Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #181

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Child Within"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Spectacular Beginnings

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Last issue, Harry Osborn donned the Green Goblin costume once again, and managed to capture Spidey with a well-aimed pumpkin bomb.

In Detail...

"Guilt"
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #181
Oct 1991 : SM Title
Arc: Part 4 of "The Child Within"
Editor:  Danny Fingeroth
Writer:  J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils:  Sal Buscema
Inker:  Sal Buscema
Cover Art:  Sal Buscema
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Review
 Reprinted In: Complete Spider-Man (UK) #21
Articles: Kafka, Dr. Ashley, Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Vermin

I'm gonna be honest with you - most of this issue is an extended dream/hallucination of Peter's. In light of that fact, instead of the usual in depth review I'll just run through this episode relatively quickly.

The issue opens up in an abandoned warehouse with Spider-Man lying at the feet of the Green Goblin. Both men are unmasked. This scene is fairly reminiscent of the classic Amazing Spider-Man #40 where Norman Osborn finally succeeds in capturing Peter. Except instead of using the memory machine to recap past encounters with each other, this time around Harry uses a hallucinogenic gas to drug Peter and delve deep into his subconscious.

Inside our hero's mind we see Spider-Man surrounded by a thick mist, which blows away to reveal a graveyard. Remember way back in Spectacular Spider-Man #178 where I said this story effectively takes place immediately after Kraven's Last Hunt? Well, the first grave Peter finds himself in front of is his own. And standing over it is Kraven with half his head missing. He pulls at his face to reveal the smiling mask of the Green Goblin who whisks Spider-man away to another set of graves. These include the names of Nathan Lubensky, Ned Leeds, and Norman Osborn.

Moving even deeper into the graveyard the pair find the graves of George Stacy, Gwen Stacy, and finally Uncle Ben. Then, two shadowy figures rise up from behind all the tombstones that surround Peter. Although the reader never sees their faces, Peter recognizes them as his parents.

After all this, Spider-Man begins to see the pattern that all the people he's ever known have died because of him. "Death. My whole life... everywhere I've turned."

This last scene drives Peter over the edge and he begins to lash out wildly in the real world. He knocks Harry aside and goes crashing out a window in his panic. Somehow, he makes his way to Dr. Kafka's office, ranting and mumbling, asking for help.

Of course, there're bits of the Vermin storyline mixed in here as well. Through the patented asylum-cam we see how and why he escaped. And on the final page Vermin returns to his old home to kill his father who abused him as a kid. But all that stuff will have to wait until next issue.

Overall Rating...

I'll save my explanation and reactions until the end of next issue, since #181 & 182 have parallel themes.