Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #641

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This story is part of an Arc: "One Moment In Time"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

This review was first published on: Sep 2010.

Background...

Kingpin sent a thug to dispatch MJ’s Aunt Ana—upon checking on her, MJ herself fell prey to him. Spidey saved her just in time, and went to see Dr. Strange about restoring his secret identity.

In Detail...

"Something Blue"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #641 (Story 1)
Oct 2010 : SM Title
Arc: Part 4 of "One Moment In Time"
Writer/Artist:  Joe Queseda (art, pgs 1, 2 ,21 22-35, 38-43)
Artist:  Paolo Rivera
Inker:  Danny Miki (art, pgs 1, 2 ,21 22-35, 38-43)
Cover Art:  Paolo Rivera
Colorist:  Richard Isanove (colors, pgs 1, 2 ,21 22-35, 38-43)
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Articles: Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn) (Cameo)

Peter and Mary Jane are in Peter’s apartment—still talking about what happened between them after the events of Peter’s unmasking, May’s shooting, and the two of them missing their wedding. “Can we stop now? I really don’t want to do this anymore.” asks Pete (no doubt summarizing the same thoughts of many readers). He says his whole life has been a series of bad mistakes. MJ says that’s how life is, and that we make the best decisions we can, and live with them. Cue a shot of MJ (terribly drawn—yes, she’s by now a bit hammered from the wine and has been crying, but Joe really drew her like a mutant alien in this shot). MJ goads Peter to finish the tale, saying she needs to hear it. Peter relates how Strange went into one of his strange trances upon being asked, and Peter says he can’t shake the feeling that Strange was really appealing to a “higher power” (groan).

Cut to Strange hovering in his astral form, along with an astral Tony Stark and Reed Richards. Strange has told them of Peter’s request. Reed says there’s a chance it could go terribly wrong, and that it’s asking a lot. Strange says the boy (Pete) is truly the best of them, and deserves their help. Stark says it was Peter’s decisions alone that jeopardized his family, because Peter decided to break the law. Strange appeals to Tony’s sense of logic, saying Stark believed in Pete until Pete turned his back on him, that Stark’s ego is bruised.

Tony finally agrees, and they bicker amongst themselves about who should retain knowledge of Peter’s identity. Stark says the only one who need remember what transpired is Peter himself.

Reed explains the process for erasing Peter’s identity from memory—he and Strange “will be fusing magic and radically unstable digigenetic viruses in very dangerous and unstable ways”, the storm resulting from which “should have the ability to wipe all history, recorded, remembered or otherwise of Peter’s unmasking.” Strange says the storm will be erratic, and only Stark, with the power of the Iron Man Extremis will have ability to control it and broadcast it on a large scale. “We need you to infect the world” says Reed—Stark’s reply: “When you make it sound so sexy, how can I resist?” (real classy there, Joe) .

Peter’s back in Strange’s lair, telling an unconscious Mary Jane everything’s going to be okay. Strange reappears, as if possessed, asking Peter if what he asks is truly what he wants. Peter says he’s certain, and Strange says it’s time to begin. He says he’s created a protective shell to shield Peter from what’s about to happen, tells Peter to enter it, and that he alone will “be the sole guardian of mistakes that never transpired”, and to remember and learn from them. Pete dives in the bubble as Strange begins the spell. He watches MJ outside, decides he loves her too much to let her be mindwiped and dives out, grabbing her and pulling her in with him.

MJ wakes up in a motel room—Peter is there in costume, mask off, telling her it’s all going to be okay, that everyone will be fine from now on. He explains that Strange made everyone forget he’s Spider-man. When Mary Jane says she still remembers, Peter reveals that he needed her to be the only one who knows.

Reverting back to Queseda’s art from One More Day, Peter wakes up to find Mary Jane freaking out in the hotel room. MJ asks if maybe Peter has done the wrong thing—Peter says he did it for everyone they love, and for himself and her as a couple. Mary Jane asks why didn’t he just let her forget too?

Mary Jane says it’s not Peter putting people he loves at risk by doing what he does, it’s Mary Jane herself (um…what?).

Cut to Peter visiting May in the hospital, feeding her the “face it tiger..” line. Pete chokes back tears as he says he’s glad they have her back, that they almost lost her. Aunt May asks what happened, and Peter shushes her, saying they have plenty of time to go over all of it. May asks after Mary Jane, and Peter lies, saying she’s back at the hotel. A series of panels show MJ grabbing a cab somewhere.

