Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man annual #7
Issue(s): Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man annual #7
Priest's obvious dislike of a married Spider-Man is reflected in the plot for this issue, which is all about making Peter feel inadequate as they vacation at a private beach house loaned to MJ by her wealthy friend Bruce, and as MJ barely remembers to introduce Peter to her jetsetter friends.
A lot of this is self-inflicted - Mary Jane was a model, sure, but it's only with the decision to have her marry Peter Parker that she's become a successful super-model accustomed to the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and Priest didn't have to go there with this story.
That said, there's nothing wrong with a storyline about a man having a wife who is more successful than him, and having him either come to grips with that or step up his own game accordingly. This annual makes some noise in the latter direction, although it ultimately doesn't go anywhere.
If Marvel were expecting any kind of follow-through on the anticipated additional interest in Spider-Man after the wedding, it's hard to understand the use of Puma of all people, complete with references to him fighting the Beyonder in Secret Wars II tie-ins, but that is what we have here. The idea is that Spider-Man helped Puma deal with the Beyonder (it turns out he wasn't actually supposed to kill the Beyonder after all), and so Puma's shaman uncle shames Puma into doing something to help Spider-Man in return.
After his corporate investigators do some research, he determines the best thing to do is offer Peter a job as a scientist (Puma knows Spider-Man's secret identity). And also provide the means for some additional work as Spider-Man.
Anticipating that Spider-Man won't accept a hand-out, he rigs up a little test adventure. But Spider-Man figures out that it's a test and angrily rejects the offer.
Instead, he tells Puma to delete all records of him, and Puma agrees.
Ironically, i guess, it turns out that Puma's scientists are unable to correctly replicate Spider-Man's web fluid...
...so Peter actually did have something to offer the company with his science skills. Peter possibly should have negotiated a deal where he works as a scientist but has the flexibility to run off to do Spider-Man stuff when needed. If that sounds like we're changing the status quo of Spider-Man too much, i'll remind you that he just got married.
Aside from a weird scene where someone who looks to me like Jack Kirby also tries to acquire the egg that Puma sent Spider-Man to get...
...there's none of Priest's characteristic humor or twist plotting in this issue. It's a banal story, with banal art from Alan Kupperberg and company.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place during Amazing Spider-Man annual #21, before the epilogue showing Peter and MJ arriving home. There are two separate narration panel indicating that "days" have passed while Peter and MJ are on vacation.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showJoseph Threetrees, Mary Jane Watson, Puma, Shaman (Puma's uncle), Spider-Man
Possibly the first mention of Shooter's firing was in Amazing Heroes #118. Not many details, but it gave the date of firing as 4/15/87 and said he was looking for work at New World, Marvel's corporate owner.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 21, 2014 7:43 PM
"...so Peter actually did have something to offer the company with his science skills. Peter possibly should have negotiated a deal where he works as a scientist but has the flexibility to run off to do Spider-Man stuff when needed."
Of course Spider-Man eventually DID do something like that.
And geez, sometimes it's hard to believe that there were people other than Quesada that hated the marriage so much (I mean, after 20 years of "marriage" MJ & Spidey have become just as status quo to a number of fans as "single-Spidey") I wonder if Priest still feels that way now.
And yeah, if those scans are any indication, I agree that Priest seems to be laying his distaste for this new ste-up on a bit too thick.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | June 23, 2014 1:21 AM
Some more details of Shooter's firing from Comics Journal #116(7/87):
Marvel cuts off communications with Comics Journal and sister publication Amazing Heroes in early 1987. Around March, Comics Journal #115 publishes most of Shooter's testimony in the Michael Fleisher libel suit. It doesn't make Shooter look good, and since everything is under oath, he really can't put any different spin on it.
Just before Shooter's firing, he was confronted with a large number of staffers and freelancers about his editorial decisions. People involved were Bob Harras, Walt & Louise Simonson, Chris Claremont, Mike Hobson, and unidentified others(Michelinie and Larry Hama specifically stated they weren't part of the group).
Apparently the event that triggered the firing was Shooter making complaints about Marvel VP Mike Hobson and Marvel President Jim Galton to New World Pictures execs(I'm guessing about cuts to the New Universe budget).
On the day of Shooter's firing, he informed David Michelinie, Mark Gruenwald, and Bob Layton during an Iron Man meeting that he was leaving the next day. Michelinie did describe Shooter's leaving as a termination, not a voluntary departure, despite how Shooter has tried to spin it since. Claremont also stated Shooter "hadn't left of his own volition".
After the firing, various comics people left messages on the then-existent CompuServe forums such as:
About 5/1/87: John Byrne strikes a deal with Marvel to work on the New Universe title Star Brand. He had previously claimed he wouldn't work for Marvel again until Jack Kirby got his art back.
Shortly afterwards, Marvel reopens communications with Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes. When asked why, Marvel PR guy Steve Saffel says "That's the past. I prefer to concentrate on the future."
About 5/16/87: Kirby is offered a deal to get his art back(well, about 20% of it, much had been stolen from Marvel's warehouse previously) and he accepts.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 4, 2014 3:52 PM
Ironically, Claremont would later complain about editorial interference on X-Men getting WORSE after Shooter left and Simonson would go on to do some of his worst work on Avengers and complain about how it was partially the editors' faults.
Posted by: Michael | July 4, 2014 4:00 PM
Sorry for going off on a tangent but there has always been anamosity towards Shooter during the 80s. Just looking back at some old compuserve mailing shows a lot of virtriol. Personally, I think he was an amazing EiC, maybe he was a bit dictorial and a monomaniac but I think some of the writers working for Marvel needed to realise that they were working as Work for Hire and that the characters belong to Marvel. He never interferred (so I believe) in creator owned work.
