I No Longer Care Even Slightly, Part 1

Mary Jane Watson?

A fucking supermodel?

Give me a break; that’s when I knew the professionals had left the building, and been piled into the dumpster.

Funny how no one EVER questions “Supermodel Mary Jane”. Well, natch! She’s a fucking supermodel, who would question that? Hey loser, what’re you trying to prove?

It kind of makes me sick.

We wouldn’t even be having these RETARDED discussions if she wasn’t a fucking supermodel, now would we? I mean who would care? Oh, gosh, Spider-Man’s fucking MARRIAGE! Woe is fucking ME! So debilitatingly HARD to write stories about THAT, about him being married to some girl from QUEENS…!

Here’s two things: one, JMS’ decision to make Peter Parker a high-school teacher was SELF-SERVING and WRONG — actually let’s not blame JMS — NO, LET’S BLAME HIM! — no, let’s not blame him, that’s silly. There were times, after all — TIMES! — when he made it work. Well, but anyone can make anything work in a comic-book, for God’s sake, and so what?  Jesus Christ, I’m surprised Joey Q. didn’t physically tackle him in the hallway.  What makes Spidey look older, and therefore (by Q logic) more boring?  Having a supermodel wife?  (oh my God, she never will live that down, will she?)  Or being some old fucking coot telling kids about the way thing were when he was young?  Seriously.  SERIOUSLY.

I hated the marriage.

I hated the unmasking more.

And I hate this.  Harry Fucking Osborne.  You know, I always loved Harry.  I loved his hair.  I loved his skinniness.  He was a great character.  That I learned about through reprints in the early Seventies!!  When he would boast about his new fucking jalopy.  Christ Almighty, am I really being asked to go through that AGAIN?  Holy Jumpin’ Shit, if you ever wanted to see that this new Marvel has no fresh ideas at all

Of course JMS’ whole thing was new fresh ideas.  And, did he deliver?  Tell you what, I thought JMS treated the marriage squarely, sometimes delicately, often beautifully.  He did a good job.  He made it new.  Overall, I thought his run was less than stellar, but he never took a knee where the marriage was concerned, and you can give him that, and that’s a fair bit.

But I don’t care abouut the marriage anymore.  That was — what?  In the Eighties? — a long time ago, anyway.

Don’t care about it.  Choose to have stopped paying attention to it.  They broke up?  They’re back together?  Whatever, just stop the chain-yankin’.

Second thing:

I despise the “Mad-About-You”-ism of having MJ always know Peter was Spider-Man.  To put it plainly:  it’s not in continuity.  Or if it it is, Mary Jane is a bitch in the Seventies scripts of just about everyone.  No, seriously, the Enchantress has got nothing on her.  MJ ain’t too nice in some of those Spider-Man scripts, and I can live with that, but if she knows the big secret then she’s a huge cow.  Really an awful person.  No good.  He should not be with her.  She should not be with anybody.  I mean even with her not knowing the secret it was borderline…

But no one cares, do they?

Okay.  On to One More Day.

It’s bloody stupid.

You mean I exerted myself for you, so as to tolerate the new status quo, and now you want me to go back?

Tell ya what:  NO.

Fuck, is it 2007 or what?  And pardon me for being a bastard, but isn’t this really about aging married comic-book geeks wanting to fuck the Black Cat?  I mean, when you boil it all down.  The word is unseemly.  It’s fucking unseemly.  Why it’s so unseemly, it’s practically unseelie.  Anyway, whichever way you look at it, it’s wrong.  Wrong to make me try to care, when I don’t.  When I forgot how to, years ago.

“Hail the conquering hero!!”

“Oh, Petey…I call you Tiger ’cause you’re not.”

I’ll stick with my MJ, thanks.  And, oh yeah, forgot to mention, my goddamn Peter Parker!

Hey, Marvel, guess what?

That’s not blood you’re hemorrhaging:  it’s my goodwill.

Oh, but maybe I’m not being fair.

Well, fair to who?

To One More Day, Brand New Day, whatever, I say:

You lost me at hello.

Actually, you lost me at “The Other”…now what the fuck was that huge pile of nonsense about?

Okay, goodbye, Spider-Man.  I’m blocking your calls.  Fool me once, and all that.

