The artifact I chose is an issue of the comic book series, Spider-Man, released in 1986 called “The Day Gwen Stacy Died“. This is one of the hundreds of comics my mother kept, from her time working at Marvel Comics, and then at some point gave to me. It was published as the 192nd issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man” but is truly a repackaging of issue numbers 121 and 122. The 121st issue was originally called “Death of Gwen Stacy” or alternately “The Night Gwen Stacy Died“, and the second was called “Death of Green Goblin“. These two comics, especially 121, are extremely important in the history of the comic book world, and are both mentioned in Spider-Man’s overall wikipedia page. The reason they were so impactful when they first hit comic book stores across the world on March 13, 1973 was because it was unheard of to kill off such main characters; one of Spider-Man’s main enemies, let alone his love interest. Today “Death of Gwen Stacy” is valued at $3600 and “Death of Green Goblin” at $1500, whereas the compiled version, I found for my artifact, is valued at a whopping $20 dollars.
This artifact fits into what we have been covering in class for multiple reasons. The first of which being the frontier: not in the sense of land but rather through intellectual work. As I said earlier, it was unheard of to have such important and key characters die relatively early on in a comic book series. This act was incredibly daring and, on a less impactful scale, demonstrates the same mentality of the likes of Eadweard Muybridge and Frederick Jackson Turner. The second way this fits into our class is through Spider-Man himself. He was created due to a surge in teen interest in comic books, and (then writer, but later CEO) Stan Lee wanted to create a character that they could relate too. Every Superhero up to this point was great at everything both in and out of the costume whereas under Spider-Man’s mask, Peter Parker is like a typical teenager. He “has trouble paying his rent… was not the most popular guy in school and does not always get the girl. Comic book readers — or “true believers,” as Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee likes to refer them — have followed the web-slinger for so long because his very human alter-ego is Peter Parker, who struggles with the same everyday life issues as everyone else.”(Href) This analysis brings up the American myth of the “triumphant individual”. Spider-Man is the ultimate version of this, going from rags to riches by putting on a special suit and protecting “the little guy” and American Ideals everyday.
Some great further knowledge:
Href, Mailto, BRYAN.ROBINSON, ABCNEWS.COM, and Bryan Robinson. “Why Spider-Man Is Popular.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.