These days, Marvel Comics is in the business of teasers. From the rollout of the marquee Avengers team members in the Heroic Age to the shadowy “Who is it?” theatrics related to their Secret counterparts and from prophetic X-Men death watches to puzzling Spider-Man montages, the publisher has made a concerted effort to get fans talking by giving them a taste of what’s to come.
Today, at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo, one of the most talked about teasers found an explanation likely to get even more jaws wagging, either for or against it. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada revealed at his traditional Cup O’ Joe panel today that “O.M.I.T.” – the phrase he’s dropping on guitar picks and comic ads -Â stands for “One Moment In Time” and that said moment involves the controversial erasing of Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s wedding in the Spider-Man story “One More Day.”
The story of “One Moment In Time” by Quesada and artist Paolo Rivera will be serialized in Marvel’s flagship “Amazing Spider-Man” title beginning in July’s issue #637 and running through #640, all of which will be oversized, and as the E-i-C explained exclusively to CBR, the series will turn back the clock in some unexpected ways to show what happen on the day that should have been Peter and MJ’s wedding day instead of the version published in “The Wedding!” of 1987’s “Amazing Spider-Man Annual” #21.
CBR News: Joe, you guys have been teasing this for a few weeks now, so I guess the best way to start this is just the very basics: what is “O.M.I.T.?”
Joe Quesada: I heard a fan say this, and I thought it was great: One More Internet Teaser. [Laughs] It stands for “One Moment In Time.” And it also stands for “Omit.”
What you’re dealing with in the issue is “What happened on the day Peter Parker and Mary Jane on the day they were supposed to get married.” How do you step into that premise? Is this a straight-up, linear story told in the past?
The story actually takes place in current continuity. It starts with a conversation. Actually, I take that back. It starts with “One More Day,” and then we go into current continuity. And then from there, we flash into the Wedding Annual, actually using a tremendous amount of material from the wedding annual and then dancing between those raindrops. People will see as the book goes along. And if you haven’t read the Wedding Annual, or you’ve forgotten what the Wedding Annual was all about, there are actual pages there. There are scenes that either end and then we continue them, or there were moments where Peter and MJ went off to do different things, and we tell what those stories were. We elaborate a bit more on the Wedding Annual and make everybody feel like they’re jumping into the middle of a story and going, “I don’t remember reading that story” or “it’s been so long, I never got it.” Hopefully, it will get everybody immersed and knowing exactly where we’re going.
Did you have this name in mind, and the fact that it lined up with an omitted piece of history in anagram form was a lucky coincidence, or were you looking for a title that really spoke to the story in two ways?
It was serendipitous, but it does have a tremendous amount of significance. I was looking for a title that played upon “One More Day” – because I’m a whore. [Laughs] But I started toying around with things, and “One Moment In Time” fit the story. Then when I did the anagram thing, it was like, “Whoa! Look at that. It’s perfect.” So it was complete happenstance, serendipity, magic…whatever you want to call it. But there you have it.
Ever since “One More Day” came out, people have been asking questions. “What was whispered? How does the past work?” At that time, did you know what all those answers were, or did you really have to go back in and find what was going to be official after the change was made?
I knew what the beats were in continuity and the science of how everything was going to go down after “One More Day” was done. What I didn’t know was that I was going to write this, so I didn’t have a three-act structure or the narrative structure of how it would play out. Once I decided I wanted to write the story and started having some more ideas towards it, that’s when I said, “Let me put this into a structure that makes sense. It’s also a tough story to tell because you’re going back in continuity and back in time, and you want to make it conclusive so that if anyone hasn’t read the Wedding Annual from back in the day and doesn’t know all of Peter Parker’s history, it will still make some sort of sense to you. And if you haven’t read “One More Day,” it will still make sense to you. It’s still a linear story. That was the trick in doing this, and I didn’t start thinking about that until about a year after “One More Day.”
Paolo Rivera has been making comics for a long time, creating so many of the “Mythos” books with Paul Jenkins over the past few years, but the past year or so seems to have drawn a lot more attention to his work. What led to him being the one to take on this project?
I think Paolo – his painted work is beautiful. It’s spectacular. But the problem with the painted work is that it’s taken longer to do. And his pen and ink work and his brush work are just as beautiful, if not more so. There’s something about it. I don’t want to call it “retro,” because it has this modern approach, but it has a bit of a classic feel to it. His characters are fun and really attractive.
His storytelling is absolutely spectacular. More than anything, the reason I needed Paolo on this is because I needed someone who really could tell a story. And the only two guys I could think of at that moment were John Romita, Jr. and Paolo. John’s busy doing other things, but I also felt with Paolo, his stock has been rising at Marvel, and this is a project – love it or hate it – that was going to get a lot of attention. I think people are going to read it, and they’re going to love what he does on that book.
I’m someone who has actually never read that annual. How do those original pages by Paul Ryan mesh with what’s happening now in “O.M.I.T.?” How does Paolo bridge that gap visually?
He actually alters his style just a little bit so that it’s relatively seemless. If you’re not an astute comic book reader, you may not be able to tell the difference. You might think it’s just one continuous tale. It’s pretty beautiful. I can’t say enough about Paolo, and he’s such a joy to work with. It’s made the project that much more fun.
You’ve been talking about “One More Day,” well, ever since “One More Day” happened. Nonstop. Do you think this will satisfy all the questions readers have had about this, or does it open up the past for even more?
It answers every question. I believe I have all those boxed checked. I’m pretty sure I did, and I’ve had all my editors look it over, and I think we completely answered every question. It doesn’t leave openings, and it doesn’t make you go, “Aww, I can’t believe you just did that to us.” It answers all the question I intended it to. The trouble for me was that it took this long to get to it. I would have liked to have gotten to it earlier, but it is what it is. I think the timing works out this way for it’s own reasons.
Are there other stories to tell? I personally feel this is a bit of a trilogy. There’s another story for me to tell but not because there’s a dangling question. There’s just one more story I could tell around this. Maybe it would take me another two years to get to it, but I’ll probably get to it.
The #1 question you’ve gotten since “One More Day” seems to be “C’mon, Joe…when are you going to let Spider-Man and Mary Jane be married again?” What do you think you’ll get asked once “O.M.I.T.” is out?
You know, I honestly don’t know. It’s such a relief for me to get this story off my chest because I’ve been living with it for so long. All I know is that I’m satistfied with it. People will have questions for me, and I’m sure that there’ll be those that get their answers and won’t be happy with them, so they’ll ask again – that happens with every book we publish. There will hopefully be those that read it and are happy with the outcome.
What’s interesting about this book is that, we talk so much about retconning pieces of Marvel history to fit a story, and this entire story in actuality operates as a big retcon. How do you keep it from just being a reason for explaining something away and make it a worthy story all its own?
I just did my best to make it a compelling and emotional story. There were parts of it that were a little tough to write, and there were some parts that were also me doing continuity math. That was the fun part. When we talk about the word “Omit,”it leaves people wondering, “Well, what does get omitted? What’s no longer there?” But it answers a lot of questions and shows what’s possible when one little thing happens and how a cascade of dominos can fall down in a way that nobody expects. And that’s kind of what the story is really about.