There are some interesting threads on this forum, already, covering issues of Marvel’s early series – ‘re-reading’’ of the Avengers and Journey into Mystery/Thor and so on and there was quite a good issue by issue thread on the Invaders around too, until it caught up with the present.
What is more rarely discussed are the later periods when these series were in full flow and while perhaps less iconic still number among them some classics… The examination of the Avengers from #101 onwards gets a credit here.
I therefore present to you an issue by issue critique/discussion forum for one of these mainstay Marvel titles.
Not beginning at the very debut – as others have that covered well – but (and I hope I don’t step on anyone’s creative toes here!) – I would like to pick up the Amazing Spider-Man title after a watershed/bookend issue provided an opportune point at which to begin …
Issue #50 featured that classic moment in Peter Parker’s life when he first thought he couldn’t go on and yet eventually realised he just couldn’t possibly give up being Spidey.
“Spider-Man No More!” draws breath for the title before it races on into it’s next phase – less discussed than the Ditko issues and the early Romita ‘End of the Green Goblin’ stuff the next issue builds on those early foundations and catapults our hero and the title to the second half of it’s first century of publishing and its next phase of greatness…
So, after “Spider-Man No-More!”
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With feeling…!”
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility…!”
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With in-depth discussion and critique…..
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With #51 (08/67)…..

Come back soon……

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I only started collecting ASM regularly with issue #120, just one issue before Gwen Stacy was killed off -- entirely coincidental and mainly having to do with my getting a regular allowance and finding a good place to purchase comics.  ASM & the Fantastic Four were the first comics I started getting regularly every month, my first selections whenever I saw new issues on the spinner rack.  Anyhow, I had just enough previous issues of ASM to know how important a character Gwen was so even as a relative newbie I understood the shock value of her death.  Then there were the LOCs on it in later issues -- from all indications there was massive response from the readership, most of it very negative, although there were at least a few that supported ditching Gwen.  I would hazard a guess that in the history of Marvel Comics, from that first issue of the FF in 1961 and maybe to the present, there was more intense reader response to "The Night Gwen Stay Died" upon its initial publication in 1973 than there has been to any other comic Marvel ever released.  So much response that eventually Stan Lee ordered Gerry Conway to bring her back, although he didn't specify how and didn't require that Gwen become a regular part of Spidey's cast again.  And so this storyline came about.  Gwen certainly wasn't the first main longtime love interest of superhero to be killed off -- Lady Dorma had been killed off in Sub-Mariner about a year earlier, just to name one predecessor.  But of course, Prince Namor's mag didn't have nearly the sales that ASM did and he was a difficult character for many readers to empathize with   By 1973, however, Spider-Man was Marvel's most well-known character and well on his way to becoming as iconic as Superman and BatMan and while Gwen Stacy would never be as well known as Lois Lane, I think for most longtime readers of ASM from the '60s into the early '70s it would have been considered as inconceivable that Gwen would really be killed off as for Lois Lane to be killed off in a story intended to be canon rather than some sort of imaginary yarn.  Gwen's death was shocking enough that many comics fans consider it the true end of the Silver Age of Comics (there are plenty of arguments for the transition point occurring much earlier, such as the Marvel expansion in 1968, although I tend to agree with the argument that it was the month in 1970 when Kirby left Marvel for DC and the first issue of Conan the Barbarian was published; I haven't seen any claims for a later date than the publication of ASM #121 in 1973).  So, yeah, I'd say response to ASM #121 was pretty big at the time.  Of course, within the last couple of decades alternative Gwen Stacys have become more prominent than the original Gwen ever was prior to her death, and there's even a rock band named after her.

Ronald Morgan said:

Don't remember what was going on back then, but #145 was my last issue until after this series was over, and I don't recall missing Gwen much back then. Just how big was her death back in those days, before modern day nostalgia took over?

Ronald Morgan said:

Don't remember what was going on back then, but #145 was my last issue until after this series was over, and I don't recall missing Gwen much back then. Just how big was her death back in those days, before modern day nostalgia took over?

