Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada knows how to get fans attention – particularly, it seems, when it comes to the Amazing Spider-Man. After three days of debate-filled responses to the Marvel’s honcho’s exploration of his work on the recent “One Moment In Time” story line, he’s back again on CBR to take an inside look at the final fate of Peter Parker.
With Mephisto’s role in the unmarrying of Peter and Mary Jane now effectively “omitted” from Spidey lore, CBR News swings its week-long, in-depth commentary on one of the most controversial Spider-Man stories ever told towards the more modern chapters of “O.M.I.T.”
Below, we’ll go inside the “One Moment In Time” arc from Quesada and artist Paolo Rivera’s “Amazing Spider-Man” #638 – 641 and the drastic changes to the Spider-Man continuity and status quo they helped usher in. In part four of our talk (read part one, part two and part three), Quesada delves into the effect Peter’s choices have on his life with Mary Jane and as Spider-Man, what memories from his past will always haunt him and what fans never knew about the events surrounding “Civil War.”
Kiel Phegley: We’re on the home stretch here.
Joe Quesada: I could go on for another week! These kinds of interviews are always fun. Plus it’s a much needed distraction from how miserable a season my Mets have had.
Kiel Phegley: Okay, lets start with a hot potato. One other aspect that’s been getting so much buzz on the internet since “One More Day” is the idea of this child. We get a slight flashback here to the scene with the red-headed girl in that story, but we see that it’s about what Mary Jane had imagined could be a future for her and Peter’s kid. It reminds me of The Clone Saga and how for years we’d heard about this baby that might or might not really exist. Is this story your final word on Spider-Man and Mary Jane having a kid?
Joe Quesada: Yeeeeeeah, NO. There is no “Spider-Kid.” He or she’s not out there. It’s not happening. [Laughter] But, the final word on that was said long before I became EIC. There’s a whole crazy history behind that “Spider-Baby” story from long before I was ever here at Marvel. What it basically boiled down to then is the same thing it boils down to now, sorry, ain’t gonna happen.
Kiel Phegley: Moving into issue #640, there are a bunch of things that jump out to me. And the first one is kind of silly, but when I saw Dr. Fine there, my first thought was “Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard” This character can’t be named for a Three Stooges reference, can he?
Joe Quesada: No! [Laughter] Dr. Fine is actually Alan Fine [Marvel’s VP Chief Executive] and he was established in “OMD.” He played an important part in that original story as he was the only person in the hospital that recognized Peter yet protected his identity.
Funny thing about his appearance in “OMIT,” I gave Paolo the same photo ref I used three years ago and he nailed the likeness, but never having met Alan, he drew him much shorter than he is in real life. Alan read the issue and sent me an e-mail complaining about this as he’s over six feet tall. I was tempted to call up Paolo and tell him he was fired because he took a good foot off of Alan’s height. [Laughs]
Kiel Phegley: Well, thank God we’ve solved that mystery! But this is the point in the story where, aside from that scene where we learn about the whisper, we really see any kind of potential for “One More Day” affecting the new timeline just after “Civil War.” When Peter asks how he saved May, the doctor’s response was “Love.” Can’t that be taken as a reference to what Peter and Mary Jane gave up without sacrificing a story that’s new reader-friendly?
Joe Quesada: It was definitely a nod to the events and deal in OMD. Remember, the bargain was simple – give me your true love and your marriage in exchange for your Aunt’s life. Well, Aunt May’s life was spared in “OMIT” and how did it happen? Lets recap a bit. In this new continuity, as Peter sits on Doctor Strange’s stoop, the red pigeon doesn’t fly over. So in turn, Peter isn’t confronted by the aspects of Mephisto. The Little Girl in Red, Nerd Peter, Entrepreneur Peter and the Lady in Red never appear which eventually leads Peter back to the hotel he and MJ were staying in. Because these aspects don’t show up, Peter ends up walking back to the hospital where May now flat lines. If you recall, in One More Day, She flat lines, but Peter and MJ aren’t at the hospital, they’ve been brought back by Mephisto to the hotel room. So, in the “OMD” continuity, you could argue that the doctors try to resuscitate her but give up and she dies because Peter isn’t there. However, in “OMIT,” Peter is there and present. He watches the doctor’s give up, but being Peter Parker, he’s compelled to keep trying and trying and he’s able to bring her back. His love for May saved her life. Also, how often do we hear about people who doctors claim have no hope to live, yet inexplicably and miraculously, they find a way to survive. Perhaps through their own fighting spirits or through the support, love and strength of their loved ones. I think May has those all things in spades.
I know, it’s trippy ain’t it? But that’s what’s important to remember about “One Moment In Time.” Everything that readers assumed Mephisto did – whether it was wiping out the marriage, saving Aunt May to erasing people’s memories of Spider-Man, anything readers thought Mephisto did by just clicking his fingers -were all done or instigated by Peter. Either through his powers, resourcefulness, ingenuity or love – he did it. Now, you could say that Mephisto kicked over the first domino by possibly guiding that pigeon to let Eddie Muerte out of the police car, but at the end of the day everything else was all Peter.
