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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 168

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!

Okay, now that I’ve gotten past the other stuff, now I can finally use the Spider-Man moment I wanted to get to from this storyline!

Enjoy!

Okay, so to set the scene, Gwen Stacy is now dead, so is the man who killed her. Peter Parker came pretty darn close to killing Norman Osborn over it, so he’s feeling pretty darn crummy right now.

Mary Jane Watson, friend of Peter and Gwen’s, comes by to console him and we get the following nifty scene, which was a major part in the development of the relationship of Peter and Mary Jane as well as the maturation of Mary Jane’s character.

By Gerry Conway and Gil Kane, from Amazing Spider-Man #122…

What a well written scene by Conway, and a really dramatic way to end the whole storyline with a LITTLE bit of hope.

41 Comments

Remembering that scripts were written “Marvel style” at Marvel back then, I’d say Gil Kane deserves at least half of the credit for the “writing” and staging of the scene. You could certainly read it just as well without words.

Gil Kane outdid himself with this whole sequence. His handling of Mary Jane Watson’s facial expressions is priceless. More so than his 60’s Green Lantern & Atom or 80’s Superman, THIS is the definitive Kane story in superhero comic history.

Mary Jane’s scenes here are an early example of actual character development. This last page establishes the notion that she will be the one, true love of Peter Parker’s life.

Absolutely. I’ve waxed rhapsodic about this story the entire time you’ve been showing it, but this is just a wonderful example of how to tell a story concisely and dramatically. That one page tells you so much about Peter’s grief and MJ’s growing maturity and her feelings for him, all vividly expressed through art and dialogue working together.

This was just such a great two-parter.

Wow, what a moment: the anticipation of guest star Luke Cage, Power Man!

And THAT is why Peter married MJ, folks and is still married to her. To HELL with Joey Q.

Again, amazing storytelling from Kane. I love that first row of panels: panels 1 and 2 have MJ and Peter facing each other, moving toward each other, and then panel 3 has Peter ruining that moment by turning to the right away from MJ.

” And THAT is why Peter married MJ, folks and is still married to her. To HELL with Joey Q. ”

Like who didn’t see an anti-Quesada post coming in this thread…

To me the most wonderful moment of this is the expression on MJ’s face in the last panel- no words needed- she’s conciously closing the drawer on the “Mary Jane: Party Girl” and taking on responsibility. Its all there on her face- resignation, grief, and powerful love- weird as it is, its almost sexy- she’s decided that Peter is the most important thing to her right there. I’d say I, as the reader was projecting those emotions on her face, if not for Kane’s exemplary previous 4 panels where she displays a range of emotions, shock, hurt, fright, resentment, and then alloys all of these emotions into the woman who doesn’t leave Peter.

Really is something special right there. And by the way, this is how you write Peter Parker- not a consummate whiner blubbering at the drop of a hat, but a guy who gets pissed and screws things up because of his temper. It gets him into even more trouble in the following issues when Kane tells a very competent horror story with the Man-Wolf and Peter’s emotions lead to him getting his ass handed to him.

I’ll stop with the long post with this last thought- I know the dialogue between Cage and Peter about Jessica’s crush on him is funny and whacky, but does anyone else want Bendis to write a scene where Cage realizes the irony of chasing Spidey down over Gwen Stacy’s death only to find out years later that not only was he mistaken then, but doubly wrong as it was Gwen’s boyfriend he was fighting? The Jess stuff is cute, but as it was a very early screw up with Cage, I would love to see them talk about that once (maybe as a way for Cage to put the whole “my wife had a crush on Spidey” behind him).

Where the moment comes together is the facial expressions, the sadness, the anger, the rage, and the single tear in the next to last panel. A fine choice of a moment indeed.

Man, I’m really sorry that it never worked out between Pete and MJ. I bet they would have made a nifty couple if they had only given it a shot.

@jfk5351: Amen

Just discovered this column a few days ago and have finally caught up. This is awesome Brian. Thanks.

Let’s give inker John Romita Sr. a little credit here too; I see as much of his style here as I do Kane’s…

Those last six panels have to be some of the best in comic book history. Gil Kane tells a whole story just by changing the expression on Mary Jane’s face. It tells the reader more about what is going on with MJ than Peter would know for, like, another decade.

