A "big storyline" (released in 2007) in the Spider-Man
Due to Spider-Man revealing his secret identity at the urging of Tony Stark
in Civil War
, an attempt is made by the Kingpin on Spider-Man's life. Peter, naturally, escapes it due to his spider-senses
, but dear old Aunt May takes the bullet. Unfortunately, this is a fatal wound, and May is going to die. After putting back on his old black costume and going on a Darker and Edgier Roaring Rampage of Revenge
against the Kingpin, he webswings up and down the Marvel Universe
trying to find someone, anyone, who can help him. Unfortunately, none of the super-scientists, magicians (one of whom is also a surgeon), mutants, or techno-wizards can fix a single bullet wound
Then Mephisto shows up, to offer Peter and Mary Jane a Deal with the Devil
. He'll heal May, but rather than take a soul in exchange, he'll take their marriage. Yes, that's right — the entire purpose of this arc was to Cosmic Retcon
the Spidey marriage. Ostensibly, it's because "the suffering of two souls in love, forever denied each other, is far better than the soul of one who has given it up nobly in sacrifice of another." Peter accepts, and...
The series picks up after a Time Skip
, under the banner Brand New Day
. Not only is Aunt May alive and well, but Harry Osborn is alive and well, too. Peter and Mary Jane - never married in this reality but merely living together - have broken up and are hardly speaking to one another. But MJ may have launched her own superheroing career as "Jackpot". Peter's web-shooters are no longer organic, and Spider-Man's identity is a secret again, and he's a single swinger living with his aunt. Or, to put it another way, a thirty-year-old man living in his (foster) mother's basement
The storyline has been widely decried for many different reasons; for Executive Meddling
that got rid of something only one person disliked (Joe Quesada
, Editor in Chief of Marvel); for finding an "easy answer" to the problem of Spidey's secret identity (Quesada specifically said it wouldn't be solved by a "magic retcon
", when no two words are more appropriate); for yet another attempt to stop a character from actually changing over time; and for generally feeling forced and desperate (J. Michael Straczynski
, the writer, almost had his name removed
from the last two issues, but relented as a favor to Marvel).
Opinions on the 'One More Day' arc were divided into two camps: the 'Traditional Spidey' camp, who felt that Spider-Man's best years were the ones that showcased his day-to-day troubles, and the 'Progress is Better' camp, which feels cheated. There were even fans who felt that the frequently canceled-yet-relaunched-almost-immediately Spider-Girl
series represents the best example of the marriage being allowed to evolve without editorial intervention... including, ironically, Quesada himself. Some argued that Spider-Girl
had become the definitive version of the Spidey mythos; others preferred Ultimate Spider-Mannote
or Marvel Adventures Spider-Man
(both of which are Alternate Continuity Reboots
The newspaper strip version
of Spider-Man, which had originally followed the comics in dissolving Peter and MJ's marriage (sans Mephisto; it just told stories that happened before the marriage) has bowed to the pressure of thousands of letters of complaint and retconned the "unmarriage" again. See the article.
Though according to Roy Thomas, who has ghostwritten the comic strip in the past, the story without the marriage was planned to be temporary all along.
This was followed up in 2010 with One Moment in Time
"), intended to clean up dangling plot threads as Peter and Mary Jane finally get talking again and start going over the history of their relationship. Back in what was supposed to be their wedding week, Mephisto quietly releases an apprehended thug and Peter is badly injured trying to recapture him, causing him to miss the ceremony. This leads MJ to reconsider marriage, instead settling for a committed-monogamous-but-not-official relationship.
Fast-forward to the events of One More Day
; Aunt May makes a miraculous recovery, but this prompts the Kingpin to take out another hit on Mary Jane's Aunt Anna. When Mary Jane gets hurt protecting her, Peter regrets ever revealing his identity and begs Doctor Strange
to make people forget. Strange talks Reed Richards
and Tony Stark
into helping out, setting it up so that only Peter will remember what happened
. However, Peter spares Mary Jane the mindwipe too, but afterwards she tells him she can't deal with putting other people in danger just by knowing Spider-Man and leaves him. In the present, Peter and MJ patch up their relationship - but deciding they're Better as Friends
, with MJ telling Peter to get over her and find someone else.One Moment in Time
was not received any better than One More Day
was. Besides dredging up bad memories of the original story and continuing the various anti-marriage themes, it also angered fans by casting Mary Jane as a Fixer Sue
, making her the one responsible for the dissolution of the relationship.
(In case you're wondering about the other Brand New Day
changes that were explained outside of OMIT
: Harry turned out to have been just hiding
. Jackpot wasn't Mary Jane, but someone else entirely who looked like her
. And Peter's organic webbing and some other newer powers were explained by Word of God
to be unavailable, either due to Power Incontinence
or they're part of a Heroic Safe Mode
This story arc provides examples of:
- Author Avatar: Many fans perceive Mephisto as one for Joe Quesada. Old!Peter could also be interpreted as one, as he recites Quesada's response to his detractors almost verbatim.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Any way you try to spin this Joe, it still ends with Satan getting exactly what he wants without conditions or consequences.
