"One More Day" is a story of Spider-Man, written by several authors.
Due to Spider-Man revealing his secret identity at the urging of Tony Stark in Civil War, an attempt is made by the 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.note
Then Mephisto shows up, to offer Peter and Mary Jane Watson 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 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) bowed to the pressure of thousands of letters of complaint and retconned the "unmarriage" in 2009. 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.
One More Day was followed up in 2010 with One Moment in Time (or "OMIT"), 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. Its reception was pretty much the same One More Day had.
This was followed up again in Dan Slott's run of the comic, which put the Ship Tease angle back between Mary Jane and Peter starting with Spider-Island... Until Doctor Octopus hijacked Peter's body, which screwed up their relationship, even after Peter took control of his body once again. Slott kept sinking and refloating the possibility several times during most of his run. Nick Spencer replaced him in 2018, and started his run by having Peter and MJ reconnect, and even starts his first official issue with an extended flashback of Matt Fractions "To Have and To Hold". Spencer would continue to pepper in references to this storyline, with the ramifications of the story coming to a climactic point in Last Remains and carrying on from there. Whether or not the most controversial element of this story gets undone in Spencer's run remains to be seen.
That isn't to say Peter and MJ aren't together in any capacity. Outside of the newspaper strip, the Secret Wars (2015) event had an In Name Only follow-up to this story called Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows. The story features an alternate universe version of Peter Parker who remained married to Mary Jane due to the events of Civil War never happening, and tells the story of how they raise their daughter Annie in a world where superpowered individuals are hunted and de-powered. This version of the character first appeared in the Spider-Verse, however fleetingly. Renew Your Vows would continue as an ongoing in its own right during the Marvel NOW! (2016) rebrand, in which the entire family fights crime together, with Mary Jane wearing a suit that allows her to share her husband's powers.
This story arc provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: We never did find out who that woman was Mephisto hinted at.
- Anchored Ship: The official status of Peter/MJ between One More Day and One Moment In Time.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Parker asked Stark to pay for May's medical treatment, or... or what? Parker, you're in no position to make threats! No, the "or..." was not an "OR ELSE" threat. It was "or else my aunt is going to die in some charity ward somewhere. Is that what you really want, Tony? Is it?"
- Artistic License Law: Tony Stark can not pay May's hospital, because that would be a criminal help to a fugitive criminal. So, he transferred some millions to Jarvis' personal account, so that he can help May in his name. Problem is, the use of strawpersons to commit financial crimes is a regulated crime, and relatives and best friends (such as Jarvis for Stark) are the first suspects in those operations.
- Astral Projection: Just to hammer in how impossible it is to heal Aunt May, Doctor Strange casts a spell on Peter that allows him to talk to every noteworthy scientist, mystic, and healer in the Marvel universe... at the same time!
- The Bad Guy Wins: Peter Parkers accepts the deal, and Mephisto gets what he wanted all along, without conditions or consequences.
- 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. Which means yes, all Mephisto did was erase some wedding photos and a legal document.
- 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, this is retconned so that Mary Jane is the one to have made the deal. For 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, and is, let's face it, likely to die of old age in a few years anyway 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.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Tony Stark is not Peter Parker's dad, just a parental figure. That did not save him from falling into this when Parker thought that the whole mess is Stark's fault.
- Canon Discontinuity: Despite Joe Quesada's explicit claims that Spidey's unmasking in Civil War wouldn't be undone via a "magic retcon", one of the effects of the deal is that his unmasking was written out of history... with magic.
- Clock Roaches: During his astral jaunt through the past, Peter runs afoul of beings called Nightwalkers. Monstrous creatures that live on the edges of time and space, ready to pounce on anyone attempting to tamper with destiny.
- Continuity Nod: The final panel toasting to the Brand New Day (basically a bunch of hands carrying glasses raised high) is similar to "The Wedding!" (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21). It is a snide inversion and swipe of a panel image in Annual where Peter, Harry, and Flash raise a toast in celebration to Peter's nuptials (three hands raising glasses above). In the wedding one, Flash Thompson raises the toast after cheering and clearing up Peter's second-thoughts and insist he go ahead with getting married, insisting that it's the best thing that will happen to him; it is reused in the new story for raise a toast celebrating the single life.
- Cosmic Retcon: Peter makes a Deal with the Devil to erase his marriage with Mary Jane in exchange for saving his Aunt May's life. The entire purpose of this arc was to retcon the Spidey marriage.
- Deal with the Devil: Peter Parker makes a deal with Mephisto to save the life of Aunt May. Contrary to tradition, he does not sell his soul, but his marriage with Mary Jane.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Parker does not want Stark's pity. He wants medical care for May, which he can not pay for.
- Fantastic Aesop: The story is essentially a result of Quesada wanting to split up Mary Jane and Peter, but at the same time didn't want to imply a "divorce is okay" aesop. Apparently, he was just fine with implying the impossible "making deals 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.
- The Gloves Come Off: Iron Man can not be stopped by Spider-Man's weak webs. But what if he let it go and emptied himself on him? Yes, that will stop him... at least for some seconds.
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Parker blames himself for May being shot. Except when he blames Tony Stark.
- I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why: This apparently why Mephisto wanted Peter and Mary Jane's "marriage" instead of their souls. He claims that if he took their souls, the eternal torment he would put them through would be tempered by the irrefutable fact that they gave up their souls out of pure altruism. By using a Cosmic Retcon so that Peter and Mary Jane never would have married, a small part of them will be forever screaming out that they have lost something precious without even knowing it.
