For those who have read any of my previous posts on this site, what you’re about to read may seem an odd change of pace. In all honesty, what follows has really been written for the benefit of the people at Marvel who may (though doubtful) be reading. While it may be a futile attempt, too much thought and effort has gone into this for me to simply file it away with any number of other unfulfilled ideas. So feel free to read if you’re curious and comment if you feel the need.
Some of you may like it, some of you may hate it, many of you may tear it to pieces. If that’s the case, so be it. The next few posts in this series represent my attempt at writing a Spider-Man story that will break the character down and then build him back up again; creating new challenges and scenarios but still (hopefully) keeping with the core aspects of the character.
Originally I’d only had one story arc in mind (I’ll say which when we get to it) but as ideas started forming and I kept bouncing ideas around with friends and co-workers, the story began to grow and before I knew it I had what would probably amount to at least a few years worth of stories all finally culminating in the resetting of Spider-Man’s timeline back to its original Pre-Brand New Day era. Please keep in mind that although I’m vaguely aware of some of the current storylines going on through the Spider-Man books, I haven’t had the time nor the funds to read any of them. It’s potentially possible (maybe even probable) that some of the ideas I’m about to put forward may either contradict something currently going on or even potentially duplicate a scenario I wasn’t aware of. It’s also possible that upcoming stories in the books may contradict everything that I’ve written. So be it. Think of this as a fanboy’s ultimate “What If?” Spider-Man story.
NOTE: As of the time of this writing, the current Spider-Man is still the “Superior” Spider-Man; Doctor Octopus’s brain residing in the body of Peter Parker. I have been hearing rumblings that events are underway to bring Peter back. The following storylines were all written with the assumption that Peter would eventually return, but I have also worked in at least one significant event during the first arc that ties directly to the current events.
Before we start, I’m going to lay out a few basics in terms of Spider-Man’s history that are necessary for a full understanding and enjoyment of what’s to come. For the sake of simplicity, anything prior to the continuity reboot will be referred to as Pre-BND (Brand New Day) and anything occurring afterwards as Post-BND. Since his initial introduction way back in 1962, Peter Parker, AKA your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, has been somewhat unlucky in love despite the sheer number of relationships he’s had. In the subsequent years he’s been involved with several women ranging from Daily Bugle secretary Betty Brant to burgler/wannabe-hero Felicia Hardy, The Black Cat. And yet out of all of these, Peter has only really had two great loves in his life: Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson.
Gwen was Peter’s high school sweetheart and would remain the definitive love of his life until her untimely death at the hands of original Green Goblin, Norman Osborn. Gwen’s death is as significant an event in Peter’s life as the death of his Uncle Ben. Both are tied directly to his life as a costumed super hero, and both add a weight of guilt onto Peter as he is indirectly responsible for both deaths. The difference is that while Ben’s death occurs due to Peter’s lack of action, Gwen’s death is directly due to Spider-Man’s attempt to save her. The blow delivered by the Green Goblin that sends Gwen falling from the Brooklyn Bridge is not what actually kills her, nor is the fall. In his desperation to save her, Spider-Man fires a web-line to catch Gwen as she falls. The sudden tugging from such a height and rapid fall actually snaps Gwen’s neck. This one fact will play a significant part in the background of much of the storyline that is to come. Peter has never fully dealt with his involvement in Gwen’s death, and the events to come will force him to face it head on and come to terms with it.
Mary Jane Watson is the niece of Anna Watson who used to live next door to Peter’s Aunt May. She’s actually been a presence in the story for as long as Gwen, with both Anna and May constantly trying to set the two up on multiple occasions, and Peter constantly avoiding the situation. The biggest difference between the two relationships is that while Gwen fell in love with Peter Parker, Mary Jane initially fell in love with Spider-Man. Years after they eventually meet and well after Gwen was killed, MJ would reveal to Peter that she not only knew he was Spider-Man but actually knew of his secret long before they’d met, having seen him leaving his room in full costume from her Aunt’s house next door. The two would ultimately fall in love and in 1987 the two characters were finally married. All of these events with the exception of Peter and MJ’s marriage, occur without alteration in Post-BND continuity.
The marriage would undergo multiple strains and hardships over the years including the entire Clone Saga, MJ’s apparent death in a plane crash/kidnapping by a stalker, and her encounter with Venom. Through it all though, the two remained with each other and supported each other. The eventual dissolving of their relationship would actually be forced upon them by Mephisto who agrees to help save the life of a dying Aunt May in exchange for the Parker’s marriage. By the end of this storyline, Mephisto has changed the Parker’s timeline so that they never married in the first place. This began the “Brand New Day” continuity throughout the Spider-Man books which continues to this day.
The first thing we need to establish for the purposes of the story I’m trying to tell is that time is a living conscious thing. Mephisto’s altering of time to dissolve Peter and MJ’s marriage hasn’t gone unnoticed and is not as smooth a changeover as one would think. Time is aware that something has been altered. It knows that things are not the way they should be. So time, in its own way, is trying as best as it can to put things right by pushing Peter and MJ back towards each other in order to get the closest approximation of what things were like before Mephisto’s involvement.
Sci-Fi fans are likely used to hearing the term “fabric of time.” Sticking with that metaphor, imagine time in this case as being a piece of fabric with a tear in it. In order to repair it, you sew it back together, possibly using a different color thread. When you’re done, the fabric isn’t exactly the same as it was before the tear, but it’s as close as you’re likely going to get.
Mephisto is aware of Time’s efforts and is getting a kind of perverse pleasure out of thwarting these attempts at every turn. This is not something that will be blatantly obvious as the story progresses, but should be worked in gradually, allowing for a steady and logical build up to the eventual climax that is to come much further down the road. The one definitive example of Mephisto’s interference will occur just after the first arc.
ARC 1: BIGGEST FAN will continue in the next installment of Spider-Man: End of Days