Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Spider-Man's Worst Moments

Spider-Man has had a long and generally good run but there have been some points that should be dropped into a black hole. Here are a some of them:

The death of Gwen Stacy. When Stan Lee left the strip and Gerry Conway took over it was felt that Peter and Gwen's relationship had stagnated. The solution - kill Gwen and replace her with a stagnant relationship with Mary Jane Watson. Shock value is not a substitute for good writing.

The clones. The issue after Gwen died, Conway killed off Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin. Not long after that a skinny green character called the Jackal started trying to kill Spidey. This turned out to be Peter's only named college teacher, Professor Warren. Warren produced clones of Peter and Gwen. The Peter clone was killed and the Gwen clone left.

The death of the Hobgoblin. In the 1980s, Roger Stern decided to bring back some of the excitement of the Green Goblin. The Goblin appeared for years before we found out who he was. Stern had a plotline where someone found a stash of Goblin equipment and used it to become the Hobgoblin. Stern kept this new villain's identity a secret, even from other writers. He actually was thinking of a fashion designer Mary Jane was working for but later writers planted clues that the Hobgoblin was Ned Leeds. Then, Leeds turned up dead, killed during a German spy plot. They had to have an issue where a new Hobgoblin explained that he had assassinated Leeds for the costume. Much later Stern wrote a limited series wrapping up the plot.

The return of the clones. The presumed-dead spider-clone returned. Then a clone of the Jackal returned. Then hordes of clones appeared. Peter decided that he was the clone and retired. His replacement turned out to be the clone and Peter came back. Like a copy of a copy, the clone plotline just got worse.

Aunt May marrying Doc Ock. In the first Spider-Man annual, Peter's girl friend, Betty Brant, and Aunt May were captured by some of Spider-Man's enemies as bait. ay never quite figured out what was going on and was impressed with the nice, cultured Doc Ock. Gerry Conway expanded on this, first having Ock take a room as May's boarder then propose. It turned out that she had inherited a Canadian breeder-reactor that Ock wanted access to.

The death of Aunt May. Marv Wolfman invigorated the strip in the late 1970s but, as part of this revival, he killed Aunt May. I doubt that anyone bought it. It was an anti-climax when she reappeared, a prisoner of the man who had killed Uncle Ben.

The return of the Green Goblin. At the end of the clone plotline it turned out that Norman Osborn had not died. He had just gone to Europe. He also got a lot richer and more powerful than previously shown. This violated one of Stan Lee's basic rules about death - if you see a body then he's really dead. The premise was bad. The execution was bad. I stopped reading the strip.

The second death of Aunt May. Once again, it didn't take. Don't kill a character unless you mean it. This was part of the return-of-Osborn plotline. Notice how these bad plots sort of build on each other.

The death of Mary Jane. Somewhere in the return-of-Osborn plotline, Mary Jane decided that she couldn't take being married to a superhero. When Peter kept doing heroics she left him. Not long after Peter started talking about how she must be dead. Why? There was no body. The real reason was that editors decided that a single Spider-Man was more interesting than one who was married. After the first movie came out, they had to bring Mary Jane back.

1 comment:

squirtle_skidzz said...

the clone saga had its up and downs but at lest the costumes rocked at least i think so