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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 78

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at a sad death scene from Amazing Spider-Man #400.


This story was written by J.M. DeMatteis and was drawn by Mark Bagley (no offense to Bagley, but I really think he should have just ended his run on Amazing with this issue – he stuck around for another year or so of more or less awful stories – he should have just went out on a high note with this issue) and Larry Mahlstedt.

This issue was directly caught up in the whole “Clone Saga,” but DeMatteis still somehow managed to make it a heartfelt and tear-filled issue, even in the midst of the Clone Saga.

Aunt May is sick, and as it turns out, she is deathly ill.

So this leads to a remarkable five pages, where she reveals that she always knew Peter was Spider-Man, which she tells Peter right before she goes on to the light at the end of the tunnel…

Beautifully done.

And later in the issue, a wonderful moment with the revelation of her grave next to Uncle Ben’s…

Excellent work by DeMatteis.

I don’t really blame the writers/editors who decided to bring Aunt May back later, as she IS a pretty darn important part of the Spider-Man mythos, but it was still a shame to “lose” this story. But then again, it still exists, so I guess we never really “lost” it, did we?


I got misty eyed just reading that and I’m not even a Spider-Man fan.

I remember reading this when it came out and I thought it was really great. I didn’t want them to kill off Aunt May but the way they did this worked so well. It was a high point in the middle of a confusing and really disappointing era in the publication of Spider-Man.
Also, I did get pissed when they brought May back. You can’t get a better send off for such a key character. That they negated this story (the May who died wasn’t May but some actress or something? What was the explanation?) really bothered me. Just was more of Marvel backpedaling as soon as they realize that Peter Parker has taken a step towards adulthood.

Wrong page there at the end, Brian.

And yeah, let’s all just try and forget that this was an actress hired by Norman Osborn.

Yes, an actress and her clone nephew. At least his Chameleon-made robot parents weren’t there. Or Aunt May’s ex-husband Doc Ock.

J.M. DeMatteis will always be my favorite Spider-Man writer. He was so versatile, writing some of Spidey’s wackiest stuff…and then coming up with heart wrenching stuff like this or the death of Harry. I’ve always thought he was underrated as a writer.

I’ve never read this issue before (although I have heard about it), and I have to say that is a very powerful scene. It is sad that Marvel won’t let these characters grow up. “May’s about to die? Look at the time, it’s Reboot O’clock!”

Really, this is the problem with this ongoing continuity, year after year. A longtime writer’s inclination is to want to write it like a TV show. For the sake of drama and no stagnating, they want to age people, they want to move on to something else to stop from getting stale. But that attitude factors in that an audience ages and changes and follows the story along. Unfortunately, the best of a TV show is often seen as a certain “golden era”. In comics, they want to get new fans, and figure the best way to please people is to return to the “classic” era that has already proved to be popular.

I’ll selfishly turn this discussion back at myself, and point out the recent reboot of G.I. Joe comics was not really something I wanted to see, but it was sort of necessary to not only bring in new readers, but to be able to reasonably write typical G.I. Joe stories. After twenty years of evolving storyline, it got to the point where bringing together the “classic” villains all working for Cobra would have needed ridiculous leaps in logic after practically everyone had either left the group, or become bitter enemies who would never work with each other.

And because this is sort of a necessary evil in the comics world, I don’t think we should allow reboots and rewrites ruin old scenes and stories we like, retroactively. For example, just cuz Star Trek brought Spock back to life doesn’t mean the later movies “ruined” the powerful ending of ST2.

Furious George

March 20, 2009 at 7:07 am

It was a great moment, right until that Scarlet Spider dude showed up. Damn you, Clone Saga!

Why does Uncle Ben’s headstone have a semicolon in it?

The scenes with Aunt May and Peter completely validated Peter’s entire motivation for being Spider-Man. Instead of constantly feeling that he had “let down” Uncle Ben, May tells him Ben would be proud of him. Peter would be a man, not an over-aged Charlie brown. No wonder Marvel had to take away Aunt May’s dignified death! Better to keep Peter the same ol’ loser nerd barely out of high school than to suggest his time fighting alongside the likes of Captain America, the F4 or the Avengers and saving the world might have helped him mature.

Spider-Man is close to 50 years as a feature now. And all he can do is regress.

I just noticed that Ben’s grave here is completely different from how it was portrayed in ASM #501 (it’s a joint headstone with Richard and Mary Parker).

I wonder what they did with the fake May’s grave and body? I’m reminded of a short story from some X-Factor annual where Jean Grey went to visit the grave they buried Phoenix in.

