After last issue explained how Peter and Mary Jane’s wedding failed to happen, this issue deals with the aftermath and the problem of making sure the two stayed together as a couple. This was tricky since Joe Quesada needed to find a plausible way to keep them together to maintain the years of Spider-Man stories where the only difference was that they weren’t married, while also maintaining some emotional realism. After all, the wedding not happening seemed like it would break the two up, not impel them to remain a couple and not marry. Surprisingly, Quesada pulls it off to a degree.
While the first part of “One Moment in Time” mixed “Amazing Spider-Man Annual” #21 with new material by Quesada and Paolo Rivera, this issue is those two artists (aside from some flashback panels from other comics) with a more coherent feel. With Peter prevented from making the wedding thanks to a cinderblock to the head, this issue picks up immediately after and has Peter trying to explain what happened to Mary Jane. To her credit, she doesn’t need an explanation and sees that Spider-Man will always be the third person in their relationship and, sadly, someone that will always come before her. That leaves the two broken up with the second half of the issue needing to put them back together again.
The explanation given for them getting back together again has some logic in it, but it doesn’t work entirely. Mary Jane’s reasons touch upon some of the big reasons why being with Peter would be a bad move despite her loving him. In many ways, the scene where they get back together could have easily been a scene where they break up forever and, because of that, it doesn’t ring true completely. The scene works well enough, but if it wasn’t required that Peter and Mary Jane get back together, it’s hard to believe that their conversation would play out as it does.
From there, the issue takes a downturn somewhat by beginning to explain what happened in “One More Day” to make Aunt May live. More than the marriage not happening, the explanation of Peter’s unmasking and no one knowing his identity for some reason, how Aunt May survived when she was basically condemned to death, and how Mary Jane and Peter finally broke up will require a fine touch. What little is shown here doesn’t look promising and casts some doubt on how the second half of this story arc will play out.
Paolo Rivera gets a chance to shine in this issue with his strong character art. Last issue, his art stood out against the Paul Ryan work from “Amazing Spider-Man Annual” #21, not quite meshing, but, here, it tells the majority of story aside from six pages by Quesada. His clean, subtle line work captures the raw emotion of Peter and Mary Jane magnificently. There are no half-measures or stoic looks, it’s just pure hurt, anger, frustration, and love. The pained look on Peter’s bruised face when Mary Jane asks him to give up his other life and he has to refuse is masterful. Rivera does the job of selling the emotion of the issue, making Quesada’s words carry more punch and meaning.
Quesada’s art, on the other hand, looks awkward by comparison. His character work isn’t nearly as strong and suffers next to Rivera’s art. It looks overly rendered and somewhat ugly next to the elegance of Rivera’s pages.
So far, “One Moment in Time” has surpassed expectations with Quesada sticking to strong character work and Rivera’s gorgeous pages. The explanation for Mary Jane and Peter never marrying but remaining a couple is a serviceable one and plays rather well thanks to the raw emotion on the page. It should be interesting to see how the next two issues explain the events surrounding “One More Day.”