The Atlantic’s offers an opinion on what constitutes the “worst Spider-Man story ever.” I politely disagree with the eventual ‘winner.’ The author starts off first by agreeing with i09’s rundown of their four worst Spider-Man stories ever told:
While anxiously awaiting the retconning/re-marriage of Peter Parker, I came across this io9 list of the four worst Spider-Man stories of all time. The contenders are The Clone Saga, The Gathering Of Five, Sins Past and One More Day. I’m not sure if these are in order of awfulness or not, but I agree with the listing—these are all pretty bad.
I know of one person who liked Sins Past, and I know some have enjoyed the Gathering of Five. One of our resident Webheads, Spideydude, is all about the Clone Saga. But in the years since it was inflicted upon us I have never seen someone, aside from Joe “Breaking the Toys” Quesada, who has ever said they enjoyed One More Day. Even most of the vitriolic Parker marriage haters I’ve listened to over the years have have acknowledged that OMD was a terrible story but accepted the poor storytelling as a means to an end.
Coates later makes the choice:
So which of io9‘s four do I dub truly most baleful? My disdain for One More Day is fairly well known, and I feel like, at this point, it’s a little too easy to hate on. I’m going to go with The Clone Saga for the great sin of resurrecting Norman Osborne.
And here is where I politely disagree. While I’ve gone on record, many times, about how bad the Clone Saga was, and about how Norman Osborn never should have been brought back, and about how awful trying to pull a switcheroo on readers as to who the ‘real’ Peter was just for the sake of having a single Peter once more… One More Day was by far the worst transgression in Spider-history. The Clone Saga was a poor choice; a bad idea that went on way too long. It even made me stay away from Spidey comics for over two years. But there has never been a more egregious breach of trust between Marvel and their readers than One More Day, which was done largely to satisfy an EIC’s personal whim. Is it the worst breach of trust in comics ever? I wonder about that a lot. Was One More Day worse for Spidey fans than, say, Dan Didio’s New 52 was for DC fans? And in the end, which was more selfish?
One thing is important to point out here. While you can look at One More Day and The Clone Saga and debate which one ultimately was worse, the root cause for both was the same: editorial trying to bring back a ‘swinging single’ Peter Parker. Both stories also returned Osborns to life. The Clone Saga brought back Norman who, admittedly, was part of some very interesting stories after. One More Day brought back Harry, completely retooled (emphasis on tool) his personality – then quickly forgot about him and sent him away when his stories & subplots tended to be more boring than unbuttered toast.
Many Spider-fans would agree with me when I say that One More Day needs to be addressed, fixed and ultimately thrown back into the creative emptiness from which it was spawned. But what makes me nervous as we approach the upcoming Jonathan Hickman Marvel reboot/non-reboot is the fact that Renew Your Vows is being handled by people of the same anti-marriage mindset that forced One More Day on us in the first place. I suspect it will be used as a blunt force weapon to “show” us why a married Peter just won’t work, despite decades of stories showing us precisely the opposite. Either way, it does make me nervous about what’s coming up. Not that good kind of nervous you get when you see Wanda freaking out during the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer. No, that kind of nervous that comes from a place of cold dread.
Spider-Man as a character has suffered many wounds over the last seven years. Different teams have tried to forcefully wedge Spidey into whatever role and personality they prefer, rather than what’s natural and sensible for the character. Much of it has been done with all the clumsiness of a toddler trying to hammer a square peg through a circular hole.
We’ll see what Renew Your Vows brings us. The third part of the ‘opus’ Quesada started with OMD? A story that heals all wounds – or makes those wounds infected? I know what I am hoping for, but history tells me what we’re getting. At the end of the day, hope holds the door open and welcomes disappointment.
–George “Dreading the Summer” Berryman!