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Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature.
This is the 50th installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange, so you know I had to give y’all an especially weird one this week. This certainly qualifies, as today we take a look at the time when, well, Spider-Man killed Mary Jane through prolonged exposure to his radioactive sperm.
Spider-Man: Reign was a four-issue mini-series in 2006/2007 written and drawn by Kaare Andrews. The art in the book is amazing and for the most part, the story works as well. It is essentially Dark Knight Returns, only with Spider-Man.
As the series begins, it has been 30 years since Peter Parker was last Spider-Man. He is now a schlub working at a florist (and not even doing a very good job with it)…
New York City is run by a fascist mayor who has reduced crime to essentially zero, but by having what amounts to stormtroopers running around the city intimidating everyone. A couple of them rough Peter up (breaking his arm) when he gets involved with them chasing down a “crook”…
Here is a taste of the mayor’s plans for New York…
Eventually, J. Jonah Jameson comes to Peter and convinces him to return to being Spider-Man (Peter agrees, but he is also suffering from hallucinations of his dead wife, his dead Aunt and his dead Uncle)….
In issue #3, we learn why Spidey retired. His beloved wife, Mary Jane, was dying of cancer. He left her bedside to stop a crime and she died while he was gone. He never forgave himself.
“How did Mary Jane get cancer?” you ask? Well…read on (Doctor Octopus’ arms, working on a final command from the long dead villain, has dragged Peter to a graveyard where the arms have dug up Mary Jane’s body to torment Spider-Man)…
Yep. Prolonged exposure to his radioactive sperm.
By the way, Spidey uses this time to come to grips with his loss and decides to full embrace his responsibilities and become Spider-Man full-time again (conveniently, he buried his traditional costume with Mary Jane as he was planning on never being Spidey again, so he comes back wearing the red and the blue).
The story really works a lot better than these pages might attest. And the art is great. So really, don’t take this as me saying don’t get Spider-Man: Reign. I liked Spider-Man: Reign.
All I am saying is that radioactive sperm giving Mary Jane cancer? That’s pretty darn strange.
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