The Amazing Spider-Man #638

Two-and-a-half years and nearly 100 issues later, "Amazing Spider-Man" returns to "One More Day" to answer the lingering questions raised by that story and the deal made between Mephisto and Peter Parker and his then-wife Mary Jane. Reactions to "One More Day" were decidedly on the negative sign, but the "Brand New Day" status quo that followed has won over many, especially in recent months with a series of solid stories with great art on the title, so, if there were ever a time for Marvel to play off the good will of Spider-fans and return to the subject matter that pissed so many of them off, now is it. And, the first part of "One Moment in Time," the story that will show how it happened that Peter and Mary Jane never married is a solid, interesting read.

Framed by a Joe Quesada-drawn meeting between Peter and Mary Jane now, the majority of the issue is told by expanding on the events of "Amazing Spider-Man Annual" #21, blending pages and panels from that issue with new material written by Quesada and drawn by Paolo Rivera. It's an interesting way to build the issue and to show how things were changed so that Peter and Mary Jane wouldn't get married but still stay together. Since most of Spider-Man's history is meant to be the same as we've always known it aside from the lack of marriage, the change needs to be a subtle one and it is. Mephisto, in the form of a bird, lets one of the members of Electro's criminal gang loose from a squad car and that sets into motion the events that prevent the marriage from happening.

That element of the comic is light, though, with more time spent on the already-existing issues of Peter's nervousness before his wedding. Quesada and Rivera add panels to the pre-wedding parties thrown for both Peter and Mary Jane by their friends, placing emphasis on the reasons both would have to not get married. A surprising amount of the material, though, comes from the original annual, though. Quesada and Rivera merely add small pieces here and there aside from the bigger change involving the escaped criminal.

The blending of Paul Ryan's art from the annual with Rivera's art now is not a smooth one. While Rivera's art has a 'classic' look to it, it's not one that matches Ryan's. I'm of two minds when it comes to this. Part of me wishes that the two blended better, so that it isn't entirely clear which parts of the comic come from the annual and which were done now. If history has been reshaped, making it appear seamless certainly has some advantages. But, on the other hand, having the altered history stand out because of the differing pencils, coloring, and lettering makes it clear that history is being amended and changed. And, Rivera's art is gorgeous to look at, so not using him or having him change it to fit with the Ryan/Colletta art and Bob Sharen colors would be a shame.

The parts of the issue that don't work are the Quesada framing pages and the revelation of what Mary Jane whispered to Mephisto back in "Amazing Spider-Man" #545. Speculation about what Mary Jane whispered has been huge and the payoff is a "Is that it?" sort of moment. Quesada's writing of Peter and Mary Jane now tries to come off as casual and 'real,' but seems forced and contrived, an excuse to show us what happened on their wedding day and how it affected them in the long run. His art, as well, isn't up to his normal standards with Peter alternating between a cartoonish chunky and an overly rendered versions of himself. He's very expressive, but his style doesn't lend itself to that level of expressiveness; it looks out of place much of the time.

Not the train wreck comic that people thought it would be based on "One More Day," the first part of "One Moment in Time" blends the classic story of Peter and Mary Jane's wedding with new events to show how history was changed. It's a small, subtle change and the shifting art styles is a little distracting, but the overall package is good. This issue is a good sign for the rest of the story.

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