Earlier this month, CBR News brought you an extensive interview with Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada in which he discussed nearly every aspect of "One More Day," the highly debated and most controversial Spider-Man storyline ever. The story found Peter Parker and his wife Mary Jane Watson facing the most challenging decision of their lives when a sniper's bullet meant for Peter hit his beloved Aunt May. Peter did all he could to save his Aunt's life, but ultimately was unable to find a solution or someone within the Marvel Universe that could or would help him repair the damage that had been done.
That is, until Mephisto showed up.
In "One More Day," Mephisto offered Peter a chance to save his Aunt's life by giving up his marriage to M.J.; by agreeing to live in a reality where they were never married and thus retroactively altering the Spider-Man's history and future in decidedly dramatic ways. Peter resisted, but M.J. took the offer, agreeing to dissolve the marriage.
"Brand New Day" followed, the status-quo redefining storyline that found Peter living with his alive-and-well Aunt in a house that was long ago destroyed, separated from M.J. and living the single life once again. There were other surprising changes as well, such as the revived Harry Osborn and the return of mechanical web shooters.
To characterize these events as controversial is to make an understatement. Discussion amongst fans in comic stores and on internet forums all over -- not just CBR-- ran very heated and largely negative. Readers reacted with outrage and confusion at the changes and the manner in which they were carried out.
While many questions fans were asking were answered in CBR's exhaustive "One More Day" interviews with Joe Quesada, many still remained unasked. As such, CBR invited Spider-Man readers to submit their own questions for Quesada. Naturally, Quesada was unable to answer the enormous volume of questions we received, but agreed to answer the twenty best.
Many of the questions we received were essentially the same as those asked in our original interviews, just phrased differently. Some e-mails received weren't really questions at all -- "I can't believe you did this to me!" -- while other questions just didn't quite apply -- "Now that Spidey's a swinging single again, how about a threeway?"
Out of those hundreds of questions, we pulled the best twenty we could find, and Joe Quesada took some more time out tackle them exclusively for CBR readers.
"Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" #24
"One More Day" Chapter 2
We begin with Chris Simpkins who asks, "Given that 'One More Day' illustrated a willingness to essentially revise both long-standing and recent creative decisions (such as those made during 'The Other' storyline and 'Civil War'), why should the fans invest financially and emotionally in future issues, knowing that similar events in the future may also be done away with by 'magic' or a similar device (or suspecting that no major creative change is ever made without the intent and plan already in place to reverse it)?"
Well, Chris, I think in order to answer your question properly, we all need to be honest with each other. In the world of comics and fantasy storytelling, there are never, ever guarantees. The thing with any comic universe or just comic storytelling in general, is that you always run the risk that something will be undone. The dead come back to life, universes change as do status quos. There never are any guarantees, but we all know this. The only thing that I can tell you is that we think long and hard before going into any story no less one like this, because when you make a radical change, you need to know where it's taking you. If not, then what you end up with is a mess that has to be cleaned up by an unplanned retcon.
So, the simple answer is that we don't do things like this willy-nilly, so I as a fan, I wouldn't expect things like this to be a reoccurrence or even commonplace.
I think we've proven here at Marvel over the last eight years that we're working incredibly hard to bring the fans the best universe full of comics we are capable of making. It's fun, it's maddening, it's controversial, but it's never boring and it's never done without a plan in mind. Right now the MU, as I've stated just before MCW hit the stands, is a very unpredictable place, it's a dangerous place, but it's a place filled with great intrigue because you just don't know what's going to be coming 'round the bend.
But more to your question, as far as trust is concerned, I would keep two things in mind, first it's not like OMD invented the retcon or is the first comic story to ever do one, yet fandom has managed to move on in light of the fact that it's happened in comics before and to even greater extents. In the end, what's important is what you're left with and how you move forward. Secondly, if you look at our motivation behind OMD, it should give you solace that we did it with you guys in mind, with the goal of telling incredible Spidey stories for you guys moving forward. Perhaps for some this isn't easy to see right away, but given time and as each issue of BND comes out, I think it's slowly becoming evident what we're trying to do.
