In all of his forty-plus years of comics, movies, cartoons and video-games, there's never quite been a Spider-Man story like Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man Annual for 2008. Instead of fighting supervillains, dealing with his Aunt May's never-ending heart attacks or having money problems, it's time for Peter Parker to finally become a man... by losing his virginity.
According to Bendis, Peter isn't the only one who's been waiting a long time for this moment:
It took like a year to green light this issue, and I'm really happy about it. We're going to do a special Ultimate Spider-Man Annual that deals with the subject of Peter and MJ's burgeoning physical relationship... [I]t's a tough sell, because it's a touchy subject that has to be handled appropriately. But then I brought up that, I said, "You know, you've got another Ultimate book where the brother and sister are making out in front of Captain America! And I can't have a conversation about this?" I mean, come on. This is something that's real. This is something that happens.
The original reasoning behind the story came from Bendis' desire to take his enjoyable soap opera in a more realistic direction. Well, as realistic as you can get with a radioactive Spider-powered hero:
I think about my life when I was 15 or 16 a lot when I'm writing this book. And I had a girlfriend, and we were very, very close. And that was the question. Should we, or shouldn't we? And we also, because of where I was raised, we were all going to private Hebrew school, so there was a pretty hardcore sense of morality, but everybody was kind of fooling around anyway. So it was there. It is there... It seemed to me there's a point where if the book's set in real life, it's really about them being teenagers, and this should be addressed. It's part of life. You've seen Juno. And did you hear about these kids who might've had a pregnancy pact? I mean, it's part of life. Of course, I'm not going to do anything as insane as that. But it is part of the life we lead. So we're going to address it.
But how far will the addressing go? Obviously we're not going to see Peter and MJ have sex - that would have to be a Marvel MAX book - but will the two characters even end up in bed together, or will they decided against it after 40-odd pages of neurotic conversation? You'll find out when the Annual ships to stores in October.