It also inverts Peter’s origin story and, by extension, closes the loop. In Amazing Fantasy #15, Peter is alone with his grief over Uncle Ben. No one knows what happened. His Aunt May is literally shut out by his bedroom door for the majority of Lee-Ditko run. Here, MJ is plainly a woman who will not be shut out. What he just said to her was horrible and cruel, but she is rising above it. In other words, she is being responsible.

that moment showed the begining of Mary Jane maturing from a snob to someone who is ready to be there for somone and the beginging of her love for peter by closing that door and not walking away even as peter snaps at her due to grief.

I have somehow never seen this page before. I’m absolutely floored by how perfectly executed it is. Wow.

“Let’s give inker John Romita Sr. a little credit here too; I see as much of his style here as I do Kane’s…”

I think everyone realizes there’s multiple talents at work here but if we each listed complete credits every time… those are some long posts. Kane’s contributions are huge but its also become “Kane” for brevity’s sake- but yes, Romita’s presence cannot be denied. I actually thought he drew the Man-Wolf story for years only to discover upon actually getting the comic that it was Kane with Romita doing the inks. Their styles mesh very well.

I had only read this in Essential Spider-Man Volume 6 and looking at the above page made realise how much of the subtlety in Kane’s work was lost by the printing process for the Essential books.

Regardless, none of the power of the scene was lost. What a beautiful moment.

I actually thought he drew the Man-Wolf story for years only to discover upon actually getting the comic that it was Kane with Romita doing the inks. Their styles mesh very well.

I don;t think it’s so much that their styles mesh well so much as it’s a case of JR Sr. being a very OVERWHELMING inker, similar to Joe Sinnott or George Perez. Some inkers have a light touch, some don’t. Romita is in the don’t category. He even cops to it all the time, and joked in interviews about how pissed Gil Kane and others could get about it. So I think in cases where Romita or Sinnott or other “heavy touch” inkers are involved, mentioning them is fair game when talking about the art.

Really is something special right there. And by the way, this is how you write Peter Parker- not a consummate whiner blubbering at the drop of a hat, but a guy who gets pissed and screws things up because of his temper. It gets him into even more trouble in the following issues when Kane tells a very competent horror story with the Man-Wolf and Peter’s emotions lead to him getting his ass handed to him.

I totally agree, a lot of modern writers don’t really touch on or grasp the rage and temper aspect of Spider-Man and try to make him into a loveable loser or shlub like Seinfeld or Chandler Bing from Friends. Bendis especially writes Peter Parker as Chandler Bing and its annoying. This is a guy who under Stan Lee was often willing to fight other heroes at the drop of a hat if he felt they were disrespecting him like Human Torch, Thing, Hawkeye and others.

Oops, messed up my blockquotes.

Absolutely. Slott almost gets it right (and Slott’s “almost right” is a helluva lot better than most anyone else’s idea of “spot-on” these days). Granted I’ll take character growth into consideration (you know, when editorial isn’t mercilessly regressing the character), so Peter might not be getting in people’s faces as much and would probably be very jokey amongst a grittier group of heroes (and don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot I like about how Spidey fits in with Bendis’ Avengers- without him the book would be irretrievably grim and angry).

Point is, Spidey many times in his heyday would get very pissed about the lack of respect he got in conjunction with all the miserable shit that would happen to Peter Parker and he would take it out on heroes who had more “clout” than he did, as well as bring it into fights with villans.

Another detrimental factor in the pussification of Spidey these days is the way he’s portrayed in the movies which I increasingly believe should be titled “Peter Parker: The Guy who Occassionally Puts on A Spidey Outfit When He’s Not Girlishly Sobbing Uncontrollably or Deliberately Unmasking In Front of Antagonists”- I swear if they released Spidey 4 with this title I’d buy up every ticket just for the sheer honesty.

Also I see what you mean on Romita overwhelming Kane- Kane’s linework is very circular where Romita goes much blockier (a technique his son has run across the goal line with and out of the stadium- not that I mind- his is my favorite rendering of Spidey)- and that’s where styles can get lost- but any way you look at it, the art in these issues is stellar however it turned out.