Maya Herrara, Alfred Lawson, Mike G, Tom Hart, Forrest Helvie, Scott Steubing, Jason Kerouac, Kenny Cather, Jeffrey Young, Aaron Sanders-Symeon, Kenny Cather, Peter Pappas, The Penningtons, email@example.com, Nick Marino, David Belsky, David Banes and Justice Gray all asked some variation of the same question. It is, in fact, the most asked question about "One More Day" on every major online forum. But it only needs to be asked once, and Chris Thomas keeps it simplest. "Joe, I am a parent and I feel that it is far easier to explain the divorce of Spider-man to my children than Peter and his wife agreeing to a deal with the Devil. You sowed the seeds for a reasonable reason for divorce in 'House of M' and I don't see why that wasn't used. I read your interview and only have one simple question: Why would you use 'House of M' to sell us on Gwen and Peter being this destined family and have Peter retain those memories then use Mephisto to take away what is supposed to be this divine marriage? Do you really believe that this is a better story for me to share with my children?"
Hey, guys, hey, Thomas, yes, I do. There are several reasons so just bear with me for a second. First and foremost, I think Peter getting divorced to me says that they gave up on their love, that their life in love together was so awful, so stressful, so unfulfilling that they had to raise a red flag and walk away from it. They quit on their marriage and even more tragic, the quit on each other. In other words, Peter would rather be alone and single than to spend another moment with MJ. Plain and simple, that's just a Spider-Man story I don't want to tell and it's not something that I would like to have associated with Peter Parker and MJ. You guys may feel differently, but I just think it's the wrong thing to do with the character and the wrong message to send.
Now, there are those that say, "but he made a deal with the Mephisto, how is that better?" I would at least see something in that statement if it was Peter who conjured up Mephisto. If Peter had no options and then proceeded to perform some ritual in order to invoke Mephisto, or in essence reached out to him as a last ditch effort, then yes, I would agree because now you're validating and saying it's okay to seek out the Mephisto guy to fix a problem. But, that's not what happened. It was Mephisto in this case, as he is prone to do, who comes to Peter at his weakest moment and uses this to his advantage. Why? Because he's a villain. This is a very important distinction, Peter is used by the bad guy, taken advantage of, and let me add it's not the first time a villain has taken advantage of him.
Now, as to how to explain this to your kids, well, I would suspect it's the same as one would explain just about any of the classic happenings in the Marvel U or world of Spider-Man. I think it's very easy to say that within the stories of the Marvel U, while there are fun, action adventures to be had, within so many of our stories, there are very complex and sophisticated metaphors and allegories. In short, comic books are morality plays acted out with brightly colored characters in spandex. So...
What would you say to your child if they came to you and asked, why Peter Parker let the bad guy go who eventually killed his Uncle and left his aunt a widow? Does this make Peter a bad guy, a villain, a dirt bag? I mean he certainly could be perceived that way. I think you would take the time to explain that it was a huge mistake, but that Peter took from it a life altering lesson and that lesson set him on the path to become a great hero and served as the chief motivational factor in his development as a hero.
What would you say to your child if they asked how it was possible for Spider-Man to lose a battle with the villain (which is something that was a breakthrough idea for super hero stories when Stan and Steve thought of it)? Super heroes don't lose! Or how about when Peter hung it up and gave up being Spider-Man in "Amazing Spider-Man" #50? Does this make Spider-Man weak, a quitter, a coward or less of a super hero? I think you would tell your child that sometimes you don't win all the time in life, but the lesson to learn from Peter Parker is that no matter how down you get, like Peter, dust yourself off and go out there and fight again.
"One More Day" Chapter 3
What would you say to your child if they asked you if they should resolve disputes in school or amongst friends with fisticuffs because that's what Spider-Man does? Does this make Spider-Man a bully? I think you would explain the difference and how not all disputes and disagreements can be resolved with ones fists.
So, how would you explain Mephisto? Quite simply I would say that sometimes there are bad people out there who want to take advantage of you and sometimes they show up and do so when you are at your weakest moment. You can also say that not all decisions in life are simple ones.
But also, you do have to keep in mind that Mephisto is simply a construct of the magical spectrum of the Marvel Universe while divorce is a real and tragic fact of life that far too many kids are confronted with every day. Also, many people would argue that divorce has become far too casual and commonplace in our society. Anyway, I hope that helps in some way.
