It's been a pretty momentous year for us Spider-Man afficiandos. We've seen the Ultimate Gwen Stacy killed off in "Ultimate Spider-Man". Eddie Brock has committed suicide in Mark Millar's "Spider-Man" (Am I the only person who misses him?). Spider-Man has grown organic web-shooters and developed insect telepathy when "Spectacular Spider-Man" joined the massive "Avengers Disassembled" crossover. (Okay, I've got two problems with this. Firstly, it was a second-rate story line dragged on w-a-a-a-a-y too long, and second, Spider-Man wasn't a real Avenger so why should he be affected by Avengers Disassembled?)
Yet, the magnitude of these events pales in comparison to that of the "Sins Past" storyline. I doubt that any story since the Clone Saga has provoked so much controversy as Sins Past. I also doubt that any true Spider-fan out there is oblivious to the shocking revelation in Sins Past: that Gwen Stacy had a relationship with Norman Osborn.
Many think this is out of character for Gwen, and thus, Sins Past should be taken out of continuity. I disagree. Not only is Sins Past JMS' pinnacle achievement, it also strengthens Gwen's character.
Now don't throw the rotten fruit at me just yet! Let me explain.
Gwen Stacy never was a real character. She was gorgeous. She was smart. She was generally a good person. In short, she was perfect. While it would be nice if everyone in the real world was as perfect as Gwen, sadly this is not the case. By writing a storyline where she had done something wrong - cheat on Peter Parker for a scumbag like Norman Osborn - JMS has made her character a heckuva lot more believable.
Now what many loyal Spiderfans fear is that Gwen has been made into some kind of adulterous monster. Here's the thing: not only has JMS strengthened her character, but also her benevolence! Think about it; in a flashback, Gwen stood up to Norman. Norman wanted to have custody of Gabriel and Sarah, believing them to be more worthy than Harry. Gwen had seen what Norman had done to poor Harry when he refused to take him to the hospital after an LSD overdose because Norman feared a stain on the Osborn name. Gwen refused to give her children to Norman. More than that: she resolved to tell Peter the truth. That's an admirable display of bravery in my opinion. A display that got her killed by the Green Goblin.
Even if you LOATHE what's been done to Gwen's character, you can't deny that the writing is great. Norman Osborn only appears in flashbacks and recordings, but he's at a level of creepiness rivaled only by Millar's Spider-Man series. I love the contrast between hot-headed Gabriel and "I-just-want-to-get-it-over-with" Sarah. There's a lot of typical JMS humour. And Spider-Man's heroism is remarkably pronounced, yet his character remains human.
At least it beats insect telepathy.
Hoping we see a lot more of Gabriel and Sarah in the future...