Back in the present of the frame story; MJ gives Peter a big whopping kiss and tells him he needs to find someone strong enough to be with him, for she’s not. That he needs to move on. She says she can’t let what the two of them had stand in the way of finding someone wonderful. She says they’re both going to be okay. Pete thinks today the best person he’s ever known has set him free, and that he feels like he can take on anything life has to throw at him—that today feels like a--wait for it--Brand New Day!

In General...

“Ignorance is not bliss. That platitude is totally wrong. You will not be intellectually happier if you know fewer things. Learning should be a primary goal of living.” Those words are from pop-culture writer Chuck Klosterman, and while I’m taking them wildly out of the context of his writing, it completely applies to what Joe Queseda has put Peter through this story. The moral is: all Peter has to do to set things right is deal with Mephisto. Pete having no real recollection of that aspect makes this a lesson that the character could never learn from (making Dr. Strange’s similar “take this mistake and learn from it” comment this issue hollow). No mention of the Mephisto deal has been made since OMIT part one, and that was just a recycled scene from One More Day. Perhaps the negative reaction of many to Peter striking deals with such a character necessitated that.

While earlier issues made MJ look bad, Pete comes off as even more of a selfish jerk after this issue. Is it supposed to be ironic that Peter would first sacrifice his marriage for his Aunt’s life, and then force his wife to be the single person on Earth that still remembers his secret Spider-man identity, even if she may not have wanted him to? It’s this kind of mischaracterization that drives longtime readers into a fury, and for good reason.

We finally get how Peter’s secret identity was made secret, though—some magic hokum from Dr. Strange, mixed with Reed Richard’s and Tony Stark’s scientific help, and it’s all merely talked about among the 3 and largely happens off panel, save for the events in Strange’s Santorum. They must have figured the less they show and tell about it, the better, and that ecomony of storytelling does probably help sell the idea to a disgruntled fanbase.

There are plenty of annoying little tidbits in this issue—Mary Jane telling Peter to move on and find that other special someone (opening the door for Carlie Cooper or whomever the writers decide to pair Pete up with); Mary Jane having the incoherent epiphany that having her around makes Peter’s life more dangerous. It does, but so does having Aunt May, Flash Thompson, Betty Brant, or any of the other extended cast in his life as friends, too. And poor Aunt May—lying there wondering why she’s in the hospital? Is it still because of a gunshot wound or did the Mephisto deal undo that aspect as well?

I can’t help but think that if they had rolled this story out directly after or soon after One More Day (and had they not wanted it to bookend Brand New Day and beyond), it would’ve repelled readers in droves. It still might; OMIT is a story that tries to feel epic—but there’s a whole air of “it’s this way because we say so” that undercuts the epic feel throughout the whole tale. When MJ tells Peter he needs to move on it seems like the voice of editorial speaking to diehard MJ fans. It doesn’t feel like a story happening to characters—it comes off tailored to fit an agenda, the agenda of none other than Joe Queseda himself. While I’ve picked up on certain subtleties and can appreciate how he crafted aspects of this story, the absurdity and the incoherence of the whole premise detracts from enjoying it. And while he’s an industry veteran and clearly knows comics, here’s hoping Joe stays away from penning Spider-man for the rest of his Marvel tenure. Here’s hoping the rumors of his planning a third part to this story are just rumors. Not unless he really plans to make Peter understand in full what Pete himself has done in these stories, and set right what’s been done in these stories.

Overall Rating...

I don’t hate these stories as much as some may, and I can appreciate the effort involved telling them, in finally explaining away in comic form a clearly editorial or corporate decision made about 3 years ago. But not since One More Day itself has such effort been put into telling such a crap story, and the unexplained paradoxes created by the deal and then the mindwipe itself ends up wringing most of the enjoyment out of reading this story. There’s no reason, not with Ultimate Spider-man and now Marvel Comics Spider-man being published right now which both feature a young and single Peter Parker, that Peter in this continuity shouldn’t or can’t learn from a mortal mistake and deal with the consequences. Or stay married, for that matter.

I’ve not much to add that hasn’t probably already been biliously posted in message boards and on blogs since this story started, but the OMD / OMIT debacle is one for the ages, in the worst kind of way: a story so ass backwards in execution that it’s almost on the level of the Clone Saga. There is at least follow-though on this tale, but at what cost? So much damage, especially to Peter and Mary Jane as characters, for so little gained. Paolo Rivera’s skillful, expressive art alone should warrant several webs, but I can’t bring myself to grade this mess any higher. I’m done with it.