Astonishing Spider-Man #24
Astonishing Spider-Man
A Celebration of Love
Part Two of Two
Writer: Ben Kaine
Published for the first time ever!

The Story So Far: Peter Parker has resigned himself to the fact that he will never be free of his first fianceís ghost. The pain of her absence in his life will haunt him every day. He has simply decided to carry on with this burden, and strive to be the best husband he can be to his second choice of a wife, his significant other Mary Jane Watson-Parker. Maybe he will never stop thinking about his first love or ever love Mary Jane as much, but he has pledged to cherish Mary Jane forever anyhow, according to his wedding vows.

"Whereís your ring?" she asks.


"Your ring," my wife says, raising an eyebrow. "The one normally on your hand? Your wedding ring? Where is it?"

I look down at my hand and blink.

Hey, my wedding ring is missing.

Apparently, my surprise is pretty visible on my face, because my wife Mary Jane immediately starts offering ideas as to where it could be while she salts her breakfast.

"Did you forget to put it back on this morning? Yíknow, after you went out?" she asks. When she says Ďoutí, of course, she means Ďfighting Crime in red and blue spandex at 3 AMí. I take another bite of my bacon and drink some orange juice.

"Itís probably just right there on the dresser," she continues. She finally stops salting her eggs and picks up her fork. I think about it and conclude sheís probably right. Women. They can find anything.

You know, I probably canít count the number of times in my life Aunt May or Mary Jane have saved my fat, just by knowing where I probably left this or that? My most memorable example of this is from when I had to go stop Latverian terrorists from killing a bunch of diplomats. I barely made it in time to save their lives. And do you know why? Because I couldnít figure out for the life of me where Iíd left my costume. I was searching for ten minutes.

Fortunately, Mary Jane came home then. She found Ďem, ten seconds flat (under the dresser). So Spider-Man got out of the house and on top of the situation. Thereís that marital teamwork for ya.

So I admit: "Must have. Thanks, Hon."

"Hey, whatís a bride for?"

We both smile. Breakfast continues quietly another minute. Then:

"Are you headed back to the studio today?"

Mary Jane sighs and nods.

"Coming home?"

"Probably. Unless thereís some night stuff Raoul wants us to shoot. Then it probably wouldnít even be worth it to drive all the way back here. Iíd just have to sleep at the studio. But Iíll call and tell you," she says. She doesnĎt look very happy about it. But maybe itís just early. Then she asks: "How about you?"

"Oh, you know big magazine stars like me."

"Ha!" Sheís smiling again. Good. "All this fame isnít starting to go to your head, is it, Mr. Parker?"

"You kidding? Iím still in shock," I answer. "ĎThe Official Spider-Man Magazineí. I thought I was just supposed to have my little masked face on wanted posters."

"I always thought you needed a full spread to do you justice," she says. I look up at her and give her a quizzical look. She gets this small, sexy smile that slowly spreads across her lips. She winks. Then sheís eating her eggs again. I smile back.

Answer: "I donít think thereís any real contest as to who looks better on magazine covers, Hon."

She swallows. "You think so?"

"Well, one of us does have a pretty unfair advantage."

"But youíve got more name recognition," she points out, punctuating her remark by gesturing with her fork. I bite the sausage off it and pour myself some more orange juice.

"Sure, most of it from newspaper headlines like ĎSpider-Man Terrorizes Orphanageí. You, on the other hand, have a wee bit more experience than your humble friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Plus..."


"You can show more leg."

"Oh." She canít help but grin now, but sheís trying to sound disappointed anyway. "Does this mean I canít look forward to a ĎSpidey swimsuit galleryí?"

"Oh, yeah, sure, I can see it now," I say. "The new superhero fashion statement: Fighting crime in Speedos. Not only can I patrol my city embarassingly naked; I can swing into battle plagued by sunburn. The Rhino wouldnít have to punch me. He could just slap me on the back."

"Hm. I donít remember you having anything to be embarassed about, Mr. Parker."

Thatís about the point where Iím sure weíre having dessert after breakfast is over. I endure it. When weíre finishing, I try not to think too much about Gwen. Mary Jane hops in the shower. While she takes her turn first, I go to our bedroom.

For maybe five minutes, I search my entire dresser.

I canít find my ring anywhere.

(But I know where it is.)

I have no idea where it could be!

