Issue(s): Spider-Man #15
I do wish that Larsen didn't use cross-hatching for Mary Jane's cleavage, though. It looks like she's had some unfortunate surgery and gotten a lot of stitches.
The story has Peter and Mary Jane debating having a child. Mary Jane is against the idea, knowing that once you have a kid there's "no turning back" (well...).
And with Spider-Man's radioactive blood, there's always the possibility of miscarriage or a mutant baby.
So Spider-Man decides to seek out the Beast, who might be able to give him more info on the possibility of him having a mutant. And that's about where the plot gets ridiculous. First of all, the Beast is giving a lecture that is simultaneously attacked by a mutant radical and an anti-mutant terrorist. Whose names are Powerhouse and Masterblaster, respectively.
Those fights last just a couple of pages. Then the Beast tells Spider-Man that he has an 85% chance of some kind of complication, which could mean anything from a handicap, a deformity, a mutant, a stillborn baby, or the death of his wife.
85%! Holy crap! I'd think that would end the conversation, and Peter and MJ should start looking into adoption.
Note that Spider-Man asks Beast to keep quiet about the fact that he has a wife. I mention this because other times he makes quips that mention her. I guess it's like his spider-sense; he just can't help himself and winds up talking about these things.
Anyway, another random fight breaks out.
This creature turns out to be a mutant baby.
The Beast convinces the parents to take it to a place called the Nursery.
I hope that's not the government facility where they are keeping the Inferno babies.
When it's all over, before Peter can tell her anything, MJ says that she doesn't want a baby anyway, because of her career (which makes sense to me; she's the only one with a steady job at the moment).
And of course that's the outfit she waits around in to have this discussion.
Good pin-up art...
...and some kudos for at least attempting to tackle a serious topic. But really weak villains and not much of a story.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Despite the throwaway villains and tell-tale signs of the 90s in this issue, I liked that the discussion of children is finally being seriously addressed. I think that the issues inherent in bringing a potential Spider-child into the world are handled here with the weight they deserve. Serious topics like this are not necessarily what I would expect from Erik Larsen, but, despite the other failings of this story, I'm glad to be proven wrong.
Posted by: TCP | November 4, 2015 5:18 PM
I assume that Spidey's normal mentions of his wife are in a jokey manner ("you ripped my costume, do you know how mad my wife will be that she has to sew it back up?"). So villains don't give it any thought. But he doesn't want any of them thinking about the idea seriously.
Posted by: Thanos6 | November 4, 2015 5:34 PM
Kirkman's Marvel Team-Up played with the idea that some of Peter's peers think that he's younger than he actually is, leading to a couple of heroes saying "you're married?" After he mentions his wife.
Posted by: Max_Spider | November 4, 2015 6:06 PM
I'm not buying the idea that having a mutant baby is so dangerous and expensive. We never saw such a big fuss when Crystal and Maddie got pregnant- granted Pietro and Crystal had access to the Inhumans' resources and Scott and Maddie had access to the X-Men's resources. That being said, Peter's blood has caused adverse reactions in people before (e.g. Aunt May's blood transfusion) so the idea that it could cause side effects in MJ is reasonable.
Posted by: Michael | November 4, 2015 10:30 PM
Adoption sure _feels_ like a natural enough thought for Peter to have after his speech with Beast. I'm well aware that most people prefer to breed their own children, but then again most people don't face anything close to those odds - Beast is essentially saying that the odds for Mary Jane and/or the child to end up dying due to the conception are for certain in the double digits. Not a risk worth taking if one can help it.
Come to think of it, Peter should give a very serious thought to the idea of going through vasectomy, grim as it may be to take the decision out of necessity as opposed to actual choice.
For that matter, it is slightly weird that (far as we know) Reed and Susan Richards never discussed the matter after losing their second child, but I guess that is one couple whose lifestyle and goals do not involve _planning_ having children, at least once Franklyn is already born and healthy. Sure, they were looking forward for the second child, but it was very much an unplanned conception. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that, but a spade is still a spade.
Then again, we are talking about a fictional community with something of a "miracle on demand" industry and where having infants being taken away by time travellers to be raised in the future or in weird temporal anomalies has become something of a cliche (it happened with Cable and will happen somewhat soon with Franklyn), so it is not like there are not ways for Peter to work around those odds.
If nothing else, he could ask Wanda if it is possible to resort to artificial insemination and use her probability alteration powers to enhance the odds of having no complication, although it is not a plot I am particularly wanting to see developed. Actual adoption or even insemination by a third party (which is sort of what DC did with Swamp Thing, although in that case it created complications instead of circunventing them) would be far more appealling if perhaps not as organically flowing plots.
Now, these are subject matters that are not discussed nearly often enough in either fiction or real life: how important is it for Peter to have offspring at all? How much of it is a reaction to social expectations as opposed to actual personal longing? How willing could he be to adopt or have a sperm donor as alternatives? How well could he and Mary Jane deal with the downsides of each choice? How much of a need to keep a secret or deceive Aunt May and their friends on the specifics would they feel?
Those are not only exciting, largely unexplored themes for stories, but also exciting, largely unexplored venues for good characterization for Peter and Mary Jane.
I guess I am not in the camp that Spider-Man should be single.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 5, 2015 1:54 AM
Of course, just a few years after this, MJ will get pregnant during (or heading into) the Clone Saga. And in the MC2 universe, that pregnancy wouldn't have any complications at all and would just produce Spider-Girl.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | November 5, 2015 6:26 AM
It's funny that no matter wat iteration of the future it is; Renew Your Vows, MC2, One Moar Day, Earth-X, Old Man Logan, et al; Peter always has a daughter and not a son.
