Pipeline, Issue #551


For some reason, I feel duty-bound to discuss AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #545. It is, after all, the conclusion to "One More Day," the beginning of a "Bold New Era," and a controversial comic years in the making.

I sat down yesterday with the issue in front of the computer, and couldn't work up the excitement to do more than recaulk that nasty streak alongside the bath tub where the mold was starting to show.

Earlier today, I briefly considered getting back to it, but GUITAR HERO III called.

As the deadline approaches for this column, I sit down once again in front of the laptop with the comic at my side, and all I can think about is how great a glass of milk and some sugar free chocolate chip cookies would taste right about now.

You see, I can't get worked up over "One More Day." I've been around this circle way too many times. There's no point in getting worked up and upset, because nothing is ever permanent. Everything is a sequence of stunts. Hopefully, it leads to a few good stories, and that's that.

So I'll let Joe Quesada do the talking for me, instead. Let's flash forward to a point a couple of years into the future and look at the day's big news report:


We go now to the Cup Of Joe Panel at the Chicago Convention, 2009. The mood in the con hall is boisterous, with the demise of WIZARD Magazine (they ran out of employees to fire just last Thursday) and the bankruptcy court sell-off of the convention business.

Joe Quesada, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, is about to give his opening remarks to a room packed full of Spider-Man fans.

It was George Santayana who said that those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it. So it is with comics.

I spent two years telling you how I wanted to kill Speedball, and you were all surprised when the preview pages of CIVIL WAR showed up on-line and we blew him up but good. You weren't sure where we were going with the character when we revived him, stuck him in leather fetish wear, and made him a complete masochist -- until we let Warren Ellis loose on the character, and then it all made sense.

But it started before me. Before my time at Marvel Editorial, and even before the time of Event Comics, I worked under Denny O'Neil on a little title called BATMAN: SWORD OF AZRAEL. It was 1992, and Denny was already planning for Azrael's succession to the Bat mantle. Why? He wanted to give Batman fans what they wanted -- a colder, grimmer, and grittier Batman whose violent tendencies led to excesses, including death. It took a nutty storyline that led to Bruce Wayne's broken back to put Azrael in the cape and cowl. It gave him enough storylines to show how right he was. That darker Batman isn't really the one you want to read, and then Denny righted the ship and Bruce Wayne miraculously recovered to re-don the mantle. Everyone was happy.

Sometimes, you have to break a few eggs, right?

We did that nearly two years ago with "One More Day." And today, I'm here to announce that "Brand New Day" is ending.

I've made my point. I spent many years debating the Spider-marriage with fans just like you in this very convention hall and in halls across the country and even across the pond. The debate raged on from convention to convention. People were talking about Peter Parker's marriage again.

I felt that too many people hated the marriage because it wasn't what they liked reading as kids. On the other hand, too many liked the marriage just because it was what they had always known. It was time to educate the latter by showing what the alternative was, and to show the former that it's time for Peter Parker -- and, by extension, themselves -- to grow up.

Peter Parker, you see, is ready to be his own man now. A grown up. We've watched him age through high school, college, countless girlfriends, a marriage, a few different career choices and then -- poof! We sent him back to his Aunt May, terminally single and a pathetic loser.

We had to do that. We had to give Peter "one last year" with May, even if it was obviously a forgery, a storytelling conceit.

Nobody believed this whole Deal With The Devil thing, did they? For goodness' sake, the people behind The Clone Saga didn't even pull that particular trigger. Even they weren't silly enough to bring in mystical elements to the Spider-Man mythos to change the game. And if THAT group had some shame, then we needed to temper our own excesses.

We made sure in creating this story that we had back doors. You all saw them. The blogosphere saw them months before the issue was release, in part because I was so damned late in drawing that original four part mini-series.(And notice how nobody comments on how late those books were anymore? That Premiere Edition hardcover still sells like gangbusters.)

(Bendis taught me how to speak in parenthesis, in case you're wondering.)

In any case, Loki was still lurking about. Mary Jane made a Side Deal With The Devil. The very cover image, itself, showed a hole in the plot made physical, with the broken mirror. Very iconic, don'tcha think?

Jeez, we kept saying that nobody knew how to milk drama out of a happily married couple, but we managed it in that last issue OK.

With the end of "Brand New Day," we get to pick and choose what we do. So here's the plan:

Peter Parker will once more have a secret identity.

:: wait for applause ::

The organic webshooters are still gone, owing to the poll we took on the new and revised Marvel 3.0 website. The social network is still growing! Join today! Don't forget to take advantage of our newly-freed on-line comics, released only one week later than press date now.

Ad over.

Peter Parker and Mary Jane are happily married again.

:: wait for applause ::

Aunt May is dead.

:: wait for gasps ::

It's time Peter grew up and moved on. May was redundant to Mary Jane, anyway. And Mary Jane is hotter.

:: wait for laughter ::

Oh, and remember that time when Mary Jane was pregnant and gave birth to a daughter? Yeah, we remember it, too.

:: wait for oohs and ahhhs ::

At our last creator summit, we invited all of the spouses of our creators to come along to discuss the marriage and how to make it dramatic. With the help of all the "outsiders," we have some great new ideas for how to make his marriage work. We're not sure if those ideas came from their own lives or too many soap operas, but we'll try anything new at this point.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 will ship in three months. It's being announced in the new PREVIEWS next week, and you'll be able to see the creative teams and artists there.

But next time, folks, have some faith in me, OK? We know what we're doing. It's great that you all love to talk about this stuff, but we're just yanking your chain. It's comics, not a world war.

DC does those.

:: wait for laughter, applause, hoots, and hollers ::

Now, onto our next item on the agenda. Who wants to talk about our bold new plan to kill every mutant through autoerotic asphyxiation? X-MEN: CHOKE IT is a new four issue mini-series from indy darling...

And so it ends. After far too many arguments, vows of Marvel chastity, and on-line petitions, the weekly adventures of Spider-Man will again be rooted in a married and slightly older lead character. There's no word yet on whether Peter Parker will be able to avoid jail time for all the laws he broke just before "One More Day," but it's a safe bet that will be covered in the new story, as well.

Rich Johnston will likely report on a "Brand New Day" Omnibus collection in next week's column. I know he's been searching through Amazon a lot lately for new titles. . .

Coming up next: Augie De Blieck Jr. is still writing Pipeline. We can't get rid of him. He's run out of ASTERIX books to review, but he's still at it.

Good night.

Don't forget to check out the latest edition of The Commentary Track for Keith Champagne's thoughts on COUNTDOWN: ARENA #4.

Happy New Year, everyone! Pipeline returns to its normal and glorious schedule on Tuesday, January 9th.

The Various and Sundry blog marches on, with lots more link dumps and Twitter compilations for the holidays. Plus, do commercials kill TV? What is celebrity news? And the usual DVD releases. . .

Everything else: Twitter, Tumblr Blog, The Pipeline Podcast, ComicSpace, and Google Reader Shared Items.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 800 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.

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