(Image credit: Marvel Comics)
Spider-Man turned 60 in 2022, and to mark the occasion Titan Books is releasing a tome entitled Spider-Man: The First 60 Years (opens in new tab) which gives a decade-by-decade breakdown of the Friendly Neighborhood Wall-Crawler’s biggest stories, villains, and creators to offer readers a definitive reference guide for Spider-Man.
The book tells the story of Spider-Man both in terms of his in-universe adventures and through the behind-the-scenes history of Marvel’s arguably most beloved character.
(opens in new tab)
Spider-Man: The First 60 years starts with Spidey’s earliest adventures from his creators Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, into the late ’60s and ’70s work of creators such as John Romita, Gil Kane, Gerry Conway, and more.
And of course, it then moves into the ’80s with stories about the Hobgoblin and the wedding of Peter Parker and Mary Jane, on into the ’90s and its famous ‘Clone Saga,’ and into the fan-favorite ’00s work of J. Michael Straczynski.
Spider-Man: The First 60 Years branches all the way into Spider-Man’s modern adventures helmed by writer Dan Slott, who has written more Spider-Man comics than anyone.
Newsarama has a look at some pages from the section on the ’70s, showing some behind-the-scenes photos and interviews about the famous story ‘The Night Gwen Stacy Died,’ by Gerry Conway and Gil Kane, originally told in 1973’s Amazing Spider-Man #121 and #122.
Check out the gallery, along with an excerpt from the book below:
“After the long race to the top, a lull in Spider-Man sales told the creators it was time for a change. They needed something to grab the readers’ attention… That was it: a death. What could be more shocking? The victim was originally supposed to be Aunt May, but apparently Romita and Conway suggested Gwen, whose relationship with Peter was probably becoming less interesting – a new romance with the volatile Mary Jane might revive the soap opera. The reaction was downright furious, and threats flooded the editorial room. The fans were grieving, and mourning “their” girlfriend. This was the definitive death that ended Spider-Man’s age of innocence and – for many – marked the end of the Silver Age and the transition to the Bronze Age of comics.
The story arc “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” unfolded over two parts: “Turning Point” and “The Goblin’s Last Stand,” The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #121 and #122 respectively (June-July 1973). Although it was hated and criticized, it remains one of the artistic and emotional peaks of the comics industry, not just Marvel. It was a heartbreaking chapter, with the return of Osborn who, once again acting as the Green Goblin, kidnapped Gwen and brought her to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, where he threw her to certain death. Spider-Man shot out a web to save her, and thought he had managed it, but the onomatopoeic “snap!” suggested otherwise: her neck was broken by the recoil after the web caught her in midair. Gwen died and Peter’s grief was horribly realistic. Beside himself, Spider-Man retaliated by almost killing the Green Goblin with his bare hands – he only stopped at the last second, in a brief moment of clarity. Osborn’s own out-of-control glider was what finished the job, impaling Gwen’s killer.
The death of Osborn was only temporary, although no one knew it, but Gwen’s goodbye was permanent. The funeral scenes, the characters’ reactions, and the stages of grief were more proof of Spider-Man’s profound humanity. Mary Jane tried to console Peter, but bore the brunt of all of his rage when he accused her of being a hypocrite who only cared about having fun. Such bitterness and vitriol had never been seen before in a comic. Mary Jane, the ”superficial” ex-girlfriend with a mysterious past, stuck by his side anyway, and the two of them had their first kiss in Issue #143 (April 1975). But Spider-Man had no idea what was about to happen next…”
Spider-Man: The First 60 Years goes on sale December 27.
Spider-Man: The First 60 Years is sure to dig into some of the best Spider-Man stories ever.