Amazing Spider-Man #440-441, Spider-Man #96-98, Spectacular Spider-Man #262-263, Sensational Spider-Man #32-33 (1998): Gathering of Five/The Final Chapter

I’m doing one big post on both of these arcs because…They suck.  I would bet there is not a single person on the planet who names these stories as some of the best of Spider-Man.  They’re not even some of the best of ‘90s era Spider-Man, and the ‘90s included a full lost year of Clone stories.  But from sow’s ears comes silk…These stories ended all four titles.  The next month, two rose from the ashes with issue #1s: “Amazing” and “Peter Parker: Spider-Man.”

It all starts when Norman Osborn engages the services of a mystic to perform an ancient ritual called “the gathering of five.”  This is problem #1: Green Goblin is a science-based villain, not a magic one.  This completely misuses the character.

The ritual requires five participants, and each will randomly get one of five qualities: Immortality (given to Madame Web), Insanity (which Norman gets, of course), Death, Knowledge, and Power (given to the new Spider-Woman).

The Madame Web voluntarily joins up with Osborn and uses Spider-Man who unwittingly gets a necessary artifact to support the ceremony.  She does it because she is dying and wants to get the Immortality gift, which she does.

Once “empowered” by the ritual, Norman Osborn renews his efforts to continue to mess with Spider-Man. Osborn lets Peter know that “May” is still alive. 


MJ and Peter think it is their daughter (killed during the Clone Saga) but it’s really Aunt May, who was also killed in the clone saga—only we’re told that that was an actress surgically altered to look like Aunt May.  (I am assuming they have brought her back so she can be a part of the line-wide relaunch of the Spider-Man character.)

Anyhow, Goblin and Spider-Man fight–at last.

Without explaining the “how” (which you can learn if you choose to read this horrible story), Green Goblin unmasks and “kills” Spider-Man during this story.

That is the final panel of the Spectacular Spider-Man series, which has been around for a long time.  Not as long as Amazing Spider-Man, of course, which also technically “ends” with this story—but comes right back with a new #1. 

And of course he didn’t kill Spidey.  None of that happened.

Osborn is just enjoying the “insanity” gift from the gathering of five ritual. 

He does manage to bury Spider-Man alive, which means we get to see him lift stuff again, a tribute to the old classic panel from Amazing Spider-Man #33.

Along the way, all the lingering plotlines get hastily resolved, cleaning the deck for the relaunch, including: Gwen Stacy’s family investigation of Spider-Man, the rehabilitation of Spider-Man’s reputation after he was framed for murder, etc.  On that rep rehab point, he beats some bullies at basketball.

There’s also a typo where Mary Jane brings Peter a Sappy Meal but calls it a Merry meal.

The story ends with Peter Parker quitting being Spider-Man (again) and Norman Osborn being taken by the “scriers”—the black magic coven that assisted with the ritual.  Spider-Man burns his costume…

…Another tribute.

(From Amazing Spider-Man #50.)

And so we get to the end of Spider-Man…Until 1999, when he returns.

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