I had my ring on last night, Iím sure of it. The last time I clearly remember wearing it was during our anniversary dinner. We were having our photo taken by the waiter. Did I take it off when Mary Jane and I- er, finished the evening off? No, there wasnít any time. So did I have it on when I changed into Spider-Man afterwards?

Usually I take my ring off before that, though. When I occasionally have to hit somebody in the Evil Villain Business, I donít want the ring to get damaged. Thatís why I put it on the dresser, just like Mary Jane said. But last night, I was so deep in thought. Did I forget? And if I forgot to take off my wedding ring that night, why donít I still have it on this morning? I didnít encounter any trouble last night. I didnít even have to web up a mugger.

In fact, all I really did as a superhero last night was help out a homeless man. He was going to sleep on a sewer grate, so instead I made a hammock for him, with my webbing.

(In retrospect, this wasnít really a good idea. My webbing dissolves after an hour.)

I just canít think of anywhere it could be.

So what am I going to do?

Well, first thing Iím going to do is lie to my wife. When she asks me if Iíve found my ring yet, I tell her I havenít checked for it. She tells me again itís probably on the dresser and then gives me a kiss goodbye. I tell her I love her and watch her drive away.

Then I get to thinking. If I didnít remove my ring yesterday, obviously, someone else must have. But thatís not possible. Nobody could steal my ring right off my finger. At the very least, not without setting off my special senses (Heck, címon, Iím a superhero for a reason).


I get a chilling thought and reach for the phone. Well, maybe someone could. Itís time to call Chicago. I dial. The phone rings several times before someone on the other end picks up.

"Enforcers Incorporated. Hello?"

The voice that answers is exactly like mine.

"Hello? Hello? May I help you? Hello?"

But the voice is in Chicago. I hang up the phone without answering.

Alright, so I was wrong. Of course, I already knew Iíd be wrong. Iíd just panicked a little bit. Thatís all. And yes, I have forgiven him. Since the last time we talked, Iíve stopped hating him. I swear.

But I just canít forget what he did. I still canít regain his trust. I canít put anything under him.

Damn it. I need to stop thinking about this. ItĎs History. And take it from Little Olí Me, itĎs not really good to dredge up that historical stuff. It makes you tense. Aw crud, howíd all this get started again? Because my wedding ring is missing for the thousandth time? Why in the world am I bugging out about this?

For that matter, why have my emotions been going off the map lately, period?

(You know why.)

Something feels very wrong with me. Is it the wedding anniversary? Am I just not over it yet? Is it getting to me more this year than last year? It did feel worse-

(Not that. Itís not that.)

Suddenly, I wake up. Have you ever just Ďblanked outí before? Have you come back to Planet Earth in a different location from where you left it? I just did that. One minute, Iím sitting in a chair by the kitchen telephone. Now here I am on the kitchen floor, sitting up against the cabinets, and Iím thinking: My God, what am I going to do about my marriage?

Bad move, Peter, reminding yourself of what you are. Now I feel it all again, all the pain of Anniversary Night, all the torment in not loving Mary Jane and wanting to love her.

But I love a dead girl.

This canít go on.

(You need help.)

I need help. I need to solve this. (Ring!) All of my attention snaps to the telephone. (Ring!) Someoneís calling. I let it ring a few more times. It seems to take forever before the answering machine picks up and lets me off the hook. (You know who it is anyway, Peter.)

"Peter? Itís Stanley King. Iím here at the magazine. I just opened up the doors. I wanted to remind you that Iím not going to be in for very long today, Ďcause of that meeting with Jonah. But if you were serious about wanting to meet the new staff reporter for the magazine, heíll be in today, between eleven and one. That doesnít leave much of a window, I know.

"If you canít meet him today, though, I guess thatís alright. You two are bound to meet soon enough anyway. I really think with you two teamed up, the magazine canít lose. So, I hope to hear from you soon. I understand youíve got some great pictures for our September Eleventh Commemoration Issue. Spider-Man and firemen or something like that," Stanley says.

I listen to Stanley King, Editor-In-Chief of the Official Spider-Man Magazine. Heís actually a great guy. Gets excited about his magazine, too, which is great for the morale of his coworkers. The only real problem is he sounds long-winded on answering machines. But thatís alright. His call does raise a new question for me. Do I go see him and meet this new reporter whoís gonna be writing all our articles in the future? Or do I take a little time off and try to find my wedding ring?

On the machine, Stanley Kingís still talking.