We combined this next question using questions from Miguel Morales, Sean Hafferty, Javier E. Trujillo, and Sergio Lopez. "While I am content to let creators create, be it retconning, establishing brand new continuity, etc., I am sometimes a little confused as to the mechanics of said process. Specifically, Joe, you say that almost everything that Peter has been through in the last 20 years still happened with the only difference being that we have to substitute Peter and MJ's relationship as husband and wife for a continuing boyfriend/girlfriend thing. So, I guess what I am asking is: Since the marriage was derailed, but so many stories hinge on these two living together, are you saying that Peter and Mary Jane were co-habitating? And that MJ almost had a baby out of wedlock, but (presumably) lost it? In the end, I still plan on enjoying 'Brand New Day,' but I'm curious as to what kind of history these two share now."
The question sort of answers itself when you quoted my saying that "almost" everything happened. The funny thing about the pregnancy issue is that Marvel at the time scrambled to derail the story as quickly as possible. I don't know exactly how that story got as far as it did, but they ultimately realized it was a huge mistake. So, taking that into consideration, I personally feel that that's one that didn't happen, chiefly because Peter and MJ now not having been married, would have taken proper precaution to avoid getting in the family way in the first place.
The truth of the matter is that we're committed to preserving as much of these stories as is humanly possible, but because the marriage is no more and now never was, there are going to be elements that have changed. It's inevitable. But we're striving to keep those ripple effects minor, and you can suss them out in most older stories if you just give it a moment's thought. So Jonathan Caeser stalked a single Mary Jane rather than a married Mary Jane, Norman Osborn and Venom once knew that Peter Parker was Spider-Man but forgot along with the rest of the world, and so on.
Look at it this way: Norman Osborn was dead for twenty years, and then was suddenly revealed to be alive. And that changed elements of all sorts of Spidey stories that had come before it, the entire Harry cycle, the stories where Harry's shrink becomes the Green Goblin, and the whole Hobgoblin cycle. But the details of how this could all work eventually got revealed, for good or ill, and today, nobody much questions the fact that Norman is back and never really died. What we're talking about here is the same kind of thing.
In the case of MJ's pregnancy, that storyline was itself created to end the marriage -- the creators involved only made MJ pregnant because they were planning to reveal that Ben Reilly was the real Peter Parker, and then have MJ and her clone-Pete ride off into the sunset and out of the series together. And it's an element that hasn't even been mentioned in "Amazing Spider-Man" in close to ten years, so it's not an omnipresent element that's suddenly being taken away. It was a turn down a bad road, and some of the creators even realized it at the time (which is why Mary Jane was pregnant for something like two years, as the creative teams struggled to figure out how to write themselves out of the corner they were suddenly in.) So that's an area where we maybe need to squint a little bit more in terms of overlooking it. Or, hey, you can chalk it all up to Mephisto's motivation of preventing Peter and Mary Jane's child from coming into the world.
Aaron Nowack, Tyler Ward, Michael Martinez, and Jason Burruel asked, "In the wake of this, what do you see as the defining purpose of the various different Spider-Man continuities? Primarily, I'm asking about 'Ultimate Spider-Man' and 'Amazing Spider-Man.' Most of the others are obviously distinct, but one of the big defining differences between the Ultimate Universe Spider-Man and the Marvel Universe version is no longer there. Is the roughly ten year age difference enough to distinguish the books, or do you see something else to give them each a unique purpose?"
To be honest there are a lot of things that make "Ultimate Spider-Man" significantly different from "Amazing." Some of it is within the trappings of the universes and some of it is in attitude. To try to distill it down, USM is a much more immature character, his world is a lot smaller, the issues in his life are a lot smaller as are his goals. He's still green, wide eyed and inexperienced in all walks of life. His relationships are more puppy love than romance as are his relationships with his pals and family.
"One More Day" Chapter 4
Amazing is a much more seasoned Peter, one who has grown out of the neighborhood, has grown past high school and is now trying to find his way as a young man. He has a lot more knowledge of how the world works and how relationships amongst people work.
To me, Peter in USM is about 15 years old and in "Amazing" about 25. That ten year difference is huge in the life story of any person, no less someone like Peter Parker.
