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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Default W/L Ratio of Peter and Spider-Man in the "great" stories

    For a while I've been seeing this meme spread around. "When Peter wins, Spider-Man loses, when Spider-Man wins, Peter loses." I come across this tweet by Mark Waid (https://twitter.com/MarkWaid/status/605906699619164161) and I quote: "Itís just that IN MY OPINION, YMMV, no good story gives a win to both Peter and Spidey. 1 wins, 1 loses."

    My first reaction is, how much of that is actually true? Are there truly no great stories where both Peter and Spider-Man win?

    To judge this, I looked at a bunch of lists available online that ranks great Spider-Man stories. You can choose to add your own picks for great stories if you don't find any there. But I looked at some available external lists to at least arrive at some widely voted and ranked great stories. I have looked at some lists (https://www.marvel.com/articles/comi...cs-of-all-time, https://www.cbr.com/50-greatest-spid...d-master-list/, https://www.newsarama.com/36694-the-...ories.html#s11, https://www.ign.com/articles/2012/06...er-man-stories, http://www.comicscube.com/2012/08/to...-all-time.html) to see how many of them would count as stories where both Peter/Spider-Man win.

    That having been said. Stories where Peter and Spider-Man both Win:
    -- The Master Planner Saga: Peter Saves his Aunt, Defeats Dr. Octopus, Negotiates a Raise from Jonah.
    -- Kraven's Last Hunt: Peter rises out of the grave, defeats Vermin, and goes back to his wife, while Kraven commits suicide and leaves a note that clears Spider-Man's name of all his misdeeds while Peter was buried. The police commiserate and root for Spider-Man when he drops Vermin to them.
    -- The Wedding: Peter and Mary Jane get married, both make it to the church in time.
    -- The First Clone Saga: Spider-Man defeats the new villain Jackal, gets catharsis for Gwen's death, and starts a relationship with Mary Jane and, strongly implied to have lost his virginity.
    -- "Coming Home" and "The Conversation": Peter goes against Morlun defeats him, his Aunt finds out his identity, and she and Peter share it, with Peter having a major burden lift off of his shoulders as the Aunt he has lied to forgives him, and embraces and accepts him, giving him validation for his double life.
    -- "Learning Curve" and "Confessions": From Ultimate Spider-Man. Peter goes against the Kingpin, defeats him at the end, chases him out of America, and shares his identity with Mary Jane, who accepts him and they start a relationship. Hero goes against bad guy, defeats him, wins, and gets the girl.
    -- "The Owl/Octopus War" -- My Pick. Not in this list but still Peter goes against Dr. Octopus, defeats him thoroughly, saves the life of Black Cat and a hospital, and stops a neutron bomb from going off. Peter and Black Cat also start a relationship.

    Stories where Peter Parker loses but Spider-Man wins:
    -- Amazing Fantasy #15 : Spider-Man stops the burglar but Peter loses his Uncle.
    -- The Night Gwen Stacy Died: Spider-Man defeats the Goblin, but fails to save Gwen.
    -- The Death of Captain Stacy: Spider-Man defeats Dr. Octopus, but fails to save Captain Stacy, albeit Captain Stacy says he knows Peter is Spider-Man and approves, but he dies, with Spider-Man framed and Gwen permanently hating Spider-Man from then onwards.
    -- "Back in Black"/"To Have and to Hold" -- A complex example, since the identity is exposed so here Peter Parker and Spider-Man is one and the same but Peter's aunt is shot and she is hospitalized. Spider-Man is on the lam. But Peter defeats the Kingpin and is unstoppable physically and one step above everyone and has rarely been as competent and capable. He has Mary Jane by his side, faithfully devoted to him, and happy despite the desperate circumstances, but essentially, Peter has no escape to a normal life and no way to help his Aunt.
    -- Venom and Maximum Carnage -- Spider-Man defeats Venom in battle and later Carnage but both of them kill many innocent lives and Peter is burdened by the guilt that it came as a result of the unintended and unforeseen consequences of bringing the Symbiote after Secret Wars.

    Stories where Spider-Man loses but Peter wins: (To be honest, I can't really think of any story that fits this bracket. Maybe someone can jot things down.)

    General observations:

    -- I don't think Spider-Man and Peter Parker has ever scored a single unambiguous win over the Green Goblin. In early Ditko stories, Goblin escaped and remained at large, and out of the law's reach. After being unmasked, Peter was stuck with Norman as part of his supporting cast and living with the danger he'd go off at any time. Then Gwen Stacy died, then you had the Clone Saga, the post-Clone Saga, Revenge of the Green Goblin (where Goblin tortures Peter but flies away with Peter's "win" being not going insane), A Death in the Family (where Goblin is reduced to despair but he hospitalizes Peter's friend Flash), Marvel Knights Spider-Man (where Goblin escapes to fight another day albeit with a letter saying he considers Spider-Man his reason for living). Maybe Superior Spider-Man counts but even then it was Mary Jane who saved people's lives not Peter, and Peter still ends alone. Red Goblin has Flash's death and the death of innocents at time's square.

    -- Venom and Carnage and their very existence is a permanent defeat for Peter in the same way Joker is for Batman. Villains created as a result of unintended consequences on the part of the hero. So long as they live and operate and are not permanently incarcerated, no justice is given to victims.

