You are Peter Parker, Spider-Man, and as you make you’re regular patrols of the city you find yourself on top on a bridge. Its a bridge you visit once a year on Valentine’s Day. A building that holds special meaning. You place a rose on it and swing away. The rose is blown off the bridge and falls all the way until it lands in the water. A bridge. A fall. One night. Everything changed.
You begin talking to yourself, Peter Parker, recording your thoughts and feelings as you remember back to a time before that night on the bridge. A time when you were young and there was this girl. Gwen Stacy. You meet her almost by accident. Even though you go to the same school, you don’t run into the same circles. But at the hospital, as you visit the father of your friend Harry Osborn, you meet. You’re eyes lock and in that moment, Parker, you were lost.
As you are beginning your time with Gwen, someone else shows up at your door. Someone you had no idea was coming. A wildcard. This meeting set up by your sweet Aunt May. Your Aunt May is tired of you being alone Peter and she knows the daughter of a good friend that would be great for you. Mary Jane Watson.
But Gwen and Peter share so much in common. They are both science geeks. Only Gwen is beautiful and popular where Peter is all geek. But Gwen is so far out of Peter’s league that he accepts a blind date with Mary Jane and in MJ’s words, “…Face it Tiger, you just hit the jackpot…”
So for one short period, Peter Parker, the world’s most unlikely lothario has the attention of two of the most beautiful girls he has ever seen. Only for now, his heart is with Gwen.
Parker moves into an apartment with his good friend Harry and then things get very complicated. With both girls working for his attention, Parker must also remind himself that he is Spider-man and as usual, being Spiderman gets in the way of Peter Parker. Because with Spider-man comes danger and with danger, enemies.
Time has passed and Gwen is gone. Dead at the hands of one of Spider-man’s enemies. All that is left this night is Peter Parker, talking to himself and remembering that one short time, when he loved her. That one short time, he was happy just being Peter Parker.
First off I will admit to being an absolute fan of Sale and Loeb. They are by far my favorite tandem in the comic book world. They tell adult, intelligent and well rounded stories using comic book characters as their medium. In Spider-Man: Blue they do another masterful job.
What I think they do so well in this one is that it really isn’t a Spider-Man story. It’s a Peter Parker story. He is the central character and the fact that he is Spider-Man is a side not in this tale. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of web-slinging in this six issue arc. There is the Green Goblin, Rhino, the Vulture young and old, The Lizard and Kraven the Hunter.
But its Parker’s story and in the aftermath of Gwen’s death, his feelings on this day. “…It’s about remembering someone important to me. I was going to spend the rest of my life with her…” The death of Gwen Stacy is one of the most pivotal moments in comic book history.
Spider-Man: Blue is about how Peter Parker, not Spider-Man, is dealing with it. Parker is incredibly human. Incredibly remorseful and the sense that what he is truly feeling in so many ways could be referred to in today’s terms as survivor’s guilt. But for Peter the guilt is truly heartfelt, for if he was not Spider-Man would Gwen have died?
Before the death of Gwen Stacy you did not ever see a super hero fail on such a horrifying scale. Nor would a loved one of a super hero die so suddenly. Superman was a babe when Krypton exploded. Batman a young boy when his parents had been gunned down. Spider-Man was Spider-Man when Gwen Stacy died. Keep in mind he had already lost his Uncle Ben to a violent crime to set up the crime fighting persona and drive. Spider-Man failed.
The guilt and heartache he had to live with afterwards had to be incredible. This is what Sale and Loeb have captured so well. The remorse. The guilt. The overwhelming loss. Even much later when he is a grown and married man, with Mary Jane at his side. He is still living with the loss.
Terrific art and a terrific story.