Tom Hart and Aaron Nowack asked, "Mephisto states that part of the deal is that a part of Peter and MJ's souls will always know that something is amiss and be crying out. Doesn't this put a dark cloud over any future romances for the character? Won't every relationship he's in feel wrong to him on some level (which would get old fast)? If so, doesn't the specter of the Spider-Marriage still dominate future stories? If not, if Peter isn't suffering, isn't he somehow managing to avoid the consequences of a deal with the Devil?"
Hey, Tom and Aaron, keep in mind, Mephisto also says that they will remember nothing of the event. So much in the way that he does things, Mephisto is full of contradictions, mysteries and mischief. Keep reading and see how it al plays out.
Also, I wonder what MJ whispered in his ear?
Jeroen Geelhoed asked, "Thirty-something Dutch comic book fan here, reading mostly Marvel for twenty years. I've started reading and loving Spider-Man just around the time Todd McFarlane started on the 'Spider-Man' comics and worked my way back to the earlier adventures. For me, classic Spider-Man is Peter Parker married to Mary Jane. I have a hard time picturing my favorite Peter Parker/Mary Jane moments as being out of wedlock.
"I understand that for the generation a little older than me, classic Spider-Man is the Steve Ditko/John Romita, SR.-age, in which Spider-Man was single and was dating and in school.I love those stories as well, but mostly because of the adventures and villains, not because of the soap opera elements. I tried 'Ultimate Spider-Man' and although I love almost everything Brian Bendis writes, I couldn't get into 'Ultimate Spider-Man.' I don't have an emotional attachment to a younger, single Spider-Man, messing things up with girlfriends and living with his aunt May.
"By making Spider-Man younger, having him living with May and detaching him from Mary Jane (the scene of her standing in the elevator going down in 'One More Day' was heartbreaking!), I feel like I've lost the Spider-Man I grew up with. I see your reasoning behind the Peter-Parker-as-bachelor-status, but in my opinion, married Peter Parker worked just as well to get into the character. But ultimately (no pun intended), the new status quo seems like taking a step back to an older version of Spider-Man, which for me feels like history which we've already seen. Been there, done that. Got the trade paperbacks.
"So, to make a long question short: how do you convince a long time Spider-Man fan like me, that 'Brand New Day' isn't a return to my daddy's Spider-Man?"
Jeroen, that's a great question. Hopefully by now you'll be getting a sense of the difference between "Amazing," "Ultimate" and classic Spidey from the sixties. BND will be filled to the gills with brand new villains and wall-to-wall action. Also, Peter in BND hasn't been de-aged, he's still as mature as he was when we left him, just sans marriage.
I think tonally you'll see that the way the soap opera aspect in BND stories are very different than it was in the sixties while still tipping our hats to it. BND is not designed to look back, but to look forward with a Peter Parker that lives in today's world.
That said, did you enjoy the Spider-man movies? I only ask because that was your dad's Spider-Man on the screen, soap opera and all.
Brandon Robertson asked, "One of the basic premises of psychology is that our experiences shape who we are. You say that the past issues haven't changed, and whether that's true or not doesn't change the fact that the memories of everyone in the MU have been altered. Harry alive, no marriage between Peter and MJ, May's house never being burnt, and who knows how many other changes.
"Whatever the explanation for such things, the fact that everyone remembers them makes them real, makes them have an impact. Chaos theory (basically, Marvel's own 'What If...' issues) is against you here - you can't have such sweeping changes without massive effects to all of your titles. How do you intend to reconcile the effects of OMD with the rest of your books?"
Wassup, Brandon. I'm not quite sure where you're getting the idea that al these things didn't happen? I mean I completely get your concern, but that's not what we've done here. We've worked very hard to keep the stories that happened as is with only the slightest tweaks here and there like the fact that Peter and MJ never went through with the marriage.
Slowly but surely, you'll start to see layers and layers of what has happened since OMD, the things that are causing folks to panic, slowly get revealed in the pages of BND. Remember, there's a chunk of time still missing, stories yet to be told that happen before we join Peter and the gang at the end of OMD. That chunk of time could be very important. Also, what happened on the wedding day? They didn't get hitched, but decided to stay together anyway, hmmm. So many seeds and clues will be planted and revealed in the comings months and year, that I think you're going to dig it, but as a reader, you'll need to be patient, we have many, many stories yet to tell.