"By the way, Peter," heís saying, "speaking of firemen, Iíve got a story in the works here that a few firemen have pointed me to, and I wanted to see what you thought of it. It seems thereís this fireman named MacDonald. He was saved by Spider-Man from a building fire just the other day. And now that heís awake, heís telling everyone some weird stuff about your boy. Specifically, he says that while Spider-Man was rescuing him, Spider-Man kept calling him Ďbabyí and Ďhoneyí. Yíknow, names like that. Kinda strange, isnít it? I donít know, maybe this MacDonald guy is delirious.

"But at any rate, heís got people wondering. The thoughtís goiní around now in the professional circles that Spider-Manís- Uh, well, yíknow, batting for the other team. Now I donít really think itís true, but- Er, well, if itís true that Spider-Man was calling MacDonald all these names- Well, I just donít know how to run with this story. Should I give it credibility or not? So I was hoping to get your input on that.

"And Iíd like to get your input quickly, too, because the Gay Pride Parade is already dressing up some of their marchers as Spider-Man- Beep! Beep! Beep!" The answering machine runs out. I kind of expected it to do that.

Go to the office or find my ring?

Talk about a sign from God.

So why do I have a terrible feeling about this?

I get up from the kitchen tile. I start walking in my bedtime sweatpants upstairs to my bedroom, so I can get dressed for the day. But when I do, when I walk up the steps- It intensifies. The foreboding I suddenly have magnifies itself a hundred times. It feels like the most horrible impact, just all of a sudden, like Iíve just been given the most evil news in the world. Iím suddenly afraid. A sad policeman telling me my wife just died in a fatal car crash; watching my dear departed parents ripping free from their graves; hearing from a doctor my baby was stillborn: Thatís how this feels. It leaps on me. I canít get rid of it, like a violent picture you canít escape by shutting your eyes. Iím crashed into it, by the overwhelming fact that something- Something is wrong.

And there are going to be consequences-

I grab onto the staircase and breathe. "Hunh. Hunh. Hunh. Hunh."

"What? Whatís going to happen?" I think, then say aloud.

But I guess Magic doesnít explain itself. It never does.


(Yes, Mr. Parker.)

Maybe, I think slowly, trying to formulate the thought. Maybe. Maybe.

I look around my house, the house where I was raised. And I think:

"Maybe this is how people feel before they die."

I wait for it. Death doesnít come. I guess Iím wrong. I honestly half-expected it, at that moment. Do you know that? I really did. I thought the Grim Reaper was coming for me. I thought someone or something was about to come out from the last place I ever expected. Maybe it would be one of my enemies as Spider-Man, maybe it would be an accident- (Maybe even a burglar. How ironic would that be, Peter? Spider-Man was created by a burglar. Wouldnít it be neat if he died by the hand of one?)

But Iím alive.

I go to my closet. Itís in my bedroom. Yeah, Iím alive. I pull out my costume, my bright red and blue "Spider-Man" costume. Mask, gloves, everything. Iím alive. And itís time to make use of that. I donít care what that feeling was just now. Itís going away. Iím alright.

And I want my wedding ring back.

(Even if my marriage means nothing.)

"In a ringing rebuttal of today, none other than Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has placed himself squarely behind the FBIís accusations that Saudi Arabia is secretly harboring known terrorist Doctor Otto Octavius, wanted in the United States for at least half a dozen major crimes, including threatening use of a nuclear warhead on the city of New York. The Secretary General of Interpol minced no words this week in sharply scolding Saudi Arabia for an alleged lack of cooperation.

"ĎIn this post-September Eleventh world, we should not tolerate such blatant blockings of justice as the Royal House of Saud has clearly orchestrated,í Noble stated. íOtto Octavius is, in addition to being a proficient terrorist, homegrown in the United States, a world-reknowned authority on nuclear power and radiation, easily capable of creating and proficiently using any number of weapons which could be put to horrifying use.í

"President Bush has gone so far as to pontificate that if such a terrorist as Otto Octavius is in close proximity to Iraq, the likelihood of Saddam Husseinís supposed nuclear weapons program being in fact a reality increases dramatically."

(Iím swinging across the New York skyline in my "Spider-Man" suit right now. Iím not going as fast as I normally would.)