When, oh God?  When will I finally learn that NuMarvel, that once brought me back, is over?

It’s really over.

Welcome to the Nineties, people.  You can have your old room back, too.


28 responses to “I No Longer Care Even Slightly, Part 1

  1. Years ago- God, has it been eight, nine years?- I remember being irrationally annoyed at DC after Grant Morrison and Mark Waid had been shown the door. And then Morrison gets X-Men (a title I’d never given a crap about in the past), and the writer of Babylon 5 gets Spider-man (a much beloved character I’d written off long before the clone shit), and it’s like Marvel are making comics just for me.

    It’s always seemed like when one of the Big Two screwed up, at least things improved at the other one. But now, I can’t fucking stand Civil War or the fallou, or whatever the fuck they’re doing with Spider-man, and it’s not like I’ve at least got DC because they’re all pleasuring themselves with callbacks and references to 70s comics I’ve never read and never want to.

    Er, that was an angrier rant than planned.

  2. And pardon me for being a bastard, but isn’t this really about aging married comic-book geeks wanting to fuck the Black Cat?

    Yes. Yes it is.

  3. What really scares me about this isn’t the fucking story i can tell you. It’s not the fanboy-style writing of the majors either. It’s the death knell of autorial voice. Really, I should have seen this coming with the de-Millar-ized Civil War, with DC’s crucifiction of Gotham Central, with the instant rewrite of New X-Men, etc.

    I miss Bill Jemas. I miss Jim Shooter. Sure, they were assholes but for fucks sake they oversaw some great fucking comics.

  4. you know, I haven’t read an issue of Spider-Man since David Michelinie was writing the book (I didn’t like it)… I am a huge fan of the Gerry Conway MJ though, and I do often experience pangs of regret that I don’t know anything about what she’s been doing, these last 16 years or so… Also, one of my longstanding ambitions has been to read that Ben Riley/clone thing, and I ever do get there, I’ll have to push on and look at what JMS did… those Marvel DVD-ROMs are calling to me…

    Anyway, I’m sorry you’re so pained by all of this nonsense–and the latest Mephisto shenanigans sound like the very quintessence of stupidity–but I’m glad you were so entertaining about it!

  5. This reboot has been in the works for at least a year or two. Since the decision was made, the Spider-Crew then was free to make any and all major changes to Spidey’s life they wanted to, knowing full well that none of them would survive the ol’ Debbil and his evil-workin’ ways. In a strange way, they had the freedom to do whatever crazy crap they wanted to do with Marvel’s flagship character.

    You’d think such freedom would have led to new, interesting directions, a golden age of cool-o Spider-Man stories.

    Alas, no.

    Two things hack me off about the reboot. Well, three.

    First, it wasn’t necessary. You want a new tone and approach? Jeebus, dude, just change your damn tone and be done with it. You can even make it a big production number if you want, to boost sales. But a reboot? And a lame-ass one with a four-color Faust plot? C’mon, man. Unnecessary and weak. But Joey Q was fixated on eliminating the marriage without ending it.

    Second, it doesn’t really change much. MJ is The Girl and always will be. It’s been too many years, and her place in Spidey canon is clear. Twenty years of marriage, preceded by several years of on-and-off girlfriendery, is hard to erase. Think about the women in Spider-Man’s life. Gwen Stacy was the woman who loved Peter Parker and hated Spider-Man. The Black Cat was the woman who loved Spider-Man and hated Peter Parker. MJ was the woman who loved both sides of the guy. She’s “the one who gets it.” And thus, she is and must be The Girl. Dancing around that is not all that interesting. “Will they or won’t they?” Dude, they did, we know they did, and you un-did it. That is not interesting. Peter dating other women is a holding action, and everybody knows it.

    Third, despite Marvel’s insistence, this is a goddamn reboot. It’s status quo 1971. The marriage, the organic webs, Harry Osborn’s deadness, all erased by editorial fiat. That’s a reboot, guys.

    The sad part is that I agree with a lot of Quesada’s motivations. His interviews on CBR about why he did what he did had me nod in agreement. I was neither here nor there about the marriage itself. Post-reboot Spider-Man actually appeals to me, which pre-booted Spidey no longer did. I’m just annoyed at how ham-fistedly it was done.