- Better as Friends: Take two people that have been the Official Couple for decades, and try to set them up as this instead. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
- Broad Strokes: The events of the marriage years mostly still happened as originally shown; Peter and MJ were still living and sleeping together - they just never made it official.
- Broken Aesop: Breaks the aesop that Spider-Man is supposed to embody, as instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he dodges it by making a Deal with the Devil against the wishes of its main beneficiary and guilt-tripping his own wife into going along with it. However, in One Moment in Time (popularly known as OMIT), this is retconned so that Mary Jane is the one to have made the deal. Word of God is that the aesop is meant to be "It's heroic to do whatever you can to save a life" but to readers, rewriting history just to save the life of a single person who, in addition to wanting to die anyways and was telling you to let go, let's face it, is likely to die of old age in a few years is simply asinine. The message then becomes "the ends justify the means", and that instead of learning how to cope with loss and move on with your life, you should hold on to what you have and never let go, even if the cost of doing so might be too high; for you and for others.
- What makes this even worse is that the "whatever you can to save a life" wasn't selling their souls, give any kind of favor to the demon, or even their love, but he wanted them to give up their marriage. So Peter Parker had to face the consequences of... a chance to get back with Black Cat.
- Even worse in that Word of God states that the reason he had the marriage nullified through deal with Mephisto, instead of divorce, is that he felt that having Peter and Mary Jane get divorced would send a bad message to the kids. So... selling your soul to the Devil is a BETTER moral choice than getting a divorce?
- The best part of that? Years before One More Day Peter and Mary Jane had split up for some time, and a divorce was likely.
- Canon Discontinuity: Despite his explicit claims that it would not be magically undone, Quesada chickened out and had it magically undone. The deal at least.
By agreeing to MJ’s terms, Mephisto has actually wiped himself from ever having been involved in their lives. In fact, looking at it linearly, those four issues never happened. Along with the wedding, "One More Day" and Mephisto have been wiped out of continuity and Peter and MJ never made that bargain.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Averted. See Broken Aesop.
- Deal with the Devil: Well, A Devil, but yeah.
- Death by Cameo: Only by subtext, but still. After the Parkers take the deal, Mephisto taunts them with a girl he says is the child they'll never have now. Now, there are a lot of reasons that this can't be the baby miscarried back in The Clone Saga (and Word of God asserts it's just an image of how MJ pictured their theoretical kid), but Spider-Girl fans were nonetheless not amused.
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Quesada's current explanation is that Mary Jane did without even trying; somehow by her Exact Words the nonexistence of the marriage means Mephisto has nothing to steal and he won't meddle with the Parkers again. We don't quite get it either.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: With One Moment In Time, the anti-One More Day group is becoming more frustrated with the retcon that MJ is all at fault for the deal. Even people who tolerated One More Day and some who like Brand New Day are becoming exasperated at the constant changes.
- Doing in the Wizard : At first, all the Brand New Day changes appeared to have happened For Want of a Nail because of the marriage thing. But as they were explained one by one, it became clear that they all happened during a Time Skip and Mephisto's effects on previous canon were minor.
- Fantastic Aesop: Quesada didn't want to imply a "divorce is okay" aesop, but was just fine with implying the impossible "dealing with the devil is okay".
- And in the sequel, MJ states marriage without children is just a piece of paper. So, divorce (unless done by Satan) isn't okay but marriage itself is no big deal.
- Especially silly given that Mephisto is a Jerkass Genie par excellence and he managed to screw people over for decades of comic book history because of how he interpreted their wishes, not how his victims did. What Mary-Jane thinks marriage is shouldn't matter in the slightest, and if it did screw him out of a deal then, since he is Mephisto, he would find a way to enact horrible revenge on her for it, probably via Revenge by Proxy. So they'd be screwed either way.
- Forgot About His Powers: In a mundane example (for many fantastic ones, see Reed Richards Is Useless), the story forgets Doctor Strange is an actual medical doctor (before becoming Sorcerer Supreme, he was a neurosurgeon). Not that it would matter; since the gunshot was hand-waved as incurable through any amount of magic or skill. Until Peter cured said wound by performing amateur CPR while May was flat-lining. Yes, that's their explanation.
- Idiot Ball: Again, just about everyone who appears, exception being Aunt May.
