To Die or Not to Die

Could've/should've/would've Spidey saved Morlun in Amazing Spider-Man Vol.2 #35? That's the topic for today. The following is a reply to one of the many letters we get. I'd put it in the letters section, but I got so carried away with my reply it seemed more like a rave... so here it is!

Dear Spider-Fan editor,

I love your website and I love reading the reviews your broad range of contributors give the varied Spider-Man issues. However, I found a problem with the ASM #36 review. Was I the only one who had a problem with Dex killing Morlun? Do you really think Spidey couldn't have gummed up that gun that Dex shot Morlun with and taken the sniveling little worm out? I mean, c'mon, Spidey even yelled "No!", so it's not like he subconsciously wanted Dex to kill Morlun or anything. As many times as I've seen Spidey keep someone from being shot, it just makes me sad that this was overlooked as a bad bit of writing from JMS. Your ASM reviewer should have mentioned it. Though I will admit that this one the only gripe I had with the review or the entire first plot-run that JMS had. Anyway, just thought I'd send some feedback your way.
Thanks for your time.

Mike Exner III

Hey Mike, Spidermad here, the reviewer thanks for your feedback. You're right I didn't really comment on this part that much, mainly because I didn't really have a problem with it (ie. plotwise, not morally). It made sense for me in terms of the plot. I think Dex's motive for killing Morlun when he had the chance was pretty strong. It seems that Dex was established as an unwilling lackey from the start. His deadpan attitude reflected that Morlun must've broken his spirit in some way. Now Spidey's actions, could he have stopped Dex and did he really want to? I think he maybe could have stopped Dex, it's really JMS's decision here. But, I think we are supposed to believe that distance and Spidey's emotional/physical state meant that he couldn't. Plus I think there's the very strong possibility that in back of Spidey's mind he wanted Dex to do it. Just before Dex pulls the trigger, Spidey is in a rage wanting to kill Morlun and though he calms down, he's still thinking on whether it would be the best thing kill Morlun, it's at this point Dex pulls the trigger. And later as Spidey leaves he wonders if Dex didn't pull the trigger what decision would he have made?

Do I have problem with Spidey being portrayed this way? Not really, I find it to be more realistic and add greater depth to the story. Not everything is black and white. And think about it, Morlun was built up to be an unstoppable sort of bad guy and he put Spidey through hell. Surely Spidey could be forgiven for having some bad feelings against him? I think it would be unrealistic to think he wouldn't! Plus Spidey's responsibility. Wouldn't it be the most responsible thing for him to stop Morlun? Morlun obviously operated on a different level and would continue the way he had. Wouldn't it be most responsible to stop him? Even if the only way is death? It's an 'does the end justify the means' sorta argument.

I am glad that Spidey didn't kill Morlun. I do think that would've been out of character. At the same time I can understand why Spidey wouldn't have stopped Dex even if he could've in that short space of time. I think that we're supposed to think that he didn't have the time though, and part of that may have been his doubts that he should let Morlun die. I think in the end it makes a stronger story this way and that it helps make Morlun one of the most believably dangerous villains Spidey has ever faced. Just my thoughts!