A common complaint about Joe Quesada's reasoning for One More Day was that the only new stories writers it allows writers to tell involve Peter Parker dating other women. This neglects the other doors opened for the writers.

First, there are the stories you only get if Peter Parker's not in a romantic relationship, in addition to the stories that are the consequences of a prolonged stretch in which he is not in a romantic relationship.

The Brand New Day period lasted for more than fifty issues before Spider-Man began his relationship with the Black Cat. Part of the impact of "The Big Time" era was based on Peter finding success in his personal life as well as his professional life, after a duration in which things weren't very rosy.

Then, there are the stories you get when he's in a romantic relationship with MJ, but not actually married to her. I posted this elsewhere, so maybe I'm spoiling something published a decade from now.

Peter tells MJ he still loves her and he wants her back, but she's unsure how to react. Later, Mary Jane is threatened by supervillains and Spider-Man saves her. There's a brief moment where she thought that Spidey was dead. They kiss passionately.



Peter & MJ are in a hotel room post-reconciliation, ready to tell their loved ones that they're back together. Except they learn that the video of Spider-Man kissing Mary Jane is in the news. Her agent, never one to miss an opportunity, says that Spider-Man & Mary Jane have had an on/ off relationship for years. Gayle Watson's fiance claims that he & Gayle double-dated Spider-Man & Mary Jane.


Peter & MJ realize that it would be quite suspicious if they announce that they're dating, shortly after she was connected to Spider-Man. With her new notoriety, MJ starts getting all sorts of job offers.


Eventually, the two decide it would just be best if they were to publicly see one another as Spider-Man & Mary Jane. As Peter's friends are oblivious to this, they think it's a bummer that his ex-girlfriend is dating Spider-Man, especially if he mentioned to one of them that he's still in love with her. And he's annoyed that he can't tell them that he's seeing someone, as they keep trying to find a match for him.


A minor supervillain decides to get back at Spider-Man by targeting MJ. He's caught by Doctor Doom, who feels that he owes Spider-Man a favor. Latveria's entry for the Best Foreign film Oscar is footage of the villain starving to death in a reality in which time moves differently. Doom promises that he'll do the same to anyone who targets Spider-Man's girlfriend or her loved ones.


Peter starts pondering whether he even needs a secret identity anymore. And he wonders if he's a better boyfriend to MJ as Spider-Man, than he is as Peter Parker. He's invited to all sorts of social occasions.


Spider-Man & MJ pay a surprise visit to Gayle and her family, who have talked about them often to the news. Gayle's kids likes Spider-Man a lot more than they liked Peter Parker, and Peter realizes that he didn't even know their names. Gayle's fiance ends up being a well-meaning guy, who has been able to put his future stepchildren through college with some embellishments.


At one point Spider-Man & Peter Parker are invited to the same party. Johnny Storm agrees to disguise himself as Spidey, so that more people see Peter & Spider-Man at the same place at the same time. And it may end in fisticuffs between the two, as Johnny starts doing what he can to embarrass Peter/ Spidey.

In a testament to Dan Slott's talent, he also came up with the idea, but he used it as a throwaway gag in the space of three panels in Amazing Spider-Man #552.




There are also stories you only get when MJ's in a relationship with someone else. Peter's in an awkward position when Mary Jane dates a coworker of his at Horizon Labs. Mary Jane dates a good man, who dies after pissing off the wrong people; now it's Peter's turn to comfort her after the loss of a loved one. Mary Jane dates a guy who hates Spider-Man. Mary Jane dates a guy who really likes Spider-Man . Mary Jane is in a stable relationship with someone other than Peter Parker. Mary Jane is in an unstable relationship with someone who hates Peter Parker.

As it became evident that there were a lot of stories that could only be told when Peter Parker and Mary Jane are single, after Spider-Man's unmasking, I started pondering how Marvel could get to that status quo.


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There are many stories you can do with a Spider Man that you can't (or definitely shouldn't) tell with a married Peter Parker. A friend of Aunt May's sets Peter up on a blind date, and it's a disaster on every level (everything Peter feared his first meeting with Mary Jane would be like.) Peter Parker dates a mutant, SHIELD agent or fellow superhero. Peter's in love with two girls. He's in love with a girl who has a loved one (especially a father, though it could be a sibling or best friend) who really hates him. He's in love with a girl who has a loved one who may be a supervillain.

Peter's in love with a girl who is in love with someone else. Peter's in love with a girl who is torn between him and someone else, and eventually chooses someone else. Peter dumps a girl because her moral standards differ from his (she's upset when he stops to help a man having a heart attack.) Peter's dates a girl who won't tell her parents about the relationship. Peter dates a normal girl who may be a little too obsessed with Spider Man (or another superhero, especially the Human Torch, following his triumphant resurrection).

Peter dates an acquaintance’s ex, which leads to an awkward moment in an elevator with Randy Robertson or Iron Fist. Peter worries if he'll ever find his soulmate. Peter's depressed after a bad break up. Peter's aware that if he can't fix things with his girlfriend, their relationship is over. Spider Man's aware that if he can't beat a supervillain in the next six minutes to get to his girlfriend’s younger sister’s wedding in time, his romantic relationship is probably over. Peter Parker has just met a nice girl, and gone on a few dates with her. He is invited to a family dinner. Her older brother (an intimidating looking guy) reacts strangely to him, and whispers in his ear "I know you're Spider Man. Stay away from my sister.”

Many of these stories have been told before, although the descriptions are generic enough that they can be told differently in the future, especially with new characters. Given the thousands of variations of “Spider Man fights a super villain” I'm sure the writers haven't exhausted more than a fraction of the possibilities of “Peter Parker gets rejected by a girl.”

