Aug 20, 2008

[Comics] Spider-Man: The Death of Gwen Stacy

Spider-Man: The Death of Gwen StacyI've been a Spider-Man fan for most of my life. It's hard to explain it - perhaps it's because of him being a science nerd who eventually got to get superpowers and be one of the coolest heroes around. Perhaps it's because a part of me wanted to be able to make those same quips and witty remarks like how he would as he battled his enemies. Or maybe I just thought he was hot (and he is!) LOL.

Whatever the reason, I'm naturally drawn to revisiting his greatest moments in terms of his comic book life no matter how old or seemingly dated. And thus today's comic book set for review.

Any true Spider-Man will know who Gwen Stacy is supposed to be - the fabled first girlfriend for his alter ego Peter Parker. Forever commemorated in trading cards and the occasional piece of artwork or sculpture. Still, I had no idea how the actual story went and only knew of the basic details that covered how things turned out but to get my hands on a copy of the original9 story was something else entirely in those two issues - Amazing Spider-Man #121 and 122.

The Death of Gwen Stacy is a pretty complicated tale in its own right. Peter's best friend Harry Osborne, who is also the son of his arch-nemesis Norman Osborne otherwise known as the Green Goblin, is trying to recover from LSD / Acid addiction. The situation continues to add to Norman's stress levels and this eventually makes him break past his amnesia and he remembers his life as the Green Goblin along with the knowledge that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.

He then proceeds to kidnap Gwen in order to get to Peter and ultimately in the course of their battling she dies despite Spider-Man managing to snag her as she fell from the George Washington Bridge (or the Brooklyn Bridge if you base it off the artwork).

Gwen StacyImage via Wikipedia When I did sit down to read the story, I was rather disappointed. Her death didn't seem all the meaningful - just the side consequence of a battle and despite all the time that had been invested into developing her character and their relationship, they just got rid of her like that. Sure, at the time it was a shocking event to permanently kill of a major character like her but then when you look at it now, it sort of cheapened her life and the role she played in Peter's life at the time.

It was a good avenue for exploring Spider-Man's somewhat darker side, which was probably first scene when his Uncle Ben died. He pretty much loses control and gets within an inch of killing the object of his anger but of course being the hero manages to step away from that fatal act. It was that way with the petty thief who killed Uncle Ben and the same with the Green Goblin here.

Of course the Green Goblin eventually managed to inadvertently kill himself with his own glider in an image that remains an all-time classic and was even recreated in the Spider-Man movie.

As striking as the tale was, I'm still undecided if I'm going to want to read it again. It was just well...that. I mean there wasn't much else to it given it's the story of how she was killed and that was that. The fight with the Green Goblin felt like a bit of incidental fluff but the core of the story was killing her and they managed it without much fuss.

Well this was 1973 after all.

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