Monday, August 20, 2012

200th Blog: Review of Spider-Man - One Moment in Time

Two hundred blogs. Woooo! The sheer amount of words I’ve written in 199 blogs is actually very staggering to me, as I can’t even seem to finish a writing novel. Still I’m very proud that I’ve managed to stick with the blog this long. To celebrate I wanted to do a follow-up to my 100th post which, if you recall, was a very detailed review of Spider-Man: One More Day, one of the worst comic books I ever had the displeasure of reading and the reason I haven’t bought any new Spider-Man comics since (well, at least until today’s comic).

I talked about One More Day to great degree in both the 100th blog and the prologue in the 99th blog so I don’t want to repeat myself too bad. However if you’re too lazy to check them out basically the comic involved Spider-Man and his wife Mary Jane Watson making a deal with Mephisto, the closest entity Marvel Comics has to Satan, in order to save the life of his dying Aunt May whom was shot because Spidey was stupid enough to reveal his secret identity to the world and then decide to betray Iron Man thus losing any protection his family had received and causing them to become fugitives. The book was really, really poorly written, extremely contrived and rushed, and ultimately an unsatisfying end to Spidey and MJ’s twenty-year marriage for those of us who were fans of it. Not to mention the idea of Spider-Man making a deal with the devil so he doesn’t have to take responsibility for his own follies kind of pretty much kills the character’s integrity for me.

The comic concluded with Peter Parker and MJ ‘s marriage never happening (in fact they were broken up, actually), his identity again now a secret, his web shooters restored (the years prior to this he had developed “organic webbing”), and Harry Osborn, long dead son of the Green Goblin and Peter’s best friend, suddenly alive and well. So obviously there were questions that we had with this new status that we all really wanted answers to, including:

-What changes to Spider-Man canon have happened now that the marriage has ben retconed out of existence?

-What happened Spider-Man’s organic webbing? And did the extra powers he gained in The Other storyline hold up?

-How is Harry Osborn still alive? Did he ever become the Green Goblin? And since the Clone Saga turned out to be a(n extremely convoluted) revenge plot by Harry’s father because of his son’s death does this mean that that storyline never actually happened?

Pictured: Peter Parker at the end of One More Day. Probably
In 2010, three years after the taste of One More day had started to wash away, then Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada (the architect of One More Day and outspoken opponent of the Spider-Marriage) decided to release a new Spider-Man story to address questions following the controversial comic. No, not the questions above (though to be fair some of them were answered during the post-OMD Amazing Spider-Man comic) but rather the question of “why did Peter and Mary Jane never get married?” Which is actually really annoying because I’m not sure who the hell wanted that question answered. I mean, people who were pro-marriage were not going to want to relive the crap from OMD and people who were enjoying the Brand New Day storyline (post-OMD Amazing Spider-Man) probably didn’t want to have their regular comic interrupted by rehashing old shit. So, because absolutely no one asked for it, Spider-Man: One Moment in Time hit the stands.

Written by Quesada with art from Paolo Rivera it covers The Amazing Spider-Man #638-641. As a warning this review will likely be pretty a pretty nerdy and passionate rant. It likely won’t be as bad as my One More Day review but if you aren’t really into the whole “Angry Dork” thing you might want to wait until blog #201 comes out.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: Spoilers abound in this review, as I pretty much stopped giving a crap about five pages into this mess]


Mephisto's master plan was...to turn into a time traveling pigeon?
Sometime after the forgotten events of One More Day Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker, no longer a couple, visit with each other. On MJ’s insistence the two end up discussing where their relationship went wrong in order to get some closure with their relationship. They decide to begin with why they never got married in the first place. We follow their story from that infamous day through Aunt May lying on her death bed.

In the One More Day review I said the only good thing about it was the artwork by Quesada. I was being generous, mainly so the book had something under the Pro section. However with One Moment in Time the art by Rivera actually looks really good. He has this retro style he uses that really works for me, especially the scenes that take place in the 80s (or whenever they’re supposed to take place). The problem is that his art makes up the scenes told in flashback. The art in the present is done by Quesada (or at least I think it’s him) and it’s not a seamless transition. Worse yet they actually gank whole pages from The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, the book where Peter and MJ originally got married, and it looks so goddamn weird next to Rivera’s art. It is a completely unnatural fit.

That’s it. That’s the only positive thing I have to say about this comic. This book is f**king terrible.

The absolutely worst thing about this book is the plot. It’s one of the most contrived and poorly thought out stories I’ve ever read. It’s more or less split into two parts. Part One retells The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, explaining what happened to keep the two main characters form getting married. Part Two basically retells the events from One More Day within this new timeline. Let’s start with Part One. When Mephisto said in OMD that he would erase their marriage I figured he’d just wave a magic wand and suddenly time would simply changed. No, apparently what actually happened was that he turned into a bird or something and changed one tiny detail in the past that completelty altered the course of history (except for the stuff it didn’t effect at all for some reason). "For Want of a Nail",  and all that. He frees one of Electro’s goons that Spidey defeats in the original comic who then, in a huge goddamn coincidence, just happens to keep Spider-Man from attending his own wedding later that day. He does this by hitting Spider-Man with a cement block.

