In May, Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness began pulling on the threads of 2007's Spider-Man storyline "One More Day." Now, in "Amazing Spider-Man" #14, those threads have been yanked on once more, perhaps indicating that the results of the still-controversial event could possibly be on the way to being undone.
In "One More Day," written by J. Michael Stracynzki and drawn by then Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, Mary Jane Watson made a deal with Mephisto, Marvel Comics' reigning ruler of Hell. The bargain, which effectively erased her and Peter Parker's marriage from Marvel continuity, was struck as a last-ditch attempt to save the life of Peter's Aunt May, who was in critical condition after being shot.
In the pages of "Spider-Man/Deadpool" #6, Kelly and McGuinness teased a potential unraveling of MJ and Mephisto's arrangement. Having been killed (twice!) by Deadpool, Peter finds himself face to face with Mephisto. "I am the architect of your ultimate fall," the supernatural villain whispers in Peter's ear. "And I'm going to tell you a secret about your life... about why you'll never find true happiness... You will always be missing something. Incomplete. Unfinished. And ultimately, no matter how hard you fight, which cause you choose, the battle will always end with your facing... emptiness."
Now, it's entirely possible this was intended as a one-off thing, something to tweak the heartstrings of longtime Spider-Man fans, adding a layer of melancholy in order to balance out the series' otherwise humorous tone. But then again...
Halfway through the issue, MJ and Peter, as Spidey, trade a few good-humored verbal jabs with each other. Tony Stark (Iron Man) comments on how odd it is that the two seems so familiar with each other. MJ reminds him she and Peter lived in Avengers Tower for a while while Stark and Peter worked on equipment for Spidey.
Tony is noticeably confused by this information, not remembering it happening. After Jarvis verifies that MJ speaks the truth, Tony begrudgingly says, "... That rings a bell," in as unconvincing a manner as possible.
Taken alone, this could easily be interpreted as a scene illustrating the lack of awareness Tony Stark has for things that don't directly involve him. However, immediately following this exchange, Slott and Camuncoli cut to another scene, showing Aunt May coughing up blood. Again, not a shocking development in and of itself -- Aunt May's life has been in danger due to age and frailness since the day she was introduced in 1962's "Amazing Fantasy" #15, alongside her more famous nephew.
However, the narrative proximity of that scene to the previous one would indicate there's some significance beyond just another health scare for Peter's aunt. Her being alive is, after all, a direct effect of MJ and Mephisto's bargain. If that deal is indeed on the brink of dissolution, it stands to reason the positive upside of it would also be teetering on the edge of disappearing.
The Marvel Universe as we know it is not the same one where Mary Jane and Mephisto struck their deal. Since "One More Day," the events of "Secret Wars" saw the MU destroyed, rebuilt as Battleworld, destroyed again, and rebuilt once more from the ground up. As a result, a number of changes came about, including most notably the introduction of characters from the Ultimate Universe like Miles Morales (the other Spider-Man) to the mainstream Marvel U.
When "Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows," a miniseries featuring a married Peter and MJ and their young daughter, was announced as part of the "Secret Wars" event, fans wondered if it possibly indicated a return to the pre-OMD continuity in the wake of the reality-changing "Secret Wars." While that proved not to be the case, the "Spider-Man/Deadpool" scene opened the door to potentially revisiting the controversial storyline. Now, "Amazing Spider-Man" has pushed the door further open to the possibility.
So, is the end of "One More Day" really in the cards for Peter and MJ? It's too soon to say, obviously, and Marvel isn't telling us anything. But DC Comics is currently finding great success with a similar storyline, bringing back the married version of Superman it erased from the DC Universe five years ago, indicating there are some aspects of characters fans will welcome back into continuity with open arms. With Marvel's reality having been undone and remade twice in recent months, it's not a crazy theory to propose that maybe -- just maybe -- the original deal to save Aunt May's life might be falling apart.