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Like A Fool I Mixed Them – Luke Cage Attacking Spider-Man Right After Gwen Stacy Dies

As you all know, superhero comic books are a serial medium, and superhero continuity, in particular, is an ever-changing status quo as characters change dramatically over the years. However, “classic” storylines are often viewed on their own and not as a part of whatever continuity was current at the time the story was released. As a result, when you look back at these storylines and the issues surrounding them, there often is a bit of a disconnect between viewing these stories as “timeless” and the reality that they are very much rooted in their own particular era.

So this is the first in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of pieces looking at interesting overlaps in comic book continuity, beginning with the issue of Amazing Spider-Man directly following the two-part “Death of Gwen Stacy.”

Enjoy!

Spider-Man’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, was murdered by his nemesis, the Green Goblin (before the Goblin himself fell victim to his own fatal machinations) in mid-1973. That was a year after Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, was first introduced.

Well, a year later, Marvel obviously wished to raise Cage’s profile, but it seems odd that they chose to do so in the issue directly following the end of the “Death of Gwen Stacy” storyline.

Check out the bizarre juxtaposition…

Great artwork by the art team of Gil Kane and John Romita, and Gerry Conway works in Cage as well as he can, but nothing really says “the show must go on” better than tying in a poorly-selling superhero into your main superhero title right after a major storyline in the more popular hero’s magazine.

If you have suggestions for future odd pieces of overlapping continuity, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com, and maybe I’ll feature your idea in a future installment of this feature!

19 Comments

This is a great idea for a column, Brian!

The first one that comes to mind is the Electric Superman that Grant Morrison had to use in his JLA run. I’m sure you’ll feature it someday.

The odd tie-in to the Genesis crossover at the beginning of “Rock of Ages” in JLA is pretty jarring now when you re-read it.

Remember when back-issue houses used to advertise in comics all the time? This issue was one of the first I ever ordered because I was a Luke Cage fan and as a newer comic book reader, the hero-vs-hero thing hadn’t yet been done to death in my eyes. So at that time, it didn’t seem unusual as a crossover.

Now, many many years later when I read the story where Cage fought Dr. Doom…that was weird.

In a weird way, I feel like it adds some realism to have this absurd annoyance pop up for him while he’s coping with such a serious event. Life doesn’t stop to give you time to grieve, you know?

I remember going to school after the morning my longtime cat died and there were definitely a few uncomfortable moments where someone approached me in a much better mood, and there was an awkward leveling out.

Honestly, this doesn’t read horribly jarring to me. Why is it a shocker that the issue following a classic storyline is going back to business as usual? That’s what makes “The Day Gwen Stacy Died” a classic — the fact that it was impactful and stood out from the stories around it.

You’ve got the Memphis Blues again, Brian? That’s tough.

So Cage had never even met Spidey before, and he was already halfway to figuring out his real identity. Spidey really needs to work on covering his tracks better.

It flows nicely, really. Spidey is a fairly street level character, after all, and more so at this point in his career.

What feels odd is thinking of both of them as “Avengers” now. Particularly alongside frigging Wolverine..

Even if you adjust for hairstyles or fashion, Luke Cage looks very different than he used to look. It’s like a totally different guy, the height, physique, face, demeanor, everything. I’d like for Marvel to do a better job of capturiung the old Luke Cage, minus the bad 70s dialogue.

Luke Cage looked like that until I think his MAX imprint miniseries (which Wikipedia dates as 2001), where the attempt to update him pretty much turned him into a completely different character. At least that is how I recall it. It has been ten years, after all.

The Bendis version of Cage seemed to be based on the MAX version, rather than the classic version.

Actually, Luke changed his look drastically with his second series, Cage, in 1992. He still didn’t look much like he does now, though.

Yes, in the 90s series they pretty much straight up modeled him after Mike Tyson…in physique, skin color, hair cut, everything. It wasn’t very subtle at all. The Max gave him a modern gangsta look while Bendis’s look was a little more generic hip-hop. Either way, his whole physique, skin color, height, face, they all change drastically from version to version.

It seems whatever the aesthetic of most popular black stars of the era are, that’s how they make Cage look.

I’m no fan of Bendis’s Avengers, but for some reason this story seems less absurd now that Luke Cage is a big name in the Marvel Universe again.

This explains why Cage is in Marvels right in the part where Gwen dies. Cool.

This explains why Cage is in Marvels right in the part where Gwen dies.

That’s really more about the fact that he debuted the year before Gwen Stacy was killed off rather than a specific story connection.

Another good idea for a column, though this example doesn’t feel that weird. And man, did Spidey pwn Cage or what? Haw!

(Oh and there’s another case of Spider-man’s spider-sense failing for no reason other than the writer forgetting about it. I’d say getting tackled by a superstrong man counts as “danger”.)

And yeah, I’d like to know the details behind Morrison’s use of Electric Superman, especially in that story where Superman was wrestling an (evil) angel (Flash even stated how awesome that was)… except among the power changes he had at the time was that Supes did not have superstrength anymore (if I recall correctly.) Of course it may have been that the JLA comic was produced before the whole Superman Blue thing was announced and the art had to be fixed at the last minute.

That’s really more about the fact that he debuted the year before Gwen Stacy was killed off rather than a specific story connection.

I’d agree with you if not for the fact that Marvel’s was written by Kurt Busiek. That guy has an encyclopedia knowledge of obscure continuity, and from what I’ve seen of his Avengers writing, if anyone is likely to base a story decision on paying homage to obscure continuity it’s him.

The first thing that came to mind was Secret Wars II. I’m sure there are at least a few semi-classic storylines or runs by certain creators from Marvel in the mid-1980s that had that company-wide crossover foisted upon them. At the time, 25 years ago, it would perhaps have made some kind of sense. But picking up, say, one of the later volumes of Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne and seeing the Beyonder randomly popping up in unconnected stories must be jarring.

Interestingly, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN had already featured this same story a few times before. C-List hero that is a bit shady himself believes Spider-Man’s bad publicity and tries to capture him. It was done with Medusa, Quicksilver, and Iceman. The Iceman story is very similar to this one, as it was in the heels of Captain Stacy’s death (that Spider-Man is also somewhat blamed for).

I agree with Apodaca, I think its a cool column idea Brian, but i don’t find this to be the blatant editorially driven crossover you describe it as, it strikes me as a return to normal Spidey world.

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