Spider-Man's one weakness: Kryptonite Plot contrivance
So yeah; Spider-Man is more or less defeated because a thug threw a cement block at his head. Thrown by a normal dude from a ways away with Bullseye-like precision. Also they both fall off a building Spider First. And then the thug walks away without killing or even unmasking Peter (even though later in the story he shows again looking for payback). This is really, really dumb.

What happened to his Spider-Sense (his power to detect danger that’s so ingrained into his system that his own body reacts to avoid the threat even if he brain does not) you might be asking? Didn’t work all that well today. Anyway Peter misses his own wedding because he was knocked out in an alley. Yeah. When he finally does find Mary Jane she is extraordinarily unsympathetic of the situation and dumps him only to later take him back and says something crazy that I’ll address in a bit. Basically she says they won’t ever get married to Peter but they can still date. This all feels extremely forced; as if the writer is just quickly spouting out reasons to justify the retcon but hasn’t actually put the time and effort to properly think it through. It’s almost as if a comic writer didn’t pen this but rather an artist who had no business trying to branch out. Oh wait, that’s what happened.

Part Two picks up shortly after Peter visits Doctor Strange from back during the One More Day comic but instead of being visited by Mephisto in Drag like he was in the last comic this time nothing happens and he just slowly walks back to the hospital to watch Aunt May die. Then suddenly May starts to pass away right in front of Peter…who then freaks out and starts using his spider strength to give her chest compressions. And this saves her life. After all the shit in that last story, all the characters who said there was nothing they could do to help her, and a goddamn deal with Satan; Aunt May is saved because Spider-Man pressed on her chest with all his might like a little kid.

What. The. Fu-

GODDAMN THE MAN!!
THIS IS REALLY F**KING STUPID!!!! Let’s ignore the fact that the science behind this is really, really weak and that Peter probably would have killed May if he was truly using his super strength. The main problem is that everything, every goddamn thing, that happened in One More Day WAS COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY since all along Peter had the “power” to save his aunt! Did they not realize when writing this hot garbage that the only possible justification for the extremely weak and dubious way they ended the marriage was that within the context of the fiction Spider-Man had no other choice. But it turns out that not only did he make a bargain with the devil that seemed totally out of character appaertly HE DIDN’T HAVE TO DO IT AT ALL SINCE HE COULD SAVED HER WITH HIS OWN TWO HANDS!!! And also we really have to mention that the doctor, a medical scientist with doctorates and everything, tells Peter that it was his love that saved his aunt! So when the Marvel Universes greatest minds came to the conclusion that despite all their resources and ability that a f**king bullet wound was too difficult to fix it was actually because THEY DIDN’T F**KING LOVE AUNT MAY HARD ENOUGH BUT LUCKILY PETER DOES DOPEY DOPEY DOO!!!!1111!!!11!!

Was it love? Or was it a lack of ability to do his own laundry?
And don’t tell me that Mephisto did something to make May better because this comic already showed us that all he did was slightly alter a few details in the past. Peter saving May had NOTHING to do with Mephisto at all! Perhaps this was meant to be tragic but really all it does it make it seem like Marvel is laughing at me for being a marriage supporter. “Hey guys, did you like that stuff we did in that other comic? Well guess what? It didn’t actually matter at all! Hahahaha! F**k you, fanboys!”

There’s some other stuff that happens, and it was indeed pretty dumb too but that stuff with Aunt May was the height of stupidity for the actual plot. I will say that the idea that Doctor Strange, Iron Man and Reed Richards get together to figure out a way to make Peter’s identity a secret again doesn’t make any sense. Why would they work this hard to do this but couldn’t, or more likely “wouldn’t”, do a damn thing for Aunt May when she was dying? Because the plot tells them to, of course. The dialogue is basically just as bad as it was in OMD; very stiff, very unrealistic, very annoying. Between these two comics I have to wonder if the staff at Marvel have actually ever listened to real live people actually talking. Especially people who are romantically linked.

