When Peter Parker's marriage was erased, this was followed by some changes to the rest of the supporting cast, particularly Harry Osborn, Mary Jane and the Black Cat. One argument in favor of undoing One More Day is that it will allow these characters, along with Peter Parker to be restored to their earlier levels of maturity, thus reversing their regression.

The purpose of the supporting cast is to serve the protagonist's story. So their roles are going to be different when he's single than when he's married, as new storytelling opportunities are open for the writers, and new contrasts become necessary. There's little doubt that many of the changes in portrayal resulted from the removal of the marriage, so it does stand to reason that if Marvel backtracked on that part of One More Day, the supporting cast would be back to where they were prior to that story.

Mary Jane Watson

The last page of Amazing Spider-Man #560 revealed that an actor stalked by a supervillain was dating Mary Jane. This upset some readers. CBR poster Jeffgamer compared it to adultery.

Okay, so the issue, as I understand it (and have seen the scan of the last page), shows that some sleazy celeb named Bobby Carr has been dating a mystery woman who turns out to be Mary Jane. The last page reveals it, showing her response to a question of how she always looks so amazing...MJ is shown laying on his couch reading Faust, and she replies "It's magic, tiger. Come here and let me explain it to you."
If anything, this makes the whole deal even more offensive than before. I'm sorry, but the REAL continuity has Peter and Mary Jane married. This is a BS alternate reality universe manufactured by editorial decree and rubber-cemented by satanic pact. Now they're suggesting that MJ is doin' the nasty with some other guy, calling HIM her pet name for Peter. It's adultery, regardless of what Mr. Quesada wants the readership to accept. I don't give a rat's tuchus about "how it came to be" or what "loose ends" they tie up if those loose ends are dangling from the BND continuity. I KNOW how it really came to be...we ALL do -- by editorial mandate...and it needs to be UNDONE before they take it further, even if it means scrapping plans.*
This scene that is being described, re: the end of #560, is yet another Quesada &  Crew "slap to the face" of the long-time readers who care about the real timeline and the married relationship that is a cornerstone of the REAL life of Peter Parker. Me, I hope that scene knocks another 10,000 readers off the title. It should.
It is pure offensiveness, and Marvel should be called to task for it. Despite the advance solit promos for #560 that were saying "Something happens that YOU'VE BEEN ASKING FOR!!!!!", the fans have most decidedly NOT been demanding that MJ come back to the book in this fashion. A huge number of fans have been demanding that the MARRIAGE and the continuity be restored. I doubt that anyone will be able to even RECOGNIZE the MJ that Marvel is going to be depicting, the one who showed such unwavering loyalty to her husband as recently as Sensational Annual #1, the spotlight-on-MJ Sensational issue, or even the wretched OMD.* 
I'm sorry, Marvel, but you're being despicable.*
It's pretty clear that if Mary Jane were married to Peter Parker, Marvel wouldn't depict her in a relationship with a lowlife actor. But this does fit the current status quo. She's Peter's ex, so there's story potential in having her be in a bad relationship, especially with a guy who would make Peter uncomfortable.

Harry Osborn

Aside from coming back from the dead, Harry Osborn went from being a family man to dating a glamorous socialite. His earlier status quo fit the book at the time, with Harry and Liz consistently one step ahead of Peter and MJ. They got married first, and had a kid first, so there was an element of "When are you guys going to?" to their interactions with the lead. It also made sense for a young married couple to hang out with another young married couple.

Harry's Brand New Day status quo also fit that book. His relationship with Lily Hollister was integral to the Menace/ Election Day subplot. There was also a romantic triangle, in which Peter essentially lusted for, and had awkward interactions with, Harry's girl. These stories all made sense with Peter Parker being a single guy, so it's likely that if Peter and MJ's marriage was restored, Harry would either reconcile with Liz, or go back to the grave. Otherwise, his private life is more interesting than that of the protagonist.

The Black Cat

The most controversial BND characterization may have been with the Black Cat, who began a friends with benefits relationship with Spidey in Amazing Spider-Man #607. Before One More Day, she had grown to like Peter Parker, but now she had no interest whatsoever in the guy underneath the mask. Mike Mcnulty summed up his feelings at the time.
*No, my problem is that with this issue and as well as with last week’s, is that by taking Spidey and Felicia’s relationship back to square one, it doesn’t feel the least bit fresh or inspired. And since we are essentially told that it’s not going to be anything more than just sex between them and that it’s going to end badly eventually, there just doesn’t seem to be much emotional investment in them rekindling their “relationship.” Not to mention that Felicia Hardy, despite all the development she’s undergone with Spidey over the years, is now essentially reduced to “Spidey's kinky booty-call.”
When Peter and MJ were married, it served the story to have Black Cat still have feelings for Peter, as that resulted in an awkward dynamic for the married superhero, and created some conflict at home. Although one problem with that from a storytelling perspective is that the unrequited lover is more interesting than the happily married guy with a slightly jealous wife. As a result, you had a guest star more compelling than the lead.

