A Word From Al

For more than twenty years, I've been telling anyone who would listen (and one or two who wouldn't) that Marvel did not make a mistake in killing Gwen Stacy but in killing Norman Osborn, the original Green Goblin. For most of that time I have been hoping they would bring him back. After all, the Green Goblin has always been Spider-Man's greatest foe. (Much as Doctor Octopus, Venom, the Kingpin, the Jackal and even Kraven the Hunter have vied for this honor, none of them has ever equalled Norman.) All the subsequent Goblins - from Harry to Hamilton to the Hobgoblins to the Demogoblin - have also come up short, only serving to further prove me right. So, imagine my surprise when Marvel brought the true Goblin back in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #75 and I discovered I was wrong. Or rather, I was both right and wrong. Bringing Norman back is just great but you can't bring the Goblin back without bringing Gwen Stacy back, too.

Let me admit right now that I have always been a Gwen Stacy fan. I think I was half in love with her myself as a kid reading Spider-Man comics back in the 1960s. I certainly always preferred her to Mary Jane. I was never one of those heartsick fans who clamored for her return after ASM #121, though. It was tragic, sure, but it was a great story... and, after all, the Goblin paid the ultimate price at the end. Except now, it appears that he never paid for his crime in any way.

Now, we all know that villains return from the dead all the time in comics. (Considering the frequency of some resurrections, we should be impressed that Marvel held off on Norman as long as they did.) Plenty of bad guys have done plenty of bad things and ended up, unpunished, fighting the hero all over again. Still, even in comics, there are some crimes so heinous, some evils done to comic heroes so significant, they demand closure. So, Joe Chill must die for killing the Batman's parents. So, the Burglar must pay for killing Uncle Ben. Those who started reading Spidey after ASM #122, particularly those who didn't start until Peter was married to Mary Jane, may not realize how big Gwen's death was. This was like killing off Lois Lane. You can't get away with that and not have closure. So, I say again... if the Green Goblin is still alive, then Gwen Stacy must still be alive, too.

It can be easily done. Let's say Judas Traveler returns and reveals that his god-like powers are legitimate. He and Scrier have only planted all those things from "The Osborn Journals" in Norman's mind to study his evil up close. (This is what I have chosen to believe anyway.) Seeking to balance the scales, Traveler takes Spidey and the Gwen Stacy clone back in time to influence an event that was never meant to take place... Gwen's death. Offered the opportunity to switch places with Gwen through Traveler's powers, the clone readily accepts the sacrifice. Traveler brings the real Gwen back to the present, giving her the clone's memories so that she can continue the life begun by Gwen Jr. Any holes in this storyline could be easily patched and the nice thing about it is that Gwen's return doesn't have to affect Peter Parker's life. Everyone can still assume she's the clone as long as we, the readers, know she is the real Gwen.

If I can think of one scenario, the writers of Marvel could think of a dozen more. I, for one, hope they are thinking about this right now. The events of ASM #121-122 have inextricably linked Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy. At this point, you really can't have one without the other.