Posted by: JC | November 5, 2015 8:58 AM
@Max_Spider- the problem with Kirkman's idea is that (a) Peter was a teenager when he got his powers and (b) Peter's first public appearance was less than a week after he got his power. So the only way it works is if either Peter's peers can't do math or they think Peter was 11 when he first appeared.
Posted by: Michael | November 6, 2015 8:15 AM
What was the prevailing theory here with Larsen? I understand bringing him for pencils - his stuff looks similar to MacFarlane and he had replaced him in ASM. But given how bad MacFarlane's writing was, they wanted to bring another hot new artist and let him hone his writing on a major title?
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 27, 2016 11:32 AM
Independent of the writing, McFarlane's Spider-Man is the best selling Spider-Man ever. Why wouldn't they try to capture the same essence in a bottle with his successor? It obviously didn't happen but I think they clearly didn't want to break the formula that had just previously given them what they probably think of as the "best Spider-Man comic ever".
Posted by: AF | January 27, 2016 12:18 PM
@Michael: Most mutants don’t manifest at birth anyway. So the baby would get expensive LATER.
Technically speaking Peter’s blood wouldn’t be involved in this. And with Aunt May that was a direct blood transfusion (sans white blood cells) into a very old sickly woman so the health risks were probably smaller than that in general. Really the risk was more in the fact that it was a total lottery.
@Luis Dantas |: In fairness that is very much a personal belief system sort of thing. Some people are okay to risk it, some people are not. Beast doesn’t actually say that the danger to MJ or the kid are in double digits just that it is likely it wouldn’t be a normal baby/there would be some manner of complication. When Peter and MJ do get pregnant they are aware of this but it’s made clear that the pregnancy was accidental. Nevertheless there were complications but they opted to keep the child regardless.
I think it’s fine for Peter to consider the idea of a vasectomy but I think again this isn’t like it’s a guaranteed field of danger. There is zero precedent for someone like him. Other superhumans SOMETIMES have problems, but Cyclops did not and other non-mutants haven’t either. Since he is himself a completely unique case the notion that there is guaranteed danger is entirely up in the air, as is the idea of how severe the danger itself might be. Remember also Peter and MJ live with danger every day so their outlook is going to be impacted by that and probably shape them differently to most people. Basically Peter and MJ’s chances of having a regular pregnancy are there but so is the chance of not having a normal one which itself comes with the potential for danger but nothing is likely. Hell in Spider-Girl, they display a similar attitude towards their second pregnancy even though the first one did come with complications. Noticeably though the complications were very different again because Peter’s genetics are crapshoot. In a way, technically speaking everyone’s is.
Although he did have far more direct access to the FF in Spider-Girl and at the same time their first pregnancy did ultimately work out okay once they applied the appropriate medical treatments. Really MJ’s health was in jeopardy the first time around less because of Peter’s genetics and more because of Ben Reilly’s friend Seward Trainer deciding to not forewarn them properly. He knew Mary Jane had the potential to get sick due to the pregnancy, even have her life endangered, and he had the appropriate treatment to fix everything ready to hand, he just opted not to warn them about it or give it to them just in case because...er...he didn’t want to worry them I guess???????
As for how important is it for Peter to have kids?
Well from a realistic POV it’s what he himself wants. Peter aspires to be Uncle Ben basically. A house in the suburbs, a wife, kids, all that cozy jazz. For him it isn’t a social expectation. Perhaps that is a FACTOR for MJ, but ultimately she also clearly wants children as she got broody when she hung around Normie Osborn and has made internal comments about wanting a family. Spider-Girl equally showcases her as someone very much grateful for her kids. So, ultimately it isn’t a social expectation thing for her either.
From a storytelling POV it would be immensely beneficial as it’s another layer to the everyman aspect of his character and the theme of responsibility and growing up. Because statistically speaking the overwhelming majority of people have children.
Imo, the adoption angle would work but it’d be particularly awesome if he adopted say Billy Connors or Normie Osborn. I think if nothing else it would be something he’d be happy to do because in a sense he was adopted. But I think he also would like a child of his own and I guess if we go by this issue, that may well be his personal preference. And maybe that part is societal expectation.
Sperm doner I have no idea about, beyond again, his discussing having kids with MJ which are boilogically his kids leans towardsthe idea he’d prefer that.
I’m not really seeing a downside to adoption, beyond the biological parents might show up one day and you’ll have to let the kid know the truth.
From a storytelling POV though I think having a biological child is going to be more interesting due to the legacy aspect, because the kid would inherit Peter’s powers. That being said I see no reason why Peter and MJ couldn’t have a biological and an adopted child and thus readers have the best of both worlds.
As for deceiving their friends I see no reason for much of a deception. They’d just say that they’ve decided to adopt because they just wanted to, or because they wanted to give a child a home. The sperm donor thing could just be explained as “Oh, Peter has some kind of medical condition that we didn’t know about. He can’t have kids”
Perhaps I am being bigoted here, but I really would like Peter and MJ to have a biological child moreso than the other options. I want them to go through the whole thing from pregnancy onwards, have the spider powers factor in and play up the kid resembling them both. I want Mayday Parker basically.
Mj also had complications of a different kind in the MC2 universe. Her life and the baby’s was more directly at risk (likely due to her being older) and she was confined to a wheelchair during most of the pregnancy. However medicine from Mr. Fantastic mostly kept her in check and the genetic anomalies detected were unspecified. Ultimately it all worked out fine and those anomalies just meant the baby was born with powers.
@JC: He had a son in the dream vision of Earth X and in House of M. He also had a son and a daughter in MC2. I think they just give him a daughter because they knew it was gonna be a girl in the clone saga.
Posted by: Al | January 27, 2016 8:56 PM
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