There were some cries of misogyny after the depiction of the Black Cat and MJ as sexually active young women, which gets into difficult questions of gender and what's appropriate in this type of book. Though there are things that are more socially acceptable for a young married couple than for a group of young unmarried people, so you could argue that this type of controversy is unnecessary in a book that will have plenty of younger readers.

There are some complications exclusive to superhero comics, where the story's been ongoing for decades. The majority of the top 25 best-selling comic books last month featured characters who have been around for over a generation. The possible exceptions were Winter Soldier, which featured a character who was killed off in the 1960s,  Teen Titans, which still features new versions of decades-old characters, and Avengers X-Sanction, which one could argue is primarily a story for Cable, who premiered in 1990. In any other medium, most of the material would feature entirely new characters. There are also remakes, but in those cases a regression would be completely acceptable, as it would feature the characters before they had matured. 

With the Spider-Man comics however, you have the same exact characters who have been in stories published and read decades ago. They haven't gotten noticeably older, and the social norms have changed in terms of what stories creators are able to tell, which can be jarring for some consumers. An inevitable consequence is that single young people in fiction will be in relationships in stories that are more explicit than in the 1980s.

Many readers became familiar with these figures after they had matured, and developed into slightly more responsible people. For fans of those characters, this growth was part of the appeal. Harry Osborn was a loving father who sacrificed his life to save his best friend, MJ was Mary Jane Watson Parker, and Felicia Hardy at least no longer chased after married men.

A problem with this kind of maturity is that it isn't particularly interesting in the long term. In a series with a clear protagonist, it's the end of the story, rather than where you position the characters when there are decades of stories left. At the current point, you want characters who screw up and still have a lot to learn. A few months ago, Mark Waid was able to tell a fantastic Daredevil crossover that required the Black Cat to be a potential rebound for Spidey. It's probably not what middle-aged social conservatives approve of, but it was fun.

One counterpoint is the possibility that any new storytelling opportunities didn't matter. It was clear that many readers preferred it when Peter Parker and company were all more adult. The change was guaranteed to be controversial, so was it even worth the risk?


One of the current disagreements over the Spider-Man comics deals with the portrayal of the character’s youth. Some detractors have claimed that since One More Day, the character has become a man-child.

A few years ago, Tom Brevoort, then-Executive Editor of the Spider-Man books, said that youth is the most important part of Spider-Man’s appeal, greater than “with great power comes great responsibility.”  There's been an argument that this mentality represents a problem for Marvel and the Spider-Man books, though I alrgely agree with what Brevoort said.

Most of the best comic book series are about something--something that may not factor into every single last adventure, but which is the underpinning of the series as a whole. Fantastic Four is about family. X-Men is about prejudice. Batman is about revenge. And Spider-Man is about youth.  
Youth is the element that defined Spider-Man back in the days when he was created, the thing that separated him from all of the other competing superhuman crime-fighters and made him unique. Whereas up till that time, teen-agers in comics had been relegated to being either junior-sized reflections of their mentors, or simple sidekicks, Spider-Man was the one series in which a teen-ager was the hero, was the lead. And that influenced everything about the series, gave it its heart. As Steve Ditko once pointed out, being High School age meant that it was acceptable for Peter Parker to screw up, to make mistakes and learn from them, in a way that would have been pathetic for more established, more heroic super heroes. (Ditko also lamented having had Peter graduate High School and go onto College.) Unlike other heroes before him, Spider-Man was the audience--so successfully so that the folks working on X-Men in the 60s very quickly lost sight of their own premise, and attempted to turn the team into five Spider-Men, with dismal results.  
Spider-Man is no more about responsibility than Batman is about criminals being a superstitious and cowardly lot. That's the tagline to the first adventure, and a strong moral message to go out on, but it's what that story is about, not what the series is about. And in point of fact, it wasn't until the late 80s/early 90s that you began to see that phrase start to get beaten on like a drum, with story titles like "The Greatest Responsibility" and "Power and Responsibility" and so forth--not coincidentally, a time after Peter had been married, and the creators were looking for some other bedrock to take the place of youth. Responsibility is certainly an element of Spider-Man--but then, show me a hero for whom it's not an element.  
Spider-Man is about finding your place in the world, about figuring out who you are and who you want to be. It's about screwing up and trying again, It's about believing that you're worthwhile while fearing that you'er not, all the while being judged by authority figures who misunderstand you.  
Once you strip this element away, Spider-Man becomes just another in a long line of super heroes who are well-adjusted and self-aware (well, as well-adjusted as any super heroes can be). He becomes another set of powers and a costume--he loses the unique ground upon which he stands. It's no coincidence that when the character is done in other media, they inevitably default to the core, to the essential essence, and don't come anywhere near to a married Spider-Man until perhaps the point where they're ready to end the series. because really, that's what you're doing at that point, whether you know it or not. You're resolving the final question of Peter Parker's self-worth, allowing him to overcome all of his fears and doubts and guilt and letting him grow up and find acceptance. And that's the one thing you can never let him do. 