Matthew Campbell asked, "Joe, let's talk about Harry Osborn. Most of the other changes to Peter's life in BND seem a natural consequence of not being married anymore. Harry, though, you sort of snuck that one in. What role does Harry play in the Spider-man supporting cast that required a resurrection? Given that the character has been dead for quite a while in real time, are you counting on the movies to help readers understand who he is?"
Hey, Matthew, while I do think that the movies can certainly help new readers understand who Harry is, we're not taking that for granted. If we do our job right, and I have full confidence that the creative minds behind BND will, then he'll be introduced as a cast member in a way that will allow everyone to understand exactly who Harry is and what he brings to the table.
As for his role, well it's always been a significant one to me. He's the best friend who may have evil intents. His dad is Peter's greatest nemesis, so that ties him intrinsically to Peter. Harry is also that guy that has the things that Peter doesn't; he's a mirror reflection in so many ways. Peter can easily look at Harry and think, gee, this guy has everything and gets all the breaks and of course Harry looks at Peter and wishes in so many ways that he had what Peter has.
He also has a great hairdo.
Anthony Aponte and Churstoh both asked, "The spell that Mephisto cast made everyone forget that Peter is Spider-Man, but how did he get is web shooters back? I didn't see that as being part of the deal."
Anthony, Anthony, Anthony, keep reading, all will be revealed. Not everything that has happened had to be part of a deal.
Sean Hafferty, Audity Boy and Justice Gray asked essentially the same question. "How can you have so little respect for your audience to use the argument: 'It's magic, we don't need to explain it.' Audiences need to have something to cling to; we can have a suspension of belief that a character can swing from webs, but we need to have some explanation of the way the world works. Marvel has a very established Magical base, so it seems lazy to not come up with some explanation for your readers."
Hey, Sean, I didn't say those words. But, here's the thing, from what you're saying here, it's seems to me you're splitting hairs. You can suspend belief for some things, but not others? I would completely agree with you if the Marvel U didn't have magical based characters. I mean the Scarlet Witch said "no more mutants," and magically millions of mutants lost their powers because of "it." "It" being "Chaos Magic." While there is no explanation for Mephsito's magic, is it any different than Doctor Strange's or Wanda's? Whenever they've done things, it seems that "it's magic" is all the explanation fans have ever needed. So, not to be nit picky, but I don't se the difference?
Eric Liebhold asked, "A few years back, you instituted a 'dead is dead' rule at Marvel. Now you have done a complete turnaround, bringing back Colossus, Psylocke, and now Harry Osborn (not to mention wanting to bring back Gwen Stacy - if you can try that, then no one is sacred). Apparently, at one point in time, you, like many fans, felt that bringing back dead characters 'cheapened' their death. What changed?"
Eric, nothing has changed. While "dead is dead" is the sound bite that was used, there was a lot more to that statement than just that. I wasn't advocating that we never bring anyone back, but rather that before we do, our creators think long and hard, not just about how a character gets resurrected, but also if he or she is going to be killed off. What I wanted to prevent was what I saw becoming way too commonplace within Marvel storytelling.
"Dead is dead" was a statement meant to have my editors and our creators think harder before doing these kinds of stories and to think way ahead as to where these events will be taking us. I do think we've done a good job for the most part with respect to this. Yes, characters have come back and yes some have died, but I do believe that these stories have taken on a certain level of gravitas because of this policy.
As for Harry, keep reading.
John T asked, "As a reader of OMD and the CBR interviews, I completely understand your decision to undo the marriage and how an unmarried Peter is for the better, long-term wise. I also recognize the difficulty and courage in your decision. I still have some questions, though, about the execution of undoing the marriage.
"Did you deliberately plant in a backdoor to go back to the now abandoned status quo (in case you change your mind and want to see the married Peter and MJ back)?"
Thanks for the kind words, John. Actually, no, we didn't. I'm sure if I sit here and think about it, there are a dozen ways to do it, but no, there was no back door worked into the story at all.