    The best case scenario for Quesada is that rebooted Spidey sells well and, over time, “One More Day” is relegated to the memory hole, remembered only as a crap-fest necessary to get the comics over the hump to the new-old status quo. What’ll be interesting to see is what happens (a) when Quesada leaves and (b) if the reboot survives any length of time, what’ll happen when some “daring” editor or writer hearkens back to it and reopens the wound after it had finally healed.

    Undoing the undo could be another spectacular train wreck, depending on how soon it happens. The longer the new-old status quo stays in place, the more painful any backtracking will be. Had the Spider-Marriage been mystically undone in 1989, bitching would have been minor and short-lived. In 2007, it’s a bit late.

  6. I won’t be reading the story itself, and all I know about it comes from online symposia like this, but there’s an extremely empathetic and sensible take on the subject here that seems to be exactly what my opinion would be if I had an opinion.

  7. I don’t really disagree with the actual points, though all the capslocking undermines them slightly.
    Who actually came up with the supermodel thing in the first place? Wasn’t that already in place when JMS came on board?
    Also, I totally disagree with wiping Aunt May’s knowledge of the secret identity. Stories where she doesn’t know? Well and truly fully explored, just totally exhausted. Stories where she does? Still plenty of possibilities to mine.

  8. I happen to LIKE capslocking.

    I don’t remember when MJ became a supermodel, but…I never bought that, really, for some reason that just always seemed silly and needless to me. Why should she ever have been a supermodel? What real good did that ever do, for anybody? Good point about Aunt May, by the way: boy, has that seam been exhausted. So why are we back digging away at it?

    Don’t know why I felt compelled to write this, actually, it’s not like everybody else has been keeping mum about it. And it isn’t like I’m actually reading any Marvel comics at all, these days — and why would I.

    I wrote it pretty sloppily too, I think. But…I don’t know, I just feel like things are coming apart in a hurry, now, so why should I even take any pains to construct an orderly rant about it, when the thing itself is so disorderly? One dumb idea, two dumb ideas…who cares, like you said the solution is to roll your own reboot — pay attention to what you like, forget everything else. As Harvey puts it, let it go down the memory hole.

    But what Sean says about the decline of the authorial voice is true, I believe. Where are the stories? Where is the new stuff? I just finished reading the third Fouth World Omnibus, and hey! That was really fun. Unbelievably, it held my attention; I’d forgotten what that felt like. Ah, the simple pleasures of the story. But where are the stories at Marvel now? Can the importance of this “story” stuff really have been so thoroughly forgotten? JMS is no Kirby, but that Morlun material was at least something different (well, at least the first time around it was…), and he spotlighted the marriage in a way previous writers hadn’t, and that was good, even if it wasn’t completely to my taste all the time. You could read it, anyway. There was some reason to turn the pages, even at the low points. Okay, maybe not during The Other. But, y’know, mostly. Hey, he finally had Aunt May find out that her nephew was Spider-Man, right? And I bet I wasn’t the only one saying “oh, thank God, finally…” I mean he wrote a lot of things that made me YAWN MY FACE OFF, stuff I thought was just a big waste of time, but it wasn’t all like that. I liked his Spidey-as-Avenger, for example. I liked certain features of his FF run. Though I didn’t like the bogus Molten Man Jr. story, I understood what he was trying to get at there was in line with what he was trying to say overall, and…okay, I thought a lot of it was terribly misguided, repetitive, poorly-executed, unnecessary, but! At least it was a thing, his authorship of Spider-Man. At least you could tell he meant it to be like something.

    But now here, and for the last little while, we’ve got a bunch of stuff — a BUNCH of stuff, Good God! It never ends! — just kind of being regurgitated onto the page, and it’s incredibly boring, because it’s all such very poor material for storytelling that you can barely tell the writer has any meaningful intentions for it at all. Harvey mentions that MJ is The Girl now, and that’s it — quite right, and so…I mean am I supposed to forget, the real ME, in the real WORLD, that the marriage ever happened? Just as Harvey points out, that’s ridiculous — every time MJ is there, I’ll be thinking about it, and everytime she’s not there I’ll be thinking “hey, where the hell is MJ?” It’s an absurd restriction to place on, not just the writer, but the reader too. Obviously — just like the unmasking itself, which, I mean, did anyone REALLY expect to see ten years of Spidey stories in which this unmasking acted as a driver? Obviously not, what’s the point, who cares about that, what is there to say with that? — obviously the only thing to do with this Mephisto story is to correct it at some point in the near future, if you just step back from it for one second you see that it’s a ludicrously huge dangling plot thread…and yet, who wants to take on the chore of reading that corrective story when it comes along? Hell, who would ever want to be given the chore of writing it? Maybe I’m just showing my unimaginative streak, but holy crow, is there something the authorial voice can even be used on, in that?