- In Spite of a Nail: One would think that the nonexistence of the marriage would at least have changed the outcome some of the plotlines in the Spider-Man continuity. Whatever impact that was, however, doesn't seem to have been very drastic. This has less to do with the marriage not having an impact on the continuity, but the creators merely not wanting to explore the changes. It's much harder to rationalize that the marriage didn't have an impact if you can just say that the stories wouldn't have changed, and just leave it at that. Or just that the marriage was all Joe wanted to retcon.
- Karma Houdini: Irritatingly enough, Mephisto has managed to avoid receiving any comeuppance from Spider-Man for his actions for years.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: At Peter's urging, Dr. Strange, Tony Stark, and Reed Richards somehow combine science and sorcery to erase everyone's knowledge of Spidey's identity (though people are aware that they once knew who Spider-Man was). Keep in mind, these are the same people who could do jack about a gunshot wound.
- Love Cannot Overcome: Mary Jane breaks up with Peter, not because she can't handle being in danger for knowing Spider-Man, but because she can't handle putting other people who are close to her in danger because she knows Spider-Man.
- Mind Screw: What with all the retcons and stuff getting 'clarified' it's starting to get very confusing. Most prominently, the situation listed under Canon Discontinuity makes it so that the story itself probably can be completely ignored as having never happened... but it can't because it still has an impact somehow.
- Momma's Boy: What Peter ultimately comes off as, considering how obsessive and selfish he is in wanting to bring back Aunt May, despite the assertion from her and everyone else that he should let her die in peace.
- Certainly over-played and contrived as far as the story is concerned, seeing as Marvel killed off Aunt May once before and Peter seemed more-or-less fine with letting her die peacefully.
- Moral Dissonance: According to Joe Q: it's okay to forget all about responsibility, save a woman who wants to die and be with her long-dead husband who she has missed, make a deal with the devil, oh and being married makes you boring.
- Just to elaborate. Peter makes a deal with Mephisto. You know, big demon guy? Makes deals with people and then screws them over (people that Peter has met and worked with and is therefore perfectly aware of the screwings over)? The deal in question? He wipes his and his wife's minds and alters their histories, aborting their unborn baby in the process, just so his aunt who, even in terms of comic book aging is older than the Bill of Rights, can recover from a gunshot wound to live for a couple more years before finally kicking the bucket. And to add insult to injury, she only got shot in the first place because Peter revealed his true identity to the public, making it the exact scenario he has been harping about for bloody years as to why he specifically shouldn't take off his mask. In other words, Aunt May was shot because of Peter's mistake and he's unwilling to take responsibility for his actions.
- Reed Richards and Tony Stark apparently erasing Spider-Man's identity from the memories of everyone on the planet. Didn't they just fight a war with some of their former friends just to make sure that nobody could do that?
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Up until this story, Mephisto never had the power to alter reality. Since he does, it begs the question why he never bothered to use it for past villainy?
- Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Fridge Logic mixed with Idiot Ball. So you mean to tell us that Reed Richards (and Tony Stark, and Hank Pym...) is somehow now unable to heal a gun wound? Really? Not just Richards, but every scientific mind and mystic in the Marvel universe is unable to heal Aunt May. Hell, not even Elixir of the New X-Men can help, and his sole power? Healing people. And not just healing people—it's controlling every cell in your body. From a distance. Elixir healed a guy after the dude's heart was torn out. Something that, logically, should have been instantly fatal... May was just shot... By a bullet. That didn't kill her instantly. There is no reason such a wound should be beyond his power. Elixir could literally have revived May over the phone. Oh, but there's more, much more. Peter goes to Dr. Strange first...Dr. Strange who can literally make Gods, omnipotent beings from other universes like the Outer Gods, do his bidding by just saying so. Dr. Strange said he couldn't heal Aunt May. Dr. Strange, who can summon Gods and omnipotents at will, who is in personal direct contact with a pantheon of beings whose entire purpose is being nice guys and helping humans, could not heal a simple gunshot wound (also: He's a surgeon). There are no words to describe how hard someone has to try and fuck up this badly. And just to hammer the point home, some of those selfsame people that were useless when it came to gunshots were able to pull Laser-Guided Amnesia out of their rears in One Moment In Time. And CPR manages to save Aunt May, even though between Peter's super strength should have crushed her, and CPR onto a person with an open or barely stitched wound would pump the blood out. Possibly justified by the fact that God appeared to Peter and told him to be with Aunt May as she passed on; it was simply her time to go, she had accepted this, and maybe, on some level deep down, they felt that.
- Somewhat Hand Waved by explaining it was her time, or fate, to die at this point meaning not even time travel could prevent it. See You Can't Fight Fate
- Relationship Reset Button: By virtue of a deal with a demon.
- Retcon: Of course OMD is obviously a huge one, but OMIT applied a retcon to OMD. Remember how both Peter and Mary Jane had to agree with Mephisto's deal... O.M.I.T has, surprisingly enough gone out of its way to retcon it into Mary Jane making the deal despite Peter's objection.