Wijbren van Tuinen asked, "Hey Joe. I know Marvel and you are getting a lot of flack for OMD, so I just want to say that I completely agree with what you've tried to do here. That said, I don't think it went far enough. Could you share with us the reason for not undoing Gwen Stacy's death?"
Wijbren, as I mentioned in my interview right here on CBR, we chose the story we did for OMD because it left as much of the past twenty plus years of Spidey stories in tact as was humanly possible. As time goes on, you'll see how we managed that. Not bringing Gwen back was a decision we pulled back from for several reason. Ultimately, the reason that put me over the hump was that bringing her back would cause a huge ripple effect and would be way too hard to explain without changing years and years of stories. Remember, I was originally in favor of bringing her back, but during one of our creative discussions, a few of my editors brought up some good points and I realized they were right and I was dead wrong.
Glenn Matchett asked, "With Harry back, will we get some sort of time line of what Norman's actions have been the past few years? Half of the things he has done over the past few years since his return has been motivated by Harry's death and if Harry never died then Norman's actions are unclear. Also did the events of 'Revelations' still happen?"
I hate to say this, and you're going to hate me for it, but keep reading.
Sergio Lopez, Alon Treitman, Robert Dowdy, Matthew Campbell, Justin Boatwright and James Conniff asked, "After reading the 'One More Day' interviews, this was my understanding of events: all those stories from the past twenty years still happened, except Peter and MJ were only a couple, and not married; and 'Brand New Day' begins, Marvel-time, some time after the events of 'One More Day,' which would explain why Pete and MJ are broken up, Harry's back, Aunt May's house is rebuilt, and now Pete knows all these new people, because theoretically all those events take place in the time between 'One More Day' and 'Brand New Day.' Makes sense. But then I read JMS's comments which make it quite clear that the new status quo is directly because of Mephisto's retcon. So now, obviously, we know there are some stories from the past twenty years that are invalidated, such as (and these are just off the top of my head, without looking through my collection; I'm sure there are more): 'Spectacular Spider-Man #200,' in which Harry dies, 'Spectacular Spider-Man' #250, in which Spidey rescues Harry's son Normie from a new Green Goblin, 'Amazing Spider-Man' #518 and #519, in which Aunt May's house is burned down, and 'Amazing Spider-Man Annual' 2000, which heavily involves Liz Osborn, Normie Osborn, and the 'ghost' of Harry (who turns out not to be a ghost, but there still couldn't have been a fake "ghost" if Harry was actually alive, so my point still stands). Doesn't this directly contradict this statement: "All the books count, all the stories count -- except in the minds of the people within the Marvel U, Peter and MJ were a couple, not a married couple.'"
Sergio, you're correct, there is some missing time, it's obvious some time has gone by as you keenly noticed, MJ and Peter have broken up. When did it happen, how long have they been broken up, these are stories yet to be told.
Tom Hart's next, who asked, "Mr. Quesada, you quote MJ as saying, 'I know in my heart of hearts that you and I were always meant to be together. Whatever he throws at us, whatever he does, whatever he undoes, it doesn't matter. Because whatever he does to pull us apart would have to be bigger and stronger than what brought us together and kept us together, no matter what happened. And there's no power in the universe big enough for a job like that. Not the devil, not god, not anybody.' Do you agree with her statement? Is she Peter's one true love?"
It's not for me to agree or disagree, Tom, it's what MJ is saying so it's what she's believes. However, I'm sure many people feel many different ways about it. If you ask fans who were complaining about Peter and MJ getting married twenty years ago, they would tell you no. If you ask fans of the late Gwen Stacy, they would tell you definitely, no way. Mind you, we received a lot of letters after "House of M" from fans that wanted to see Peter and Gwen back together again. Which is kind of ironic because if that status quo would have remained, it only would have happened because of "magic." But hey, what the heck!
Scott and Paul Frederick asked, "I find Mr. Quesada's distaste for the marriage (and divorce as a solution) to be perhaps at the root of all of the problems that 'One More Day' has spawned - that and his distinction between real-life issues and fictional characters.
"He admits that divorce is a hot-button issue. Then why not tackle it and try to say something substantive?
"Marvel went all out (some would say overboard) dealing with 9/11 and its aftermath, but divorce is too touchy?
