Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Breaking Your Marvel Cherry

Okay, here goes the first official Marvel post... when I haven't written my October column yet. Heh. Uh, what the hell.

Spider-Man's marriage.

I read the first few issues of Brand New Day despite the way One More Day was a total insult to the fans. I wanted to give Dan Slott a chance, and I know that chucking the marriage was Joe Quesada's idea in the first place anyway. But Brand Buy Me was pretty vapid. Spider-Man, according to the dictates of the editors, did not grow as a person or as a character at all, especially not compared the to the paces he'd been through with revealing his identity, getting his marriage back together, and having Aunt May find out his secret.

But still, I'm pissed about One More Day. Spidey's comics have sold just fine for twenty years with the marriage, and lots of writers have made it work. Those who can't are just lazy.

I'm pretty partial to the marriage. I started reading Spidey comics in 1989, one year after he got married. Except for Ultimate Spider-Man, my comic Spidey has always been married. (And no, I didn't read the Ben Reilly issues. I wanted to read about Peter Parker. Peter freaking Parker!) I always liked the Spider-Marriage. In its early years, it really grew and provided some fertile story ideas. Admittedly, some writers did better with it than others.

One of the better marriage storylines (unfortunately buried in an atrocious Spidey story) is in Erik Larsen's "Revenge of the Sinister Six" arc from No Adjective Spider-Man Volume One #18-23. (Man. Comics have really crappy ways of keeping track of what's what.)

MJ gets a part in the new "Arnold Schwarzenheimer" movie, but she has to do nude scenes. She's okay with it, but Peter, of course, is not. At first he's reasonable. "I don't like the idea of you sharing your nakedness with the rest of the world. We have little enough privacy as it is, with you getting recognized on the street." Later he flips out. "I can't believe you took the part! Aunt May will see you naked! J. Jonah Jameson and Flash Thompson will see you naked!"

MJ, in counter, says "It's the 90s, Peter" (snort) and gives a jab at Peter's old high school damage by saying, "You know, sometimes you can be a real square!"

This story really works pretty heavily on the square-takes-himself-too-seriously-and-needs-someone-to-make-him-laugh side of Spidey versus the party-girl-who-needs-a-rock-of-steadfastness-MJ. In one of the truly dated, but still relevant scenes, Peter is shaving while MJ puts a CD on in her spanking new CD played. (This was 1993, in case you're wondering.)

Peter: "Couldn't you put on something more soothing, like maybe a recording of a buzz saw cutting through sheet metal?"

MJ: "You don't like Guns N' Roses? You don't like anything recorded in the last ten years."

Peter: "Sure I do. Billy Joel. Nick Lowe. Dave Edmunds. Elton John."

MJ: "Exactly my point. You don't like anything new or cutting edge."

Peter: "They're cutting edge!"

MJ: "What do you think of Hammer, Extreme, Prince or INXS?"

Peter: "Not much. You forgot your favorite, the Fine Young Cannibals."

MJ: "They're passe."

Peter: "I thought as much."

Okay, it's TOTALLY CHEESY. But replace it with some modern music references (MJ likes the Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Gorillaz, My Chemical Romance, Pete likes... well, the same things) and you see how the whole thing works.

At the end, MJ tries to talk the producers into scrapping the nude scenes. As she does so, it becomes clear that they want her for her body, not her acting ability. She goes back to talk to Peter about it, and while he mentions his latest escapade taking down Dr. Octopus (again, this is a pretty atrocious Spider-Man story, but it's worth your dime for the Pete & MJ story) she tells him about how humiliated she felt in front of them.

Good stuff. This is long, sorry.

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