- In Spite of a Nail: One would think that the nonexistence of the marriage would at least have changed the outcome some of the plot-lines in the Spider-Man continuity. Things, however, stayed in Broad Strokes just the same.
- I Owe You My Life: The doctor in the hospital can't do much for May, but he will at least keep the bureaucracy stalled as long as possible to prevent May from being transferred somewhere else. Spider-Man had once saved his uncle, and he promised back then that someday he would pay that debt.
- It's All My Fault: The whole story is driven by Parker's sense of guilt over May being shot.
- Karma Houdini: As nobody knows about the deal, Mephisto got away with the deal and never had to retract it.
- Magical Divorce: The entire purpose of this storyline was the erase Peter and MJ's marriage from history.
- Mood Whiplash: The story is filled with bleak, depressing, and demoralizing scenes. The epilogue showing the Post-OMD continuity is a happy and upbeat one.
- 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.
- Never My Fault: Parker attacks Stark and blames him for the whole situation, because Stark talked him into revealing his identity because he promised that May and Mary Jane would be protected. Parker forgot that he is an adult capable to decide things by himself, and that he forfeited that protection the moment he went rogue and took them out of the tower.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Parker commits several questionable things while trying to save Aunt May. He blamed and attacked Tony stark for it, because he promised she would be protected if he signed the SHRA (ignoring that went rogue, removed them from the tower and forfeited that protection), he stole a dangerous artifact from Dr. Strange to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, and he made a deal with the devil, even against May's own wishes.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Peter Parker asks (with the help of Dr. Strange's magic) to all the greatest minds of the Marvel Universe - most Omnidisciplinary Scientists par excellence - but none of them can help Aunt May. This includes characters with healing powers and scientists with healing machines. It should be noted, however, that May (an elder woman with no powers) had both a gunshot and was nearly brain-dead, and there are little examples of superheroes managing to save people from such a complex situation.
- Relationship Reset Button: The marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane is cancelled by a deal with the demon, and Peter returns to be single. He forgets all about it, but Mary Jane remembers.
- Ship Sinking: The whole point of the story was to break up Peter and M.J. in the eyes of the fans.
- Shoo Out the ClownsParker: In another time and place, I would've responded with a snappy comeback. I don't have time.
- Shoot Out the Lock: Parker tried to enter to Stark's tower with his old password, but Stark has already changed them. No problem, he just tears the whole door apart.
- 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.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Mephisto is talking Peter into accepting the deal, but he's not sure. He can't decide something so big without talking it with Mary Jane first. Of course, Mephisto has no problem with that: another projection of himself has already been talking with Mary Jane... who can't decide something so big without talking it with Peter first.
- Stress Vomit: After Peter tells her about the Deal with the Devil Mephisto offered them.
- Superheroes Stay Single: Spider-Man had been single during his first years, and eventually got married with Mary Jane. With this story and the erasure of his marriage, he became an example once again.
- Take That, Audience!: Peter Parker meets an alternate self who was never bitten by a spider, and became instead a complete nerd who wastes his life reading comic books, playing video games and doing similar stuff.
- Too Happy to Live: The Parkers — we can't have them Happily Married! Then where would the love triangles come from?
- Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Inverted.note Mephisto claims he doesn't like to buy people's souls if it's part of a Heroic Sacrifice, because those souls "suffer righteously", which is really no fun. Hence why he asks for the Parkers' marriage instead.
- Trap Is the Only Option: It's a railroad.
- 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.
- Watching Troy Burn: Spider-Man steals an artifact from Dr. Strange that allows to go to the past. But he can not Set Right What Once Went Wrong, because he's just a soul. He can't affect the physical world (so, he can't attack the sniper), neither be seen or heard by anyone (so, he can't warn his past self). He can't do anything but watch May get shot a second time. NOOOOOO!!!!!!
- 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, instead responding by saying "Those are some awfully big ideas for a little girl."
- A Wizard Did It: In the aftermath of the story, fans wondered how Mephisto rewriting reality to undo Peter Parker and Mary Jane's wedding affected the timeline. Joe Quesada, upon being asked why he essentially responded with "It's magic. We don't need to explain it," said that other Marvel characters used magic and no one needed an explanation for those.
- OMIT 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 Spider-Man, 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.
- There wasn't even that level of explanation for Peter's loss of organic webbing. It just went away because the web shooters were iconic.
- There was no explanation on why this story didn't create an alternate timeline like all time travel shenanigans do in Marvel.
- Writer on Board: Joe Quesada hates both the Spider-Marriage and the concept of divorce so much that he considers a literal Deal with the Devil to erase it from history an acceptable alternative to either splitting Peter and MJ up or letting them stay married.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Set up as a plot point and then averted anyway. Prior to this story, 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, all the characters listed under Reed Richards Is Useless felt that. It was her time, or fate, to die at this point, and not even time travel could prevent it. Aunt May was Deader Than Dead and nothing (a very inclusive word in the Marvel Universe) would ever succeed, no matter what! Except Mephisto.
- Younger and Hipper: The objective behind the whole story was to make Peter more appealing to young, single readers who just wanted some escapist fun. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of undoing all the development Peter had gone through over the past few years.