This, in my mind, while it neatly puts the pieces back in some way, was not what we wanted to do. First, it discounted every issue of “Amazing” since that story arc. Second, the series of events that it discounts in the Marvel U are too far-reaching to contemplate. And third, it had severe ramifications for the creators already well underway on “Brand New Day,” the thrice-monthly “Amazing Spider-Man.” In other words, there was just no way to tell Joe’s story without blowing up the entire Marvel U and every Spider-Man’s fan’s collection. What we originally discussed with Joe and the group was much simpler and cleaner: The wedding? Something happened on the wedding day that prevented it from happening. The unsmasking? Mephisto makes people forget it; much like the Sentry, it happened -- it’s just no longer remembered. And Harry? Well, there’s always a price to pay when you make a deal with the devil. Is it a perfect solution? Absolutely not. Does it get us to where we want to be? Yes.
So, to get this straight, OMD doesn’t actually negate the previous 20 years of Spider-Man stories?
Exactly, that’s precisely what we wanted to avoid. What didn’t occur was the marriage. Peter and MJ were together, they loved each other -- they just didn’t pull the trigger on the wedding day. All the books count, all the stories count -- except in the minds of the people within the Marvel U, Peter and MJ were a couple, not a married couple. To me, that’s a much fairer thing to do to those of us who have been reading Spider-Man for all these years. Like I said, is it perfect? No. As far as we investigated, short of divorcing Peter, nothing really is.
So, according to Joe, the past twenty years of Spider-Man continuity is left untouched except for the fact that Peter and MJ weren't married. And from a big-picture vantage point... that might look like a good solution. But in an e-mail to Newsarama, JMS responds to Quesada's comments in the interview. In it, he states that while he thinks that Joe Quesada pretty accurately represented their exchanges, he felt that his reasons for disagreeing with the changes were omitted. For the sake of folks who've already read it, he points out that simply undoing everything with magic is sloppy, and leaves a ton of loose ends. Does Aunt May have a scar from where she was shot? If everybody just forgot that Peter was Spider-Man, is there still news footage of the unmasking? Was Harry brought back from the dead, or has he been alive all this time? If you ask him what he did last summer, will he have an answer? That sort of thing.
While it's hard to call this story a firestorm, since JMS and Joe Quesada are going to such lengths to keep things civil, it's pretty clearly a huge story. But I think that it highlights something very specific about Marvel's outlook. It seems to me that Marvel is very much about what happens next, while "what's gone before" takes a distant back seat to it. And it makes sense. Marvel doesn't make anywhere near as much money on their history as they do on what they're doing right now, or preparing to do next month. It's a bigger priority for them to have "Brand New Day" come out, then to tie up everything neatly. Big events are quickly forgotten and swept under the rug to make room for the next big events. The Other was supposed to redefine Spider-Man and his powers. Only Peter David's Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man addressed the story at all.
In general, I consider myself more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan right now, but things like this in their editorial culture bother me. How can a story really have resonance, or really connect with readers for more than a month and a half when the company is racing at a breakneck pace into the next event?
While I liked Peter being married to MJ, it's not the idea of undoing the Marriage that has my brain doing backflips over the story... it's the sloppiness of it. The average comic book reader is far too sophisticated for "It's magic... we don't have to explain it" to fly as an explanation. But that's what we're being asked to swallow. At this point, Dan Slott is just about the only thing keeping me interested in Spider-Man. I'll give Brand New Day a look... but I won't guarantee I'll stick around.