Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #511

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This story is part of an Arc: "Sins Past"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Peter has recieved a mysterious letter from Gwen Stacy and has been terrorised by two strangers who may be Gwen's children...

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #511
Oct 2004 : SMURF 511.500 : SM Title
Arc: Part 3 of "Sins Past"
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils:  Mike Deodato, Jr.
Inker:  Joe Pimentel
Cover Art:  Mike Deodato, Jr.
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Amazing) #8
Articles: Gabriel Stacy, Stacy, Sarah

This issue starts with Pete pondering the last issues cliffhanger revelation: that Gwen had children before she died and now they're trying to kill him!

He sneaks home, hiding the letter that contains this revelation. MJ silently watches him and then pretends to be asleep. Pete "wakes" her up and pretends he's ok. When he leaves the room, MJ checks the closet where Pete hid the letter and finds where it is. She leaves it though, but thinks to herself that Pete is always trying to protect her from 'harm', but that there's something she's been protecting him from...

Later Pete goes to Gwen's grave to collect a DNA sample, while Gabe (one of her children) watches. Meanwhile MJ is practicing her play, but decides to leave early instead of hanging out with the rest of the cast. The cast debate whether or not MJ is a snob and then start whacking each other with scripts...

Back to Pete and he's donned his Spidey gear and broken into a genetics lab. He's testing Gwen's DNA sample and trace DNA from the stamp from the envelope in which the letter was sent. He's interupted by Sarah, Gwen's female child, who points a gun at Spidey's head. She behaves as though Spidey has done the most horrible thing that could be imagined and that it would be best if he just let her kill him, because a)he deserves it and b)her brother plans to anyway, but wants to torture Spidey first. Before Spidey can get a word in his DNA analysis finishes with "ding!" pushing the tension over the edge. Sarah fires, but Spidey manages to get in close, disable her and remove her mask. He is taken back by what is revealed: a face nearly exactly the same as Gwen's. Once again before Spidey can get any words out, the window behind him is blasted and once he recovers, Sara is gone. Spidey checks out the DNA results, its a match...

On a rooftop Gabe and Sarah discuss what happened. Sara hides the fact that she initiated the fracas while Gabe says that Spidey's actions just confirm what they already know: "He's our father, and he abandoned us. Deserted our mother and caused her death."

When Pete returns home he finds MJ with the letter. She tells him she's read it and knows who they are. Pete starts to explain that they're not his kids because he and Gwen didn't get to know each other that well... MJ interrupts him and says she knows that it wasn't Pete, because she already knows who the real father of Gwen's kids are...

Cue cliff for the story to hang from...

In General...

Whoah, this issue really turned things around for me! First of all, a lot of the plot holes I foresaw were conveniently plugged. For example, the problem of Gabe and Sarah's age, its not solved, but at least Spidey notices the inconsistency. Also, my worry about Pete and Gwen being portrayed badly by having pre-marital sex, all fixed. Whew! I'm glad JMS is writing and not some other former Spidey writers I won't mention, because I was really worried that this story was going to go from promising to really sucky this issue. Instead I got a riveting read, that answered a lot of nagging questions and raised new interesting questions.

So, Gwen's the mother, Pete's NOT the father, so who is it? I'm not totally sure, but I think my fellow Spiderfan staffer, Peter Kroon, has some good musings:

Well, Peter tries to find out whether Sarah and Gabe are Gwen's kids. The DNA confirms this. But as revealed at the end, he and Gwen did not do the horizontal mambo. After the fight, Gabe and Sarah talk about what happened. Gabe thinks Peter was trying to confirm that he's the father. Thus he thinks it's proof that Peter is their father. But Peter is not. And Mary Jane (whoa, what a cliffhanger, can't wait) knows who is.

Now, here's my theory. Norman Osborn is the father, him or Harry Osborn.

Why? Well, what if there was another reason for Norman aka The Green Goblin to kill Gwen Stacy besides her being Peter's girlfriend? What if she was the father of his (grand)kids and she kept them away from him? Could it be that he killed Gwen out of revenge? I think so. And since both Sarah and Gabe are very strong and older than should be possible. This could be a result of the goblin formula they inherited from their father.

It looks like they come from Europe. Well, didn't Norman go to Europe after being killed? What if he was looking for his offspring besides building a criminal empire there? What if he found them and somehow convinced them that Peter is their father? Thus making them go after Peter, just like he did during the Clone Saga. Oops, my bad, I used the C word.... :-))

I think Peter's theory seems the most likely, but it doesn't answer exactly how this might've happened. I mean was it rape? Some sort of sordid affair? Or a scientific, artificial insemination? While I sorta like the idea of the Goblin having some sort of alternate reason for killing Gwen and hanging in Europe all that time, I'm not so keen on besmirching Gwen's character and adding something like this into Spidey's mythos. I'm certain it never crossed Stan Lee or Gil Kane's mind that Gwen would hook up with Harry or Norman on the side. It just doesn't fit the tone of those stories at all. But, I think this issue has taught me to trust this creative team a little more than I have been.

I've also gotta mention Mike Deodato Jr's great art. It's the better this issue than any of his previous work that I've seen (including his recent Hulk run). His work on faces and expressions in particular are awesome. I really appreciate the way that makes Gabe and Sarah have their own identity, but still have famililiar features.

Overall Rating...

This is a truly exciting issue. Great stuff.