In Death is not the End, we spotlight the outlandish explanations for comic book characters (mostly super-villains) surviving seeming certain death. Today, we see how Spider-Woman came back from the double whammy of not just being dead, but being dead and specifically forgotten by everyone in her life!
Spider-Woman, the ongoing series, had been struggling for some time, but when it lost Chris Claremont and Steve Leialoha, it really took a huge hit. Eventually, Marvel decided to cancel it with then-upcoming 50th issue of the series. However, editor Mark Gruenwald needed someone to actually WRITE those last few issues, so he hired a young writer named Ann Nocenti, giving her her first regular writing assignment. Of course, “regular” in this instance meant writing the last four issues of the series, as she joined the book with Spider-Woman #47.
Since she was such a new writer, Gruenwald gave her a ton of direction in shaping that final arc, which involved a bad guy kidnapping pretty much all of the Los Angeles based superheroes and supervillains that Spider-Woman had encountered over the years in her regular series.
In a super cool move, the cover of the issue showed those various characters together in a PHOTO cover, a very rare occurrence at the time (although, it’s actually rarer now, as it was at least novel then)…
Elliot Brown took the photograph and painter Bob Larkin did a little touch-ups on the figures. Nocenti played Tigra, assistant editor Mike Carlin played the Needle, Gruenwald played Tatterdemalion and Lynn Luckman, a secretary on Marvel’s business side played Spider-Woman (she looked really amazing, right?).
Anyhow, Spider-Woman and the characters all manage to escape…
But then, after celebrating (and having her non-super-powered boyfriend break up with her because she was a superhero and he didn’t think he could match that kind of life), she is suddenly drawn into the astral plane by her old friend, the astral spirit Marius, who needed her help defeating Morgan Le Fey once and for all (Morgan was Spider-Woman’s first real rival, before she even had her own title – she fought her in Marvel Two-In-One).
They succeed, but when Jessica goes back to her body, she sees that it is too late and her body has died…
She is so sad that she asks Marius to erase the memory of her from all of her friends and family…
How dark is that? And why is her old bounty hunter partner Scotty so prominently featured?
So yeah, the series ends with her dead AND forgotten. Nocenti later regretted the decision (which you would assume was Gruenwald’s, though, right?), noting to Back Issue, “It was before I understood the intense, personal attachment the readers have to the characters. In retrospect, I realized it wasn’t a nice thing to kill a character off. As I worked in the field for a while, I developed a strong personal attachment to a lot of characters and I realized how alive they were.”
With things so depressing, how did they turn around?
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