Thursday, 17 December 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #144. Gwen Stacy returns from the dead

Amazing Spider-Man #144, Gwen Stacy returns from the dead
(Cover from May 1975.)

"The Delusion Conspiracy"

Words by Gerry Conway.
Pencils by Ross Andru.
Inks by Giacoia and Hunt.
Lettering by Ray Holloway.
Colours by George Roussos.

Drama without climax has no purpose, and life without love has no meaning. If so, this tale must be proud and high of head because it has not just one climax, it has two. One's as big an anti-climax as it is anti-cyclone. The other's like being punched in the face by Mike Tyson.

But time for that later. First there's a villain to be dealt with because, after last issue, the Cyclone has both J Jonah Jameson and Joe Robertson captive. Of course, he could've had Spider-Man captive too but, for no noticeable reason, chose to spin off out of there when he had the American defeated. What kind of fool is he? Doesn't he know from war films - and super-hero comics - that an American's never beaten?

Clearly not because now Peter Parker has a chance to go into action.

And, what action it is.

He drops in on the local hardware store.

I like this. I like the lulls in the tales. They're what make it interesting for me.

In school they taught me the French drive on the left, that they say maintenant when they mean "now" and that they eat nothing but croissants. One thing they never taught me is how great French hardware stores are. I've been in my local hardware shop many times and not once have they had such a thing as a gigantic fan on sale.

Come to think of it, for what purpose would such a fan be used? The only one I can think of is, "wind tunnel." So, for anyone who has a wind tunnel in their home, this store would be the store from heaven. Regardless, whatever its original intended purpose, it doesn't matter because a giant fan is all Spider-Man needs to stop the Cyclone.

That's right, France's greatest super-villain of them all's stopped by a giant fan and, having read this tale at least four times now in my life, I still don't have a clue why. As for Spider-Man using a tape recorder to fool JJ and Robbie into thinking both he and Peter Parker are present at the same time....

While it's nicely drawn, you don't get the feeling Messrs Conway and Andru were exactly pulling out all the stops when they produced this tale. In fact, if not for what happens right at its end, it'd have every feeling of being some sort of filler.

And that's where love comes in, and that's where the second climax comes in, one that flips the tale's worth on its head and sends it from filler to landmark as Peter returns home to find he has a surprise visitor.

Amazing Spider-Man #144, Peter Parker returns to his apartment to find Gwen Stacy back from the deadGwen Stacy.

We shouldn't be shocked. Bearing in mind that people come back from the dead all the time in comics, we shouldn't shocked.

And yet we are. Why? Because the death of Gwen Stacy wasn't just any comic book death. It was the first of its kind, its aftermath so potent we must have felt certain this was one corpse that wouldn't be walking.

But it is.

And there'll be more of it next issue.

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