Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Sal Buscema

Sin-Eater - the guy who murdered Spider-Man's friend Jean DeWolff - is back, but only in everyone's imaginations.

Specifically, in Spider-Man's.

When Sin-Eater's alter ego Stan Carter is actually released from prison, an incensed Spider-Man breaks into his home to threaten him. There he finds that the repentant Stan is now a decrepit shell of a man. He stutters compulsively, cannot stand unaided, and is also half-deaf, protesting that he cannot lip-read Spider-Man through his mask.

Speaking up, our webbed hero demands to know what on Earth has been done to Stan.

It turns out that, after his arrest, Stan got beaten up. Pretty severely. By you, Spider-Man.

Oh... yeah...

As you can see, Stan is the other person for whom Sin-Eater lives-on in the imagination.

In addition to all the injuries that Spider-Man inflicted, Stan has now developed a schizophrenic second personality, creating a fascinating juxtaposition of viewpoints.

Throughout these three issues, the good Stan argues and fights with Sin-Eater in his mind.

Also throughout these three issues, Spider-Man repeatedly threatens the defenceless Stan, for Stan is still Sin-Eater in Spider-Man's imagination.

The really crazy irony is that, although they're both wrong, they're also both right.

Stan's personality has repented of his crimes, but his second personality hasn't.

Spider-Man is clearly wrong to threaten a defenceless man who he has crippled, but he is right that Stan is still secretly the Sin-Eater.

Clearly there cannot be a satisfactory resolution this conflict, because Stan's innocence/guilt is not an either/or value, but a both/also one.

It turns on its head the idea of a jury finding Stan, or anyone, simply either guilty or not guilty. In this story, there are gradients to both Stan's and Spider-Man's respective guilts, as indeed there are to even Stan's identity. Good and evil are not mutually exclusive - they come together, in different amounts.

I guess that's why we also have to have judges.


2 comment(s):

At 5:41 pm, Blogger Harry said...

Sounds like this was a worthy follow-up to "The Death of Jean DeWoolf". Has anyone undone her death yet to cheapen the impact of a classic tale?

At 5:49 pm, Blogger Harry said...

In a moral/ethical sense, I commend this story, and its more illustrious predecessor, for drawing attention to questions such as whether the ends justified the means, or whether a good man gone too far (in Spider-Man's case, when he refused to assist Daredevil in TDoJDW, and when he gave in to his (understandable) rage and savagely beat the Sin-Eater) can become as much part of the problem as a solution, albeit temporarily.


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