The Box (By Edgar Allan Poe and Al Sjoerdsma)

Box Rave by Al

Howard Mackie is only two issues (and an annual) away from departing the Spider-verse and he has promised to provide some answers before he goes. I'd like to know if this includes an explanation of what's in THE BOX. Remember THE BOX? It showed up in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #19 (July 2000). It was green and gold and looked like someone's prize trunk rather than something the airlines would give away. According to the splash page, it was "flown halfway around the world" by the aforementioned airline and delivered to Aunt May's home in Forest Hills. With Peter Parker deep in denial over his wife Mary Jane's death in an in-flight airplane explosion, a group of his friends meets at the Parker home so that our hero can take a look at the contents of the trunk. When he does, it sinks in to him that MJ truly is dead.

A touching story. The problem here is that Mackie and artist John Romita, Jr. don't show us the contents of the trunk. We DO see objects in silhouette that look like books or files but it is clear that these are not the objects to which Peter and Aunt May are drawn. Let's analyze this a little bit.

First, as I said, the trunk is too fancy to be some box that the airline shipped along. This could mean it is MJ's own luggage but it is unburned and otherwise undamaged so it probably wasn't in the plane. This is especially true if it was "flown halfway around the world", since the explosion took place just after the departure of the plane from New York. So, what would be flown back from that distance? Perhaps it is MJ's luggage sent on an earlier flight? Why, then, would its return convince Pete that MJ is dead? (So what if she hasn't claimed her luggage? Isn't his idea that an old enemy kidnapped MJ? Who thinks of luggage at a time like that?) And if it IS Mary Jane's luggage, why is she traveling with all these books and files? Besides, we still come back to the same question. What could possibly be in that box that would immediately convince Peter that all his conspiracy theories are false?

Does ANY of this make sense? The only way that I can see is if the box contains poor MJ's head, adrift in the ocean currents after the explosion and caught in the nets of French fishermen just off the European coast. These kindly old characters kicked in old Oncle Henri's trunk to ease the pain for the recipients and, what the hell, dumped off a bunch of old books they had no use for anymore, as well. As we've seen up above, anything less than this ghoulish solution requires a certain amount of detailed explanation. (Not the sort of thing we've come to expect from the writer who ended the "did J. Jonah Jameson peek under Spidey's mask" storyline with.. what was the end of that one again? "He didn't look because he got lazy?") And if this IS the solution, well, hey, you've got to admire Aunt May's iron constitution.