Like many, I had feelings when I read Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr.’s Amazing Spider-Man #26 Wednesday evening. The feelings were such that they generated a piece just a few days after the comic came out. However, I don’t think they were the feelings the creative team intended (though I have no way of knowing for sure). So I figured a li’l piece to unpack those feelings and explore what happened in this issue was in order. Billed as a “monumental story” which would be “the most shocking issue of Amazing Spider-Man in fifty years,” the death of someone close to Peter Parker/Spider-Man was teased. Fifty years after the death of Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man #121, it appeared another tragedy was on the horizon. This all came to a head as Spidey, Ms. Marvel, the Gold Goblin, and the Fantastic Four battled to protect Mary Jane, her partner Paul, and their two children, Owen and Stephanie, from Rabin, the mathematician-cum-zealot-cum-would-be vessel of the demonic deity Wayep.
As one would expect, SPOILERS for Amazing Spider-Man #26 follow.
Though this story has been widely reported already so maybe they aren’t SPOILERS? Still, you’ve been warned.
Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr. kicked off their Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Vol. 6) in April of 2022 with a six month time jump in the narrative. Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker, reunited as a couple in Nick Spencer’s run on Amazing Spider-Man (starting in July 2018), had broken up. Peter was despondent and angry. Everyone was angry with Peter, too – Aunt May, Randy Robertson, even the Fantastic Four and Captain America. MJ wasn’t taking his calls. Creditors were hounding him. He was working for Norman Osborn! Most shocking of all, Mary Jane was living with her new partner, Paul…and their two kids. It was certainly a jaw-dropping reveal at the end of Wells and Romita’s first issue. Now, a year later, the gaps are being filled in with Amazing Spider-Man #21-25. Why did Peter and Mary Jane break-up? Who is Paul? Why is everyone angry with Peter? What happened in those six months? Will Mary Jane and Peter get back together?? For me, a bigger question has been on my mind since I first saw Stephanie and Owen run into her arms at the end of that issue: Should Mary Jane even be with Peter in the first place?
Note, this piece contains plot spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #21-25.
With Fall 2022 having officially arrived just days ago, I find myself a little over a month into the new school year, my twelfth year teaching. Over the last decade I’ve gathered a few traditions to accompany the start of each new year. One of my favorites (and most helpful!) is a Spider-Man binge-reading session. Each year I pick a particular author and era (or two (or three or four)) and dive into the world of The Amazing Spider-Man. Teaching can be stressful and exhausting so, as summer falls away and work resumes, I find comfort in the familiar. I’ve had a longer relationship with Spider-Man than any other fictional character, getting my first Spidey comic when I was three-years-old and still loving him now. Plus, it’s nice to spend my night laughing when my days get harder and few characters have a better q.p.a average (quips-per-adventure, obvs.) than Peter Parker/Spider-Man. But I’ve realized there’s more to it than that. One of the most important reasons I turn to Spidey when school resumes is because of the ol’ Parker Luck.