Yesterday, March 23, 2019, was the last new Spider-Man newspaper strip. For those who didn't know, like me, Roy Thomas has been ghostwriting the strip since 2000 but with Stan's death, something had to give. Roy figured he would finally get his name on the strip but instead Marvel has chosen to kill it. In an article on Bleeding Cool, Roy tells how he had already written an outline for the next story (in which Peter and MJ go to Australia and Spidey faces the Kangaroo) which will now never see print. Instead, Marvel has chosen to go reprint with the idea of, perhaps, returning with a revamped strip with an all-new creative team "or to start a new strip that might not be a Spidey strip per se, but more the equivalent of DC’s latter-day successor to its Superman strip, The World’s Greatest Heroes, which had featured the whole panoply of DC heroes." (You can read Roy's entire piece here.)
Some of you may be saying "good riddance" and I can understand that feeling. The stories have gotten longer and slower and sillier, what with characters like Clown-9 and situations like Aunt May nearly marrying the Mole Man. But where else were you going to see Spidey and Rocket Raccoon fighting Ronan the Accuser or the Kingpin teaming up with the Golden Claw? More to the point, where else are you going to see Peter married to Mary Jane with MJ being an important part of each adventure (and sometimes the star of the strip)?
So, I am going to miss my daily infusion of new Spider-Man. The reprints are going to feel like reprints and any revamp just won't be the same. (A "latter-day successor to...The World's Greatest Heroes?" That definitely won't feel the same.) I suspect that, in any new version, Peter won't be married to MJ anymore, either. It may be well-done, it may be exciting, but it won't be this strip-verse, which has grown and developed for over 40 years. Where Spidey began by facing Dr. Doom, where he fought villains never seen in the comics like the Rattler and Big-Time, where he faced the Dar Harat terrorists and dated Tana, the daughter of a terrorist, where Flash and Harry opened a disco, where JJJ's love Muffy Ainsworth later became a vampire and Peter's love Carole Jennings joined a cult, and, most importantly, where Peter and Mary Jane Watson got married...and stayed that way for over 30 years. That verse, 42 years in the making, is over and done.
I know that the Kangaroo story was going to be silly but I wanted to read it anyway. And, after over 18 years, Roy Thomas deserved to have his name on the strip. But at least Alex put himself and Roy in panel #1 of their last strip together.
It's not much but it's something.
It's not the good-bye Marvel wanted (As Roy writes, "Then Marvel decided to kill the strip and not print the final couple of weeks, and I declined to rewrite the last published strip or two to turn it into a 'goodbye' strip.) but it's as good an ending to the strip as any. Peter and MJ are off to Australia and new adventures. I'm sorry I can't go along with them but I wish them well.