    You see what I mean, maybe. I liked how NuMarvel just threw boatloads of shit at the wall to see what would stick, but this Marvel here is like…well, it’s like Fox TV, as soon as something looks like it might stick, they scrape it off, and then replace it with stuff that definitely won’t stick, and there they are trying to staple it and glue it to the wall, but it still won’t stick, and we’re all just watching them do it. This is like making rice, and taking the lid off every five seconds to see how it’s coming along, you just can’t cook properly that way, it doesn’t work. All these big bogus shockeroos endlessly being fired all over the place 24/7, they’re pointless, they’re not stories, they’re not part of stories, and they’re everywhere, millions of holes in the walls for no reason…Christ, where is Captain Marvel right now, by the way? That was some spastic storytelling there, bringing him back. And for what? Why? What’s the point? Did someone want to write about him, somewhere? And now there’s gonna be a Red Hulk, oh whoop-de-do, I’ll be sure to check that out, won’t you? Gosh, I’m just all a-quiver to know who it is!!! And these are the more new-ish ideas they’ve got, these are the ones that aren’t just…just ripped off from the past and moistened with some spit and then smeared over the page again, but more ineptly. And it’s pretty hard to roll your own reboot out of this kind of thing, isn’t it? Until the marriage is replaced, there’s only going to be ONE Spider-Man story being told, and that’ll be the one about “how long d’you think it’ll take before they put the marriage back?” Talk about dull. Talk about pointless. But are things really any better over at The Initiative? I’ll wager they’re not; what can really be said with the SHRA boot camp story? That it’s a good idea? A bad one? You really wonder how long all this can go on, and yet I get the feeling there’s no way to end it short of making a deal with the Devil. Oh, and there’s a big Skrull invasion coming up, too, almost forgot about that…sigh, how boring is that bastard going to be, I mean come on. That’s gonna use up the majority of Marvel’s CPU time for the next five years, or something. I mean it’s just all getting OLD, isn’t it? There’s just no imagination at work, there. And one gets the powerful feeling that the writers are not being allowed to do their jobs and employ their skills. Ed and I have this friend who always thought making a movie would be a good way to make a lot of money, he was always trying to rope me into writing it for him. I would say “well, what’s it supposed to be about, this movie of yours?” And he would tell me flat-out that he didn’t know and didn’t care, that the “content” (remember when businesspeople used to go on and on about “content”, and how great it would be to have some? But oh, where can you find it!) was just a detail, you could just get some writer to fill that in for you, the important thing was to make the movie. Worry about the story later!

    I’ll relieve the suspense: I didn’t write it for him, so it never got made. He said: “fine, I’ll write it myself, and keep all the money too!” I said: “I hope your movie is very successful and that it makes you a wealthy, wealthy man!” And I meant it, of course. But, it was a faint hope, that’s for sure! Although naturally he was not aware of that fact…

  9. Obviously, I bailed out on all this crap a year ago, but could someone just sum up the new continuity? Have they rebooted all of Marvel, or just the bits they don’t like?

    I don’t suppose Randi, Bambi and Candi have been brought back, have they?

  10. Hah!

    I don’t think Marvel cares much about continuity anymore, Priene, or at least not continuity as we know it. As I said, it’s all coming apart at the seams now. But, briefly, as I understand it from reading things here and there: the deal with the Devil seems to take the general appearance of a) Aunt May never getting shot, b) her house never burning down, c) Pete possibly never having moved out to his solo apartment (can that be right? He doesn’t still live in Queens, does he?), d) MJ never revealing she knows Peter’s superhero identity, so they never get married, e) Harry Osborn never having died, f) MJ getting superpowers for her new identity of (shudder) “Jackpot” (oh come on, somebody tell me that’s just a joke, for God’s sake)…and finally g) that Peter Parker never unmasks as Spider-Man during Civil War. Obviously a whole lot of these things are causally unconnected, so…up to you if you’d call it a “retcon”, since it’s just changing all kinds of things at a sweep, without necessarily referencing much continuity along the way.

