3.3.09

One More Day

Can you say RET-CON?!!

OK. I have been harsh on the regular Spiderman series, mainly because Bendis all but removes its reason to exist (raison d'être) over on the Ultimate series. This One More Day idea appeared from a distance to be a desperate attempt to reignite interest in what had seemed an increasingly irrelevant title. But I judged without reading the thing, and only listened to the baying of betrayed Spiderman fans. This is wrong and should never be done, because unlike absolutely everyone else out there, I really liked it.

People hate this ridiculous deal with the devil idea because it betrays the whole tangled bunch of continuity they have invested in. All of it is overturned, and we've stepped back a significant way. To this, I respond as Grant Morrison may do: continuity should not get in the way of a good story. Completely ignoring it would be annoying, but on the whole what's far more important is that the writers and artists stay true to the characters.

Straczynski does this. One More Day once again reminds us of what Spiderman is all about. Aunt May lies dying from a bullet-wound, and Peter immediately sees his fugitive status as the thing that brought this about. He blames himself for an event that is only indirectly his fault. The parallels with the death of his uncle couldn't be clearer. And like before, he undertakes immense sacrifices to set this right. This is what makes him a hero. He shoulders responsibility for his actions, even though it is easy for him to let go. There is a Rorschach determination in him to do the right thing, despite the difficulties it involves. Faced with the deal put forward, few people would have taken it. This is why Spiderman is Spiderman.

Straczynski manages to play this heart-wrenching decision between Peter and Mary Jane perfectly. The love between them radiates off the page. I don't think the story betrays that. Indeed, it leaves the fate of their relationship open. Perhaps their love is strong enough to defeat the devil himself. And the devil, incidentally, wasn't hokey. There is a real menace to him, partly due to Quesada's dark, hallucinatory artwork. The whole thing was very well done.

Continuity can be distracting. I came to the story fresh, and for me it was a powerful piece of work.

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