Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Brand New Day

Departure from the baby world for a moment...

In Amazing Spider-Man, the comic book, a story has just finished called "One More Day," and transitioned into "Brand New Day." The premise is this: after Spider-Man was unmasked a few months ago during the superhero Civil War, several members of Spider-Man's rogues gallery decided to go after Peter Parker. In the process, Aunt May was shot and critically wounded. As she lay dying, Mephisto - the Marvel Comics' devil character - came and offered Peter and Mary Jane (his wife) a choice: he could save Aunt May, but only at the cost of their marriage. If they gave up their love and their marriage to him, erasing their relationship utterly, then he would save Aunt May - souls, you see, just aren't satisfying enough to him any more. They agreed, and Aunt May was saved, the marriage never existed, and several other things were retconned out of existence. (Retcon: "Retroactive Continuity," meaning history re-written after the fact.)

I'm a Spider-Man fan of some extent; I've liked the character for some time and own the movies on DVD. I know that the justification for this comes from the editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada, who has always hated the marriage between Peter and Mary Jane. The marriage, apparently, runs against the core of the character: the lovable, everyman-style loser that has lots of crap happen in his life, but always seems to come out on top. Being happily married to a super model runs contrary to that. In an effort to have the character be more approachable by younger and newer readers, this decision was made.

My fundamental issue with this lies in the decision that was made. What would Aunt May have wanted: to be alive, or to have her nephew - the only son she's ever had - be happily married to the woman who's his soul mate? I don't think that there's a person alive who would believe that Aunt May (as the character has been established) would choose life over Peter's happiness. If May found out what happened to Peter and MJ as a result of her injury, she would die of a broken heart.

From a personal standpoint, I lost my mother in 2001, after a long battle with cancer. It was pretty brutal at the end, particularly since my mother was one of the most extraordinary women I've ever met: without a college education, and starting in a time that did not favor women's equality in the slightest, she was president of a business and ran the local town council, both for a couple of decades. This was a women who backed up the old axiom, "Teach a man to fish..." by lobbying to create bus lines from the cities into the suburbs of our area of New Jersey for the purpose of city workers coming in to work the local jobs, as well as getting the county vocational school enough funding to survive.

I would not trade my wife (and therefore, my son) for my mother, period. End of story.

Does that make me selfish? Probably. But, look at the heart of it: my mother, 100% of the time, put her family ahead of herself. She would be crushed and heartbroken if she ever found out that I traded MY soulmate and my beautiful, wonderful baby boy for the last fifteen years(-ish) of her life. That's not how she rolled, and I know that. I also know that my wife is the absolute perfect woman for me: besides being able to tolerate my bipolarity and other emotional extremes, we share a brain most of the time. Further, my son is gorgeous and fun and fulfilling and all of those other things. So much in my life would be different without them and without her that things would be entirely unrecognizable.

So, I don't buy the story. I mean, there has to have been a better way. This is comic books - science is merely a suggestion. Have a time machine malfunction which causes Peter to get a flat tire on the day they were supposed to have met. That'd be more plausible. Asking him to give up his entire life for his aunt? I don't get it.

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