Something Borrowed, Something Blue - Part 2 - Mania.com



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Something Borrowed, Something Blue - Part 2

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale offer an affectionate look back at Spider-Man's first true love - Gwen Stacy

By Arnold T. Blumberg     June 22, 2002


SPIDER-MAN: BLUE #4
© Marvel Comics
While Loeb and Sale count themselves lucky that they've been able to do the kinds of projects for Marvel that mean something special to them, like the current SPIDER-MAN: BLUE miniseries, Gwen Stacy was anything but lucky way back in 1973. That was the year when her life was cut short during an epic confrontation between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. All these years later, fans still carry strong memories of Gwen - Loeb thinks he knows why.

"I think she's a great character," says Loeb. "She was Peter's first love and a real departure from MJ, who was so much larger than life than anyone else in the book. I mean, 'Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot!' is a great entrance line and one that set MJ in motion. Gwen was the 'straight man' to her, and we all have affection for that role. But mostly it was that Peter and Gwen had something fairly unique in Peter's life - a kind of happiness that went up until her death. [It was a] death [that] many readers still find very unfair, and so to see her alive again and vibrant is joyous."

Joy is hardly an emotion that comes to mind when dealing with the Goblin and his civilian alter ego of insane industrialist Norman Osborn. For Loeb, the deeper meaning behind the eternal saga of the Spider vs. the Goblin comes down to the simple relationship between fathers and sons, a theme that takes center stage in the Spider-Man feature film as well.

"It's a fairly common theme in comics," admits Loeb. "Why that drives so many stories I don't really know. I know I'm responsible for carrying that torch further, and it resonates so well for me personally, but when you look at Peter's life and how the father figures were removed from the very beginning, having that relationship with Norman and Harry right in front of Peter is very emotional. Norman, at his core, is motivated by a need to prove to his son that he is worth admiring. This is manifested by his constant needling of Harry, but it is about Norman's need, not Harry's. Norman finds in Peter the perfect adversary since Peter is the perfect son."

"Peter, on the other hand, is desperate to find a father figure, and Norman is the antithesis of what Peter is looking for. Norman is the aberration, and his destruction fuels Peter's need for a better father. Sorry to make it sound so 'psychobabble' - I could have just said that they have neat costumes and look cool when they fight too," jokes Loeb.

SPIDER-MAN: BLUE issue #3

While they won't be interacting in this new miniseries, Loeb also understands the relationship between Spider-Man and frequent partner in crime-fighting, Daredevil, the star of Loeb and Sale's previous 'color' series.

"They could be brothers," says Loeb. "Matt is so serious and so capable of handling it all - the job, the hero role, and his handicap. Peter can't handle any of it, but does the best he can. Matt realizes that Peter can bounce back from almost anything since he brings it all out in the open. Matt is a brooder - his pain envelops him, not unlike Batman. Peter is more like Superman in that he can express himself almost at any time about what's going on. "

Since Loeb has had some experience scripting the exploits of that other company's red and blue crusader, we thought it behooved us to ask how writing Superman compares with crafting the adventures of Marvel's wall-crawler.

"They're very different, but there are obvious points where they cross paths," says Loeb. "The 'grandparent' parents; the newspaper world; the crabby boss; the glasses/nerd/need to suppress one's true self versus the joy of the hero. It's all there. And then, they're not similar at all. First off, and this is central, Superman is there to inspire mankind. He wears the badge of HERO brightly and can handle it. Spider-Man is more down to Earth and capable of handling little more than his own world. He's not in the inspiration game as much as he's in the survival game. Peter is very vulnerable; Superman is nearly invulnerable. It makes for a very different way of looking at life."

Loeb is tight-lipped about any other possible 'color' sequels, but can INCREDIBLE HULK: GREEN be far behind?

SPIDER-MAN: BLUE issue #2

"We don't like to comment on what's coming until it happens," says Loeb. "There is a project at DC that we're very passionate about and we're trying to make that work given the time constraints. Everything these days is about when you launch and how you launch, which I'm very familiar with from the movie and television business. It suits the way we think. So, we're hoping that happens. If not, Marvel - The Marvel Knights office in particular - have a couple of things that would work for us and as soon as we know, you'll know!"

With SPIDER-MAN: BLUE now in comic shops and set to conclude by the end of the summer, Loeb is mainly concerned right now with whether or not he's done justice to a moment in Spider-Man's career that so many fans hold so close to their hearts.

"It's always hard when you're working from a base of material that is soinfluential," says Loeb. "Frank Miller and David Mazzucelli's work on BATMAN: YEAR ONE loomed hugely over THE LONG HALLOWEEN. [For SPIDER-MAN: BLUE,] Tim had to find his own voice and still be respectful of his love for John Romita Sr.'s work."

"[For] myself, I consider the best work I've done has been largely influenced by two people: Archie Goodwin and Stan Lee," adds Loeb. "So I'm not trying to evoke Stan. His work inspires me on many levels and I follow that inspiration. It's great fun. I just try and tell the best story I can and hope folks like it. So far they seem to, and that's wonderful. I'm very grateful for the readership and the support of the media."

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