5 Saddest Moments In SPIDER-MAN Comics
Is there anything more powerful than a comic story arc, or even a single panel that can bring a tear to your eye? It's an amazing achievement, and comic fans know that Spider-Man comics have produced the best tearjerkers. Here are my top five moments.
THE DEATH OF JEAN DEWOLFF
Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110
"The Death of Jean DeWolff" is a four-part story arc written by Peter David and penciled by Rich Buckler. Jean DeWolff was a supporting character, a police detective that when we first meet her is not Spidey's biggest fan. Of course this is because the Bugle has influenced her perception of the wall crawler. But over time DeWolff becomes one of Spider-Man's biggest allies on the force, and they become good friends.
In this story arc Jean is murdered by her ex-lover Stan Carter, aka Sin-Eater. When Spidey gets to the crime scene he is taken aback when he finds a collection of photos that Jean kept of her and Spider-Man. He even finds an altered photo, that Jean placed an image of herself over Black Cat's so that she was in the image next to Spidey. This packs an emotional wallop as Peter realizes too late that Jean was quite smitten with him.
Spidey then teams up with Daredevil to track down the murderer. As the Sin-Eater is about kill Spidey's first girlfriend, Betty Brant, the two heroes swoop in to save the day. Tension is thick as Spidey is filled with rage as he looks upon Jean's murderer, a fiend that was close to snuffing out another one of his loved ones. All of this is too much for Spidey and he unleashes his rage upon Sin-Eater like we have never seen him do before. As he pummels the villain to near death Daredevil steps in and puts a stop to it before Spidey can finish him off.
THE DEATH OF HARRY OSBORN
Spectacular Spider-Man #200
Good thing Norman and Harry Osborn died so early or they would've most likely developed Alzheimer's. Constantly forgetting that they're the Goblin, only to have some stress, or a bump on the head make them realize that they are really a jolly green bastard underneath. And that's what sets "The Death of Harry Osborn" in motion as Harry Osborn once again realizes that he is the Green Goblin and all of his hatred for Spider-Man/Peter Parker begins to bubble to the surface. Writer J.M. DeMatteis spins a wonderful tale that really surprises you. As you know Harry is becoming a monster yet again, he still has enough humanity to tell Mary Jane that she and Aunt May will be safe from his wrath. It has a lot more weight as he makes this statement at the Brooklyn Bridge, the site of Gwen Stacy's death. To also up the ante Harry developed a new version of the Goblin formula, but it has side effects, as you will see below.
With all the key elements set, Harry plans a dinner party at his home for a group of businessmen that in his mind have wronged his family. There he will set off a bomb and kill them, but before they even show up Mary Jane and Spidey drop in unexpectedly.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Annual #1
A short story that involves a little homeless girl that lives in a dirty alley. Not like a bum child would live in a classy alley, but you get the point. Her name is "Leah" and she is a huge fan of the wall crawler. She uses newspapers with Spider-Man's images on them to line her cardboard home and as a blanket during those chilly nights. These are some of the most powerful six pages that you'll ever find in a comic, and unless you are the Tin Man you'll shed a tear or two. The credit goes to the writer Peter David, and the artist Colleen Doran. Bravo!
THE KID WHO COLLECTS SPIDER-MAN
The Amazing Spider-Man #248
This is a fantastic tale that is Eisneresque, written by Roger Stern and drawn by Ron Frenz. It begins with a Daily Bugle newspaper clipping that explains that a young boy, Timmy Hammond, is a huge Spider-Man fan, and then we see his hero visit him in his bedroom. During this moment Timmy and Spider-Man/Peter Parker have a wonderful chat as Timmy shows off his Spidey memorabilia. Peter really opens up to Timmy, explaining where his powers came from, and his sad beginnings that lead to him becoming a hero. It's a cathartic moment for Peter as he is able to unload a lot of his pain.
By the end Timmy makes one last request, and it's to have Spidey reveal his true identity, which surprisingly Peter does. The final newspaper clipping leaves your bottom lip quivering as it dons on you the real reason why Peter was so forthcoming with the boy and granted Timmy's last wish.
THE NIGHT GWEN STACY DIED
The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122
It seems hard to believe but Gerry Conway was only 19-years-old when he wrote what many consider to be the greatest comic story ever. It begins with Spider-Man returning from Canada to find Harry still laid up in bed due to an overdose of LSD. Gwen, MJ, and Peter want to comfort their friend but Harry's father, Norman, will have none of it, and sends them on their way. The stress gets to be too much for Norman, and the Green Goblin resurfaces. With vengeance in his blood he heads to Peter's apartment, and comes across Gwen, who he kidnaps. Once Peter heads back to the apartment he soon realizes Goblin has his love and his Spidey sense brings him to the Brooklyn Bridge. There Goblin tosses Gwen off the bridge, and as many of you know Spidey catches her with his webbing, but the sudden jolt snaps her neck.
It's even more gut wrenching as he goes to pull her up he believes he has saved Gwen, and his Spidey bravado allows him to pat himself on the back. Everything changes once he realizes his first love is dead. The grief stricken hero refuses to believe she is gone, and delivers some of the most stubbornly sad lines you've ever seen on a comic page. Peter wants her to miraculously come to life and if you have any heart so do you, the reader. Though sadly that won't happen, and Spider-man like always is destined to live a miserable life where everyone he ever loves will be hurt in some painfully dramatic way.
The story is beautifully drawn by Gil Kane as he takes advantage of long panels in the falling scenes to convey the height. He also captures Spidey's share loneliness and heartbreak with panels that pull far away showing how alone Peter must feel at that miserable moment in his life.
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