“Peter and a girlfriend have an amicable break up" can be done as differently as the dozen or so stories where Peter and his wife argued about the risks he took as Spider Man. I'm certain new writers can do different things with these plots than the previous writers, the same way Peter David wrote a different Spider Man Versus Vulture story than JM Dematteis, Roger Stern, Mark Millar or Stan Lee.

And it's important to note that you'll have a different dynamic when you have new characters. Kurt Busiek (Untold Tales of Spider-Man) explained in a post on the Comic Book Resources Spider-Man forum.
I have to admit, my interest isn't in Peter finding the right girl, but in being entertaining. If being miserable makes him entertaining, then maybe he should meet the wrong girls.

I'm one of the Vicious Cabal that thinks the marriage should never have happened. I thought Gwen was kind of a drip -- very sweet and lovable and passive, when she wasn't irrationally jealous or angry about something. She'd probably have made Peter an excellent wife, but the result wouldn't have been exciting, which is why John Romita thought it would be a good idea to kill her off -- she makes a much better "ideal girl lost forever" than she does an active player in an ensemble cast. I liked MJ when she was an overcaffeinated hipster, and lost a lot of interest in her when she turned out to be a product of a broken, abusive home, and under the "laughing on the outside" exterior was a sad, wounded moper like so much of the rest of the cast -- Peter, MJ, Flash, Betty, Liz, Harry...sometimes it seems like everyone in the cast is from a damaged background. Still, she had more drive to do her own thing than Gwen did, and that made for better drama.

But I don't think Spider-Man needs a Lois Lane -- there are enough comics characters with one great love already. I'd be fascinated if he had several major romantic foils, the way Milt Caniff did wit Pat Ryan in the old TERRY AND THE PIRATE comic strip. Pat pined after Normandie Drake, lusted after Burma and was intellectually challenged by the Dragon Lady, striking dramatic and romantic sparks with each of them that illuminated his character in different ways, with others that cropped up when they were offstage. Readers argued over which of the three would be the best for Pat to end up with, and there were good cases to be made all around.

I like Peter's life hectic, where he has to juggle lots of responsibilities, so I'm for there being multiple characters who he strikes sparks with, and different reasons each of them might be a good idea. For instance, I don't think in a million years he should "end up" with Felicia Hardy, but I think things are often more fun when she's around.

So I say mix it up, pull him in different directions, but do it with characters with vivid, compelling personalities who each have their own strengths and weaknesses to offer.
More options are available to the writers once they know more about the characters, and have the ability to develop them further and use their backstory. The "friends with benefits" relationship with the Black Cat from Amazing Spider-Man #606-630 was a new dynamic. And if she regains her memories of Peter Parker, things could also be different in the future. If she's come to like Peter Parker as much as she has Spider Man, what complications could their relationship have? If Peter Parker suddenly remembers the world before One More Day, how will Felicia Hardy react to Peter's memories of a happy marriage to Mary Jane?

Once writers come up with more details about possible romantic interests, new story ideas will open up for them. You could also do something with Peter dating a woman in her mid-twenties who has custody of her 11 year old brother, after the tragic death of their parents seven months earlier. In that case, Peter finds himself in the awkward position of potentially costing his girlfriend custody in any dispute.

You could do a story where Peter likes a girl who learns that he’s Spider Man and cuts off all contact with him, because she’s afraid that his “hobby” may put her and everyone she loves in danger. Then you’d have the material of a heartbroken Peter wondering if she’s right, as he can’t argue when says that she doesn't want the possibility that Venom will endanger her nephews to get to him.

You could have a story with Spider Man getting involved with the Israeli superhero Sabra. When the news gets out, Spider Man could find himself a tabloid fixture and Sabra’s superiors might get pissed. Marvel could also use the opportunity to introduce her supporting cast and archenemies, and you could get a fun story out of her enemies targeting Spider Man, twisting gender stereotypes while introducing potentially recurring villains.

These stories and their effects wouldn’t be limited to the Spider Man books. Spidey dating a fellow Avenger may add to tension in that title, especially in the aftermath of a break up, as others are affected by the relationship. The same could be said if there's simply romantic tension between Spider Man and a female Avenger. The Spider Man dating a superhero plot could involve Peter dating a known figure usually not associated with Spider Man (ie- Sharon Carter, etc) which might upset some individuals connected to her. How would Cyclops react if Peter started dating Rachel Grey? In the process, Marvel would create new links between major properties, something that can inform interactions between the characters decades later.

Peter's current romantic relationship (as of Amazing Spider-Man #654) is a different dynamic than he's used to. As far as Carlie Cooper's concerned, Spider-Man's one of her best friends. Her job often puts her into Spider-Man's world, and should she learn Spider-Man's secret identity, she'll be able to interact with him more comfortably than the others. But, there remains the possibility of conflict, considering the unique professional risks, the potential for philosophical differences between a cop and a vigilante and the difficulty in bullshitting someone whose job it is to be familiar with murders.

There’s also always the potential for Mary Jane or Liz Allen to cause all sorts of complications, in addition to any new characters. Love triangles are sometimes derided, but it's an awesome storytelling tool. There's tremendous variety depending on the execution, which includes some of the finest works in literature, to say nothing to truly great movies (Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, The Graduate, Singing in the Rain, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it Hot, All About Eve, and that's just in the AFI top 25.) I'm sure there will be atrociously written love triangles in the future, but there will also be well-deserved Best Picture winners with the lead choosing between two suitors. I loved the hell out of The Lives of Others, which certainly had an interesting love triangle, and didn't come out too long ago.

So far, I've been talking about the stories you only get when Peter Parker is dating someone other than MJ. But the new material is not limited to that.

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