After so many years and so many superhero movies, Marvel Studios and several of their competitors have developed a habit of improving on narratives that had interesting ideas but flawed executions in the comic pages. Civil War was a gargantuan Marvel Comics event that turned out to be a lot of hype with a muddled and confused storyline. Nevertheless, it was transformed into one of the better MCU movies when it was told through the lens of Captain America. Old Man Logan, meanwhile, was reimagined from being an easter egg guide where the Marvel Universe now lived on Fury Road, and instead became something quite poignant with a character like Wolverine having to face real mortality.
But One More Day? Released across four issues in 2007, this book always seemed narratively and creatively bankrupt. The story is about Peter and Mary Jane, who had one of the healthier and better written superhero marriages to spring up from comics in the 1980s and ‘90s, being written into a corner and then agreeing to a preposterous deal with the Devil, or the closest approximation of the Dark Prince in Marvel Comics. With Aunt May on her deathbed after a sniper aimed for Peter and missed, Marvel’s resident demon, Mephisto, approaches Peter and MJ and offers to use magic to erase May’s terminal wound… if Peter and MJ agree to erase their marriage from existence, including both of their memories of it.
Why a demon is out to collect happy memories, as if he is a hacker ransoming a suburban family’s iCloud photos, isn’t exactly clear. Nor is their interest in it being so. The awful choice to write this dreck was made because Quesada and several other members of Marvel’s editorial braintrust felt Peter was too un-relatable to young readers as a married man, and they could sell more books if he was single again. But, simultaneously, making him a widow or divorcée also seemed to age him into a sad sack (there was a trial separation half a decade earlier in the comics that didn’t land with the readers either, so Marvel writers had to backtrack).
Thus, even allegedly against the wishes of the technical author of One More Day, Marvel boxed Peter and MJ into this absurd corner, beginning by having Peter become Iron Man’s sidekick and then, quite uncharacteristically, unmask himself on national television.
Every choice leading up to One More Day, from Peter Parker turning into a fame-seeking bonehead to Tony Stark awkwardly transforming into a caricature of then-President George W. Bush so Peter (and half the Avengers) would have a reason to go against him, was hackneyed and unsatisfying, but little of it was written with characterization or effective storytelling in mind. It was a series of contrivances implemented to reach an editor’s predetermined commercial outcome.
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