Personally I think that would make an interesting story some day, Adam… so many characters “die” and then return (in many cases repeatedly), it’s a good question:

Just what happens when someone returns from the dead? If there’s a grave, what do they do about that? If the estate has been distributed, how is that handled? How do they unwind all of this stuff?


Y’know, you just reminded me of a Hulk story from 1995-ish, which covered Nick Fury’s funeral after the Punisher “killed” him. Nick’s buddies from WWII travel to the funeral in denial the whole time, knowing that the death will be disproven at some point. By the end of the story, they’re thouroughly depressed when they realize Nick isn’t coming back (IIRC, the body fell out of the casket during a hero fight).

Of course, three years later, Nick was back….

thanks for that touching moment my eyes are misting just reading it . then having it turn out that the aunt may was fake. still made the thought that spider man finaly had to say goodbye to aunt may after so long a life was touching.

God, that’ s ugly.

Wow. What an incredible death scene. It’s a shame they undid it, because it seems pretty darn impossible to improve on that.

What I remember most about that scene is Ben Reilly on the wall outside the room, feeling all the same emotions as Pete, yet unable to go in, because he was, well, the clone.


I’ve never actually seen that scene before, but it is great. I always thought Aunt May’s death would be a logical chapter in the ongoing Spidey mythos, and I always suspected she’d reveal she knew all along about Spidey’s ID.

It is pretty awful the sloppy way they undid the story (and I think Norman Osborn is the worst resurrection choice in comics history.

But as is pointed out, these stories aren’t really “lost”, and this is a good one to celebrate here.

When DeMatteis is good, he’s really, really good.

Lovely little ending but sorry the art totally undercut it for me. Serious yuk.

I got misty eyed just reading that and I’m not even a Spider-Man fan.

I never understand how someone can like the superhero genre and not be a Spider-Man fan.

Probably the highlight of the Clone Era stories, totally got me misty-eyed when I picked it up.

Ah, the clone saga! One of the highlights of comics history! And remember when Spider-Man was MARRIED? How cool was THAT?!? *ducks flying shoe*

Seriously, a ‘cool’ moment, considering Aunt May’s been at Death’s door since 1963 …

For me, Spider-Man ends roughly about here, then picks back up when JMS took over Amazing, and then ends again right about Civil War or so.

Yes, it’s true we can pick and choose stories, but the problem is that right now, my bar-none favorite character is being written like it’s 1979, a little before I started following him. Not interesting at all to me, other than a casual glance or a library grab.

Now THAT’s a true “one more day.”

Man, all this reminds me of is how much I disliked Mark Bagley’s work on ASM. It looks like Peter’s about to crush May with his freakishly large forehead in that 2nd-to-last panel on the 2nd page.

Aunt May has got to be one of the hardest characters to draw; I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone–from Ditko and Romita, to Byrne and Romita Jr.–draw her in a way that doesn’t look eerily masculine. Is it that she’s supposed to be an older female Peter?

What a beautiful story. I remember how cheesed off I was when they brought back Aunt May a few years later. Even now I kind of wish they’d not brought her back and let this issue stand.

Wish the page of the Scarlet Spider-Man crying outside the house had been included. His silent weeping on the roof was probably my favorite image from the issue. Bagley nailed it — it oozed such emotion.

Have a good day.
John Cage

Who’d have thought such a great issue could be found during the Clone Saga?

Yeah, it sucks that the retconned it to being an actress, and that Marvel feels Peter is only interesting by regressing him every few years or so…but it’s still a powerful, well done scene. Hey, they rebooted the entire Superman series after “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” as well, and those are still some powerful issues as well.

this was the first issue of spider-man i ever bought, when i was ten years old. i read it and loved it so much that I continued buying all the weekly spider-man titles with every scrap of change i could find. 15 years later, i have thousands of comic books and haven’t missed a single issue of ‘amazing’, or any other main spidey title for that matter. Though spider-man isn’t my favourite anymore, this issue will always have a very special place in my heart and I’m getting all emotional just typing this. I love comic books.

This is sad. Reading this site, first I discover that Blue Beetle got his head blown off by a former friend: that Norman Osborn is back; and, among other egregious slights, that AUNT-FREAKING-MAY WAS FAKED!

I remember a time when Bucky Barnes, Uncle Ben, and Captain Marvel were deemed “always dead, never to be resurrected” – Osborn was nearly considered in that class, too.

All of this horrible retcon action only ensures that I WON’T encourage my kid/kids to read comic books. The lunatics are running the asylum. Bob Harras may not have been a great EIC or been liked by creatives, but Quesada will be remembered for killing comics (unless it’s spun as building a movie empire).

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