    However, again as I understand it, that’s just the appearance of how the deal works, and so in another way you can’t call it a retcon even if you want to. Apparently, if one can judge by the limited Joe Q./JMS back-and-forth, what the deal consists of in actuality is: a) Aunt May is magically healed, b) her house is magically restored, c) Harry is magically brought back to life, d) MJ gets superpowers, and e) everyone is given a general amnesia about these things, so that as far as they’re concerned it’s a retcon (or I guess more properly, an alternate history), but as far as we’re concerned it isn’t. And into the bargain, no one remembers Peter unmasking. Oh, and for some reason I don’t understand, he’s still living with Aunt May. At least that’s what I’ve heard. Well, don’t blame me for not actually going out and reading the issue, I’m just not going to do that. If I’ve gotten something tragically wrong, here, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

    Result, to the characters: quite sad, as Harry never dies, Pete and MJ never tie the knot, possibly Pete is still living with his aunt in Queens? — did he ever live anywhere else at all? — and what it all means for past issues of New Avengers or the developments of Civil War, I couldn’t tell you, but at the moment it appears as if a) shut up, fanboy, and b) everything happened the same way anyway, now shut up fanboy. So who knows?

    Me, I’m somewhat concerned for events of Spider-Man comics older than the last few years. If The Other never happened, that’s one thing, but what about, oh I don’t know, everything else?

    I doubt if anyone will bother to explain that, though. I mean really, what’s to explain.

    As I guess I mentioned before, I forgive myself the sloppiness of this rant, on the grounds that it isn’t one-tenth as sloppy as anything that’s gone on in the Marvel Universe for the last few years. Still waiting for someone to explain to me when Hank Pym figured out how to shrink down to subatomic size, you know?

  11. Deal with the devil? We’re talking metaphorical deal with the devil, right? Not a Peter Hellstorm Parker meeting up with Satanus Lucifer Diabolus and signing a pact in blood deal?

    In a gangster bashing comic like Spider-Man, that would make no sense. On the other hand, neither did the Clone Saga, Mary Jane-as-chaste-heroine, killing every support character and resurrecting Aunt May. Twice, apparently.

    I have a year’s backlog of Spider-Mans in my spare room. I’m now inspired to read them.

    As for Hank Pym going subatomic, I think that’s a great idea. He’d have to be in a quantum state, dozens of different Hanks existing simultaneously in a probability cloud. Maybe in one of them he wouldn’t be a wife-beater…

  12. Nossir, we’re talkin’ a striaght-up deal with Mephisto — close enough to the De’il for Marvel Co’ics.

    Only I believe it was MJ who finally made it.

    Or, they both did together?

    Christ, who knows.

  13. My mind is boggling. Do they hand around hallucinogens at their editorial meetings?

    As for Spider-Man continuity, that’s been hopelessly screwed for years. MJ knew about Peter from ASM #4 – I just got the Jackpot reference and now I want to cry – so everything involving her for the next two (arguably, four and a half) decades makes no sense. Not to mention the Gwen Stacy twins debacle…

    I may be mistaken about this, but wasn’t there a time when Peter, Aunt May and Peter’s parents living in his flat, and all of them were fake? It later turned out Peter was a clone, Aunt May an actor and the parents were impersonators. All there at the hands of Norman Osborn, supposedly long dead. Or was that Peter really Peter? I haven’t the heart to look it up.

  14. Ah, Norman’s resurrection.

    I didn’t like that either.

    Did you say you have a year’s worth of Spider-Man comics in your spare room?

    Warning: most of ’em aren’t very good.

  15. I’ve been through this “giving up comics” thing and then having to catch up later so many times that I figured I’d just let them pile up for a year or two. Then if I’m still not bothered, I might just quit comics altogether. Right now, I’m enjoying books far more than comics. Books don’t insult your intelligence in the way Marvel and DC do. Book publishers don’t give the impression they hate your guts for buying their products.