I read this story as a reprint in Marvel Tales and I don’t think they printed this final page!

Can anyone confirm this? What the heck were they thinking?

Reading it for the first time, it’s a great scene!

They sort of referenced it a couple of years later in the last issue of the original Jackal/Gwen/Clone story, with an epilogue in MJ’s apartment where Peter closed the door (which they DID reprint in Marvel Tales, if I recall correctly).

This shows the motivation of writers to want to turn back the clock on the marriage: they want to be able to write the sort of love-and-loss scenes Conway wrote, comedic or tragic. And they have gotten to do that a lot lately – check out the last few issues of Amazing Spider-Man, or the next one I’m sure.

That said it’s a lot smarter to keep writing a character that America knows to be married (thanks to the movies) as married, and let character changes like that stick.

This scene is even more beautiful when we take into account how Conway finishes his run on AMZ.
After letting Gwen go for the second time, Peter returns home and finds MJ there. He says he is happy to find her there. MJ asks just how happy he is and Pete tells her that he will just show how happy and closes the door. Everything comes full circle.
Perfect.
Probably my favourite run on AMZ. (along with Stern/JR jr)

If you think about it….the beauty of the page is that it’s not over captionized….you see the last three panels as wordless drama…the writer/artist is complimenting the intelligence of the reader…you didn’t see that too often back then…but to nitpick, the cation -“For a moment she hesitates by the door – and then”…is really unnecessary as well…we SEE that happening…it’s soap opera , yes…but WHAT SOAP OPERA!!!!
Marvel at it’s very best….stuff like this justified my hatred of DC as infantile competition
Brian, this is the column I look forward on your site every day…thanks.
Are you open to ideas/suggestions for other story lines as well?

I get all of MJ’s emotion in each panel except the last one. Her facial expression looks *exactly* like the Stepmother from Disney’s Cinderella when she locks Cinderella in her room.

I just want to know how many issues this story would take if written today. Six? Eight? it’s own mini? What happened to concisely telling a story? Not saying every issue should be a one off because I love story arcs, but this would have taken at least four issues today.

I also love the use of “CLICK” in the last panel–I believe it’s the same orange color as the infamous “SNAP” from the previous issue. Yet here it signifies coming together instead of breaking apart.

When I look at and read such a well designed, laid out and drawn page like this, that’s essentially just two characters talk, brings out just how disappointing many modern day comics and comic artists are these days.

Kane (and Romita) don’t waste a panel and never resort to “cheats” like talking heads or copied panels that so many seem to stoop to these days. They also don’t over animate or over emote their drawings. And the subtle closing of the door leaves what will happen next to these two characters entirely of the mind of the reader.

Man, I really miss buying and reading new work each month from great pro’s like Kane & Romita.

LouReedRichards

June 18, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I agree Marc, when I saw that last panel I thought “Wow, MJ looks pretty sexy there” Kane and Romita really outdid themselves all the way around.

When I think of the Green Goblin, this story and the Crest Toothpaste freebie comic always come to mind, a weird mental pairing.

BTW: Is it just me thinking that it would have been funny to have the door closing sound effect be “snap”.
Yes, I know, I’m a creep, sorry.

She’s sexy because MJ stops being laughy, teasing, flirty MJ and becomes a woman ready to take care of her man at all costs. Yeah, its sexy, even in the sad moment- like everyone’s said, Genius at work.

why did I use the adjective “Laughy”? Let’s go with carefree.

I didn’t remember the end of this story.

I love the pacing on the penultimate panel–I think it really makes the page.

I may be in the minority, but I love love LOVE the really flat, bright four-color Technicolor pastel look of a Silver Age comic book. It just looks right, much better than the best photorealistic, computer separation and paints could ever look. Where are those scans from, the original issues or a reprint.

“I may be in the minority, but I love love LOVE the really flat, bright four-color Technicolor pastel look of a Silver Age comic book. It just looks right, much better than the best photorealistic, computer separation and paints could ever look. Where are those scans from, the original issues or a reprint.”

I agree!

