How Did Spider-Man’s Aunt May Return From the Dead?

In Death is not the End, we spotlight the outlandish explanations for comic book characters (mostly super-villains) surviving seeming certain death. Today, we see how Spider-Man’s beloved Aunt May made a return trip from the grave.

Now, this one is funny, because my pal Chris wrote to me to suggest that I do a “How Can I Explain?” about Aunt May’s resurrection and, trust me, I WILL, but I realized that I never actually did a Death is Not the End for Aunt May’s return and I think I need to do that before I do the “How Can I Explain?” one (I went the reverse order for the return of Ben Reilly and I think it would have been better had I done it in this order).

In other words, here I’ll lay out HOW she came back and in the near future, well, you know, I’ll make fun of how she came back.

First off, it is important to note the significance of Aunt May getting sick in 1994 in the first place. You see, Aunt May took ill and things looked so bad that Ben Reilly, the clone of Peter Parker who was thought to be dead after the original Clone Saga (how he came back was covered in a recent Death is Not the End here), decided that he had to risk running into Peter Parker in order to visit Aunt May. And, sure enough, Peter DID run into Ben and, well, that became the second Clone Saga.

During the middle of all of it, Aunt May suddenly comes out of her coma in Amazing Spider-Man #400 (by J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt)!!!

While that is awesome news, it was also super awkward, since Ben couldn’t visit her (due to the whole, you know, secret clone deal) and so he had to stay away during some super emotional times.

Anyhow, sadly, May’s miraculous recovery turned out to just be the last gasp of her life. She got to spend some time with her nephew and his wife and she also revealed to Peter that she actually knew he was Spider-Man…

Sweet stuff, right?

But then she fell ill again and this time there would be no recovery…

You really have to hand it to DeMattteis, that is one of the best handled deaths in comic book history. You could argue whether they ever SHOULD have killed Aunt May off, but if you were absolutely GOING to do it, then this was the way to handle it. It was so beautiful and touching.

Also, just adding to the heartache, Ben Reilly couldn’t be there and he just had to overhear it all and not even be with his beloved aunt. Rough.

Okay, so Ben eventually dies himself (for a second time) and Peter and Mary Jane suffer the loss of their stillborn daughter. It then seemed as though Norman Osborn had actually FAKED the still birth of their daughter and then kidnapped the kid because he was a jerk.

In Spider-Man #97 (by Howard Mackie, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna), Spider-Man learned of a safehouse where Osborn was keeping the person he had kidnapped (named May, which is what Peter and Mary Jane named their stillborn daughter). Peter battles with Norman…

and he heads to find his daughter…

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