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A look at “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”

(PHOTO CREDIT: COMICVINE.COM)
Issues 121 and 122 of “The Amazing Spider-Man” comics strike the balance between leisure and spine-chilling suspense when Spider-Man vows revenge. (PHOTO CREDIT: COMICVINE.COM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this new column, Eric Noh will explore trending comics.

With the fervent buzz about the film “Amazing Spider-Man 2” dulling to a low hum, one pivotal scene in particular warrants closer examination into the two comic issues that inspired it.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” issues 121 and 122 encompass the story arc commonly known as “The Night Gwen Stacy Died.” The story arc itself not only drastically changed the tone of Spider-Man comics, but also shocked comic book readers who had never seen such an important character killed off in an instant.

Issue 121 is interesting in a number of ways, with the first being that the title of the issue is not on the cover.

The cover states that someone is going to die, but refrains from revealing who right off the bat. The title is not revealed until the very end for the sake of building suspense. Quite a smart technique in my opinion.

This story arc is definitely worth a read for any self-proclaimed Spider-Man fans who are looking to start reading comics. If a fan who has seen the movies were to read these issues for the first time, they would recognize many key plot points that were also present in the Sam Raimi films.

The overall writing for this story arc was gripping, to say the least.

The use of suspense in order to keep the reader guessing who was going to be offed was enough to keep the reader mesmerized, page after page. At the end of issue 121, the reader is shocked to discover Spider-Man clutching Gwen’s lifeless body and vowing revenge on the Green Goblin, shouting, “You killed the woman I love and for that, you’re going to die!”

It is spine chilling to see Spider-Man, who often cheerfully mocks his enemies, cursing them and calling for their death.

The rest of the dialogue is amusing to read. It is evident that the writing for comics then differ to the writing now. Readers may find themselves chuckling at the cheesy dialogue, such as Peter Parker referring to LSD as “mind soap,” or declaring that “the kid gloves are off” as he prepares himself to face the Goblin.

It is a refreshing reminder that comic books are meant to be silly and amusing, given that the target audience consists of young kids. It is even silly to see Spider-Man mocking the Green Goblin as he pummels him mercilessly after Gwen’s death. He yells at the Goblin for what he did, yet he still makes jokes. It is quite an amusing display of emotional, yet hilarious, turmoil.

The artwork is also rather amusing, though new time readers who are used to seeing artistic detail in comics today may be deterred by the somewhat simplistic art style.

If one keeps in mind that the artwork of comic issues from the 1970s are drastically different from the ones of today, then one will simply have a jolly good time.

The artwork in these issues are pretty standard to The Amazing Spider-Man series, but a few things did have me breaking out in laughter.

In his LSD ridden state, Harry Osborn (Peter’s best friend) is just having all sorts of trouble and it is clear on his face.

He looks like a malnourished mix between Steve Buscemi and Chris Martin.
Though he clearly is in need of help and attention, Peter Parker blatantly ignores him in issue 122 as every frame of Peter just shows his face in distorted anger. Granted, he had just lost Gwen and believed Harry’s father to be the culprit.

But I believe that is no reason to just abandon a friend in need; especially when he looks like a combination of two celebrities-and not in the good way.

The issues tell the story quite well and, despite being a very serious story arc, it retains the same old Spider-Man antics that fans all know and love.

From Spider-Man joyfully making fun of his enemies as he beats them to a pulp to the angry ranting of J. Jonah Jameson as he continues to abhor the red and blue vigilante, these two issues changed the perspective of the comic book world and still live in infamy as encompassing the drama that was “The Night That Gwen Stacy Died.”

All in all, this story arc gets four Tobey Maguires out of five.

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