My opinion on the Sins Past arc

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My opinion on the Sins Past arc

Post by The Black Cat » Tue May 15, 2007 5:47 pm

First off, do I agree with what Marvel allowed to do with Gwen Stacy?

The answer is no. My husband actually refused and refuses to read this explosive story arc. I did, because even if I don't agree with things, I'm curious enough to see if something that is considered controversial will pass my muster...and that muster for me is: Is it plausible? Does this controversy somehow advance the canon?

In other words, controversy should not come about for controversy's sake, it should come because there is a purpose and rhyme/reason to it.

MadGoblin penned two excellent essays about how this could have happened, so I won't belabor into it. If you haven't read it, you can find them here:

http://www.spideykicksbutt.com/GreenwithEvil/DeFloweringGwen.html

and

http://www.spideykicksbutt.com/GreenwithEvil/CultofGwen.html

but let's go back to my filters: is it plausible? and does this advance the canon of Spider-Man?

Is it Plausible? First of course, this is the realm of comics, where a HUGE grain of salt needs to be taken almost with every issue, because anything can and WILL happen, based on who is doing the writing and whatever their ego >cough< creativity says they need to do to leave a stamp on the series. That being said, one is to take a grain of a salt and suspend belief, and another is dealing with the outright ridiculous. I think from a "plausability" stance, as in, setting aside the cast of characters and their emotions/relations at play, does the time line fit for this to even be able to happen (goblin acceleration and all?). I think the answer is yes, but BARELY. So even though I don't agree with the premise, the timeframe we are dealing with can support the story that there was a hidden affair, a resulting pregnancy and an accelerated delivery of twins, so under this criteria I check off a YES for plausability.

So that takes us to my next filter, does this controversy somehow advance the canon? My answer is mmmmaybe! Isn't it interesting that under this revelation, Peter wasn't the only one trying to figure out how to tell Gwen his biggest secret, Gwen also had a "oh honey, by the way..." secret for him? The irony of course is that tragedy struck before either one could have the heart to heart. And (and perhaps this would be what I bring to this discussion) being a grown woman/mother who has either seen or been privy to other women's problems/secrets I can certainly see Gwen caught up in that terrible scenario that would certianly guilt burden and frighten the cr@p of 19-21 year old girl/woman (it's not clear to me how old she is, but certainly around that age) and not knowing if the man she loves will forgive her / accept her for it.

I think I understand Peter Parker enough to know that he would never, ever leave Gwen to face this alone...au contraire...knowing who the father was may have preciptated him to really make sure Norman/ the Goblin had another amnesia attack that he was never going to wake up from! He would have been rocked and shocked by the news, but he's the type of man who would have said "Don't worry Gwynnie, we'll get through this together...I love you!!" Now don't go telling me this is chick lit stuff, because it does happen in real life all the time. Real men don't go dumping the woman they love just because she's "sullied" or whatever, and Peter's enduring popularity is becuase he's is as close to a real man in the comics (albeit one with superpowers, but you guys know what I'm talking about...he's the guy that despite his features and foibles, in the end he does or tries to do the right thing). Especially since Peter has a soft spot for the vulnerable, the helpless and the outcast...for back in the late 60's (when this story was written), wouldn't that have been one of the most taboo of "no no's" for a young woman...getting pregnant without protection and having consequences? Of course, had she admitted that on the side she was a bloodsthirsty mercernary for hire and had a penchance for serial killing and eating her victims flesh, then I think he would have drawn the line and put an end to the relationship. Get my drift? In principle, Gwen didn't violate any of Peter's moral or honor codes...if we are to believe what the "revelation" told us, Gwen had a lapse of judgement as old as the story of Adam and Eve. But I digress...you now ask me, "okay, so does it pass your second filter or not? " Well, while it makes an attempt to shed some light on what Gwen did or did not do before she died and colors the character a little bit, I'm not 100% sure it advances the canon as a whole. If anything, now it gives Peter yet another heartache to carry with for the rest of his life. The whole enterprise feels to me like instead of exploring new story plots and villians, they have to go back and try to contrive one/some out of unexpecting holes in the past narrative. Like a "what if?" from the Watcher. As MadGoblin points out, where does or where will it stop after this?