"The President swiftly followed up on this statement by once more urging a preemptive attack on Baghdad. His words were backed soon afterward by statements from Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Britain, and Foreign Affairs Diplomatic Interaction Unit Four-O-Seven-Nine, hailing from the Kingdom of Latveria. Added the android dignitary of His Lordship Von Doom: ĎSince the stationing of three Doom Guard Regiments in Kuwait in 1994, His Lordship Von Doom has advocated a move of this nature against the dangerous and unpredictable dictator of Iraq. His Majesty hopes that in these times of Terror Awareness, the Vision of Doom will be realized as the necessary and wise strategy that it is.í"

(That weird panic attack on the top of my staircase at home really shook me up. Every time I jump from one building to the next now, I have to remind myself I have the superhuman abilities of a spider, and Iím not going to go splat.

Iím not going to die.

In the meanwhile, Iím listening to the radio news stations through the earpiece in my mask. I installed it recently. I was getting bored when I was on patrol. Whoops! Time to fire a new webline! Remember: Youíre Spider-Man. Remember: Youíre Spider-Man.)

"On the subject of Von Doomís words, however, the White Houseís spokesmen were unanimous: ĎHe justs wants get his hands on Iraqís oil supply,í said one representative. ĎHe always has, ever since the Gulf War.í"

(Focus, Peter. But donít focus on the fear. Focus on your wedding ring. Where could it be? How could I have left it? Itís a puzzle I canít figure out. But the more I try, the more I realize somethingís definitely going on here.)

"In other news-"

(But even that doesnít make sense! Sheesh! Iím Spider-Man! Are there people out there who want to mess around with me? Of course there are! But why in the world would someone want to mess with my wedding band? Who would want to? The Shane Company?)

"-the Fisk Museum of Historical Studies was recently robbed of its pride ĎWorks of the Oriental Mastersí Exhibit. Several priceless swords of Ancient Japanese customization are said to have been stolen-" the radio blares. I land on another rooftop, just to think. A museum robbery?

I turn off my radio and think about that one for a minute. A robbery. Should I check it out? Nah. The Fisk Museum of Historical Studies is near enough to the ĎHellís Kitchení part of town where another superhero will be on the scene. Iíll let him check it out. HeĎs a far better detective than I am, anyway. All Iím good for as ĎSpider-Maní is usually the fun, violent stuff. And besides-

Iím already to my destination.

I look down from my rooftop to where the Church lies. The Church sits exactly where I left it, stone gargoyles and all, looking perfectly like it did when I last visited it: On my anniversary night. Almost perfectly, anyhow. To be honest, it looks kind of different in the sunlight. But what did I expect? Itís eleven oí clock in the day now, not ten minutes Ďtil midnight.

(Then I ask myself:) So why is it, if so much has changed, that Iím still getting the same creepy feeling? I donít like this. I donít like how this church makes me feel. (And how weird a thing to say is that? This is the church where I got married, after all.)

(Which I guess is part of the point. You lied to her here, Peter.)

Iím still standing on the rooftop, over two blocks away from the Church. I havenít moved an inch.

"So," I say to myself. "You going in or what, Peter?"

I jump forward. I go in.

Even though itís bright outside, when I reenter the Church itís still very dark. Since all the stain glass windows have been boarded up, only a few beams of light manage to penetrate into the chapel. I step into the middle of the church and look around. Iím standing exactly where I did last night, when I was contemplating my marriage. Everything is very quiet. Like a tomb.

Inside my mask, I sigh. "Well, Spidey, so much for this one. I guess Iím getting a little paranoid. My wedding ring gets lost and what do I do? I assume that itís been taken as part of a malevolent plot to somehow conquer the Free World. I need to get out more."


"Yaaaah!" I cry out heroically. "Oh. Heh heh. Itís you again."

"Yeah. Yeah, itís me," the old man says as he steps out from the shadows. I breathe some sweet relief. Itís just the squatter I met on my anniversary night, while I was daydreaming here. The poor guyís taken over the abandoned building to put a roof over his head.

(That creepy feelingís still here, though...)

"Listen, Iím sorry I keep disturbing you," I say, and I mean it. "Itís just- er, well, Iíve lost something. And I thought before I went searching for a lot of trouble today, Iíd try to find it."

"Well, itís not here," he says. His words are gruff. He turns away.

"No. Itís probably not," I admit. "Listen-"

Itís kind of hard talking to someone whoís walking away from you. "Er, hey, listen! All the same, Iím just gonna do a little looking, OK? Just to see if maybe I canít find what I need. I had to eat three boxes of cereal for that decoder ring, and I-"

"Donít you get what Iím telling you, Spider-Man? Itís not here! Go away!"


