Spider-Man's career has often been shaped by tragedy, but rarely as much as in the story of the Stacys! Two of Spider-Man's greatest enemies, Doc Ock and the Green Goblin, made comic-book history by killing the wall-crawler's police officer … see full wiki
Locked in a prison far from New York City, Doctor Octopus plots his escape. His mechanical arms have been separated from him and they're miles away. He works diligently trying to gain mental control over them from the great distance to spring his breakout. He finally succeeds and he returns to the city on another rampage. -summary
During the 70's towards the end of the Silver Age, comic books began to show sparks of this transition from the campy stories people of the 50's and 60's grew up on, into the gritty, edgier stories with darker content. Writers wanted something different and this resulted in them taking risk. Stories became more intricate and began to target older audiences. As a long time comic book reader, to the best of my knowledge I believe it was Marvel that took those risk first, and the popular storyline from the Spider-Man mythos, The Death of Gwen Stacy is said to be that story that upped the ante. This story featured Spider-Man's girlfriend Gwen Stacy being killed by one of his villains who knew his secret identity, The Green Goblin. This trade paper back collects both stories surrounding the deaths of both Gwen Stacy and her father Captain Stacy. Written by Stan Lee and Gerry Conway, The Death of the Stacys collects The Amazing Spider-Man issues 88-92 and 121-122.
I can imagine the first story, The Death of Captain Stacy, being overlooked as far as the drama is concerned, but it's actually better than the second in terms of action, and it even has a better plot when moving from point A to B as far as I'm concerned. Spider-Man is forced to battle Dr. Octopus, who has finally had it with being defeated by Spider-Man over and over. This is a tale of revenge, and Doc Ock truly feels he has his number this time, as he appears to outclass the wall crawler in all aspects. The stories are very entertaining, and the follow-up story with Spider-Man being blamed for the death is also very interesting as well.
The second story follows the Green Goblin as he regains his memory, thus, Spider-man's identity coming back to him, and from there, he takes the fight to the Wall-Crawler kidnapping Gwen Stacy making this very personal. I heard how much of a shock this storyline was back then, due to the popularity of the character, and killing off a teenage hero's girlfriend is one hell of a risk taker. Spider-Man appeared ready to do what he should have done a long time ago, and the drama is pretty good. However, it's not as strong as it should have been due to the dated dialog, and the snappy talk from Spider-Man could have been completely curbed into something more serious. In any case, the story does its job in being intense.
The artwork which consists of John Romita Sr. and Gail Kane behind the pencils, with Romita, Jim Mooney, and Tony Mortellaro behind the inks holds up pretty well. The character designs are nice and the reader can sense the rage behind the mask of Spider-Man, as well as the mental issues from the schizophrenic Green Goblin. The panels as well as dialog are easy to follow.
The Death of Gwen Stacy is a very important moment in Spider-Man lore, and it has also been regarded as a Marvel Milestone. This storyline had amazing impact which had been felt for years, as it was the main reason behind the original Spider-Man Clone Saga, and it gave birth to villains the Jackal and Carrion, and Spider-Man would also learn from this mistake much later on (serious Spider-Man fans know what I'm talking about). Sam Raimi would also later go on to reuse the Green Goblin battle in 2002's Spider-Man film. Highly influential, gripping, entertaining, I really can't think of any reason why I wouldn't recommend this book. Great read for fans who may have missed it, not a bad place to start on either.
Pros: -Solid storytelling in both stories
Cons: -Dialog feels a bit dated
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