I was reading an issue of Brubaker’s “Captain America” the other night and I swear I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on half the time. It would be nice if one of these current colorists would actually shed some light (and some color) like this page here every once and awhile.

“I read this story as a reprint in Marvel Tales and I don’t think they printed this final page!

Can anyone confirm this? What the heck were they thinking?”

dhole… you are correct. Marvel had reduced their comic’s page counts at this point, and in their seventies reprint books they then elected to chop out a page or two to meet the reduction. You know just inconsequential stuff like this gem of a scene. Got to save space for that Hostess Twinkee ad somewhere.

Thanks for confirming that, benday-dot!

And thanks, Brian, for showing me the proper ending, 30 years later! (holy crap that’s a long time! it’s like a “Lost” flashback or something…)

“Peter Parker- not a consummate whiner blubbering at the drop of a hat,
but a guy who gets pissed and screws things up because of his temper.”

I get your point, but this makes him sound too much like Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies!

They can share a few character traits without being the same person. Peter would also look stupid in a big puffy orange vest, but then again, he’s worn worse outfits (cough*AmazingBagMan*cough)

Check out some of the earlier stories in the timeframe we’ve been discussing- when shit happens to Peter, he does something about it- not always the right thing or the sensible thing, and oftentimes his emotional reactions cause more harm than good, but in the end, his innate good and responsible nature wins out. He certainly doesn’t whine.

In the story I keep referencing after Gwen’s death with Man-Wolf, he gets so furious at Jameson’s editorials blaming him for Gwen’s murder he decides to go beat the shit out of Jameson once and for all- its only because the Man-Wolf beats him to the punch that ol’ JJJ gets spared finding out how much of a menace Spidey could be (and of course the Marvel team would never have let that happen).

Peter can be very violent and powerful – look how easily he trashes the shit out of Norman once Gwen’s dead. But what makes the character interesting is that he rarely goes this batshit with his strength. His temperment however is a different story, he pissed off friends and allies time and time again back in the day when he didn’t have time for their bullshit, and it came back to bite him in the ass every time (like Marty).

But as Spidey, Peter has been flat out arrogant- a trait Marty does not share (remember that Peter is also a much angrier person as a result of his family tragedy whereas Marty had a family, flawed or not). Peter used Spidey as an outlet to speak up after years of being a nerdy wallflower (and remember what it costs him the very first time he uses Spidey to tell the world to take a hike). Look at the first time he is offered a place in the Avengers (finally being accepted by the “jocks”), he wants to prove himself to the Avengers by having a fistfight with Hawkeye. Then he gets Captain Freaking America so pissed that Cap actually took a cheap shot once the other Avengers restrained Spidey saying something along the lines of “don’t try anything like that again Mister. Not Ever!” Marty was much more self-assured than Peter, and didn’t seek confrontation or validation in this fashion- he’d act stupid if he was challenged, but he wouldn’t start things best left unstarted.

Remember though, that one of the interesting traits about Marty was the fact that he’d take a swing at Biff, a much bigger, stronger guy than him- some fear was there, but he’d take him on nonetheless, and then he’d beat him using his wits. Well, Spidey’s done the same thing with Hulk, Juggernaut, etc.

No, he’s not Marty McFly. But I like your analogy, and though you wouldn’t mistake the one character with the other, well, they do have some things in common, and this is probably the first time anyone’s come up with that one.

My favorite colorist thing is when you read an issue of The Fanastic Four and the Human Torch is on fire but the panel is still so dark you can’t see what’s going on. You have a light source right in the middle of the panel for F sake!!

In a bizarre way, those panels are a lot like the M*A*S*H episode from season 4 called “The Late Doctor Pierce.” It’s the one where the army mistakenly declares Hawkeye dead after he goes to an aid station. It’s the bit at the end where he gets into the morgue bus to go home but gets out and walks back to camp that defines the difference between Hawkeye Pierce, the ribald, lecherous drunk and Benjamin Franklin Pierce, the noble “goddamn this war” preachy peacenik.

The same happens to Mary Jane, she goes from frivolous party girl to the beginnings of the responsible, loving woman she became in this great, great scene.

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