Comic book writers tend to think of superhero comics as a soap opera, for better or worse (but mostly for worse). Since the stories can never actually end, they frequently resort to gimmicks like deaths, resurrections, crossovers, breakups and hookups to hold interest.
Through all this, however, an absolute status quo is maintained — if a major event happens that changes someone’s life, it will most likely be reversed in a year..with rare exceptions. Spider-Man married his most iconic love interest, Mary Jane Watson, in 1987 and it was NOT reversed, which former EIC of Marvel Joe Quesada really had a problem with twenty years later.
To restore Peter Parker’s status quo to that of Quesada’s childhood memories required one of the worst stories in Marvel history, and fans have been demanding a reversal to the reversal ever since. The editors have never really bent to those demands, instead throwing them a bone every now and then with an alternate universe comic where Spidey’s marriage is still intact. They’re about to do it again.
Marvel just announced they’re reviving the Ultimate Universe, but not the previous one best known for introducing Miles Morales. This will be a different Ultimate with new takes on the Marvel characters, and it’s interesting what they’ve brought forth to hype it. The purpose of the 2000 Ultimate comics was to bring younger readers in. This one’s aimed at established fans, which is proved by Marvel basically yelling “THEY’RE MARRIED IN THIS ONE, DONCHA WANT IT?”
In fact this Ultimate Spidey is not only wedlocked to MJ but they have two kids. Tales of Spider-Offspring are nothing new; Spider-Girl and Renew Your Vows were two series that explored the possibility pretty thoroughly. Those kids inherited their papa’s powers, though. Marvel is implying this Peter Parker did not become superpowerful until AFTER he started raising a family. That’s a version that hasn’t been done yet, and it’s difficult to find an idea in the long history of super-comics that somebody hasn’t already used.
“When we decided that we were going to do a book about an older Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man, we really wanted to lean into him starting his super hero life from a very different place than what’s traditionally expected,” says writer Jonathan Hickman. “Peter and MJ being married is one of many decisions we made that underline this being quite a ‘different’ kind of Spider-Man story.”
One of many? There may be other surprises in store. Let’s hope they’re good ones. The first issue of the new Ultimate Spider-Man goes on sale this January.