Review: Amazing Spider-Man #638

Published on July 22nd, 2010

I’m going to start this review by pissing off my college journalism professor and leading with a definition.  One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions for “progress” is, “a forward or onward movement.”  The first part of the “OneMoment In Time” story arc that begins in Amazing Spider-Man #638 is (along with “Brand New Day” in general) the exact opposite of the word progress.

Aside from getting a terrible Whitney Houston song stuck in my head, “One Moment In Time” or OMIT as they’re referring to it (too late guys, the song’s already stuck…thanks) fills in all the missing story from the end of the “One More Day” story arc from a couple years ago.  “One More Day” ended with Peter and Mary Jane Parker making a deal with Mephisto to save Aunt May’s life.  The condition of this literal deal with the devil was that Mephisto would warp reality so that Peter and MJ would have never gotten married and they will have no memory of ever being married.  What followed was the “Brand New Day” story arc that was all about our new, swingin’, single Peter Parker banging everything that moves and every once in a while making a sad face because he’s not with Mary Jane.  Basically, the whole thing was Marvel’s excuse to let Peter Parker go out and sleep around without making the fans hate him for ending his marriage.  I thought it was very telling that the first image of  “Brand New Day” (no exaggeration…go look up Amazing Spider-Man #546) was Peter Parker making out with some random chick.


Anyway, Amazing #638 starts out with a brief recap of the deal with Mephisto and then flashes to the current point in time drawn by Joe Quesada where MJ barges into Peter’s apartment so that they can finally talk about “what happened.”  The book then starts skipping back to Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 from 1987 which was the Peter/MJ wedding issue.  Now, I don’t just mean just a flashback…I mean they literally reprinted the original pages but to change the end and complete their little retcon they inserted new pages at certain points with new art by Paolo Rivera and deleted other pages from the original.  The ultimate result is Peter and MJ eventually calling off the wedding.

I have been against this whole retcon since the word go.  To me it felt like a bunch of guys who got together and said to each other, “Remember how great Spider-Man was when we were reading it as kids?  I wish we could bring that back…oh wait, we can!”  I’ve read interviews with creators who’ve said they thought the wedding was a bad idea from the start and that they never liked Peter with Mary Jane, which I’m fine with.  But, come up with a good way to break them up for God’s sake!  One of them cheats on the other, Mary Jane falls into a coma, Peter becomes celibate, MJ realizes she’s gay!  Something!  But, instead they almost literally decided to just rewrite all the pre-1987 material.  As I’ve already said, this isn’t progress, it’s regression.

The only part I find redeeming is the art.  The Rivera pages are pretty good and I enjoy the pages done by Quesada.  They’re very understated and not quite as crazy Quesada like his normal stuff.  I really like how he draws MJ in particular in this issue.  The reprinted art by Paul Ryan is good as well but it’s that quasi John Romita style that every artist drew Spider-Man in until the 90’s when things finally got shaken up by the likes of Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen and Mark Bagley.

To sum it all up, I haven’t read any really good mainstream Spider-Man (other that Grim Hunt which was great) since the “One More Day” story arc and this is just adding to the problem.  I hate the idea of this kind of retcon.  To make a comparison, there was a 2 part episode of Family Guy where Stewie finally manages to kill Lois.  A whole lot else takes place and as a result of it all Stewie is killed by Lois who wasn’t really dead.  At the very end it turns out to be a simulation by Stewie so he could see what would really happen if he killed Lois.  Brian’s response to that was, “So everything that just happened wasn’t real?  It seems to me that something like that would just be a big ‘F you’ to the fans.”  And that’s what all this feels like to me.  It feels like a big “F you” from Joe Quesada.

Dear Joe,

Please leave Spider-Man alone.


Ian Candish