A Day with 30% Recycled Materials

I finished reading the latest issues of Amazing Spider-Man, the end of the One More Day story line and the first three issues of Brand New Day. From this post title, maybe you can get the drift that Brand New Day brings back a lot of old Spider-Man themes and accents. Initially I was pretty disappointed with end of One More Day. Not just what was done but how it was accomplished. Brand New Day has at least turned my feelings lukewarm. Strangely, this arc was enough to prompt me to actually send mail to Marvel for the first time. When I suffered through the ’90s Clone Saga, I was so disgusted near the end that I just stopped collecting for a few months and started reading the coincidently revamped Green Lantern. This time, since it feels like as much of a reboot as Spidey has ever had (let’s not think about Chapter One), I felt the urge to comment.

Here’s what I wrote:

Hi “True Believers”,

Mixed feelings. That sums up my reaction to One More Day and the first three issues of Brand New Day. I’ve been reading Spidey comics for a quarter century and in that time there’s been a lot of changes, ret-cons and other funny business. This has especially been true in the last 15 years as “major events” to drum up sales often have trumped solid story telling. I’ll say I’m probably in the minority of not being upset that Mary Jane is out of the picture romantically. When I started reading Spidey comics, both Peter and Spider-Man had girlfriends or other entanglements and that was certainly more interesting for a pre-teen kid to read about than a really grown up superhero with a wife.

For the negative, if it was just a memory wipe and Aunt May making a recovery in the hospital that would be one thing, but clearly there’s a new timeline where some key events either didn’t happen or happened in a different way. From the minor like the Queens house still standing to the major like Harry still alive and apparently never married to Liz and never having little Normie. It makes me wonder what other changes will be woven in just to accommodate the editors’ and writers’ desires. Also, how will the loss of knowing Peter’s alter-ego affect Black Cat, Daredevil, future Venoms, and others formerly in the know? So much of their stories hinged the a more personal relationship gained from know Spidey’s secret identity. It’s easy enough for writers to say “all those stories still happened” but clearly going forward the dynamic will be different. Lastly for the cons, resorting to a deus ex machine solution just feels like a cheap way out. On one hand the new direction wants to re-affirm that Peter got his powers “through a miracle of science” and dismiss JMS’ challenging move of Spidey into a new mythology these last few years, and yet resorts to the supernatural deal with the devil to get Peter there.

On the positive, the Brand New Day stories feel like the stories of old: easy to slip into, Spidey fighting crime lords while protecting the innocent and a variety of drama in both Peter and Spidey’s lives. These first few issues remind me of the the stories when I first started collecting Spider-Man in the early ’80s. There are some things that seem a bit off, like some random guy being able to use the web shooter (maybe you should check the official entry at http://www.marvel.com/universe/Spider-Man%27s_Web-Shooters) but in general it’s a return to the kind of story telling that used to be a Spider-Man staple.

In any case, this latest change still wasn’t more headache inducing and stomach churning than the ’90s Clone Saga. And, if as a result of the deal with Mephisto we find out the Clone Saga never happened, all the better.

For now, still make mine Marvel,

There are so many outraged fans calling for the head of Joe Quesada. I’m not one of them. I’ve been reading Spider-Man stories for a long time… if I count the my brother’s Amazing issue #100 and an issue of Spidey Super Stories, it’s been almost my entire life. Writers come and go. Editors in Chief do the same. It’s almost like an over the top rule by dictatorship where when someone new comes to power, they strip away all that they don’t like and just keep the basics which people recognize and demand to be there. Anyone who’s been reading for a long time must surely know that the latest changes and ret-cons are necessarily permanent. Someday, someone else will be calling the shots and might decide that Spider-Man’s identity should be known by some other characters, that he maybe should hook up with Mary Jane, that Harry Osborn needs to die a tragic death, etc., etc. That’s the nature of a long running franchise and that’s the only way to keep stories moving, even if the illusion of character growth needs to be reset along the way.

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