    Still, if Spider-Man is heading for another Clone Saga (and quite a lot of people seem to think so), then I want to be there. That was fantastic car crash entertainment.

  16. I think this’ll be more like a GIGANTIC BUBBLE POPPING. Line-wide. All over the place. I mean look where they are now, look where every title is now. There’s nowhere left to run.

  17. Well, I’ve given up comics more than once before, which has left me somewhat immune to ever being a drama queen about it again. I can now walk away, rather than stalk or stomp away, with the possibility that I might stroll back, with the knowledge that getting caught up with whatever the status quo might be at that time will be no problem (especially with the fact that anything not immediately obvious can be explained with a simple web search).
    I skipped pretty much the entire clone saga, so for me, it’s not in *my* continuity. Likewise with the first death of Aunt May. A death which I shed no tears over neither my missing it nor it being retconned, because this later allowed for a longer period of “May knows Peter’s secret” as part of the status quo, rather than a few seconds on her deathbed.
    So somewhere down the line, I’ll check in with Spidey again, and sniff around for those story points which might make me toss it back on the rack (Venom, Carnage, anything 90s-ish, cranking back to old status quo situations whose stories have been exhausted) or which might make me give it a try (Aunt May knowing Peter’s secret again, a title called FNSM where Spider-Man deals with stuff in his neighborhood and is well-regarded by the person in the street despite what the Bugle says). Either is equally likely, it’s just a matter of time.

  18. You calling me a drama queen, Ed? (*cough*PENNE*cough*)

    Yes, just not reading about a decade’s worth of comics…that was a good decision on your part, with the only side-effect I can think of being that I had a lot of trouble figuring out who Kaine and Darkdevil were supposed to be in Spider-Girl. I did try to read that MASSIVE explication of Clonearama that was online a while ago, but couldn’t even make it to the end of that…interesting browsing, though, wish I had the link handy…

    Be jealous, folks: I missed Onslaught, too. And Age Of Apocalypse. Boy, whatta lotta shit Marvel put out in the Nineties! That was wild!

  19. Ah! Here we have it, Priene!

    Oh, man, I can’t remember how to do hyperlinks by hand anymore…

    Let’s see…

    Forgot the web-shooters. And, he used to have all these extra-spidery powers, they’re gone too. Which is a good thing.

  20. The funny thing is, even though the last year’s Amazing Spider-Man were complete bilge (I read them all last night), and even though the pact with the devil is barrel-scraping and desperate, this is probably around about where Spider-Man should be. That horrible brain-sapping marriage is finished. Hallelulah.

    Trouble is, all the MJ fans will get together and whinge non-stop until the marriage is restored. They’ve done it before.

  21. Oh, they’ll do it again, I’ve got no doubt at all about that. And soon.

    Thing is…as I mentioned, I really hate this “ultimate love, written in the stars, the purest, the finest” Mad-About-You Wally and Linda shinola that’s become attached to Pete and MJ over time. It really bugs me. And as you can see, this Mephixto-thing doesn’t really help that, it just ramps it up, and when the whole thing gets reset that’ll be the thing that ends up seeming like the entire point of the exercise. All this cosmically pure shining love stuff…bleacch. It’s a kind of a “focused totality” thing, isn’t it? It’s a shortcut, and not a good one. Peter Parker’s like the Silver Surfer now, everything’s all “alas!” and “alackaday!” and “perhaps a cosmic BOLT will settle your nerves!”

    Aheh-heh…funniest thing in the whole BuLars Defenders run, to me…

    She’s gotta be a supermodel (okay — I guess it was the Eighties), she’s gotta be this (gack) “tether”-creature…none of this fixes any of that, so is the marriage really gone, after all? I mean I don’t really care about the word “married”, it’s not like we really ever spend a lot of time looking at the ring, but it’s this love-bombing thing that’s the drag, right?