So in conclusion, while I can live with the Sins Past arc, in the end, in all honesty, this comes off as a piece of bad, fanciful fan-fiction instead of something that is Spider-Man canon, even if it is "new". Sins Past does not diminish the stature of Gwen in my mind and the place she has in Peter's heart and memory...but it was an unecessary exercise that did nothing to advance any of the core Spider-Man canon, other than add another heavy log to Peter's misery pyre for him!!

edited to correct spelling errors :wink: and add a couple of more things...
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Post by OsGob27 » Tue May 15, 2007 6:58 pm

I haven't actually sat and read the Sins Past story arc, nor am I regular comic reader outside of the frequent TPB featuring my favorite characters when I have the time to sit and Byrne-Steal since I'm broke.

However, I have read MadGoblin's articles, which do a good job of keeping me filled in on the backstories and story arcs when I do want to sit and read something. And I've also read reprints of classic Lee/Ditko/Romita comics as well as other TPBs featureing Gwen (including Spider-Man: Blue, which I probably wouldn't like if I didn't read it in one sitting but I absolutely love because I love Loeb and Sale).

That being said...

I feel strange sometimes when people are so protective of Gwen, particularly since, from what I've seen, she's a fairly uninteresting character. She started out with potential, sure, but sort of degenerated. And that's why she was killed off in the first place. To me, Gwen is good as a supporting role like in, say, Spider-Man 3 (and I can't understand why people are mad that it was Gwen and not some other chick because, from what I know of Gwen, this was the perfect place for her in the Spider-Movies where MJ is the main squeeze).

Maybe I'd feel differently if I had grown up with Gwen. Unfortunately, I didn't. I was a child of the late '80s/early '90s who knew Spider-Man from the cartoon, and the only actual single-issue comic book I ever paid money for was something that featured a mutant spawn of The Lizard (and I had no idea why Peter was blonde and everyone was calling him "Ben").

As an actor and a writer, I understand the concept of dramatic liscense, and the idea of specticle. And, yes, superhero comics are more or less soap operas targeted at mostly young males, so I expect an Ed Wood-like suspension of disbelief at times.

Sins Past was by no means a heresy to the Spider-verse. It was a story that had potential that, honestly, has yet to be seen, and I doubt will be seen unless one of us here at this message board ever got a chance to write a story. But as it stands, I don't have strong feelings one way or another about it.
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Post by Venom65437 » Wed May 16, 2007 1:01 am

I think it annoyed me more because:

A. The original idea of having Peter be the dad was great, IMO. With everything else Marvel does to Spidey, this doesn't seem so bad. Haha.

B. It continued the trend of having Norman be responsible for virtually EVERY bad thing that's happened to Peter ever. It gets tiresome. Now I know someone is going to say, "Well who else could it be? He's the only one who could "realistically" pull this off!" And yes, in this instance you're right. But even Norman had to "do something" to set him on the path to do all these bad things to Peter. I'm tired of them never pushing any other villians to do real bad things.

C. The reason that was given for Gwen having sex with Norman, was weak, stupid, and retarded. His "magnetism" whatever. Bullshit. And I don't think Gwen would have sex with someone other than Peter. Especially someone as old as Norman.

Hey, I'm not putting Gwen on a mountain, I'm a MJ guy myself! :D
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Post by Antiyonder » Wed May 16, 2007 4:31 am

Venom65437 wrote:I think it annoyed me more because:

C. The reason that was given for Gwen having sex with Norman, was weak, stupid, and retarded. His "magnetism" whatever. Bullshit. And I don't think Gwen would have sex with someone other than Peter. Especially someone as old as Norman.


See, the way Madgoblin analyzed the story, I think he could have made Sins Past work better than JMS. I'm not saying JMS is a bad writer, but I doubt that the points made in Madgoblins article even occured to him.
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Post by MadGoblin » Thu May 17, 2007 7:11 am

I really don't have much to say since I've already written articles about the subject, but..

