What If... the Amazing Spider-Man Had Not Married Mary Jane?

For the first time in its publishing history, What If? dared to offer up a two-part story. We've had sequels before, but never a "to be continued" at the end of an issue. So while the first part asks What if Spider-Man had not married Mary Jane?, the second asks What if Spider-Man had married the Black Cat?What If vol.2 #20-21 (November-December 1990)
Based on: Amazing Spider-Man #292
The true history: Peter Parker had proposed to Mary Jane Watson, but she was taking her time answering. After a run-in with Spencer Smythe's Spider-Slayer, Peter saved Mary Jane's life, which convinced her to follow her heart and say yes.
Turning point: What if Spider-Man had been slower recovering from the Spider-Slayer's hit?
Story type: Swingers
Watcher's mood: Pencil-necked gossip girl
Altered history: In this reality, Spider-Man gets knocked out during the Spider-Slayer fight, and by the time he comes to and saves Mary Jane, she has to be hospitalized. Her life is saved, and she says yes to Peter's proposal. However...
...he suddenly gets cold feet. As his nightmares reveal, the incident made him realize he couldn't keep Mary Jane safe, and Pete once again lets responsibility run his life. He leaves her at the altar. The whole thing has give Spidey a "mad on" and he violently takes to the streets. But it's not enough for him, so he joins Silver Sable's agency to get even more jobs.
A belated visit to Aunt May's inspires Pete to maybe get back in the game, but this time with someone who can share the risk. He sends a letter to former girlfriend Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat (a letter, how quaint), and she answers in the only way Spidey-girlfriends know how:
They renew their partnership, both on the streets and under the sheets. The Black Cat ruthlessly deals with the threats of the era, including Kraven's last hunt (her violent take-down of the hunter ironically saves his life) and Venom (potentially separating the suit from Eddie Brock early). But her greatest foe is the ghost of Mary Jane Watson, and even when Pete asks Felicia to marry him, she can't help but itch for a cat fight.
But this little conversation occurs in earshot of a guy who puts 2 and 2 together and sells the information to the Vulture (of all the villains to call... anyway, he's killed for his trouble). Meanwhile, Pete and Felicia get married under assumed names to protect his secret identity.
Are they even legally married? The mustache says no. The marriage is immediately strained by the whole secret i.d. bit, as the Cat would rather be married to Spider-Man than lame Peter Parker. The soap opera is short lived however when the Vulture blows up Aunt May's house.
Spidey goes on a rampage, looking to make the Vulture pay. He catches up with him just as he's about to kill Felicia, but Silver Sable's crew (she's with Sandman and Paladin) prevent him from killing the Vulture. While the Vulture gets shipped to prison, Peter ends it with the Black Cat.
Awww, sad. Shouldn'ta been loose with the lips, girl. Soon, the Vulture is killed while trying to break out of Ryker's Island and Silver Sable's crew go after Spider-Man. But it was the Black Cat looking to atone, and in the final fight, she cops to it and pulls Mary Jane out of the crossfire too. MJ slips off her safety ledge, and as Pete jumps to save her from Gwen Stacy's fate, Paladin starts shooting, thinking the Cat pushed her. Oops!
She's dead! Widower Spider-Man continues to work with the supportive Silver Sable and eventually, romance blossoms between the two.
In other words, Spider-Man never learns. And the Watcher is quite the voyeur.
Books canceled as a result: The Marvel Universe can survive the deaths of the Vulture and the Black Cat. At most, it saves Kevin Smith the trouble of not completing a story.
These things happen: Brand New Day has made the story's premise the literal truth. If we treat the Mephisto reality as a What If, the turning point there is that one of Electro's goons gets away, forcing Spider-Man to chase him and thus missing the wedding when things get more complicated (One Moment in Time, Amazing Spider-Man #638). Or if you like, Mephisto sent a bird into the cop car and made it step onto the door lock buttons.

Next week: What if the Silver Surfer Had Not Escaped Earth?
My guess: We would be really tired of hearing him whine.


Servo said...

As regular Spidey reader at the time, I actually liked this two-parter.

I think its because I was always wondering if they were trying to get Spidey and Silver Sable together in the regular comics at the time. She certainly was in the books enough during this time-frame.

Anonymous said...

Silver Sable is a Spider-man character I would love to see more often. also, he and the Black Cat share an awful ex already: The Foreigner.

All platine blondes have a real bad taste in men, I suppose.


snell said...

"We would be really tired of hearing him whine."

Way, way too late for that...


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