When I was halfway through issue three of OMD, we received Joe's script for issue 4. After reading it, we (Axel, Tom and myself) all quickly realized that we had a problem -- the script we had just received was not the one we were expecting, and the events that were being set forth in that issue were going to conflict with the work that was already being done on "Brand New Day." I thought that perhaps Joe had forgotten some of the stuff discussed at the summit meetings and the subsequent e-mails and discussions that followed, but that didn't seem to be the case; this was the story he wanted to tell. In his story, Mephisto was going to change continuity from as far back as issues #96-98 from 1971. In Joe's story, Peter drops the dime on Harry, and that helps get him into rehab right away. Consequently, MJ stays with Harry, and Gwen never dies and never has her affair with Norman, etc., etc. And in the end, Peter and MJ are never married.
This, in my mind, while it neatly puts the pieces back in some way, was not what we wanted to do. First, it discounted every issue of "Amazing" since that story arc. Second, the series of events that it discounts in the Marvel U are too far-reaching to contemplate. And third, it had severe ramifications for the creators already well underway on "Brand New Day," the thrice-monthly "Amazing Spider-Man." In other words, there was just no way to tell Joe's story without blowing up the entire Marvel U and every Spider-Man's fan's collection. What we originally discussed with Joe and the group was much simpler and cleaner: The wedding? Something happened on the wedding day that prevented it from happening. The unsmasking? Mephisto makes people forget it; much like the Sentry, it happened -- it's just no longer remembered. And Harry? Well, there's always a price to pay when you make a deal with the devil. Is it a perfect solution? Absolutely not. Does it get us to where we want to be? Yes.
Anyway, we discovered all of this midway through the third issue and it became very evident to us that we had a problem. Not only that, now knowing what we knew, issue three had to be changed slightly in order to set up the things we needed in issue four. Joe fought hard for his story and you have to respect any creator for supporting his vision, I know where he was coming from. But by the time we knew what he was shooting for, I had to make a decision that served the greater good and what everyone had signed on for. Eventually, Joe told us that he would try to give us what we wanted in issue four, though he disagreed with it and also felt that it wasn't the kind of story that he wanted to tell. He was a trooper and, while I know it couldn't have been fun for him, he gave us a script that served as a road map to help us along -- because when we received the new version, we were still missing some beats to get all the things across that we needed for the "Brand New Day" run. Joe gave us an okay to do what we needed, so stuff had to be repaginated, and reconstructed. We used a lot of Joe's dialog, but some of it was mine, or Axel or Tom's -- everyone had to chip in, especially since now the issue was going to be over thirty pages in order to get us to the closing scene at the party. It was a lot of work, but everyone pulled through and we got it out. Like I said, the fact that it made December is a Christmas miracle.
And let me repeat: I couldn't be more sorry for having to change Joe's story and that's why publicly I'm apologizing to him for doing so. But, ultimately, we had to get to the place where we promised other creators we would be for them to launch their stories.