"Leave me alone!" his scraggly face barks, then he slams a door behind him, and Iím standing alone again, kinda locked in stunned disbelief. The guy was nicer last night. I wonder what his problem is. I wonder- Oh, geez. What if heís on drugs or something? Or shooting up? That would explain it. But if he is, what am I supposed to do about that?

Iím propelled. I walk after him. "Hey, Buddy, waitasecond!"

Thereís no answer from behind the door, so I open it. Inside is a flight of steps leading to the second floor of the Church. I look up the steps. I see him. Heís on the top of the stairs. Heís looking back down, right at me. I open my mouth inside my mask.

"Go away!" he says first. Then he disappears again.

I start following. As I walk up the stairs, a small spider runs along my path, through my legs. It enters a hole. I watch it go and then focus again. Up the stairs, step by step, into the door-

I wasnít in these rooms last time, but the old Catholic classrooms are in worse repair than the main sanctuary below. The entire room Iím now standing in is old, rotting, and dusty. The roof is leaking. Bright, blinding streams of light are coming through the windows someone forgot to board up. Since they forgot to board them up, the rain has come inside. So now the entire roomís rotten.

Itís almost unbearable up here. I canít believe this guy sleeps in this place. Iíd probably prefer a grate. At least there, you might get some fresh air. Speaking of my old pal the squatter, where did he go? I canít see anything in here. Itís too murky. Plus thereís a whole lot of old stuff up here that nobody got rid of when the church closed down, so there are lots of places to hide.

"Pal," I say loudly. "Look. Iím not going to hurt you. Do you hear me?"

I donít get an answer. I say: "I just want to talk. Is there any way I can help?"

This time, a response comes. My special Ďspider-sensesí give a light tingle. Oh no, I canít believe this. This man canít seriously be thinking about attacking me, can he? Please God, donít let it come to that. "Hey! Listen, Friend. Iím not going to lay a hand on you. No matter what youíre doing. I promise. Canít we just talk? No matter what, itís- Huh?"

My ring! I look down, just as my spider-sense tingles again. Itís here! I see my wedding ring, lying right there on the floor of this dusty old classroom. I pick it up. My eyes widen inside my maskís lenses. This old squatting man: He took my ring? But how? I say: "Um, Pal? Can I ask you a question? ĎCause now I really, really think we need to talk-"

"Talk, Spider-Man? Talks about what?" Itís him! Looking ahead, I can just make out his shadow. Itís entering the old kitchen! I creep forward. "What do you want to talk about?"

"My ring," I say. "How-?"

"I took it from you," he answers. What, I want to say, just like that? But at least heís honest. I hold my question of how he did and go for the why: "Um, why?"

"ĎCause we wanted it," the old man says when I enter the kitchen. Heís at the old stove. Heís leaning against it. I canít see his face; itís blocked by shadow. But I hear what heís doing. HeĎs trying to turn on the stove. "Rats! No gas."

My glove comes off. Right then and there, I put back on my wedding band. "Who are you?"

"ĎHow? Why? Who are youí?" he suddenly hisses. He mimics. His hand keeps fiddling with the gas stove knob. "Rats! No gas! No gas! You donít know who I am, eh? Thatís alright. Nobody really does. Yíknow that? Nobody misses me. I might as well be dead. I will be again, soon enough. Guess thereís not much time, then. You know, I was one of your biggest fans."

Great, I think at first, heís delirious. But then something inside me says I donít really think he is. Iím standing there in my superhero costume. Iím supposed to be the creepy one. But this guy wins hands-down. "Listen, er- Sir. What if I bought you a cup of coffee? Then you can explain why and how exactly you managed to get the wedding ring off a guy whoís got an early alarm system planted in his head, and-"

"Will you stop?" he spits. Click. The stove fails to light. Again. "Darn it! No gas! You know, Spider-Man, for a superhero, youíre pretty thick? You havenít figured out the clues yet. Theyíve been everywhere. And you havenít got a lot of time left to figure it out."

He calms down again. Heís stroking his beard. He smells awful. He smells almost rotten himself. "Ya know why it wanted your ring, Spider-Man? Because it wants to be you again. Because it always preferred you. And thatís the biggest piece of your soul, Spider-Man, whether you believe it or not. No matter how much you let the ghosts carry you away, itís the truth.

"Take your ring back and guard it, Spider-Man. Take it and guard it. Blast it! No gas!"

His hand finally releases the stoveís knob. I grab the knob before he can take it again.

