For the first time ever, Marvel is planning a DC-style, universe-wide reboot for all its characters. Shortly before it happens, several superheroes will get books of their own meant to resolve their own storylines and hint at what new forms they’ll take. Spider-Man’s book was titled “Renew Your Vows” and clearly showed him married to MJ — and with a daughter. There was an immediate assumption among some fans that they were about to get the undo they’d always demanded to the most infamous comic of our modern age, One More Day. Even better, it seemed to be introducing Mayday into regular continuity. Others were rightly skeptical of this, and their pessimism proved correct when the book was revealed to be an alternate future, not a current one.
But it may be worse than you think. Dan Slott was recently interviewed by Entertainment Weekly, and there was something he said there that gave me pause.
“With any story where you give people what they want—there’s a difference, as a storyteller, between what your readers want and what your readers need. In a good Peanuts story, you want Charlie Brown to kick that football. But if Charlie Brown kicks the football, it’s over!” says Slott. “All the best stories in serialized fiction–it’s always about teasing the greatest wishes and wants, but monkey-pawing it. Always giving you what you want, but not the way you want it.”
It’s the term “Monkey-paw” being used here that has me concerned. Slott seems to be implying “I’m giving the fans a wish, but I’m also teaching them a lesson,” as if to say the real purpose of this book is to change people’s minds and make them realize OMD was actually “essential.”
Then there’s the fact that earlier in the interview he calls it “the last Spider-Man story,” which is beyond implication. What it points to is the strong possibility Renew Your Vows is actually yet another attempt by Marvel’s staff to explain what a good decision selling the marriage to the devil was and how a married Spider-Man is a horrible horrible thing.
The story will end with the kid dying and it “being Peter’s fault” and MJ will leave him over it, and he’ll give up being Spider-Man and/or hang himself, and his final thought will be “How could I have been so foolish as to bring a family into this kind of a life?” The final page of the book will be a 3-D hologram of Joe Quesada wagging his finger at the reader.
In this scenario, the cover of the book is, basically, a bait-and-switch. Instead of the grand web-swinging adventure filled with romance and danger everyone who buys this on-sight will be hoping for, readers will get a Chick tract scolding them for their own opinions. And to those who legtimately thought this was meant to re-introduce the marriage back into canon, it’ll be a huge insult. It’ll be the most infamous comic to hit the stands since OMD itself and it’ll be Linkara fodder in a year.
Guys. You’re publishing critically acclaimed series like Ms. Marvel and your movie division is so successful that it’s changed the direction of Hollywood itself, and meanwhile DC is choking on your dust and burying themselves in bad executive decisions. You’re riding a really high wave right now. This is not the time to bring up the fact that you published that….thing in 2008 again. Seriously, stop reminding people.
I really hope, for their sake, this is not what we’re in for. There has always been a canyon-wide divide between what the fans want to read and what the writers want to write. They have hated each other for a long time. Fans hate the writers for making poor decisions with their favorite characters. Writers hate the fans for “not knowing what they want” and being “spoiled brats.” And yet the fans keep buying the books anyway, and the writers keep making them. What makes this relationship turn?
I would not be surprised if, after the dust of the Big Honking Super Ultra Secret Wars Mega Crisis has settled, the first big change of the reboot is that Peter Parker is a teenager again. It fits with the writers’ innermost desires, and it would mean part of the thinking for the multiple-universe books was to show things like a married Spider-Man “one last time.” This would mean no more Miles Morales, but though he has loyally devoted fans, so does the Spider-Marriage.
To heck with this. Just read Spider-Gwen.