Comics : The Ultimate Spider-Man Anthology

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This review was first published on: 2004.

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The Ultimate Spider-Man Anthology (Story 1)
Nov 1994 : SM Title
Find ISBN 0425146103
Summary: Paperback
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Ann Nocenti, Christopher Golden, Craig Shaw Gardner, David Michelinie, Dean Wesley Smith, Greg Cox, John Betancourt, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Peter David, Richard Lee Byers, Robert L. Washington, III, Stan Lee, Tom De Haven
Illustrator:  Alex Saviuk, Bob McLeod, Colleen Doran, Jack Kirby, James Fry, John Romita, Sr., Mark Bagley, Pat Olliffe, Rick Leonardi, Ron Frenz, Ron Lim, Sam DeLaRosa, Scott Hanna, Stephen Baskerville, Steve Ditko, Tom Lyle
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It's the wedding anniversary of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson-Parker. They are spending the day alone, relaxing in bed, not thinking about work or anything but being together. The only pall on the cozy scenario is the arguing from the Swansons in the apartment below them.

Well, almost the only pall. They hear sirens nearby. Peter tenses, wanting to investigate as Spider-Man. MJ asks him to come back to bed. "There are thousands of people in this city who are paid to handle emergencies. Firemen and cops and ambulance guys and whatever. And you know hwat? They all get time off. They get paid, and still get time off. Shouldn't you? At least five more minutes to ourselves."

Peter agrees--verbally. But his heart is not in it, and MJ realizes this. She makes a show of announcing she is taking a shower. Peter is gone by the time she is done.

Spider-Man arrives in time to find that it's too late. It was a jumper, a businessman who took a header off a building. The cop in charge says, "Chances are you could have saved him, I guess. If you'd gotten here, I dunno, five minutes earlier..."

When he gets back home, Peter is not exactly warm to his wife on their anniversary. He insists he doesn't blame her, that it isn't her fault, that if he had gone when he originally wanted to he probably would've saved that man, but MJ knows that he does blame her. "No," he says, "it's my fault for listening to you! If I'd gotten there five minutes sooner, he'd be alive!" MJ, sensibly, doesn't buy that line of reasoning, that there are billions of other variables. They soon degenerate into an argument, ending with MJ saying that "I love you and I wanted to be with you, and you're punishing me for it! You're punishing me! It's not fair!" After a moment, Peter replies, "No. It's not." Then he leaves.

Peter takes refuge at the Daily Bugle, where he and Robbie Robertson--who has been married for over two decades--discuss the intricacies of marriage. ("Did you [and Mrs. Robertson] ever have a fight where you think...maybe lines were crossed. Maybe there was no coming back?" Joe nodded slowly. "On occasion." "And what did you do then?" "I came back." "Oh.") It is interrupted by a phone call from MJ, who instructs him to "Have Spider-Man get his blue butt over here"--the Swansons' latest argument has gone a bit farther than usual. Mr. Swanson has a gun, and if he doesn't get what he wants in the next five minutes, he's going to blow his wife's brains out.

Spider-Man gets his blue butt down there and deals with the situation in fairly short order. He returns home to find MJ crying. She explains how difficult it was to call Peter, how frightening it was to watch him go into the Swansons' apartment. Peter is confused. "It was just one guy with a gun."

"So when am I allowed to be scared for you, then. At least two guys with guns? How about one guy with, like, a really big gun, or half a dozen guys with small guns? Tell me the requirements so I'll know when it's allowable to be worried that my husband is going to get a bullet in him?" After Peter's assurance that he does this sort of thing all the time and she shouldn't worry, she replies that she can't help but think of the law of averages, that "sooner or later, you'll be a second too slow...or make a split-second decision and it's wrong...and that's it, it's over, and it was all pointless because your Uncle Ben will still be dead and you'll be right next to him in the ground, and I won't have you anymore."

What's more, she says, she was afraid. "A man died because I love you so much that I wanted to keep you safe with me. And when I was calling you at the Bugle to tell you about the Swansons, my finger was trembling as I dialed. I thought, What if this is it? What if I'm now sending my own husband to his death? What if...I dunno...what if God is so angry at me for being selfish, that he punished not only some poor stranger, but now he's going to punish you too, and I didn't know what to do and..."

She trails off, and Peter comforts her. He finds himself with nothing to say, so he holds her, and he kisses her, and he loves her, and they are able to take joy in each other, in being alive, in being there for one another. They do so for two hours...

...and five minutes.