Posted by: JSfan | July 4, 2014 5:35 PM
I think the facts speak for themselves. Marvel was clearly at its best under Jim Shooter's helm. And so were many of his harshest critics.
I'm actually curious about what could make Mark Evanier, usually a very nice person, so undisposed towards Shooter. I wonder if he still feels that way.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 4, 2014 7:54 PM
Mark Evanier was a longtime Kirby fan and, putting it mildly, didn't care for Marvel's behavior(or Shooter and Defalco's public statements)concerning his art return. There was also a big problem with contracts and premature announcements from Marvel about the "Death of Groo" Graphic Novel.
And not all of the criticism about Shooter had to do with Marvel-owned characters--for example, when Roy Thomas angrily left Marvel, he was pretty much strictly working on the Conan characters, which Marvel only licensed, not owned.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 4, 2014 9:51 PM
Shooter got rid of the Writer-Editor concept, which affected Thomas.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 4, 2014 11:43 PM
Interesting. I have been following Evanier's blog for a decade or so now and there was never a hint of animosity against Shooter, although he is very clearly fond (and disciple) of Kirby, so I suppose he may have indeed considered.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 5, 2014 11:12 AM
Shooter did do away with the writer/editor position, but that happened over a nearly-3-year period---he didn't confer that position on any other people, and the existing ones lost that position only when they left Marvel. Shooter never actually stated to any of them "you can't edit your own stuff anymore, somebody else is editing you now". Marv Wolfman, for example, left Marvel in early 1980 because, even though he was still a writer/editor, Shooter messed with his editorial decisions on the b&w Tomb of Dracula(a title that had no interaction with the rest of the MU, except for appearances by Lilith[and she wasn't interacting with the rest of the MU, either]).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 5, 2014 2:51 PM
It’s always been iffy if MJ was a supermodel canonically before or after the wedding. ASM #290-291 and Annual #21 lean towards that idea. But the way Priest writes MJ here its as if merely obtaining that occupation automatically means her personality and presentation must be different become that of many (false) stereotypes of supermodels. It is especially noticeable since his then recent work with MJ in the Gang War and Wolverine storylines clearly wrote and presented her differently. So I don’t think Priest should be let off the hook for the problems with this story because the supermodel thing was foisted upon him since Peter David, Michelinie and other writers were able to handle it and still make MJ a great character and emphasis her and Peter’s relationship positiviely.
That being said I don’t think MJ in this issue is necessarily OUT of character at all outside of her line about them travelling the world. She knows Peter has to be Spider-Man and couldn’t abandon Aunt May or drag her globe trotting so whats’s he playing at? You could maybe attribute that along with MJ’s other appearences in the issue to her just being on an emotional high from conquering her commitment fears and getting married and being in a beautiful and exotic setting. Mary Jane is a multifaceted character and her goofy, bouncy, exuberant sides of her personality are on display here. And it works like when she is getting Peter out of his melancholy or making fun of the Puma.
Peter worrying about providing for MJ is...well it has an explanation. Partially that explanation is that it was the 1980s, but to a wider extent you could say Peter is so used to providing for himself and Aunt May and adopting responsibility (not to mention taking two elderly people who would be much older than his biological parents and from a very different time as his role models for marriage) that he would believe he must be the breadwinner not MJ. Peter Parker has tended to be more open minded than that and indeed it isn’t too long before he summarily gets over that.
The problem with this issue is that it takes a story which should ultimately affirm Peter and MJ’s relationship and puts up a lot of negativity, doubt and problems with it and leaves it all hanging. Which makes sense because Priest among other stuff going on behind the scenes hated the marriage as the review pointed out. It was in many respects a sabotage job (regardless of MJ’s new social status) and one which cropped up again when he did his Web issue about ‘the Slasher’.
Mind you to be honest Priest’s comments about MJ only being good for a role in the hay and marriage ‘domesticating’ Spider-Man frankly point to him not being the most progressive man in the world in many respects.
I actually think it would’ve been a bad thing to have Spider-Man’s status quo change so he is a scientist in this annual. I know the status quo changed by him becoming married but at the same time letting that status quo settle and see how it impacts our hero as we know him would’ve been a better idea than changing it up in a big way so soon. Essentially have his life change by being married then once we’ve explored that a little bit have his life progress further as he becomes a scientisit.
That being said I’ve never liked the idea of him cashing in on his web fluid because it’s one of those things which he would logically patent and then become VERy rich from, too rich to be relatable. At the same time it’d be one of those ridiculous Stark tech things where he has these world changing inventions and maybe even makes money from them, but somehow the Marvel universe still resembles our world even though realistically it would not.
I don’t mind the idea of Peter becoming a scientist (not the way Slott’s done it though) but I think something more down to Earth and modest would be in order. Have him do research at ESU or even go the Spider-Girl route and become a forensic scientist for the police. That’d give him great contacts within the police which he could then use as Spider-Man.
But the big problem is you take him out of the Bugle you lose the supporting cast.
@John Dubya: There were other people who hated the marriage apart from Quesada but they were far from the majority even at the time. And yes Priest still hates the marriage.
@JSFan: I can’t speak to Shooter as a person but I must agree his era of Marvel creatively is possible the best because whilst it didn’t see the explosion of so many game changing characters like the 1960s did, it saw a lot of new characters, status quo changes, character development, etc coupled with more sophisticated writing. Demon in a Bottle, the Death of Jean DeWolff, Claremont X-Men, Miller Daredevil, Simonson Thor, all classic stuff..
Posted by: Al | July 7, 2015 6:59 AM
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