ITEM! Well folks have been haplessly hammering me on the new “One More Day” and “Brand New Day” storylines in recent issues of Spider-Man comics. At first I thought that the whole fan reaction thing was a bit of a tragically trivial tempest in a teapot. And I've been nice enough about it in public interviews. After all, I’ve been in Joe “The Kid” Quesada’s shambling shoes before myself. I remember the backlash we received from fans back in the day when we first gave the FF a flying bath tub for a ride or changed Sexy Sue Storm’s hairdo from a flip to a beehive. Being deluged by frantic fans’ frenzied feedback can be a little daunting to an editor-in-chief, lemme tell yah!
But that’s only one side of the sensational story, Marvelites. You should have been in the board room when Uncle Marty was calling me on the carpet just for having Sturdy Steve Ditko put Aunt May’s hair up in a bun. Apparently Grandma Goodman wore her hair in that style while administering 19th century hickory switch beatings to little Marty. For an old man that cared a hellava lot more about the girlie magazines he was publishing than he did for the peerless Pop-Art Productions that were Mighty Marvel, he sure could go ballistic about the silliest changes in our comic lineup. And I only had to deal with one angry old Uncle-in-Law. Joey-Boy has to report to a whole board of directors. Yeesh!
And I have to take some of the blame myself. That’s just the kind of gregarious gentle giant of iconic cultural class that I am. One of the primary objections to the whole “One More Day” retcon was that it was accomplished with just another garden-variety deus ex machina, and one that involved Mephisto at that. The reasoning went that ol’ Spidey is primarily a web-slinging superhero based on science rather than magic or fantasy, so why use the Devil as an adversary?
First of all, I don’t know how scientific a bite from a radioactive spider really is. Darling Steve Ditko and I were just making that part up as we went along. Plus, it was the 60s. The Russians had the H-bomb and we all knew it. Atomic radiation was the new magic lightning bolt, if you get my drift. Except for Thor, anytime we needed an explanation for how anything happened back in those hallowed days, radiation was the golden ticket. Cosmic radiation... gamma radiation... you name it we irradiated it. Probably if any of us were bitten by a radioactive spider in real life, we'd just get a bad rash. Or cancer. But I digress...
I think that Jovial Joe just followed the precedent set by Yours Truly when I first introduced Mesphisto as the main baddy in the first run of the Silver Surfer. What could be a more eclectically exciting exchange than having a intergalactic traveller, an alien, and a citizen of the Universe, pitted against the personification of a human, Earth-bound Jeudeo-Christian religious icon? Okay, so maybe I didn’t think that one all the way through. I honestly don’t know how Jack always managed to pull off that taking a mythological archetype and turning it into a science-fictiony being of cosmic relevance. Maybe it was talent. Who knows?
But the point is that Joey-Boy just followed in the fearless footsteps of the Smiling One. In fact, I think that was the whole point to begin with — returning Spidey to his massively merchandised roots. Everything old is new again, kiddies. Getting Petey Parker back to being single and living on Aunt May’s wheatcakes? Maybe they should have called it “One More In An Endless Series of Lee-Ditko Days”?