Back Issues: The Death of Spider-Man's Aunt May

A death in the family shakes Peter Parker to the core during the most tumultuous time of Spider-Man's life: the Clone Saga. Reeling from the manipulations of his enemies Chameleon and the Harry Osborn Green Goblin, who created synthetic organism imposters of his long-dead parents to torment Spider-Man, Peter's life is upended again when his ailing Aunt May suffers a stroke and falls into a coma in The Amazing Spider-Man #391. Experiencing a nervous breakdown, Peter gets another shock when Ben Reilly — his perfect genetic clone — returns from the dead years after he was created by Miles Warren, the Jackal.

When a rejuvenated Vulture poisons Spider-Man with a chemical virus, a dying Peter Parker receives more shocking news: his wife, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, is pregnant with their first child. Cured by a serum concocted by his old enemy Doctor Octopus (The Amazing Spider-Man #398), a recovered and reinvigorated Peter celebrates his second chance and the start of his family with Mary Jane (The Spectacular Spider-Man #221). 

(Photo: Marvel Comics)

Preserving through battles with a mastermind Jackal clone and the warring symbiotes Venom and Carnage, Peter gets another gift of life when Aunt May wakes up from her coma and leaves the hospital (The Amazing Spider-Man #400). A week later, her condition stabilized, May takes Peter to the top of the Empire State Building to reminiscence about his Uncle Ben and makes a revelation: she knows her nephew is Spider-Man. 

"Peter Parker — you're as good a man as your Uncle Ben. And no kinder, more decent soul ever lived. If he was here, he'd let you know — in no uncertain terms — how proud of you he is. How proud we both are," says May, growing faint in Peter's arms. Back at the Parker home in Forest Hills, a bedridden and feverish May tells Peter it's time to say their goodbyes.

At peace with her death, May tells Peter to let go. "Not all leave-taking is bad. I've had a good life. A long life," May tells her beloved nephew. "But I'm tired, Peter. It's my time." Holding May's hand as Mary Jane and her aunt Anna look on, Peter recites from Peter Pan, the book Aunt May would read him as a child. 

"Let go. Fly. 'Second to the right — and straight on 'till morning.'" Aunt May peacefully passes away and is buried next to her beloved Ben under a simple epitaph: "She taught us love." 

(Photo: Marvel Comics)

It's later revealed the Clone Saga is part of a plot masterminded by Norman Osborn — Spider-Man's greatest enemy, the Green Goblin — back from the dead (Spider-Man: The Osborn Journal). It's at this time that May, the child of Peter and Mary Jane, dies after a stillbirth delivery as Osborn reveals himself to his co-conspirator Alison Mongrain (The Amazing Spider-Man #418). 

After Alison makes the bombshell revelation to Mary Jane that "May is alive," Peter suits up as Spider-Man to save his child from the returned Green Goblin (The Amazing Spider-Man #441). Spider-Man defeats the Goblin and goes to retrieve his infant daughter — only to find the kidnapped "May" is his living Aunt May (Spider-Man Vol. 1 #97). 

Furious at Osborn for making him think his daughter had survived, Spider-Man believes this Aunt May to be yet another trick. After Spider-Man saves May from the Goblin, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four verifies she's the real May Parker (The Spectacular Spider-Man #263). 

In a final revelation, Osborn confirms the "May" who died in Amazing Spider-Man #400 was an actress infused with the genetic matrix of the genuine May Parker — a copycat who assumed all bodily proportions and mannerisms of Peter's real Aunt May. Osborn kidnapped the comatose May and faked her death, replacing her with the dying imposter to laugh at a mourning Peter's suffering from the shadows. 

With Spider-Man victorious over the Green Goblin once again, Peter Parker tearfully reunites with his Aunt May, who doesn't yet know her doting nephew is Spider-Man (Spider-Man #98). 

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