    -- Spider-Man and Peter has defeated Dr. Ock unambiguously in multiple great stories (Sinister Six, Master Planner, Owl/Octopus War), and has had an ambiguous victory in the Death of Captain Stacy. It's only more recently that Octopus has gained a solid footing but even then since Ock is reformed from villain to hero at the end, Goblin/Venom and Carnage remain Spider-Man's most unresolvable and unbeatable foes. The only true way for Peter and Spider-Man to score a triumph over those two is to kill and obliterate them completely which will never really happen, and even if it did, would be unlikely to negate or make up for the actions. So that's one objective way of getting at the Arch Nemesis debate.

    But in either case you can see that Peter and Spider-Man do in fact have victories and in their very best stories (MP, KLH) too. What say you?

    My current judgment is this. Since there are great stories where Peter and Spidey win and Spidey wins but Peter loses...let me say, there are no great stories where Spider-Man loses.

  2. #2

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    Some of the wins are ambiguous.

    In the Master Planner saga, he saved Aunt May, but he burned bridges with new classmates and alienated Betty Brant.

    There are some stories where Spider-Man lost. In Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut, Madame Web was still seriously injured as a result of being taken off her life support system, a situation Spider-Man tried and failed to prevent.

    The Burglar saga has a string of defeats. Roger Stern's Black Cat story ends with her tragic death (as far as Spidey knows.)

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    Some of the wins are ambiguous.

    In the Master Planner saga, he saved Aunt May, but he burned bridges with new classmates and alienated Betty Brant.

    There are some stories where Spider-Man lost. In Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut, Madame Web was still seriously injured as a result of being taken off her life support system, a situation Spider-Man tried and failed to prevent.

    The Burglar saga has a string of defeats. Roger Stern's Black Cat story ends with her tragic death (as far as Spidey knows.)
    Didn't Spider-Man actually stop the Juggernaut and defeat him. That's a win in my book. Madame Web being injured counts as a defeat for Peter.

    In the case of the MP Saga, Peter alienating Betty Brant is presented as him walking away from a dead-end relationship, and his new classmates are jerks so who cares if he's burned bridges with them. It's a major win for Peter that he negotiated a salary and higher wages with Jonah.

    I'll give you the Burglar saga and the Black Cat story.

  4. #4

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    One further point....

    It's messy to just look at this in the context of great stories since that suggests that works in these can be applied in every story, but that's not necessarily the case. The stories seen as great are more likely to feature deaths of recurring characters (Frederick Foswell, Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy, Jean Dewolff, Ned Leeds, Harry Osborn, Aunt May) the introductions of new villains (Kingpin, Hobgoblin, Morlun, Venom, Fusion, Massacre) stylistic departures from the norm (The Boy Who Collects Spider-Man, No One Dies Part 1's silent opening and dream sequence) and/ or the character pushed to the absolute limit (Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut, the Master Planner saga, escaping the grave in Kraven's Last Hunt.) This can't happen all the time.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    One further point....

    It's messy to just look at this in the context of great stories since that suggests that works in these can be applied in every story, but that's not necessarily the case. The stories seen as great are more likely to feature deaths of recurring characters (Frederick Foswell, Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy, Jean Dewolff, Ned Leeds, Harry Osborn, Aunt May) the introductions of new villains (Kingpin, Hobgoblin, Morlun, Venom, Fusion, Massacre) stylistic departures from the norm (The Boy Who Collects Spider-Man, No One Dies Part 1's silent opening and dream sequence) and/ or the character pushed to the absolute limit (Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut, the Master Planner saga, escaping the grave in Kraven's Last Hunt.) This can't happen all the time.
    Well in those lists I mentioned, not all the great stories feature character deaths and first appearances of new villains and so on. Take for example:

    -- The First Clone Saga: Spider-Man defeats the new villain Jackal, gets catharsis for Gwen's death, and starts a relationship with Mary Jane and, strongly implied to have lost his virginity.

    -- "The Owl/Octopus War" -- My Pick. Not in this list but still Peter goes against Dr. Octopus, defeats him thoroughly, saves the life of Black Cat and a hospital, and stops a neutron bomb from going off. Peter and Black Cat also start a relationship.

    Technically the First Clone Saga is the first time Peter and Jackal face off, but Jackal was introduced before that. And aside from Warren (who good riddance) there aren't character deaths in that story at all. Owl Octopus War is likewise a good way into Peter's rivalry with Otto.

  6. #6
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    KLH could count as a win for Peter Parker but a loss for Spider-Man.

    Spider-Man only survived Kraven in that instance, but he was able to go home to MJ and move on from the incident.

  7. #7
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCN24454 View Post
    KLH could count as a win for Peter Parker but a loss for Spider-Man.

    Spider-Man only survived Kraven in that instance, but he was able to go home to MJ and move on from the incident.
    Spider-Man then defeated Vermin, got his name cleared by the police from Kraven's actions in his suit, turned in Vermin without killing him, and of course one of his villains, Kraven killed or as we should now say decommissioned himself for a long time.

    It starts with Spider-Man losing but Spider-Man wins at the end.

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