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Marvels #4: Review

Apr 1994
Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross

Story Name:

Marvels Book Four: The Day She Died

Review & Comments

5 stars

Marvels #4 Review by (September 28, 2020)

Review: It’s hard to imagine anyone could put a sadder twist on the death of Gwen Stacy than the original story, but Busiek and Ross pull it off. And Phil’s bitter cynicism, which dissipated when he met Gwen, comes back in force, prompting him to retire from the game. Don’t know what to say about this saddest issue of the epic event that others haven’t said before and better than I could. But, as no one at the time realized, there’s more Marvels to come.

Comments: Story set in the early 1970s in the real-life Marvel chronology. Far too many references to list here; please consult MARVELS ANNOTATED. Punchline: Danny Ketch would go on to become the second Ghost Rider.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Marvels #4 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Phil Sheldon’s book on the Marvels has been published and it is a best-seller. The heroes are popular again but the cynical attitudes towards them continue. Phil, getting older and more tired, hires an assistant, Marcia Hardesty to help with the photos. And still, the Fantastic Four save the world from Galactus a second time but they are evicted from their home. Phil is concerned but there is no one to share his fears. Then he decides to balance the scales—and prove Spider-Man innocent of the murder of George Stacy. He gets notes on the case from Robbie Robertson and interviews Luke Cage, not taking time to wonder why Cage doesn’t want his picture in the papers. Phil interviews witnesses who claim to have seen Spidey kill Stacy yet the police aren’t after Spidey for murder: they know Doctor Octopus is the real killer but they can’t charge him without a statement from Spider-Man. Phil confronts J. Jonah Jameson over his hostility toward Spider-Man; he interviews Doc Ock in prison and he refuses to admit to anything. Phil is starting to think his project has hit a dead end until he meets Gwen Stacy who now believes Spider-Man was not responsible for her father’s death. From her he realizes that it doesn’t matter if anyone criticizes the Marvels; they aren’t here to earn approval but to protect innocents like Gwen. And this gives him the idea for a new book, a serious examination of the role of the Marvels in society…

…and then Gwen Stacy is kidnapped by the Green Goblin. Phil is a witness and he follows them to the bridge where Spider-Man arrives to battle the villain…and Gwen Stacy dies. Phil is shattered: the Marvels failed and she died. Sinking into his depression he decides to retire, suggesting that Marcia take over the book and documentary. To commemorate the moment, he has Marcia snap a photo of him with Doris and the paperboy, a nice normal kid named Danny Ketch….

Alex Ross
Alex Ross
Alex Ross
Alex Ross (Cover Penciler)
Alex Ross (Cover Inker)
Alex Ross (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Octopus
Doctor Octopus

(Otto Octavius)
Green Goblin
Green Goblin

(Norman Osborn)
J. Jonah Jameson
J. Jonah Jameson

(JJ Jameson)
Luke Cage
Luke Cage

(Power Man)

(Peter Parker)

Plus: Phil Sheldon, Robbie Robertson (Joe Robertson).

> Marvels: Book info and issue index

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