"I grew up reading the Fantastic Four during the #140s, when Reed and Sue were talking divorce. Interestingly, so were my parents at the time, so having Reed and Sue work through it was helpful to me as a kid.
"Times have changed and divorce is more of a reality for kids than it was in the mid-'70s. Having a hero go through with it - and for a noble cause of keeping his wife from harm - and still be friends with his ex could have been a good thing for today's kids to read.
"Was that even thought about, or just dismissed out of hand?
"It seems like Marvel missed an opportunity to be socially relevant in a quiet and thoughtful way and opted for a ham-handed event instead."
Guys, we would absolutely tackle and have tackled the subject of divorce at Marvel, I just felt that Spider-Man was the wrong character to do it with. Take a look at Hank and Jan Pym. We've dealt with subjects as controversial as marital abuse, however, I would never tell that story within the pages of a Spider-Man book.
McKenzie Staples asked, "I thought the core theme of Spider-Man was responsibility. Isn't being married to someone you truly love the ultimate sign of being responsible?
"The above question was asked by an unmarried nineteen year old who has been reading comics for less than a year. So if these changes were made to appeal to a new younger audience, you completely fail."
Yes, absolutely, but so is taking care of those around you and valuing human life.
Here's how I see it.
If Peter was being hunted by a sniper and the sniper missed and shot an innocent women, a complete stranger, how would Peter feel about it? Horrible of course.
What if Mephisto came to Peter and said, "Hey, that woman over there, I know you don't know her, she's a complete stranger, but she's going to die from a bullet meant for you. Sucks doesn't it? But I'll tell you what, I can save her life. All I want is your marriage in exchange."
How would you feel if Peter looked up at Mephisto and said, "Nah, sorry, let her die."
I know this may seem different because the woman is Aunt May, but it's not -- a life is a life.
Peter and MJ didn't quit on their love, they sacrificed it to save a life, that to me is a pretty heroic story.
Ron Sansone asked, "I know you mentioned this previously, but in the Marvel Universe death appears to be as permanent as a paper cut (just look at Colossus, Hawkeye, or even Harry Osborn!). Why not kill off MJ to end the marriage? Clearly she could be brought back later under circumstances that would not involve altering the past."
Ron, simply, because MJ at this point is better to have in the Spider-Man U alive than dead. If she were dead, I suspect fans would be wondering when she would come back, if she's alive, fans will be wondering if they'll ever get back together which, to me, is so much more powerful than her resurrection.
Also, Peter Parker widower just makes him seem that much older to me than I would like to see him portrayed.
Our final question was asked by simply Patric, "Joe, one of the things I've often admired and respected about you during your tenure as EIC at Marvel is your ability to say you've changed your mind on various things as the years have gone by (such as dead is dead). The other thing I enjoy about you is your almost Pro-Wrestling-esque character of Joe Quesada: EIC of Marvel. By that I mean, how you will say things to rile fans and readers up and promote your books (such as the Speedball stuff.)
"Obviously fans have been 'vocal' about OMD. If, as years go by, there is a genuine outpouring from fans that Peter and MJ need to be married, or at least in a committed relationship, do you see yourself able to look at the situation again and perhaps respond accordingly?"
You know what, Patric, that's a great question. Here's what I can tell you, I honestly don't know? I've now been EIC for eight years and at Marvel for ten. Ten years ago, I said things that I no longer believe. Not every single thing, but there are things here and there that with ten years of experience under my belt, I now look at and realize I was either wrong, or the industry has changed and they are no longer true. It's called learning as you go and I feel that it's a very important part of me doing what I do. That's why I don't make any decisions in a vacuum. I have some incredibly bright people here who I work with who know a lot more than me and I have a magnificent group of creators that work here at Marvel that I learn from every day.
So, would I be willing to change? Sure, perhaps. Am I expecting that to happen? Nah, not really. Based upon the 180 degree flip I've been getting in my inbox from fans now picking up BND, I think, as we suspected, we're on to something so I don't see it being an issue. That said, I'm not stubborn or ham fisted in my ways, all I need to be shown is that there's a better story to be told and all over it.
Thanks to all the fans who submitted questions. And special thanks to Spider-Man Forum moderator Sean Whitmore who helped go through all the fan questions.