Kiel Phegley: And that even carries through to MJ remembering in the end?
Joe Quesada: Yes, it does and with horrible consequences. Here Peter, once again, makes a decision that has lasting implications. A decision that he thinks is the right one for both he and MJ’s future together and in the end it has the opposite effect. By the way, this also answers a question often asked by fans – “Does MJ remember that he’s Spider-Man and the unmasking?” Yes, outside of Peter, she’s the only one.
Now, here’s something for Spidey fans to debate, should Peter have let MJ forget? Was it better for him to have let her forget a big part about him and in essence live a lie with the person he loves? Or, was the right thing to do to have her remember the truth and their entire past? Which was the more heroic act? Which the more selfish?
Kiel Phegley: MJ leaving seems like a very radical move on her part at this point, especially in light of promising Peter that she wouldn’t leave him again.
Joe Quesada: That’s absolutely right, she’s doing something that you would never think MJ was capable of. She has to walk away even after promising that she never would. Sure, there are people out there who would say that she would never break a promise and perhaps that could be true in an ideal world. But as I mentioned, to me these characters are human. Yes, sometimes we humans break promises and sometimes even the biggest ones we make in our lifetime. So, what could possibly make MJ break hers? Quite simply, she was confronted in that last issue with a reality she’s never had to consider. Not just the reality of what happens when the world finds out Peter is Spider-Man, but the world knowing she’s his girlfriend and what that means. Not to her, as she knows the risks and has made her decision, but to the people in her life who have no connection to Peter but will suffer because of her decision. Hearing Eddie Muerte tell her, in no uncertain terms, that he was going to kill her entire family is something MJ has never had to deal with. Yet there it was – not as a theory or possibility of something happening, but a hard cold reality. In the end, if Peter couldn’t give up being Spider-Man, she couldn’t go forward putting the lives of innocent people in danger, especially people who know nothing of Peter’s secret.
Now here’s another question for Spidey fans to debate. I’ve heard arguments that Peter would never give up his marriage and love for MJ to save May’s life. Now, if MJ asks him that it’s either give up being Spider-Man or they can’t be a couple, should Peter hang up the costume or does the world need him too much? What’s the more heroic thing to do? What would Peter Parker, arguably Marvel’s greatest hero, choose?
Kiel Phegley: As we get to the end of the third issue, we see Peter confront Eddie the robber, and it’s reminiscent of the original story with Uncle Ben’s killer. In a sense, do you see Spider-Man as a serial where you just take that theme and that set of images or ideas and say “Let’s apply them to his relationships. Let’s apply them to his work. Let’s apply them to his home life” and so on? Also, how did the idea of Eddie as one of the major protagonists of the story come to be?
Joe Quesada: Lets answer the last part of your question first. In thinking about what earthly event could possibly keep Peter from missing the wedding, I personally felt it needed to be a simple Spider-Man adventure gone wrong that causes it. Thematically, it was the only thing that would be proper and keeping with their relationship – the often-played idea of Spidey jumping out a window to save the day leaving MJ waiting. Remembering the wedding annual, I knew there was a window of opportunity in which Peter could have his misadventure. Somewhere between sitting on the Brooklyn Bridge asking Gwen for permission and the actual wedding day. It was then just a matter of figuring out who it could be and making sure it was someone that could plausibly be connected to the Kingpin. I was balking at the idea of it being a classic, big costumed baddie, but was equally balking at the idea of having to introduce someone new to the original wedding annual story. I remember sitting in my office wishing there was someone who had enough reason to have a grudge against Spidey and it was at that point that I decided to crack open the annual again. Funny, but I had all but forgotten about the guy that was left webbed up to the lamppost at the beginning of that story. But there he was, ripe for the plucking, serendipity struck again. And thus began the tale of Eddie Muerte, low level thug with a Spidey grudge and a plausible enough background to reach out to Wilson Fisk for a favor.
As for Spidey and Eddie’s eventual history together, yes it was intentionally meant to play out similar to Uncle Ben’s killer. It’s one of the trappings that you find in many Spider-Man stories, like the idea that the people closest to Peter Parker somehow end up being Spider-Man’s arch enemies. There’s always this wonderful suspension of disbelief in Spidey stories where we always stop short of thinking, “Really? In a city of 8 million people, the one guy who flies around on a Goblin Glider trying to kill Spidey is his best friend’s dad?” [Laughter] We’ve come to expect that the people in Peter’s life are intertwined and connected to him in many ways. It keeps the cast tight and fun, and it keeps everything revolving around itself in a way that’s compelling to the reader. It was no different with the idea behind Eddie.
Check back tomorrow on CBR for an inside look at “One Moment In Time” Part 4 from the role magic plays in Spider-Man’s private life to the fate of secret identities at Marvel Comics.