End February 25 Column
Wolfe on Forgiveness, Lasusa Links, Dan Grobstein File

Long Letter from Tom LaSusa about Spidey and MJ

If you're not a comic fan, you'll want to skip this next part. I once owned Amazing Adult Fantasy, as well as Spiderman 1-100, and the news from Spiderman's world (his marriage to Mary Jane retroactively annulled in a pact with the devil!?!) left me fuming. I decided to ask one of the most thoughtful analysts of this field I know, Tom LaSusa, who had this to say:

Much has been written on the topic, from professional articles to blog/discussion boards. The majority of the comments are of course negative, and that's where I stand. Frankly, I'm appalled at this move.

Joe Quesada, EIC of Marvel, has been notoriously vocal of his displeasure of the marriage -- he believes that it has stunted Peter's character and limited the stories. Just about everyone who disagrees with him finds this an completely ridiculous idea -- has Quesada felt stunted in his own wedded bliss? Does he feel that a person cannot grow as a person if they are married? There's countless comic characters that are in long-term relationships that continue to thrive, evolve and mature, so such an argument seems to have little credence.

So what are we saying here -- that Peter Parker chose his elderly aunt over his loving (and massively hot) wife? Sure, the aunt raised him like a son, but let's be real -- Aunt May would be devastated if she knew he had chosen her over MJ. This choice was so unlike Peter -- it goes against all the development the character had going for it. Even worse, he goads MJ into making the choice for him -- he's not even 'man' enough to do it himself. Very cowardly, and very not like the character.

The biggest issue I think everyone has is how exactly it was handled? A Deal with the Devil? Come on. I think a lot of people figured, "okay, Quesada is going to get what he wants...no matter what." But at least end the marriage in a respectable way. Perhaps the stress of living on the lam proves too much and MJ just can't take it anymore. That would have been a very acceptable end. And wouldn't disparage all the years of stories that are now worthless thanks to the Mephisto angle.

What's also equally frustrating was Quesada used the excuse that he wanted to re-establish Peter's secret identity (lost during Civil War) in order to get his desire of wishing away the marriage. Frankly, there were tons of ways you could have put Peter under the mask without losing the wedding ring. In one non-Spiderman title that he guest starred in, they even alluded to a solution -- suggesting that several people wearing high-tech costumes have been parading around as Spider man for a while. There were several panels with people saying "Hey...maybe that Parker guys ISN'T Spiderman then?" Quesada just used the re-masking as a red herring in my opinion.

And then of course, there's all the retcon stuff that's been introduced which makes no sense -- Harry Osborne's back? Peter is living with Aunt May again? Organic shooters gone, mechanical web shooters back? Quesada went nuts with all his tinkering. Everyone knows it. Michael Straczynski knows it -- which is why he nearly demanded his name be taken off the book in the end.

The main problem with all this is the fact that, despite all the gripes from the fans, the book continues to sell. All the internet threats to stop buying the book until Quesada set things right were hot air -- and with the book still selling, that's all that matters to the Marvel head honcho.

Straczynksi's comments on the whole thing, including his conversations/disagreements with Quesada. It's a very interesting read.