What stuns me is that JMS thought for a moment that he would be allowed to give Peter Parker two grown children, especially since he clearly started running with the story without getting Marvel's o.k. That just isn't something you do with a corporation's franchise character. This explains the 180 making the children Norman's in the middle of the story.

That said, I still think there is a lot of story potential with a tortured Osborn daughter caught in a tug of war between her evil, biological father (who is responsible for her mother's death), and her brother figure, who desperately loved her mother and feels an ungodly amount of guilt about her death - especially since he would have raised her as his own child with Gwen had she lived.
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Post by The Black Cat » Thu May 17, 2007 11:11 am

MadGoblin wrote:I really don't have much to say since I've already written articles about the subject, but..

What stuns me is that JMS thought for a moment that he would be allowed to give Peter Parker two grown children, especially since he clearly started running with the story without getting Marvel's o.k. That just isn't something you do with a corporation's franchise character. This explains the 180 making the children Norman's in the middle of the story.

That said, I still think there is a lot of story potential with a tortured Osborn daughter caught in a tug of war between her evil, biological father (who is responsible for her mother's death), and her brother figure, who desperately loved her mother and feels an ungodly amount of guilt about her death - especially since he would have raised her as his own child with Gwen had she lived.


Even though they barely pulled off Sins Past with Norman as the father, can you imagine what contrived convolutions they would have needed to prove Peter was the father? That certainly would have not held up to snuff...it's a better story (and more plausible) that dirty ol' horny man Norman did it...
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Post by MadGoblin » Thu May 17, 2007 12:54 pm

The Black Cat wrote: Even though they barely pulled off Sins Past with Norman as the father, can you imagine what contrived convolutions they would have needed to prove Peter was the father? That certainly would have not held up to snuff...it's a better story (and more plausible) that dirty ol' horny man Norman did it...


That reminds me...

What I find interesting in all of this debate is the perceptions that some people have had about the whole affair, that how could sweet innocent Gwen could have slept with evil old lecherous Norman. For example:

Norman did not know he was the Goblin at the time. He was still suffering the effects of the electrical shock he incurred in issue #40 and was acting nice at the time. He would have not have sexually assaulted or forced himself on Gwen. In fact, other than his beloved wife and the nurse who cared for him when he was recovering from his Gathering of Five induced insanity - Norman has shown no interest in even touching a woman. After all, if he wanted to rattle Peter by having sex with his woman, he could have easily raped Mary Jane at any time since his return from the dead.

In fact, he was afraid that he might dying at the time and was worried about how Harry would take care of himself.

Norman was probably around 45 at the time, which is not an inconceivable age for a 19 year old girl to sleep with, particularly a young woman who had probably known him for much of her life, was a friend of her own father's, and who in many ways was an "older"version of the young man she was actually in love with at the time.

Gwen as originally conceived by Stan and Steve Ditko was clearly very... aggressive. She briefly eyeballed Flash, and started salivating over Peter soon after she met him. It's not inconceivable that she could have already slept with a man (or more than one) before she even met Peter in college. And it was my experience in school that the overt teases (such as Mary Jane) gave "it" up less than the so-called "good girls."

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Post by The Black Cat » Thu May 17, 2007 1:35 pm

I have no doubt it was consensual...and who knows, maybe there was a little vino involved too...you know thank you for saving us, I'm sad, you're sad, were spilling our thoughts out here, have a drink it may make you feel better (Norman could have done this in all innocence, not trying to drunk her up on purpose) but a glass here, a glass there :twisted: oh ah, love to love you baby....

Besides sometimes women do crazy things (yes, even the good, reliable girls) in the right set of circumstances, so that's why in my mind its wholly plausible that it could have happened. Once the heat of the moment goes away, what's left is "OMG!! What did I do???" no wonder Gwen was so weepy all the time after that (that and the raging pregnancy hormones that took over, even if you are even keeled in your regular life, those pregnancy hormones can do a number on you while pregnant!!), she probably felt awful giving it up to Norman, and not Peter who was her first choice and real love...what Gwen needed was a real girlfriend to tell her that your first time sometimes isn't the greatest...like I said, Peter would have overlooked all this, it's the kind of guy he is.
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Post by MadGoblin » Thu May 17, 2007 2:06 pm

The Black Cat wrote:...like I said, Peter would have overlooked all this, it's the kind of guy he is.