    Or…maybe I’m not right, it’s actually quite late, here…

  22. There’s a whole mountain of wish-fulfillment going on with Mary Jane Watson fans. It’s not enough that the hero got their girl, it’s got to be absolute, cosmic, unending love. The kind that in reality lasts until the first time you see them with a hangover during a bout of the shits. A love that in this case doesn’t pass muster because it’s been shown about a billion times that Peter loved Gwen more than Mary Jane. She’s always been his second option, and that’s been the one redeeming feature of the Peter-Mary Jane relationship. It is, was, always will be a flawed one. Which is good writing material, but definitely not a happily-ever-after marriage. And, looking at the current state of affairs, why on earth would Mary Jane choose to stay with Peter?

    Mary Jane as pragmatic lover, choosing the best current option? I’ll buy that. But not as his Juliet. It’s just not believable. And the writers can’t do anything with it. They’ve tried for twenty years and it’s been almost unremittingly awful.

    The irony is, in their desperation to keep MJ married to Peter, Mary Jane fans have ensured she’s become exactly like late-period Gwen Stacy. A simpering stand-by-your-man with no trace of her original personality. Give me that contract, Mephisto, I’ll sign it for them.

  23. I don’t know… I don’t like Linda-Wally anchor bullshit either, but there’s something off, something… ugly about Priene’s argument. I’ll have to think on this and maybe get back to you.

  24. You refer, perhaps, to the idea of MJ as “pragmatic lover”? Which is certainly the opposite of “anchor”…

    I don’t know. It seems to me that there’s a broad expanse of interesting middle ground in there. As Harvey pointed out, MJ was made into the only Girl who could ever be the partner, and not just the object…wilful old MJ, the blithe party-girl, crazy-making post-Gwen girlfriend…who then underwent a gradual (well, not that gradual) softening, into an empathetic character. This was an arc that appealed to me a great deal, because I recognized (and still do recognize) in Conway-era MJ a character easily reconciled with many of the traits of real-life vivacious redheads of my acquaintance. Not nearly as bright as Gwen! Nor as stable. Not “the perfect girlfriend”, by any means.

  25. I was once thinking of Spider-Man and Mary Jane, and thought, what would I do with them if I was writing the comic? And I figured, one thing I could do is have Mary Jane run into some kind of problem in her professional life. Nothing so huge or dangerous as to require a superhero’s attention, but something she could handle. Maybe one of her coworkers needs some kind of help. And it would be easy for Mary Jane to ignore it, to decide that it’s somebody else’s problem, but no. She realizes, I’m married to Spider-Man, I can’t turn my back and be able to look Peter in the eye. And she, after some struggle and plot and what have you, handles it.

    Was there ever anything like that in the comic books?

  26. Ugly? Maybe. I don’t like Mary Jane Watson, it’s true, so I’m unlikely to find much empathy for her. Also, I started reading Spider-Man when, in Marvel UK terms, Gwen Stacy was still alive, and I was always in the Gwen camp.

    Not that I want Gwen back, because dead people are dead. I’m don’t have any love for Gerry Conway’s run, but I’ll agree the transformation of Mary Jane’s character was well-handled, if never entirely believable. But if you go back to the Wedding Issue, you’ll see that MJ still had plenty of dislikable personality characteristics. Ones which have subsequently disappeared entirely. Mary Jane is now a less-weepy unintelligent Gwen with red hair. I’m puzzled why Mary Jane fans don’t complain about this neutering. The one who dumped Harry Osborn was much more fun.

    But, anyway, it’s not Mary Jane I object to. If I were writing it, I certainly wouldn’t get rid of her. No, it’s the marriage that’s been killing Spider-Man: the narrowing of friendships and lack of romantic conflict which it involves. I take Matthew’s point that there are possible plotlines involving a married Spider-Man. Obviously there are. But we’ve had twenty years of this. At least half the Spider-Mans ever written have been issued after Peter and MJ married. And they’ve ranged, for the most part, from moderately acceptable to utterly pathetic. Generations of writers and editors have tried to make this a good comic. They’ve trooped gallantly over the top, and they’ve failed. Why should the next twenty be any different?

    According to Joe Q (I’ll admit he’s not necessarily unbiased), most writers think the marriage was a mistake. Even if you love Mary Jane, even if you think they’re Heathcliff and Cathy, even if you think they’re cosmic-crossed lovers, at least contemplate the possibility that those writers have a point. Each year that goes past with Peter and Mary Jane married is a year when other plotlines don’t get written. Maybe we should try them for a year or two. Maybe we might enjoy them.

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