Storywise, the premise is that Aunt May is shot by an assassin's bullet meant for Peter Parker. Conveniently, none of the superhero community can help him (we'll come back to this later). After exhausting every means available, Mephisto (Marvel's on-again-off-again personification of Satan) suddenly appears and offers to save Aunt May if both Peter and Mary Jane allow the demon to erase their marriage and all memory of it.
Editorially, the whole thing can be summed up in a single sentence: End Spidey's marriage quickly (sorry for linking to Wizard magazine).
Playing devil's advocate for a moment (crap, sorry about the pun), I can see what
- As my friend Chris Karath pointed out, Marvel already rebooted Spider-Man to his original situation when it released Ultimate Spider-Man back in 2000. Sure there are some tweaks here and there, but the basic premise of starting over was accomplished and accomplished quite well. The only sticking point (and barely one at that) is that Ultimate Spider-Man takes place in a parallel universe.
- In the Wizard article I linked to above (don't make me link a second time, I felt dirty linking to it in the first place), Quesada claims that "90 percent of writers and editors at Marvel think the marriage was a mistake." Is this a recent assessment or has this been the case for the past 20 years? If it was such a bad scenario, why did it remain the status quo for so long?
- In the story, Peter Parker visits none other than Tony Stark (Iron Man), Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, and Dr. Strange, all in hopes of saving Aunt May. All of them say there's nothing they can do. Umm... hello? This is the Marvel friggin' Universe, where miracles are pulled out of people's butts all the time. Dr. Strange was a surgeon once upon a time plus he's a sorcerer now and he can't save an elderly woman from a gunshot wound? Reed Richards doesn't have any super high-tech surgical devices just lying around the Baxter Building next to his time machines? Then again, this is the same universe full of miracles where 9/11 happened (a ginormous can of worms unto itself in the Inexplicable Department).
- Pretty much everyone else has mentioned the WTF that is the reappearance of Harry Osborne, who died back in Spectacular Spider-Man #200 (1993). Yes, that story occurred within the last 20 years but I don't recall Peter's being married to Mary Jane as having very much to do with his death.
- The writer of the story, J. Michael Straczynski (Mr. Babylon 5 himself), has publicly aired his protest at how things were handled with this storyline. Nothing specific about what he's protesting, but dagnabbit he's not happy about... something. Mr. Straczynski is a decent writer and has always made himself accessible to fans but his statement contributes almost nothing to the discussion about what's good or ill about the story.
Any questions? Don't ask us—we're new here ourselves! Anyway, the past is the past, so don't look back—look forward, to the next great epoch in the ongoing saga of Spider-Man: Brand New Day!Marvel Comics: Building on the past when it's convenient and forgetting it when it's not.