Comparatively that’s fairly minor. The second main issue with this comic is the characterization. The worst thing about OMD was that Spider-Man was acting so out of character to the point that when it was all said and done I didn’t want anything to do with him. This time its Mary Jane Watson who gets her character assassinated. All of the conflict in this comic happens pretty much because MJ is a jerk. As long as I’ve been reading Spider-Man comics MJ has always been a supportive and understanding rock in Spider-Man’s otherwise unstable world. She is not a jerk. But she sure as hell was acting that way in this book. Peter misses the wedding due to cement block related issues and when he finally crawls (literally) into his apartment only for Mary Jane accusing him of getting cold feet. Dude, he’s in so much pain he can’t even walk; I’m pretty sure he didn’t simply skip out on the ceremony. Anyway she goes on say she’s sick of Spider-Man getting in the way and that Peter has to choose: 1) his self-imposed obligation of saving the lives of hundreds of people and the occasional world while making New York City a much safer place to live for everyone or 2) marrying her. Seriously. I can write an entire blog about why this is shit Mary Jane would probably never do. This is a totally contrary to MJ’s entire appearance in the comic before this point. While she has been frustrated at times with Peter’s double life she has always understood and accepted it. She’s known about it since they were teenagers (even before they officially met, actually); she’s had a lot of time to think about this.

MJ: "You were broken and bloody in an alley after trying to save someone's life?"
MJ: "I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME, YOU BASTARD!"

I do get that being the spouse of a superhero must be tough, not knowing if they’ll be coming home every night, but I’ve always felt they always play this up too much in comics. In the real world there are many people married to cops, firefighters and soldiers and they work fine. And yes, sometime the stress does break up those marriages too but again Mary Jane didn’t just blindly walk into this. She knew what she was getting into and if she can’t handle it then shouldn’t be with him. But I know she can handle it because she did for over TWENTY YEARS!

Okay, I’ll admit that I may be being a bit hard on Mary Jane in this situation. After all, Pete did ruin her wedding and maybe does deserve to be dumped over it (well, it wasn’t his fault but she’s understandably mad). BUT I feel it just doesn’t match up with what I know about MJ. It doesn’t feel like something she’d do.

To make matters worse (because MJ turning out to be shockingly selfish in the end wasn’t bad enough) she tells Peter that she’ll take him back but they will never get married because she now refuses to bring a child in their life and that was her only real motivation for wanting to get married.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!

Everything I know is wrong
I’m supposed to buy that Party Girl Mary Jane Watson, who in the course of her entire publication history has never to my knowledge ever even hinted at this type of mindset, was only looking to get married because she wanted children?! She’s been a career minded women as long as I’ve read it and while I don’t think I’ve ever seen her uninterested in kids it never seemed like it was something she badly wanted. Even when she was pregnant during the Clone Saga (I started buying comic books regularly during this time, by the way) I don’t recall her going on about this being a dream come true. This is not character development; this is what the French call “A GODDAMN ASS-PULL”!

There’s more crap, like Mary Jane permanently breaking up with Peter because she was mad that he saved her from losing her memory of his identity, or that she basically says being Spider-Man’s girl is the same thing as being physically abused by her father, and also the thug from earlier coming back as an assassin hired to kill all of Spidey’s friends and loved ones to make a really poorly done allusion to the death of Uncle Ben but, guys, I’m tired. This comic has broken me. I have no rage left. I’m done. I could write ten more pages on why this comic is dumb both on its own and in connection to established continuity (and the rules of time travel in the Marvel Universe) but this comic has beaten me. I’m just going to wrap this up and then take a damn nap.

This comic is bad though I’m not sure if it’s just as bad as OMD. It’s actually a better written story in general except for the near constant leaps of logic that would kill just about anyone’s enjoyment of it, but on the other hand it feels so unnecessary that it kind of comes off like petty shot to those who didn’t like the first comic. It’s almsot like Marvel was saying “Hey guys, you say you didn’t like One More Day or the way we did the retcon? Well get over it, assholes!” Because of that I think I like OMIT even less than I did One More Day. I thought OMD was a travesty of epic proportion that ruined the greatest superhero in history by taking away the fundamental aspect of his character but OMIT is worse because it makes us relive that carp and even make light of it. This story ends up being Marvel telling us that Peter and Mary Jane are better off not being together and we should just accept it. What’s more the book seems to mainly be a way for Marvel to make MJ look like a terrible person, despite what we know to be contrary, possibly with the intent to get the fans to turn on her (let’s hope that’s not true). I hate this comic. I hate it so much.

Mary Jane Watson... no more!
Spider-Man: One Moment in Time gets 1 Adorable Panda out of 5.



Pros 

-The art (by Paolo Rivera) is pretty good 

Cons 

-Plot is extremely contrived 

-The characterization is terrible (and MJ is pretty much ruined) 

-The dialogue is stiff and clunky 

-The art at times is pretty damn jarring (with pages lifted from a better comic being forced in) 

-The comic feels mean spirited 


That's it for #200. Thanks a lot for reading all the way through and even more thanks for reading my ramblings for this long. Hopefully we'll all still be here for #300!

2 comments:

  1. Wanted to Comment on here as this is the article I found on Google to make me jump around your blog. I was recently reading different comic story line I missed, probably because Civil War comes out soon. I came across the OMD story which led to the OMIT story, which led me to why they even felt writing OMIT was necessary at all. One google search later and here I was. Anyway. Blogs great keep on keeping on.

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