I have a love-hate relationship with Matt Fraction. He is the guy who tanked Fear Itself but he is the guy who has written my favorite Spiderman story of all time (a close second is Blue by Jeph Loeb).
Spidey at his heart has always been a love story. For me it’s always been less about the pajama wearing heroics and the incredible rogue’s gallery and more about Spidey having to choose between who he is and who he loves. And nowhere has this been better illustrated than in “To have and to hold”.
The story was written right at the juncture of the worst time in Peter’s life, right about when the powers that be at Marvel decided to null and void Peter and MJ’s marriage. And the story illustrates why they are the most enduring couple in the history of comics and how much of a mistake it was to get rid of their marriage. It’s a montage of the moments of their life and their fierce loyalty to each other. The love that has been built over the years was perfectly captured by the storytelling, by laying out the same panels twice but with what was going through each of their minds. The conflicting panels show how they went through the same thing and did not know it – just like real relationships. This story has the scene of their first kiss – in an airport no less – and the following panel has stayed with me for years. Along with so many more memorable panels – the one at the top of the tallest building in New York when they look down and forget their worries for a second come to mind.
Fraction crafted this story from the moments in his life and how in love with his own wife he is and it shows.
And in the end, enduring.
It’s one of those stories that I will never tire of reading. And on rainy days like this I pull my copy and I read it. And it reminds me life isn’t about the meandering hopelessness of it all, life is about the moment with the person that you love. It’s about the little things. It’s about having and holding someone, who is your rock.