Monday, November 30, 2015

No to the 90's Clone Saga, no to Women in Refrigerators: a wild alternative take on the original Spider-Man Clone Saga, by Cecil Disharoon.

For your Spider-phile pleasure, here's an alternate story direction inspired by the end of Amazing Spider-Man #144, featuring the shocking return of Gwen Stacy, as though from the grave. This story, when I first read its reprint, built a "Gwen Stacy returns" subplot that was clearly hair-raising, haunting and cool, though it was six years before I found out what happened next. You can find a synopsis online easily, like http://spidermanreviewed.blogspot.com/2009/12/amazing-spider-man-144.html -I feel much the same! ASM#145, for those of you who know or want to know the source story, is fine, and out of respect and familiarity, I suggest no changes, not even yet to make Gwen any less vulnerable, as these are distressing circumstances.
Well, it would be nice if the New York Police Department didn't hand Mac Gargan his crime-making outfit and equipment, as it seems ill-advised to treat it just like handing back a wallet and keys. There's a few good places to tighten up plot holes. For one, it's too bad a private investigator, like Mac Gargan, didn't recognize Peter Parker's face from the Daily Bugle, and also, too bad he doesn't suspect he's found Spider-Man, as he was told he would, just in civilian clothes. An interesting problem's introduced but thrown away. Missed opportunities are realistic, though.
How did the Jackal know where to find Spider-Man? We will find out in Conway's original tale how he knows to look for Peter Parker, but space permitting, it might have been cool to see Jackal's method of gathering intelligence. He apparently has some way of knowing Aunt May's in the hospital. I would presume Conway's trying to avoid spilling the beans that the Jackal may be using Gwen, with hypnotic suggestion as his method of interrogating and perpetuating her use to him as an unwitting spy. I do have a secret as to how our Gwen's been spending her nights, besides her stay at Betty Brant's.
In our story, the Scorpion decides to look in on May Parker in his civilian clothes. Peter, however, senses a mild warning and then spots Mac Gargan, whom he recognizes as the Scorpion, as he leaves May's room. He's careful not to be seen, because Gargan might recognize Peter, if he can recognize Gargan. He rushes in to check on her, and even though she's all right, he is ready to go beat the snot out of this super-villain for getting so close to his recuperating, elderly aunt!
When Peter leaves, we follow a nurse seen earlier assisting an attendant of May's, very background, no lines yet, as she walks into the blood bank refrigerator and finds Gwen Stacy. She replies she's impressed by the set-up of the facility, she's just taking a look while Candy-Striping. She suggests sweetly the nurse simply forget it; she promises to get permission next time. The nurse placidly agrees. Scorpion's dialogue can get a twist besides the usual generic rants, as he replies to being accosted after his very first step towards being something besides the Scorpion, which seems unfair and gives Mac Gargan a self-righteious rage with which to strengthen his response. But this is an angry Spider-Man attack all the way, some straight-up vigilante one-two for anyone who would dare threaten his innocent surrogate mother, and in three pages he basically tells Scorpion to shut up and go to sleep. Our next change: Scorpion's not led in simple handcuffs back to the bedside of a woman he's threatened, no sir. That's the original, comedic ending.
He's wearing something a bit more durable. Gwen seems to react strongly to what's occurred with May, and says in a way, it's her fault May's here in the first place. She strides up to the Scorpion and demands to know: who sent him? Instantly, Spider-Man's rushed up to stand between them, still running pretty hot. No way is he going to let any Gwen be harmed by a super villain again. As the Scorpion's led away, he seems dazed; one of the cops comments on him being punch drunk already. He mutters a word; we see his lips move but can't hear him. But Gwen stares intently after him in the foreground of the next panel, as Spider-Man's trying to offer reassurance to a figure that, from her stance, seems fearless. He will wonder in the next issue if this reflects a transformation after returning from death itself, somehow. Has it ever. That's my first part. We are going to have some wild fun on the way to ASM #150. I'll give this a few days, then I'll share my re-writes integrated into ASM #147 and 148.

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