"Hey!" he says, then sighs. "Idiot. Idiot. I tell ya what, Spider-Man: If only I had your life- I know all about you now, you know. My own life wasnít anything special. Krissy was a gentle soul, lemme tell ya. If those boys hadnít- But nevermind. Iím gone now. It doesnít matter. But it matters for you. Donít let it take you back, Spider-Man. Take that ring and guard it. Get your life back before it gets taken from you, like it was me."

The man turns and starts shuffling away again, out of the kitchen. "Heh. ĎI forged these chains in lifeí... Ya like Dickens, Spider-Man? Thereís time, ya know. Thereís time to change. I gotta go, now. I think Iím going to die."

"Youíre what? Friend- Hold on-" I say. But when I go through the next door, I find the darndest thing in the room: Nothing. The squatterís gone. If he was ever there, now heís gone. I turn and walk back into the kitchen.

Iím alone in the room again: Me, the stove, the dust. I have my wedding ring.

Unfortunately, I also have some serious work to do. I reenter the old classrooms next. I canít help it. My actions arenít my own anymore. Before I know what Iím doing, Iím looking at the big piles of boxes, the ones filled full of old school and church stuff. There must be a dozen of them. Itíll probably take half an hour to carefully move all of them.

Well, Iíve got that kind of time. I put back on my gloves and I start picking up each and every one of them.

When I stop, Iíve found what Iím looking for. I may never be able to say how I knew. But I did, and I found it. There are so many boxes up here. Thereís so much junk. I think thereís actually stuff up here from the early 1900ís. In a place like this, Reader, youíd never notice the differences in one box to another. Even when one of themís shaped like a casket.

I find the coffin underneath the fourth pile.

Underneath that, I find the pentagram, drawn in white chalk.

Looks like I got myself in some trouble after all, I guess, Reader. I just wish I knew what kind of trouble it was. I stand up sweating and look out one of the windows. The sunís shining. At my feet, the coffin sits still, just waiting to be opened, waiting for all its secrets to come pouring out.

What in the world was all of this about? Looking out over the city, I canít figure it out, Reader. I have a particularly rough anniversary (wouldnít anybody who canít love his wife?). I get my ring stolen. Some old bumís taken it. Heís got a coffin hidden here, in the attic- And God. It canít really be what I think it is, can it? This canít really be his own coffin?

Could I have been speaking to a ghost? I donít know. What does it matter, anyhow? He was trying to tell me something. Why did he have to talk in hints and riddles? Why couldnít he have just said what he obviously wanted to tell me? Did he really know all about me?

(The sunís rising higher and higher in the air.)

"Ya know why it wanted your ring, Spider-Man? Because it wants to be you again. Because it always preferred you. And thatís the biggest piece of your soul, Spider-Man, whether you believe it or not. No matter how much you let the ghosts carry you away, itís the truth."

I donít talk for an hour. I just wonder what he meant.

The End of Astonishing Spider-Man. Thanks to Ryan Jent, Ben Kaine, Paul Hahn, and Chip Caroon for a good time. We're sorry the series couldn't continue.

This issue was never published at New Marvel. Thanks to Ben Kaine for e-mailing it to me so I could upload it.

What could have been: In Peter Parker #25: Peter Parker Meets A New Coworker. Spider-Man Faces A Terrifying Enemy. There Is The Return Of An Old Lover. Plus: A Hero. His Ring. His Decision. And You the Reader May Witness A Love Renewed.


From Justin Stewart:

"Greetings Ben! I hope you enjoyed my Deadpool. I've had a good time writing it and it's just too much fun. First off, I want to thank you for getting me the New Marvel gig in the first place, which makes this e-mail that much tougher to type. I wouldn't be writing superheroes if not for you. Thanks. That said......

I read your new Spider-Man and I gotta say, it was excellent. Except for one part. Now I'm no editor and I'm absolutely not one who should be criticizing you, but the sex scene didn't need to be in there. I mean in a more adult-themed book, I can totally understand, but in Spider-Man?

I know you might've wanted it in there to contrast between his love for Gwen and his "using" MJ, but come on, it was little graphic for a Spidey title. Now, I love knocking the boots as much as the next guy, but Spider-Man is an all-ages show. I know our audience probably isn't a young one, but when it comes to mainstay Marvel characters, I try and treat it like so.

Just take this as a creative critique. The way you handle Peter and MJ's conversations and those little couple eccentricities is phenomenal, but focus more on their relationship outside the boudoir. Just a suggestion.

Take care."

Justin Stewart, writer of New Marvel Daredevil and Deadpool