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One More Day – Comics 101

One More Day – Comics 101


With Charlie Cox returning to screens last Friday as Daredevil, carrying The Punisher in tow, there was really only one thing I could write about this week. You guessed it! It’s The Amazing Spider-Man! …Okay, so that sounds like a stretch, but hear me out; while Netflix’s Daredevil was part of my motivation for looking back at Joe Michael Straczynski‘s run on Spider-Man, the imminent release of Captain America: Civil War and the recent reveal of Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man in the newest trailer also tied into the choice of this week’s topic. Just let me explain…

This week on Comics 101 I’ll be looking back at an arc which signalled the end of an era for Spider-Man fans everywhere: One More Day. In order to get up to that point, I’ll also be taking a look at the fallout from Civil War and how those events led up to to a Brand New Day for Peter Parker.

The War At Home

The War at Home is the title of Spider-Man’s arc during the time of the Marvel Universe’s Civil War. Although the main events tended to be far-reaching, sparking major conversations across the world, many of the tie-ins were focused on a much smaller scale. More than a few, such as Fantastic Four and Luke Cage, dealt solely with the family. Spider-Man’s main concerns were no different.

During the Civil War, Peter’s allegiances are torn between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. One is a man who Peter worships as a paragon of all that’s right, the other he looks up to as a father figure, someone in whom he sees a man like himself. Eventually, Peter sees the reason in Tony’s argument and sides up as Pro-Registration Act. Still, this isn’t enough and Tony makes a plea to Peter that his unmasking would strengthen the foundation of the Registration Act and put a faster end to the fighting amongst their friends. Again, Peter is torn. The largest part of his motivation for becoming Spider-Man One More Day - Capis guilt at his failure to save Uncle Ben. His reason for wearing a mask is to protect his family and friends from villains. Taking off that mask would put all of them in the firing line. Again, Peter is torn, but just as he is about to run from the problem, Aunt May presents him with a newly re-sewn version of his original red and blue costume and they decide that supporting Tony is the right thing to do. This unmasking is the beginning of the end for Spider-Man, and Peter comes to learn that he chose poorly.

After seeing more of what Tony has been up to, Peter switches sides, joining with Captain America and receiving one of the most moving speeches in comicdom in the process. This clarity all comes too late however, and while the heroes are busy with their infighting, cogs are turning in the underworld. Outside the motel room where Peter, Mary Jane and Aunt May are staying, a lone gunman is patiently waiting. When Peter finally arrives back to check on his family, the assassin takes his shot. Thanks to his Spider-Sense, he manages to dodge the shot and shove Mary Jane out of the way, but with no Spider-Man there to catch the bullet, it keeps on going, eventually hitting Aunt May.

Back In Black

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“Whom the Gods would destroy… They first drive mad.”  This is one of the key lines in the opening pages of the arc, spoken by Wilson Fisk, quoting Euripedes. Although the quote is mis-attributed, it very accurately sums up Fisk’s reasoning behind calling a hit on the Parker Family, rather than just outright killing the unmasked Peter Parker. It isn’t enough for him to just win, first he needs to utterly destroy everything that matters to Peter. If his hitman couldn’t take out Spider-Man himself, Fisk had labelled the rest as “a viable consolation prize”, while killing them after Peter’s death was to be considered an “act of mercy”, so that they wouldn’t have to cope with the same grief that drove Spider-Man for so long.

Back in Black is a story of two halves; one following Peter and Mary Jane as they try to keep Aunt May alive, struggling to stay under the radar thanks to Peter’s status as a fugitive from the Registration Act, the other half dealing with Spider-Man’s search to bring the mastermind behind the hit to justice. Spider-Man’s return to the black costume is done, in his own words, “to send a message” and the visceral fight scenes of Daredevil’s first season always remind me of the arc as Spider-Man pummels his way through criminal after criminal until he ends up face to face with The Kingpin. When he finally gets there, an entire issue is dedicated solely to Spider-Man taking Fisk apart, breaking him down in front of his own men until he can’t stand again… Then Peter picks him up and does it all over again, leaving Fisk, and everyone else present, with the final warning that he will kill them. There’s a very detailed description of exactly what will happen should Aunt May die, and with that, Peter returns to a hospital room that he can’t afford, to watch over the woman who raised him, for One More Day.

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One More Day

And here it all ends. We see the depths that Peter will go to to save his Aunt May. He breaks several different laws, getting him an estimated 90 years in prison, minimum, and going against everything he stood for as Spider-Man so far. Beating up Wilson Fisk is one thing, but assaulting an officer of the law is another matter entirely for his conscience to deal with. Eventually, seeing that he’s at the end of his rope, he confronts Iron Man, blaming him for everything that’s happened and feeling he deserves recompense. As with Fisk, Peter takes Iron Man down, and although the confrontation is less physical, the bitter verbal assassination of Tony Stark, a man that Peter looked up to so much that he put everything on the line for him, is an emotional read. Understanding that medical science can do little for May at this stage, Peter turns to Stephen Strange, hoping that the mystical arts can give him some direction. Thanks to Strange, Peter is able to contact every living being he can think of in the limited time he has left, to see if anything can be done to save her. Even then, the answer is no. Finally realising that there is only one outcome here, Peter leaves Strange, not wanting to leave her alone at the end.

Enter Mephistopheles. As Peter leaves the Sanctum Sanctorum, he is approached by the demon in the form of a young girl. Mephisto proceeds to take Peter on a walk through the lives of various different forms of himself, all potential versions of him, had life just taken a few different turns. At the end, Mephisto reveals that the little girl is the child that he could one day have with Mary Jane if he lets his life continue on the current path. He also makes Peter an offer: Mephistopheles will save Aunt May in return for Peter’s life as it currently stands. Peter now needs to choose between his life with Mary Jane, or a life with his Aunt May. To think it over, the demon gives Peter One More Day to spend with Mary Jane. In the end, there’s only one right decision to make. Peter can’t let Aunt May die when it was already his fault that Uncle Ben died, and Mary Jane loves Peter too much to be the one that takes his aunt away. The deal with the devil is struck and Aunt May lives at the cost of decades of character development.

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Brand New Day

Traditionally, opinions on One More Day fall into two camps  People who think it’s one of the biggest travesties to ever hit comics, and Joe Quesada. There’s a lot of meta-discussion about One More Day and why it happened. I personally believe that a lot of hatred for the arc comes from the studio-meddling that brought it to fruition, rather than the content itself. Joe Quesada was going through a public divorce at the time and, despite his proposition that Spider-Man had to be single to be made new and fresh for younger readers, many believed this was a motivating factor for it. Brian Michael BendisUltimate Spider-Man was already delivering a younger Spider-Man and so it seemed the only reason real reason for ending Peter and MJ’s marriage was that the creative director was unhappy in his own. J. Michael Straczynski was open to the idea of the marriage ending, but hated the way it was handled so much that he left the comic industry behind forever.

When all is said and done, I feel One More Day is, in its own right, a decent arc, and a good end to an era. Almost 10 years removed from the events surrounding it, and seeing the stories that came from it, it does seem like it was for the greater good in the long run. J. Michael Straczynski was set to leave the title at the time, and to have another writer come in to ham-fistedly undo all his work would have just been an insult to the legacy he’d built. No comic fan wants to see characters and relationships that they’ve built up over almost a decade just get retconned away in one of the most blatant cases of Deus Ex Machina ever written, but in all honesty, I find it entirely reasonable to believe that Peter Parker would do anything to save the life of his Aunt May, including making a deal with the devil.

What did you think of One More Day? Agree or disagree with what’s been said? Let us know!


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