- Retraux: In OMIT, the flashbacks to the time of the (canceled) wedding are drawn as similarly as possible to the original "The Wedding!" storyline. Given Quesada's OMD art got lazily re-used, this comes off as a nice change. Of course, it's weird when past-bride-to-be MJ gets her cell phone.
- And when Spidey references the "But I did just stay at a Holiday Inn" joke from the present-day's ad campaign... in a time set years before that campaign started.
- Shaggy Dog Story: Thanks to One Moment in Time, the entire arc gets turned into this.
- Shipping Tropes:
- Anchored Ship: The official status of Peter/MJ between One More Day and One Moment In Time.
- Ship Sinking: The whole point of the story was to break up Peter and M.J. in the eyes of the fans. It has failed miserably; people are less inclined to Abandon Shipping than ever.
- Ship Tease: Promos for One Moment In Time and afterward suggested that Peter and MJ would rekindle their relationship after being estranged since One More Day. Given that the whole thing had become a touchy subject, fans felt that their chains were getting yanked - and they were right. OMIT ended with Mary Jane and Peter becoming friends again, but she told Peter to get over her or else he'll miss someone else that's perfect for him. (One suspects Reality Subtext here; Quesada telling the same to readers. No dice, Joe.)
- Silent Whisper: Mary Jane agrees to Mephisto's terms for the Deal with the Devil but quietly whispers something to him before the deal is finalized. We find out what it was she said three years later (real time) in OMIT.
- Stress Vomit: After Peter tells her about the Deal with the Devil Mephisto offered them. Of course, since said deal involved wiping away their marriage from existence and any future kids are presumably a part of that, a common fan theory has that MJ may have vomited for a different reason.
- Superheroes Stay Single
- Super Loser: Enforcing the "loser" part.
- Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Double subverted; Spidey reaches out to a long list of super-friends (including a group with a healer who rebuilt a guy's heart from nothing after it got torn out by a Satanic sorcerer—no relation) only to come up empty: see Reed Richards Is Useless up above.
- This Loser Is You: Several of Quesada's comments about the storyline and the reader's reaction to it — for good or ill — have been of this nature. Needless to say, the fanbase has been less-than-impressed in many cases.
- Title Drop: Several times.
- Too Happy to Live: The Parkers - We can't have them Happily Married! Then where would the love triangles come from?
- True Love Is Boring: See above.
- Voodoo Shark: With OMIT done, Quesada claims that One More Day was retconned out of continuity and Mephisto never made a deal with the Parkers - so he never saved Aunt May; she got better thanks to Peter's love and determination.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Peter's future daughter calls him out on his behavior during the entire arc, telling him how he's been acting like a selfish prick who can't take responsibility for his own actions. It's a pity that Peter doesn't actually listen to her.
- A Wizard Did It: Quesada infamously responded to objections about how the magical retcon works with "It's magic! We don't have to explain it!"
- The problem with this, however, is that while you don't have to explain every little detail about whatever kind of magic(s) that the Marvel universe uses, it still has to have rules.
- One Moment in Time eventually explains / retcons what actually happened- Mephisto made it so that they were never married, and Doctor Strange wiped the memory of everyone on Earth so that nobody knows Peter is Spiderman, not even guys like Venom or the Green Goblin who knew who his Secret Identity before he revealed to the world in Civil War. Aunt May survived because Peter figured out a way to save her on his own (which Word of God states would have happened even without the Mephisto deal, so Mephisto didn't even give them anything.) And random Brand New Day stuff like Harry Osborn now being alive has been explained as Death Faked for You- ie. much like Aunt May, he survived without interference from Mephisto, and was Not Quite Dead the whole canon time. Mephisto rewriting history also means that they never made a deal with Mephisto in the first place. About the only effect of his deal, then, is that Peter and Mary-Jane were never married- as in, they lived together and everything in Spidey's history happened exactly as it always did; they just chose not to make their love "official" by getting hitched. And for some reason they broke up off-panel after the events of this story.
- Writer on Board: With all of the Executive Meddling in the comic, it's plainly obvious where Quesada inserted his own personal beliefs and opinions. The most blatant is the alternate Peter Parker's rant over how people who indulge in escapist fiction are all essentially losers. It's so out of place and is so inconsequential to the plot that it's pretty obvious that Quesada put that in to spite the readers.
- You Can't Fight Fate: The reason why no one could save her. The bullet wound had rendered her brain dead and any attempt to fix it INCLUDING GOING BACK IN TIME were doomed to fail. Peter tried time travelling and was attacked by creatures that guard fate nearly killing him in the process. Mephisto being evil for some reason is allowed to change fate.
- Younger and Hipper: The objective behind the whole story was to make Peter fit this trope again. The results are... less than satisfactory.
- Yo Yo Plot Point