The panel focusing on the story that promises to rock Spider-Man's world began with a dash of suspense at Wizard World Philadelphia on Friday, not because of revelations about the story, but because of the delayed appearance of a key panel attendee; Joe Quesada, Marvel Comics' EIC as well as artist of the September event, "Spider-Man: One More Day. Panel members Tom Brevoort and Jim McCann vamped to keep the restless crowd interested until convention staff got Quesada from his autograph signing and imto the panel room. Despite the late start, the panel was soon off to a brisk pace, with panel members cracking jokes about the now famous image of Spider-Man being crushed under the weight of the "One More Day" logo.
The audience was then treated to the covers of the "Amazing Spider-Man" and "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" tie-in issues of the event, which featured a decidedly retro feel, even including a tongue-in-cheek "Still Only 399 cents" cover blurb. The "Amazing Spider-Man" cover once again posed the question "What Would You Do With One More Day?" while the "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" cover featured Doctor Strange, who has been mentioned to be playing a major role in this event.
The first announcement was that writer/artist Terry Moore, of "Strangers in Paradise" fame, has signed on with Marvel and will be the new writer of "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane," replacing outgoing writer and newly DC exclusive Sean McKeever. It was noted that this was Moore's second crack at Spider-Man, having first tackled the character with Brian Bendis in a guest spot in the "Ultimate Marvel Team-Up" series. Moore will likely be providing covers for "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane," but will not be doing interiors, and the artist is still to be announced. While not disclosing terms of Moore's deal with Marvel, Quesada did indicate that he expects Moore to have a long run on the title, ensuring stability for a book whose future was uncertain with the departure of its original creator.
With that, the panel was opened to questions, and one of the first pertained to the mysterious new character Jackpot who debuted in the "Spider-Man: Swing Shift" Free Comic Book Day one-shot. It's been suggested that this character will play a big role in Spider-Man stories going forward, as she bears a striking resemblance to Peter Parker's beloved Mary Jane, whose fate in the "One More Day" event is the subject of much speculation. With that in mind, the questioner wasted no time in getting to the point, asking why Marvel had turned MJ into a superhero. But Quesada was not ready to give away the secret just yet, coyly expressing shock that anyone would think the new superheroine was Mary Jane.
The subject of Spider-Man's no-longer-secret identity arose, and a fan wanted to know if "One More Day" was a means to undo that. Again, Quesada played it close to the vest, but explained that every major event that occurred during the course of "Civil War" was planned with an endgame in mind.
The question was raised, given Quesada's frequent comments characterizing the Spider-Man marriage as a burden, why had he returned Mary Jane to the book when he took over as editor-in-chief? Quesada pointed out that just because she's out of the book doesn't mean they're no longer married, and thus doesn't resolve the central problem. He also pointed out that MJ's disappearance was a storyline he'd inherited from his predecessor and that the return was already in the works when he came aboard. To the central point of why the marriage is a problem, Quesada explained his view that it took away a very large part of the soap opera element of Spider-Man, by no longer allowing Peter Parker to engage in love triangles without seeming like a cad.
Both Quesada and Brevoort emphasized that many possible solutions to this issue had been bandied about over the years. They speculated that they could kill MJ, but Quesada opined that there had been so much damage done to Spider-Man's supporting cast over the years with various deaths, he didn't want to add to that, as well as feeling that making Peter a widower would be an unnecessary complication for the character.
Quesada repeatedly emphasized the importance of keeping Marvel's characters accessible for future generations of readers. Along the same lines, they suggested they could possibly divorce the couple, but Quesada felt this would send the wrong message about their relationship and marriage in general. Asked if "One More Day" was the solution to this problem, Quesada smiled and replied, "I didn't say that."
Brevoort added his view on the situation by saying, "For the past twenty years, we've been doing the best Spider-Man stories we can do, but it's like doing them with a club foot." Concurring, Quesada said "It's something I lose sleep over, because it's one of those things where you wish you could put the genie back in the bottle."
Tom Brevoort then gave the audience a brief history of the Peter/MJ marriage, explaining that Stan Lee came up with the idea originally to boost flagging circulation on the Spider-Man newspaper strip, and that Marvel Comics then felt pressured to have the comics match up with all the publicity this event would get, culminating in the Shea Stadium wedding of Spider-Man and Mary Jane, officiated by Stan Lee himself. Brevoort explained that this episode was a case of the tail wagging the dog, and things likely would have turned out very differently if Marvel had been left to develop the Peter/MJ relationship on their own.
On the artistic side of things, Quesada related that he'd never really considered himself a Spider-Man artist until this project, but once he got started, he realized he was having the most fun he'd ever had since his days drawing "The Ray" for the Distinguished Competition.
Another fan asked if "One More Day" would resolve Aunt May's currently precarious position, being in a coma after being hit by a sniper's bullet. Quesada responded (perhaps tongue in cheek) "Tragically, yes." Later on, without commenting directly on Aunt May's fate, Quesada pointed out that the loss of parental figures has been a theme with Spider-Man from the beginning.
In a response to a question about structure, Quesada assured the audience that "One More Day" would indeed be self-contained, and Brevoort used that subject to segue into perhaps the biggest announcement of the panel: "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" and "Sensational Spider-Man" will be ending, and in their place, "Amazing Spider-Man" will now come out three times a month. This new era for Spider-Man publishing will be fittingly entitled "Brand New Day".
Jokes were made about how this arrangement allowed Marvel to technically avoid doing a weekly series, as new Spider-Man editor Steve Wacker had just come off the weekly "52" series for DC Comics. Quesada indicated that details about the "Amazing Spider-Man" creative team and the precise format of the book would be forthcoming at the San Diego Comic Con. As to the reasoning behind this shift, Quesada explained they felt it was better to have one title and one continuous story coming out 3 times a month, rather than be faced with a situation where readers felt like they didn't need to pick up books such as "Sensational" and "Friendly" as long as they were getting "Amazing".
Quesada also said one part of "Brand New Day" will be the building of a new supporting cast around Peter, comprised of some familiar characters as well as some new faces, the goal being creating fun, compelling, and relevant characters for today's readership. In the midst of all this, Quesada made reference to Gwen possibly appearing post-"One More Day." It first appeared as if this was just a tease, but McCann and Quesada paused and had a brief sidebar, leading the audience to wonder whether it was in fact an inadvertent slip of the tongue.
The panel ended with a final image of what appeared to be a gun-toting Spider-Man. The audience was left to speculate for themselves what exactly this meant. Stay tuned….
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