Welcome to the five hundred and eighty-third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, was Mary Jane and Peter’s baby originally going to live? Who was the visual inspiration for Wolverine? And who was DC’s recent Terra going to be originally?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker’s baby was originally going to live.
Right smack in the middle of the Clone Saga, Spectacular Spider-Man #220 (by Tom DeFalco, Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz) was a big issue, with a notable cover to boot…
The issue had Peter and Mary Jane (who were a bit estranged as Peter was acting really erratic as the Clone Saga began, especially as he had recently discovered that he was dying of some mysterious ailment. He’d eventually be cured) reconcile…
Now that they were reconciled, Mary Jane hit Peter with some major news…
Nine issues later, Mary Jane worries about whether being Spider-Man is a good thing for a father to be doing (note that she has also been stricken with some weird ailment that Peter and Ben Reilly must find an antidote for in the issue)…
It is this situation that causes Peter to quit as Spider-Man (it did not hurt that he believed that HE was actually the real clone and not Ben Reilly, who took over as Spider-Man)…
Later, in the mini-series Spider-Man: The Final Adventure (by Fabian Nicieza, Darick Robertson and a bunch of inkers), Peter loses his powers…
He gains them back and he and Mary Jane go back to New York where tragically she gives birth to a stillborn child…
However, originally, the Final Adventure was going to be the birth of Peter and MJ’s baby!
On the amazing resource about the Clone Saga, The Life oF Reilly, Glenn Greenberg explains how The Final Adventure was originally going to end:
In a nutshell, Bob Budiansky wanted a limited series that would set up Peter Parker and his pregnant wife, Mary Jane, in a new living situation far away from New York. Bob assigned the limited series to Tom Brevoort and me to produce. Bob’s mandate was this: Peter and Mary Jane begin a new life in a new locale. Something happens that forces Peter to put on the Spider-Man costume one last time. As Spider-Man, Peter must solve the crisis as Mary Jane goes into labor. The series would end with Peter emerging triumphant and arriving at Mary Jane’s side in time for her to give birth to their baby. Those were our marching orders, and Tom and I set out to put together a creative team.
We decidely fairly quickly to hire Darick Robertson as penciler – he was a talented artist who had previously enjoyed a long run on NEW WARRIORS, and was always happy to do Spider-Man work. He did the bulk of that Spider-Man work for Tom and me, on various 8-page stories and Annuals, and we knew this would be a good opportunity for him to strut his stuff on an important project. I was particularly enthusiastic about working with Darick, since he and I had become pretty friendly by that point.
In terms of our writer, Fabian Nicieza was one of the hottest writers in comics, having just finished a long and successful run as one of the core X-Men writers. The X-Men connection alone was reason enough to ask him to write the series, since the X-books were all the rage, but Tom and I also thought he’d simply do a great job. And of course, Fabian and Darick had worked so well together on NEW WARRIORS that we thought it would be cool to reunite this team. Tom and I never really got a chance to work with Fabian when we took over as the editors of NEW WARRIORS – he was already on his way off the book when we got it – so FINAL ADVENTURE was our first real opportunity to collaborate with him.
But then Budiansky decided that Peter was going to return as Spider-Man and be revealed as the original Spider-Man. So, with in mind, Mary Jane couldn’t have the baby. Greenberg explained:
[N]ow, with Peter eventually coming back as Spider-Man, there could be no baby. The feeling was that Peter, a highly responsible and conscientious individual, would not and could not continue as Spider-Man and constantly put his life in grave danger if he had a baby at home.. How could he take a chance on letting that child grow up without its daddy? The other rationale was that the main reason why Ben Reilly was brought in to replace Peter in the first place was so that we could have a youthful, single, carefree Spider-Man again. That was a major goal of the Spider-Man Group. How, then, could we turn around and make Spider-Man a father? That development would distance Spider-Man even further from the target audience.. Mary Jane’s pregnancy had to be stopped, somehow.
Bob Budiansky suggested that FINAL ADVENTURE end with Mary Jane suffering a miscarriage. I remember that I was very uncomfortable with that idea, but was willing to at least consider it as a possibility. Tom Brevoort, however, flatly refused. I believe his exact words were, “There’s no way in hell that I’m going down in history as the man who killed Spider-Man’s baby.” I don’t think this suggestion even made it to Fabian, so vehement was Brevoort about not going in that direction. Tom even suggested that we cancel the whole project, even though we were well underway. “No baby, no FINAL ADVENTURE,” I believe he said, pointing out that the whole reason we were doing this limited series in the first place was to finally have Mary Jane give birth. I eventually came around to Tom’s way of thinking, and in a July 8, 1995 memo to all the Spider-Man editors and writers, I suggested that if Mary Jane suffered a miscarriage, it should happen in the core books, and that “we pull the plug on the SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL ADVENTURE limited series.”
Instead, Nicieza came up with the “lost powers” angle, which Budiansky ALSO didn’t like, since they were going to bring Peter back so soon, so why bother having him lose his powers? Nicieza, though, held strong on his alternate ending and that’s what they ended up doing. Honestly, in retrospect they really should have just canceled it. Peter’s powers came back SOP quickly.
So yeah, we VERY nearly had a Mary Jane/Peter Parker baby. Imagine how that would have changed things for the years to come!
Thanks to Glenn Greenberg and Andrew Goletz for the awesoeme Life of Reilly!
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
On the next page, who was the visual inspiration for Wolverine?
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