call forward the worst episodes in the 90s Clone Saga, the epic that nearly killed Marvel’s flagship title. In that narrative disaster, Peter also battled supernatural characters and it was later revealed that one of the initial goals of the storyline was to solve the "problem" of the marriage. Sounds familiar.

The tone of the issue is also completely inconsistent with what came before. When we last saw Spider-Man leaving the Sanctum Sanctorum, he was angst ridden and panicky, desperate to return to his dying Aunt May and save her. This picks up exactly where that issue ended, yet Peter is content to stroll around Manhattan with a little girl, presumably his daughter from an alternative future- yes, you read that right- and meet a duo of doppelgangers representing what could have happened had Peter not been bitten by that radioactive spider all those years ago.

When Peter finally encounters Mephisto after fifteen or so pointless pages, writer J. Michael Straczynski actually has the nerve to have Spidey ask why on Earth the demon king would want the marriage to end. And of course, Mephisto doesn’t have much of an answer other than some nonsense about portions of Peter and MJ’s souls knowing the truth and crying out in agony. Also, why didn’t Mephisto show up the first time Aunt May died over a decade ago? Or did he know then that that Aunt May was just an actress with a genetically altered face sent by Norman Osborn, or so the retcon went? This brings up the larger problem that nothing happening in this story arises naturally from the characters’ actions, everything feels imposed upon them by the higher ups at Marvel, Joe Quesada included, an otherwise fantastic editor who’s made it quite obvious that he’s been trying to end the marriage since his first day as Editor-in-Chief.

Speaking of Quesada, his pencils seem rushed here. Gone are the spectacular page layouts from the previous issue. Instead, most of the faces look pretty sloppy, and when Peter’s unmasked he still doesn’t look quite right. But when Spidey keeps his mask and webs on, he does look pretty amazing. However, for an arc that was supposed to wrap up back in September, the art better look spectacular, and nothing here justifies just how late this book is becoming.

The major problem with eradicating the Spider-Man marriage is that comprises twenty years' worth of the character’s mythology. The bachelor period that everyone at Marvel seems to romanticize only lasted an extra five years. Entire generations of young readers, myself included, grew up on a married Spider-Man and had no problems relating to the character. If people want a younger Spidey all they have to do is pick up the Ultimate version or even the Marvel Adventures series.

When Straczynski’s good, he’s great. Look no further than his Civil War tie-in run on Amazing. But he sure knows how to make the fanbase suffer. I’d bet just about anything that One More Day goes on to pass Sins Past and even The Other to become the least fondly remembered arc of Straczynski’s radically hit or miss run. In fact, this will probably end up as this decade’s Clone Saga. The only plus side is that this time we only have to suffer through four issues instead of almost four years’ worth.

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