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Amazing Spider-Man #641: Review

Oct 2010
Joe Quesada, Paolo Rivera

Story Name:

Something blue

Review & Comments

4 stars

Amazing Spider-Man #641 Review by (March 29, 2016)
This is the last of a 4-part story arc 'One moment in time' where Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson review significant parts of the new reality that Mephisto created at the end of 'One more day'. (They of course don't remember the old reality.)
#638 showed us that Peter missed his wedding through being injured as Spider-Man. In #639, after initial anger at being 'jilted', MJ said she wanted marriage to have kids - but now she realised that she couldn't bring a child into their dangerous life so she didn't want to get married anymore. Then they decided to go off on their honeymoon trip anyway, and the issue implies that they lived together after that - so later stories could happen as before, just without the 'married' bit.
#639 then skipped to the real reason the couple have been estranged since 'One more day', as explained this issue. Civil War happened as before, and Aunt May got shot. But there was no deal with Mephisto in this reality, and May Parker was about to die when she miraculously recovered. But in #640 Mephisto persuaded Kingpin to send an assassin after others of Peter's loved ones, and MJ got hurt. Spidey took her to Dr Strange to be healed. And he also asked DrS to make everybody forget his secret identity to protect MJ and others.

The 1st time Sentry was removed from the world's memory it was done by Reed Richards and Sentry in flashbacks in the 1st Sentry series. But Dr Strange would still remember, and promised to guard against Sentry getting his memories back. Sentry did return in that series, despite Strange's attempts to keep a lid on things. Reed and Sentry repeated their trick in Sentry vs The Void, but DrS didn't get involved when Sentry was brought back in New Avengers.

Dr Strange's revealed identity was protected by Eternity in DrS#182 by changing records and memories of his civilian past to Stephen Sanders.

Iron Man publicly revealed his identity in IM(1998)#55. He claimed to give up being the Golden Avenger after Avengers Disassembled, and in IM(2005)#1 he pretended that he'd hired someone else to do the job. But in Civil War: Front Line #1/1 he re-revealed his identity in support of the Superhero Registration Act.

Obviously the flashback appearance of Dr Strange here (and at the end of last issue) take place after his app in 'One more day' in Friendly Neighbourhood SM #24. As does the app of Mr Fantastic. And for Iron Man the flashback happens after #544 of this series.

So as I understand it the position is this. In 'One more day' Peter Parker made a deal with Mephisto to save Aunt May's life in return for losing his marriage to Mary Jane. And the devil sweetened the deal by promising that Peter would have his secret identity restored.
In this story arc we learned that the only changes to the past were that the marriage didn't happen and Aunt May recovered. But then as things rolled forward Mephisto's intervention resulted in Peter getting Dr Strange to restore his secret identity.
If I read #639 right then basically the only thing that changed before Aunt May's near-death experience is the absence of a marriage license. As Mephisto said in #545 their love was special and he just wanted to deny God the pleasure of having it sanctified. So, as he said then, everything else would be the same. (This was presumably to annoy God even more by showing that the marriage was irrelevant.)
But then as always in deals with the devil the kicker came in what was *not* said. As promised he arranges for Peter's secret id to be restored. But the details of that process result in the lovers being split apart (after the expiry of his promise to keep everything the same).
At 1st I thought there was a flaw in this because Dr Strange was able to restore Peter's secret after he failed to help him during 'One more day'. But back then Peter was asking DrS to save Aunt May's life. Now he asked for a renewed secret id. (Ignore the fact that the 2nd is probably (fictitiously) harder than the 1st.)


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Spider-Man #641 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson continue talking about what broke them apart. They've reached the time at Dr Strange's place where Peter made 1 of his wrong decisions. But MJ isn't so sure it was wrong anymore.

In that past DrS has gone to the astral plane where unbeknownst to Spider-Man he has summoned Reed Richards and Tony Stark for a conference. Tony expresses doubts about Stephen's plan to erase everyone's memory of Spidey's identity. He reminds him and Reed that the 2 of them did something similar for Sentry, which failed in the end. Strange says it worked for a while, and saved the planet. And the 3 of them combined should be able to do better.

Stephen also reminds Tony that both of them have regained their secret identities in the past, and Peter deserves the same chance. Stark tries to counter that Parker's problem didn't start when he revealed his identity during Civil War, but when he chose the anti-Registration side and forfeited the protection of being an Avenger. Strange doesn't dignify that with an argument. Instead he hits a nerve by saying that they have a chance to save Peter, unlike Steve Rogers who is dead.

Tony agrees to help wipe everyone's memory, even their own. But Reed disagrees with that last bit. He says that when they removed memory of Sentry they left Dr Strange with the knowledge. But that was shortsighted. Someone should remember in case of future problems, but leaving it as 1 person is risky. For backup all 3 of them should remember. Tony still thinks the opposite. (They don't seem to resolve the argument, but I think they do it Tony's way.)

The plan involves Dr Strange and Mr Fantastic combining magic, computing and genetics to create an anamnesis virus that will wipe out all knowledge and records of Spider-Man's secret id. But such a thing is difficult to control, and only Tony Stark's Extremis-enhanced system can do the job. If his system is up to it.

While waiting for Dr Strange to return Peter stands watch over MJ who's in a healing trance after her injuries last issue. He remembers that she has known he is Spider-Man almost from the beginning, and spent a lifetime aware of the danger she's been in. He swears it will be different after this. He also remembers that (in the new reality as revealed in #639) MJ wouldn't marry him and have kids while he remained Spider-Man. He (selfishly) hopes that when she doesn't know he's Spidey that will change.

Dr Strange comes back from the astral plane with the virus spell. He creates a magic sphere and sends Peter inside, telling him that this will protect him from forgetting too. After this Peter will be the only 1 who remembers he's Spider-Man. But as the spell starts Peter dashes out of the protection and drags unconscious MJ in with him. He says she must know the truth too.

When the spell storm abates Dr Strange is, as planned, unconscious too - so that Spider-Man can leave with MJ without DrS having to know they were here. He takes her back to their motel.

When she awakes the next morning Peter explains what happened. MJ is visibly unhappy, so Peter protests that it was the only way to protect her and their loved ones. But that's not what has upset her. She wants to know why he didn't let her forget too.

She'll now continue to worry that his identity will get exposed again. Before it was just a vague threat. But now she has seen the results, with killers stalking his Aunt May, her Aunt Anna and herself, and threatening the rest of her family too. She can't take being in his life anymore. (So this is why they've been leading separate lives since then.)

Peter goes to visit the recovering Aunt May in hospital. While MJ leaves town.

In the present the returned MJ says she still loves him, but she's still not strong enough to cope with the situation. Peter should stop hoping to rekindle their relationship. He should go out to find a girl who is right for his life. They part as friends and Peter says it feels like a brand new day. (No, not that 1.)

Paolo Rivera
Danny Miki
Richard Isanove
Paolo Rivera (Cover Penciler)
Paolo Rivera (Cover Inker)
Paolo Rivera (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

(Peter Parker)

> Amazing Spider-Man: Book info and issue index

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