Yep - that's the tragedy - she could have told him anything because he would have forgiven her everything - sometimes I think moreso than Mary Jane if she erred...

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Post by Thanos6 » Mon May 21, 2007 9:43 am

I do, however, agree that they should have left it as Daddy Peter.

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Post by stevenkof » Mon May 21, 2007 9:54 pm

im no lover of gwen stacy, but seriously, the accelerated aging of the twings, the retcons (we love those!) and the out of character personality's of everyone really made the story the classic it has become today. Any fan young or old knows stories like these are nonese, even within the realm of comics, where there is suspension of disbielef, stuff like this is just utter nonense. Why even bother making a story like this? i think thats the real question that needs to be answered, and upon coming up with the idea to expose A Dead girl as a whore, why did the editor approve it? hmmmm...

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Post by Wombat 909 » Tue May 22, 2007 1:49 pm

Ive read this and i have to say that like verybody else that the first 3 issues were so good... and then it completley fell flat

I think BD somed it up when he guest starred on the Amazing Spider-Cast. "For years Spider-Fans have been wondering what happened to Baby May and if they give him two bastard kids form 30 years ago" :lol:
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Post by CrazyChris » Sun Jun 10, 2007 1:47 am

The idea to make them Peter's children is something I don't like at all. The editors made the right choice and, for my money, the result was something really special.

I'm going to embrace my being in the minority here and say that, to me, Sins Past is a masterpiece. Or at least something close to one. Certainly putting it in the same category as fan fiction does a gross injustice to the powerful rollercoaster of emotion Straczynski and Deodato created. Even those who don't agree with where the story went cannot get away with denying the sheer intensity of the writing. It is one of the few stories that to this day I occasionally pick up all six parts of and read through them just for the pleasure of it. Unlike Black Cat, I think this adds plenty worthwhile to the Spidey canon. In fact, I'd call it JMS' single greatest contribution becaus of how deeply it digs into every single character.

See, unlike practically everyone else here, I'm a Gwen man. I think Mary Jane is ultimately the better companion for Peter, but I'll take Gwen for myself, especially the way they were written when they were both alive. In the old issues, Gwen was by far the less annoying of the two. Instead of an exagerated beatnik, she seemed like she could be a real person. Gwen was sharp, witty, and beautiful. I actually wish she wasn't killed, and continued to be an interesting character instead of being "de-sexed".

The revelation that she slept with Norman does nothing to poison my image of her. Sins Past didn't add much depth to her in of itself, because we learned almost nothing about the circumstances and motivations behind what happened, but the story did remind us how little we ever knew about Gwen in the first place, and in that way makes her a more intriguing and mysterious character.

As for the issue of whether Gwen lost her virginity to Norman, I see no reason to assume either way. There's nothing to indicate she hadn't had sex before, and my intuition kind of tells me maybe there was a serious boyfriend or two before she entered Peter's life. I don't believe she slept around or anything like that, but I can easily see her making love in a committed relationship. Sadly, she's seen as the "good girl" and to an unfortunate amount of people that means she was a virgin. Frankly, equating virginity with anything like purity is an offensive construct contrived throughout time to control female sexuality.

The interesting thing to me is that Peter didn't know whether she was a virgin or not. He asked her blood type because he planed on marrying her, but they didn't talk about their prior relationships? Like I said, interesting. But then again I think it's accurate to say Peter at that age would have been very terrified of sex, because he almost definately was a virgin. He probably didn't ask Gwen, a hot, popular girl, her "number" because he didn't want to know the answer. Hot monkey love aside, I think Peter might actually be one of those people who associates virginity with purity. His first response is "how did it happen? Did she--" but that second question, whatever it was going to be, was cut off by Mary Jane going into her story. However, he later asks "Did she say if she'd ever ... if he was the first man to..." [emphasis mine], so it looks like the question of her virginity was going to be one of his very first concerns. That's natural, and even if knowing she was "deflowered" doen't tarnish my memory of Gwen, it seems like its something Peter is struggling with. Yeah, it doesn't help that it was Norman, but that isn't all that's going on here.