It’s a moot point to argue whether youth was more important to the character than power and responsibility. It's all intertwined, as the young hero has to determine the right course of action. Power and responsibility isn't much of a conflict if the hero always knows exactly what he should do. Part of the fun of the Spider-Man books is that he hasn't quite figured that all out yet.

Youth did distinguish Peter Parker from other superheroes with solo books, while pretty much every title can deal with the questions of power and responsibility. Prior to the marriage, Peter Parker was noticeably younger than the likes of Batman, Superman and Captain America. When he got married, a few younger heroes had popped up and one could argue that his status as one of the first silver age Marvel superheroes meant that he could no longer be the young superhero.

It was unique for Spider-Man to be the married lead superhero, especially with Barry Allen disappearing in the Crisis of Infinite Earths. But it didn’t quite work as a new way to distinguish the character. None of the younger heroes (Nova, teen Tony Stark) reached the heights or popularity of Spider-Man. And his marriage was no longer special, when both Wally West and Clark Kent tied the knot.

So there were reasons for Quesada & company to restore the things that had made the character unique. Peter Parker could still be portrayed as south of 30 unlike Batman, Superman, Captain American and Wolverine. This corresponds with a national trend of people taking longer to figure out what they're going to do for the rest of their lives.

Peter Parker Playa!

There were a few misconceptions about what making Peter Parker single again would entail. Some suspected that the development would have the inevitable result of writers portraying him as an unlikeable Casanova. They’re afraid that unscrupulous writers would try to live vicariously through the character, though I suspect in that case, the writers would prefer Peter remain married to the gorgeous and loving twenty-something supermodel actress redhead.

While Spider‑Man being single again would inevitably bring up comparisons with other Marvel bachelors, there’s no reason for those comparisons to be unfavorable. Stan Lee, Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Roger Stern and other writers were able to feature an unmarried Peter Parker who was not an obvious manwhore, so I don't see why that would be a problem with future creative teams.

The writers have big incentive to not make Spider‑Man into a James Bond type womanizer. A lot of the fun of a single Peter Parker is in the times it’s worse than marriage, such as bad dates, and the periods when he’s not seeing any woman. This is what the brain trust/ web heads did for their first fifty issues. Then Peter was shown sleeping with two women over the course of a seven issue period, and the manwhore claim was briefly resuscitated.

Peter Parker The Loser

Conversely, some suspect that the single Spider‑Man would always be a loser, or made to appear too young. This is the "we already have Ultimate Spider-Man” refrain. I think a single twenty‑something Spider‑Man could be accessible to new readers, without tying him to modern slackers or making him seem obviously younger than the guy in his mid to late 20s in the current book. He could have continued as a young high school teacher if the writers choose to do that (I've had a few who were in their early twenties.) He can't screw up like he did when he was a teenager, but at this point, he probably shouldn't. At least not as often. While Peter Parker should not be portrayed as a perpetual loser, he should have his ups and downs which requires some significant losses (IE‑ He gets hired in one issue, downsized twenty‑seven issues later).

For either perspective (Peter Parker Casanova, Peter Parker Loser) you have to assume a fixed status quo. You have to expect that Peter Parker would always be lonely or he would also jump into bed with willing and inconsequential women. Perhaps because the marriage brought so much stability to Peter’s private life, that fans of it assume that any status quo is permanent, including ups and downs. With a single Peter Parker, there’s no need for a particular status to be cemented, nor should it be. He could meet a girl in one issue, and have any ups and downs as their relationship progresses and comes to an end 46 issues later. That could be followed by a period when he’s unlucky in love (which won’t be as tedious as a married Peter Parker working out his problems with his wife every now and then) and Marvel could always end the monotony of that by giving him a serious girlfriend for a few years, or just a few issues.

With the serious relationship, there always remains the possibility of a bad break‑up in the horizon, or even an amicable one, with the writers being able to explore the aftermath of both. Once the relationship becomes stagnant (or even before it has a chance to do so), the writers have the solution to just have him or his girlfriend walk away. Any problems are more significant as there’s always the option of leaving out the back door. This makes the single status quo conducive to one of the most important techniques in comic book serials: The Illusion of Change.

One More Day didn't just change Peter Parker. As Peter Parker became single, there were similar changed to members of the supporting cast.



Spider-Man Reviews
features as many updates on the latest developments in Spider-Man comics as we can, along with reviews, commentary, news and discussion. Occasionally we try to throw in some game reviews as well.

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