Oh my goodness, comic junkies! I am late yet again on my monthly blog post. This is primarily because I am finishing up my last semester of grad school and my master’s thesis is kicking my butt! Aside from my student turmoil, I wanted to take this month’s blog and examine a pretty important character in the Marvel universe: Gwen Stacy.
Now let me start by saying that I never used to be a Gwen Stacy fan. Sure, she was smart as well as beautiful, but I was always more interested in Felicia Hardy (aka Black Cat) and Mary Jane as romantic interests for Peter Parker. I’m not really sure why this is, except that by the time I started reading Spider-Man issues myself, he was already in a relationship with Mary Jane.
And Felicia Hardy was someone I became obsessed with when I went further back into the series to catch up on what I had missed. And, let’s face it, Felicia Hardy is so sexy and sassy!
But Gwen Stacy is really something special. She was, and is, hugely important to comics.
First of all, Gwen Stacy’s death is an incredibly iconic moment not only in Spider-Man’s fictional life, but in comic history. The graphic death of Gwen Stacy by Spider-Man’s hand was shocking on multiple levels. The “snap” sound effect drawn on the page was somehow brought to life as readers collectively heard the bone brake. It was gritty, visceral, and real. It was in this moment that comics also took a firm stance against the Comics Code Authority and proceeded to tell stories in which superheroes were fallible. The death of Gwen, though debated for a few months after the issue’s release, was entirely Peter’s fault. His overconfidence in his abilities and himself as a superhero lead to the heart-breaking death of his beloved girlfriend. And this is someone who is supposed to have an intimate knowledge about physics!
With Gwen’s death, Spider-Man became less perfect and more damaged, launching a comic movement that drifted away from the Comics Code and towards “grey storytelling.”