Here are some of the letters they received back then. From ASM #124:

From ASM 125:

Marvel's response in #125:

Much later it came out that it was actually Johnny Romita's idea and that Conway's original suggestion was to kill off Aunt May.  And Stan later claimed he wasn't consulted when Roy approved the plot to kill of Gwen Stacy, although I'd guess that was more Stan's way of calming down angry Marvelites on the lecture circuit rather than giving an honest account of what went down.  Roy had countered that there was no way he would have given the OK for that story without first consulting with Stan and I'm much more inclined to think Roy's version is the more truthful.  

Killing Aunt May would have made it pretty impossible to get rid of Gwen though. But then what exactly is May contributing these days?

My thoughts on -

ASM 144 - I said my piece on Cyclone already, lame villain and he probably suffered the most embarrassing defeat of any Spidey foe to date.  A giant fan?  Really?

This issue is remembered solely for the cover and the shocking last page.  As Mr. Mantle said, Gerry Conway's creative juices were concentrating on the subplot.  I wonder if anyone remembers (then or now) why Jonah ran off to Paris.  Gerry certainly forgot, as the issue was never addressed again.

ASM 145- I really liked how Peter's first response to seeing "Gwen Stacy" was that he was going crazy, but then he talked it out for himself and rejected the idea that she was back from the dead.  It was a clever way to recap the events of the previous issue too.  The Scorpion gave Spidey more trouble than I ever recall him doing before, which I attribute to Peter's head just not being in the game.  Understandable with Aunt May being in the hospital and having to deal with what he believes is a Gwen Stacy imposter running around.  The last page is both ridiculous - verifying fingerprints on a clone, and digging up a grave that quickly (btw, was anyone surprised there were two Gwens, one dead and one alive, instead of an empty grave?) - and also compelling, as this mystery deepens.

The later clone saga used the identical fingerprints bit a few times. Not only did they have the same fingerprints as the original person but when they died they weren't human dead bodies, but puddles of goo.

I guess the Jackal's "cloning" process had little to do with actual cloning.

Science in the M.U. works in remarkably whacky ways.

I say the Watchers (or Beyonders or whoever) have weird senses of humor and like to annoy Earthlings.

Amazing Spider-Man #146 (07/75)
Writer - Gerry Conway Editor - Len Wein
Penciller - Ross Andru Inker - John Romita and the gang
Cover Art – John Romita
  “Scorpion... ...Where Is Thy Sting?!"

Well, that's a Romita cover so it is pretty strong standard stuff but villain-of-the-month-threatening-Aunt-May is not exactly a new approach. I bet even Mr Romita got a bit bored doing this kind of cover.

-It's been a while since we last discussed a new Amazing Spider-Man issue in this thread (So very sorry) so lets recap - Gwen Stacy appears to be alive...and dead.
That's kind of all we need to know as we begin to delve into tales of clones and Jackals... first time around.

The opening splash is really good (I'm a definite Ross Andru fan - I know he doesn't do it for everyone but I really rate him.) with the Jackal centre-stage and never looking better/stranger/more crazy.

The 'Alas, poor Spider-Man... I knew him well, hee, heehee. HahaHAHA!" may be a cliche but it's a good and honest one.
There is an editorial blurb celebrating the end of writer Gerry Conway's third year on the title which is a nice touch.

The Jackal goes on to show how mad he is and how he has been plotting against our hero for 'Two years Spider-Man. Two long, miserable years -- since the day you committed murder----The Day The JACKAL Was Born!".
The length of time may be 'Marvel-time vs real-time' and thus 'topical' but the reference is clearly the 'death' of Gwen Stacy.
Is this the first time we get such a clear link between Gwen and the Jackal? Certainly this is a big clue as to the true identity of the villain which will remain a mystery for a while yet.

Elsewhere and we catch up with Peter parker and 'Gwen Stacy' walking together trying to make sense of recent revelations, "-- I've been dead two years!" "How could I have died -- and still be Alive?"

The recap reminds us that we first met this Gwen at Peter's apartment - which rattled Peter back in #144.
Peter walks her home (where she is 'boarding with Betty Brant" - which quietens all you who are shouting 'who paid her rent/mortgage while she was 'dead' then?!) and she brightens a little, content that they'll sort things out after all... "I love you, don't I? And you ---- love me? Peter... You do still love me don't you?"
It is actually a really emotional scene, not only for the confused Gwen but for Peter and we-the-readers, as we all realise that... Peter has indeed moved on, the only-girl-he-ever-loved label is no longer pertinent.... in the words of Yoda, "There is another..."

