Many many issues ago, Aunt May was shot at the end of the Civil War. Peter wanted to do anything to save her life. Mephisto offerred to save Aunt May in exchange for the marriage and love of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. They have 12 hours to decide.
Mephisto explains to Peter and MJ that they will not remember the deal that he is proposing, if they should accept it. A small part of their souls will remember, but nothing conscious. Mephisto's joy will be in listening to that part of their soul for all eternity. Either Aunt May perishes, or the marriage is forgotten and erased from history.
Peter wakes up in bed, and finds MJ in the bathroom, clutching herself. MJ asks Peter if he thinks Mephisto can do what he says he can, and Peter doesn't think that he can, but that this is the only chance or choice that they have. MJ asks Peter if perhaps this is just May's time, and that the right thing at this time might be to let her go, and let her die. Peter says that if it had been a death from natural causes, he might be able to accept it, but not if its his fault, not if its something that he caused. The bullet was meant for him, not her, so he blames himself for her condition. Peter says he can't live with himself, being the reason that she might die. Peter tells MJ that if they decide together to let her go, then he could live with himself.
MJ and Peter hold each other, with her quieting him whenever he tries to say something, anything to her, just wanting to stay with each other, quietly. MJ tells Peter that no matter what Mephisto does, she will always remember all of it, every little detail, and that nothing will ever take that away from her. Peter asks MJ what she's saying, when Mephisto reappears. Peter asks Mephisto how it will all work.
Mephisto reveals that the marriage will never have happened, and will be removed like a stitch in time, saying that all else will remain the same. Peter doesn't understand, but Mephisto brushes this aside, saying that Aunt May being alive is the only thing that should matter to him. MJ rails against Mephisto, saying that it won't change anything, because Peter's identity is still public. In order to achieve the deal, Mephisto adds that he will remove all knowledge of his identity. As Peter struggles with the answer, MJ tells him Yes. MJ demands that Mephisto put Peter's life back just as it was, and give him a chance at happiness. Mephisto asks why he should do this, and MJ responds with a mysterious, whispered offer. Peter asks what MJ did, but Mephisto cuts them off, asking for Peter's response, his choice, now that MJ has made hers.
MJ tells Peter to go on, to be her hero, to make the deal. Mephisto taunts Peter with the fact that he didn't ask about the little girl from last issue, the unborn child that the couple will now never have together. As magic swirls around them, MJ tells Peter that she loves him, and will always love him, and that nothing will ever change that. She tells him that they'll find each other again. Peter and MJ exchange final "I Love Yous", as they embrace, remembering their past, and kiss, with MJ telling Peter "Face It, Tiger... You just hit the jackpot.", as the scene fades to black.
Peter wakes up, and realizes he's late. He runs down the stairs of Aunt May's house, grabs a pancake off the frying pan, stuffing it into his face as he takes off out the door and jumps on his bike. He finally gets to a Tower, and goes up to the penthouse, just in time for the Surprise part of the Surprise party. Flash Thompson meets him off the elevator, and the two catch sight of Mary Jane, looking their way. Flash asks Peter if things are still frosty with them, and Peter starts to ruminate on not knowing if she'll ever forgive him for something. Then, the guest of honor is about to arrive, and the surprise about to be launched. And in comes...
HARRY OSBORN. Peter and Flash greet Harry, who introduces them to his new girlfriend, Lily Hollister. Peter is also introduced to Carlie Cooper, Lily's best friend. As Carlie asks Peter how he knows Harry, Peter catches a glimpse of MJ leaving the party. Harry gets some glasses, and pours out some nice bubbly, as the party raises their glasses in a toast to a Brand New Day.
Without a doubt, this issue is going to be the most universally reviled, controversial issue of Amazing Spider-Man ever published. This issue ends J. Michael Straczynski's run on Amazing Spider-Man in the worst manner possible, although to be quite fair, this issue was really written by Joe Quesada and Marvel Editorial Interference, rather than Joe Quesada himself.
First of all, Peter Parker made a deal with the devil. Rereading this issue again, for the first time in a while, I tried to get a new appreciation for the issue, or at least try and look at it in a different way. I came away with the following:
The real hero here is Mary Jane Watson-Parker. This issue is really a testament to how strong her character has become, how interesting she has become. She's not the party-girl she once started out as, she's not the girl that came back into Peter's life and suddenly was a mess, with the weight of her past mistakes, etc, she's not a smoker, she's not a confused and often pissed off fiancee/wife. In this issue, she became the hero. Peter Parker made one of the stupidest decisions that the character has ever made in this issue. The entire issue lacked logic, but at least in Mary Jane, a sane voice was heard, asking Peter why not just let May die, and having the balls to do something, to put the other person before themselves. Mary Jane proved herself to be a stronger and more responsible hero than Spider-Man himself.
This issue has single-handedly RUINED continuity. Next time you read this issue, and then read Joe Quesada's comments that continuity still stays the same, just with them dating instead of married, go back and read the issue of Sensational Spider-Man that lead up to this issue. Why? Because in that issue, Mephisto lays it all out there for the reader to read. Even the slightest changes can have major effects on the flow of the timeline. This issue took 20 years of Spider-Man history, and flushed it down the toilet, without trying to make it make sense. Did you think that Superboy Prime punching reality over at DC was stupid? I think Super-Emo has new competition for lamest and stupidest ideas for changing reality and continuity and then not explaining it.
I wanted to give this issue a 4 for art and 0 for story, averaging out at 2 webs, but I just can't do that. This comic is atrocious. Its absolutely ridiculous.
What's so ironic about this is that it tries to achieve the same goal as the CLONE SAGA. The Clone Saga became about having a single, fun Spider-Man, instead of the angst-ridden, prospective father Spider-Man that Peter Parker had become, during his marriage to MJ. It failed then, as fans wanted Peter back, and liked MJ.
Now, we have no more MJ (at least in a permanent relationship) because of the deal with the devil. A friggin' deal with the devil. Because, y'know, that makes Peter Parker more relatable to children and new readers. Why not have him father an illegitimate child as well? Oh yeah, Quesada nixed that because it would have aged the character too much. So apparently its okay to make deals with devils, just not age, or have children, etc.
I'm giving this issue 0.5 webs. The art is good, indeed its really the only good thing about the issue. This issue is like putting a nuclear bomb at the core of Marvel Continuity for the last twenty years. So much is effected. So much makes no sense anymore. The past twenty years feel inconsequential.
Brand New Day is lined up with phenomenal creative teams. But the way to get there, was horrible. The journey was not worth the destination, because although the destination looks nice, the journey takes everything that I have liked about Spider-Man over the last 21-years and flushed it down the toilet.