Just as interesting is what this story shows us of Mary Jane's character. By God, the way Deodato draws her face when all the lies are exposed is just gut wrenching. I also like the way she describes herself as the person who keep's people's secrets. I had never really thought of that side to her, and what an impossible burden it must be.

And if ever anyone wanted me to showcase exactly why JMS is the master of writing Spider-Man and MJ's marriage, then this would be the first story arc I'd hand them. Here are two people who are bound together and are facing what is possibly the greatest strain their relationship has ever seen, and while their pain can be felt through the pages in the pit of my gut, they work through it like real people who love each other genuinely would. As a reader, I didn't feel patronized like I did every other time the couple has faced marital problems under inferior scribes. Also genius is the way MJ's insecurities about being second in Peter's heart is characterized, as is Peter's awarness of and overcompensation for that (read between the lines of what Peter says when MJ is putting makeup on him in part two to see what I mean).

There are a couple alleged flaws that I'd like to address. First up, I think it's an exageration to say the story completely fell apart at the end. Sure, the last two parts were the weakest, and the climax was a bit rushed and unsatisfying, but they were good enough not to detract from the brilliance which preceeded them.

My own personal complaint isn't what this story did with the established characters, but that the new characters aren't even slightly interestng. I think it was a mistake not to just kill Gabe off right away, and not even the prospect of exploring Sarah more excites me any. The fact that the Goblin Twins exist is interesting, but I don't ever need to actually see them again.

Finally there's the matter of J.R.'s thesis, that "Sins Past" was poorly executed because we never learned when or why IT happened. Actually, this doesn't bother me. The Amazing Spider-Man is an ongoing, serialized form of literature, and not having everything resolved right away is the nature of the beast. Clearly there is a lot more to the story than we've been told. We don't know why Norman was so distressed at the time, and we don't know what Gwen and he were talking about when they lost control of themselves. Lets face it, it would take dozens more issues to explore all the implications of "Sins Past", and I think it is perfectly appropriate for the first arc to focus on how the living react to and deal with what happened, and then later we can go back and uncover the specifics when the story is revisited (Sins Remembered doesn't exist).

Of course, that would require JMS' successor to have the balls to pick this thing back up.

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Post by spiderfan616 » Wed Dec 05, 2007 7:46 pm

I don't think it was out of the realm of pausibility. The two spectulated possibilities of when Gwen and Norman had done the deed were both times when Gwen was in a emotionally weak state and she and Peter's weren't on the best terms. A big problem with Sins Past was it did lessen the impact of The Night Gwen Stacy died since now it seems the Goblin killed Gwen for personal reasons against her instead of the poor tragedy of Gwen being in the wrong place at the wrong time and being treated as an object for Goblin to use against Peter. Of course it can be taken that Goblin still didn't give a damn about Gwen and his motive to kill her was because he saw her as tool to get Peter angry. But my biggest problem was Peter and Gwen apparently had never gotten " that close". These two were seriously in love and were engaged with the idea of getting engaged. Peter's not that much of a goody two shoes. The original idea of Peter being the father probably would have worked better and would even add to Mary Jane's feelings as consdalation prize.

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Post by BertoneBeatle » Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:50 pm

I personally think it'll be retconned sooner or later. Maybe not this decade, but I see it happening.

This is how I would do it.

Aftter cleanup from the Clone Saga, Norman kidnaps the Gwen Stacy clone and brainwashes her into thinking she is Sarah Stacy. Gab is another failed Peter Parker clone who also went through brainwashing treatment (explaining why he looks like Peter). Mary Jane was given a post hypnotic suggestion or something somehow which was triggered by the arrival of the "twins".

Sure it leaves some holes and incosistancies, but those can be dealt with.
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