Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #639 Review: One Moment in Time, Part 2

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

I don't know exactly who said or wrote that (and the Internet seems to be split on the attribution as well, so don't bother telling me to Google it), but it is definitely appropriate here.

The second part of the "One Moment In Time" series picked up right where the first part ended, with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson sitting in Peter's apartment, recalling the story of how they failed to get married. But rather than supplementing the subtle changes from the last issue, this issue forges ahead like an out of control train, stuck on the "sure, it makes no sense, but just go with it" tracks.

We learn that once Peter and MJ finally connected after Peter missed their wedding (due to the actions of a criminal, a story that wasn't resolved at all in this issue), MJ decided she couldn't marry Peter unless he stopped being Spider-Man, so she left. This sent her into a funk, and Peter into a complete depression where he was only leaving his apartment to be Spider-Man. Eventually MJ decided to go back and talk to him more to explain that she still LOVED him, she just couldn't MARRY him, because the only reason she would get married would be to have a child, and she couldn't see bringing a child into the dangerous life of Spider-Man.

On the one hand, this did at least give Joe Quesada a chance to bring in the whole "child you'll never have" loose end from "One More Day", but on the other hand, he introduces Mary Jane's belief that having a child with Spider-Man would be akin to having a child with an abusive parent (which her father was). Just to prove I'm not making this up, here are the panels in question:


Umm... what?!

I need to move beyond that logic, because it's just... well, I refer you to the quote at the start of this review.

OK, so once they agree to the no child/no wedding thing, they decide they're going to stay together, just not be married, which prompts present day Peter to ask "so where did it all go wrong". That leads into the unmasking from the "Civil War" storyline.

Look, we all knew this was coming. Sure, it would have been easier to re-write the post-OMD continuity so that Peter never unmasked himself, but the creative forces at Marvel had always said that wasn't the case, at one point explaining that the world had known Peter Parker was Spider-Man, but just "forgot" (and I'd assume the mystery behind how that happened will be explained in the next issue). But it's still frustrating to see it here. Again, to not make this totally negative, Peter does at least couch his criticism of his own unmasking by saying it was the worst mistake he made "outside of what happened to Gwen". If he hadn't added that qualifier, I absolutely would have stopped reading ASM right there.


OK, so after that, the pages unfold pretty much exactly like they did in Civil War, Back in Black and One More Day, including the visits to Iron Man and Doctor Strange, but instead of a redheaded girl showing up, Peter just walks back to the hospital, defeated. When Aunt May flatlines, the doctor is ready to call a time of death, but Peter pushes him aside and begins administering CPR, for two pages, and it eventually works, leaving MJ to say in a final splash page "Oh, my God. Peter -- -- you did it."

I get the feeling Marvel was concerned that simply having Aunt May never getting shot would have been seen as the "easy" way out, so they went with this story instead, but sometimes the easy way is also the right way. I don't want to jump too far ahead before reading #640, but it seems like they've overly complicated the transition from the pre-OMD continuity to the BND continuity by trying to stick too closely to the pre-OMD events. I applaud Marvel for giving us answers, but my applause turns into a sarcastic slow clap when the answers don't make much sense.

One last criticism of this issue, which carries over from last issue. This is Mary Jane Watson, as she appeared in her first (real) appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #42:


This is Mary Jane Watson as she appeared on her first cover, Amazing Spider-Man #59:


Hell, this is Mary Jane Watson as she appeared in THIS issue, in the "flashback" scenes drawn by the incredibly talented Paolo Rivera (who, freed from the requirement to match his art with a 25-year-old issue, nearly single-handedly saves this issue):


On the other hand, THIS is NOT Mary Jane Watson:


I know that girl... she bags groceries at my local Whole Foods. She's not a supermodel/actress who is considered to be one of the hottest women in America. Hell, THAT Mary Jane isn't even hotter than Peter's current roommate.

Now, while I had my issues with the Grim Hunt storyline, I was actually enjoying Amazing Spider-Man recently, and I don't think anything that happens in "One Moment in Time" will really change that, so I can't get too down about the book overall. I just think that the OMD/BDN transition being explained here could have been handled much better, or left entirely alone (sure, that would have pissed off all the people who've been expecting answers for three years, but not everything always needs to be answered).

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