Amazing Spiderman #606 (J Scott Campbell) Homage Covers

Amazing Spiderman #606 (J Scott Campbell Cover) - November 2009

J. Scott Campbell’s Love-Triangle Masterpiece

The original Spiderman’s history of romance is complicated. Compared to other world-famous heroes. Take Superman for example. His only love interest has been Lois Lane (and Lana Lang some might argue…odd that both ladie’s initials are L.L.!). And Batman – only Catwoman comes to mind. I suppose DC likes to keep its characters’ love lives more traditional than Marvel. One might argue that Marvel has kept up with and reflected changes in American society better than its competitor. One might also argue that the life of Spiderman reflects twists and turns real people experience during the course of their lives.

The love-triangle captured by J. Scott Campbell in the cover of Amazing Spiderman #606 embodies much of Spiderman’s personal and professional life. This long-lasting love triangle includes lots and lots of baggage – more than 20 years worth – hidden in all the white space in the background! The characters – Peter Parker/Ben Reilly, Mary Jane Watson and Felicia Hardy (Black Cat) – provide a powerful reference window for readers to recall and enjoy all this baggage in a single glance. The flat lovely white space reflects even the missing love interest – Gwen Stacy – and all her baggage, in its depths. The characters and white space share equal emotional weight in Campbell’s iconic cover. One might even argue that the white space and missing character provide most of the emotional weight.

Regarding Spiderman, we might consider which Earth-616 Spiderman we are talking about: Peter Parker or his clone, Ben Reilly. Even then, their romantic lives remain roughly comparable, due to the convoluted clone saga storyline. For purposes of this homage gallery, we will lump Peter Parker and Ben Reilly together, since one’s life began as a clone with the memories of the original, so the clone never missed a beat when he assumed the role of one of Marvel’s beloved heroes for two decades.

While the clone saga was intended to last only a few issues in the mid-1990s, its seed was actually planted in Amazing Spiderman in 1975 (#141-#151) when Warren Miles, aka The Jackal, furious with Spiderman for the death of Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spiderman #121 nearly two years earlier, clones Peter and Gwen and havoc ensues. For all intents and purposes at that time, all the clones perished in the end and the arc was wrapped up neatly as possible.

Except for the occasional clone which reappeared, such as Carrion in The Spectacular Spiderman #25 (December 1978).

The clone saga resurfaced with the (re)appearance of Ben Reilly, the original clone from the 1974 story arc, in Web of Spiderman #117 (October 1994). It is now two decades later and readers discover that they may have been duped by the editors at Marvel and reading about the adventures and love life of the clone since 1975! For some readers, that may have been their entire comic career!

The new clone saga, intended to end with Amazing Spiderman #400 a few short months later in April 1995) was so popular with readers that the saga was extended two additional years through seemingly all of Marvel’s titles until it concludes in Spiderman: The Osborn Journal (February 1997).

The clone saga, until this point, includes twist upon twist upon twist, until it is finally revealed in The Osborn Journal that Norman Osborn – aka The Green Goblin, Spiderman’s greatest foe – masterminded the entire multi-reality-bending conspiracy from the start and manipulated all the major players in the storyline through two decades and two retcons to install Peter, once more, as the original Spiderman.

Readers, we remember that The Green Goblin died in 1975 in Amazing Spiderman #122, getting his just desserts, right? Right. Did we mention baggage earlier? Few characters come with more Marvel baggage than Norman Osborn.

For now…. Who knows what the future might hold, since a third saga sprung up in mid-2021 with Miles Morales, the newest Spiderman?

More coming soon…