Peter does what he always does when stressed, changes to Spider-Man and swings those webs.
The story cuts to a mob leader's country house where the Scorpion attacks making a bid for the big time, bouyed as he is by his (mistaken) belief that he was the man who killed Spider-Man.
(Is it just me or does Santonio look like he could have been modelled on Stan Lee? He even has the letters S-T-A-N in his name...? ...Just me..?)
Santonio soon points out, by turning on the news, that Spider-Man is alive and well, which annoys the Scorpion enough that he leaves, promising, "--I'll Kill Him Again!"

The Jackal appears and enlists the Scorpion to his plan.
What is interesting here, that I really like, is that the Jackal is not shown to be a particularly adept fighter. Indeed, he gets knocked on his ass/arse/bottom and it is his all-too-human powers of persuasion, intellect and charm that win the Scorpion over. This links nicely into the actual identity/origin of the Jackal that we later discover but at this point are still very unaware of.

Spider-man informs us that he had broken into the Scorpion (Max Gargan) 's parole officer's office to sneak a look at Gargan's current home address before we meet our hero searching that address for the stolen loot the Scorpion has amassed so far...which he has 'hidden' in his closet.
Now that's attention to detail for a story.
"Give the man a cigar..."
Spidey then telephones the police to tell them to come find the stash and goes in search of the Scorpion himself.

Back in the hospital where we last left Aunt May...
May is actually referred to in the stage directions as... "The immortal old woman known as Aunt May..." - even at this point it is an open secret/joke that Aunt May never dies!! For someone as old and infirm she must have a immortality it..? This is a very tongue-in-cheek moment for Conway (didn't he want to kill of Aunt May but overruled by Stan..?) but I love the in-joke.

We also get an explanation of how May is coping with the apparent return of Gwen - she has processed the 'death' as 'those rumours of her death--" which is, of course, ridiculous but then so is her immortality...!
Turning up the ridiculous dial even higher -- the Scorpion breaks into May's hospital room, having been 'told I'd find him here".
It's a dramatic full-page spread that feels like it should have been a cliff-hanger last page but isn't and is a thematic flip of the issue's cover only Peter is not in costume and it is him who is inside the room.

Assaulted by Scorpy, Aunt May finally dies of a heart attack faints. (!) and the Scorpion begins searching the hospital room by room for our hero.
"Accordin' to the Jackal, Spider-Man was supposed to be in that old hag's room" is a throwaway line but tells us volumes.

Spidey and Scorpy tussle but eventually the bad guy escapes and Spider-Man begins to wonder what we were wondering..."from hints the Jackal dropped when last we met, I'm beginning to think he knows Spider-Man's real identity--"
Then he spies the Scorpion and knocks him off the Chrysler Building (was it the tallest in it's day?) until scaredy-cat Scorpy begs him to save him...
"I'll do anything you ask!" which gives Spidey an idea...

The issue closes out then with Peter Parker witnessing the Scorpion apologising to his Aunt May,( like Spider-Man told him to), for upsetting her so much. It's a fun exchange,

"I haven't a very high opinion of Spider-Man-- but at least He has manners."

"Why you old--"
"Watch your tongue, or I'll slap your face!"

"Who says a Marvel mag can't end Cheerful? Not Us Effendi, Not Us!"

So we have a good action set piece with Spider-Man and Scorpion, rumblings of a villainous master plan with the Jackal and the ongoing mystery of the return of Gwen Stacy.

This is actually a pretty solid issue and I like it more than I remembered I would.
I remain a big fan of the art.

Anyone out there back on board with this thread?

"Next Issue: More mischief with the mysterious Jackal; Plus -- the Power of -- Tarantula!"

Come Back...

I just re-read it. Not bad. I've always enjoyed the Scorpion.

According to Wikipedia, the Chrysler Building was the world's tallest building for almost a year until it was surpassed by the Empire State Building.

Santonio might be based on one of Stan's looks. Not sure if that's what he looked like at the time of this issue.

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