I am not sure if this was exactly the type of reaction Matt Fraction was going for when he wrote this issue, but the word I think best describes this Annual is “adorable.” But I mean that in a positive way, really I do. This was an adorable look at the relationship between Peter and Mary Jane that, to be frank, confuses the heck out of me, as Marvel’s stance on the marriage seems to be apathetic at best, derogatory at worst. So to see this issue, which was a well-written TRIBUTE to the marriage – it just seems odd, especially if “One More Day” (the storyline that will, one way or the other, “resolve” Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage) ends up eliminating the marriage.
The setup for the issue is that Mary Jane is having coffee with a friend of hers that was almost more than a friend (from the time when she was in Los Angeles without Peter, following the bizarre Howard Mackie storyline where she was held hostage and believed dead). He is working for SHIELD now, and wants her help in arresting Peter.
Meanwhile, Gift of Magi style, Peter is looking into giving himself up in return for protection of Mary Jane and Aunt May. So Peter goes to a cop friend to turn himself in. Both Peter’s talk with the cop and Mary Jane’s talk with the SHIELD agent lead to flashback sequences, which is where the meat of the story takes place, as Fraction expertly leads us through the points of view of Peter and Mary Jane back then, telling the same story from each of their perspectives.
Meanwhile, Salvador Larocca (with Paco Roca as the Color Artist…that is a pretty good term, basically the same as my Digital Painter credit I wanted invented for colorists who do what Roca do, which is more in depth than normal coloring) produces some excellent artwork – the strongest I have seen from him in awhile, especially on the flashback sequences, where he apes John Romita and Ross Andru beautifully, but without being too cheesy. Very nice work by Larocca.
But yeah, it’s interesting how the whole setup of the Annual seems designed to argue why the marriage is a good thing. It must have been a fun issue for Fraction to write – almost like moot court. “Argue this point that everyone disagrees with!” Arguing FOR the marriage is tought, but Fraction did it well, and he did in a story that, while adorable, wasn’t annoyingly so.
Really good book.
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