The attachments that some people have to comic book characters can run the gamut from mildly interest to slightly unhealthy, but it’s totally understandable. Larger than life beings in extravagant costumes taking on world-threatening evils can stir up a lot of emotions inside of us. It’s amazing then to consider that one of the biggest lighting rods in comics is not a superhero or super-villain but a blond haired college student who died solely because she loved Peter Parker. I of course am talking about Gwen Stacy.
Introduced in 1965’s Amazing Spider-Man #31 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Miss Stacy was the childhood friend of Harry Osborn who immediately was drawn to Peter Parker because of his reputation as a brilliant student, marking the first time in Peter’s life that his book smarts paid off with the opposite sex. The relationship between the two would grow for years until Amazing Spider-Man #121 when Spider-Man’s nemesis the Green Goblin threw her off the George Washington Bridge and Spider-Man’s subsequent attempt to rescue her resulted in her death. But we’ll get into that a little bit later.
So far I’ve listed off some details you likely know about already. But in the relatively short time that Gwen Stacy was alive in the comics, she created a lasting impact on both the Marvel Universe and the real world, which has led to some fascinating facts about the character. And here I am today listing off the top 12 facts you may not have known about Gwen Stacy, so let’s get this list going.
12. She Isn’t Peter Parker’s First Love
One could definitely make the argument that Gwen Stacy is Peter Parker’s one true love, and there are some people out there who make the assumption that this means Gwen Stacy was also Parker’s first girlfriend. This one though cannot be true no matter how hard you argue.
To find the first love of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, you have to go all the way back to Amazing Spider-Man #2 in 1962 to find the Daily Bugle’s secretary Betty Brant. While she would go on to marry Parker’s rival photographer Ned Leeds, Brant originally was in a relationship with our hero for a while in the wall crawler’s early days. The relationship came to an end however in Amazing Spider-Man #17 when Brant broke up with Peter because she thought he was cheating on her with his classmate Liz Allan.
11. The Cause of Her Death Has Been A Huge Debate For Decades
If you know anything about Gwen Stacy, it’s that the Green Goblin killed her in the iconic Amazing Spider-Man #121. While it’s generally assumed that it was Spider-Man’s webline which caused a whiplash and snapped Gwen’s neck, this point has actually been debated for years by nerds the world over.
The first person to argue on this point was actually the Green Goblin himself, who said that the shock of the fall killed Gwen before Spidey’s web line hit her. This theory is given further credence because in reprints of that story, the “SNAP” sound effect was omitted. However, the definitive answer to the question should come from the editor in chief of Marvel Comics at the time of the original story, Roy Thomas. Four issues after Gwen died, Thomas stated in the fan mail section of the comic that it was indeed the whiplash effect which killed Gwen Stacy. And thus concludes the debate.
10. She Was Blown Off By Peter Parker At First
One would think that a nerdy science major like Peter Parker would absolutely be floored and drooling the moment he sees a girl like Gwen Stacy interested in him. But this is Peter Parker we’re talking about here, he was never the smoothest customer with the ladies.
On his first day of college in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #31, our hero was pre-occupied in his head about his ill Aunt May. So when the gorgeous and smart blonde goes to ask Parker for a pen, Parker doesn’t even acknowledge her presence. When she pushes the issue further and asks even louder, Peter doesn’t even turn around and instead just half-heartedly hands her the pen. This turns her off and (for a while anyway) shuts down any chance of Peter winding up with Gwen.
9. Deadpool Had Four Clones Of Gwen Stacy
There is a series published by Marvel at the moment which involves Spider-Man and Deadpool teaming up for copious amounts of bromance and action. But I wonder how bad Spider-Man would pound Deadpool’s head into the ground if he found out what he did to his love Gwen Stacy.
Back in 1998 in Deadpool #0 Wizard Special, our Merc With A Mouth took on a contract to take out longtime Captain America villain Arnim Zola in order to get the money needed for his friend Blind Al’s surgery on her ankle. Once Deadpool has Zola dead to rights, Zola whispers into Deadpool’s ear a proposition. Excited, Deadpool accepts and a few panels later, we see four Gwen Stacy clones dressed in skanky maid outfits attending doing house work.
8. She Is The Reason For The Clone Saga
Well, that headline is a tad dramatic, but it isn’t exactly false either. The amazing allure of Gwen Stacy was so strong that it drew a character in the Marvel to spawn one of Spider-Man’s most controversial storylines.
The original Clone Saga storyline from the 1970s revolved around Peter Parker’s college professor Miles Warren transforming into a super villain known as The Jackal who is capable of cloning human beings. Combine this with a mad love for his dead student Gwen Stacy and Warren blaming Spider-Man for her death, and you get the impetus for the original clone saga.
Warren creates a clone of Stacy who he has hypnotized to obey his will, and also creates a clone of Peter Parker to fight Spider-Man. Once she breaks free of the spell, Warren realizes how much of a monster he is and frees the hostage he was holding. Years later in the 90s clone saga, it is shown that Warren’s love for Gwen is what kept pushing him further in his quest even if it was really because he was nuttier than a fruit cake.
7. She Stands Up For Her Man
While it might be believed that Gwen Stacy was the good little girl that Peter Parker’s sweet innocent girlfriend and while her character may have been written like that sometimes, she also had some cool moments of bad-assery. Her finest moment would come in Amazing Spider-Man #69.
While some of Peter and Gwen’s fellow college students were protesting because a dorm meant for students was being used for rich graduates, Gwen started to tell the students that this protesting was only going to hurt their cause. One of these protesters though made a huge mistake when he called out and insulted Stacy’s boyfriend for not taking a stand with them. Stacy wouldn’t stand for this and decked the student with a slap from up high, putting him in place.
6. One More Day Was Going To Resurrect Gwen Stacy
One More Day is one of the most reviled storylines in comic book history for many reasons, but one of the biggest ones was the gigantic changes to continuity made as a result of it. There was one change talked about though that would have pleased fans of the blonde bombshell.
In J. Michael Straczynski’s original script for the finale of the story, more changes to the Spider-Man mythos are put into place than the final product had. While there are quite a few, the biggest one to note is that Peter’s beloved Gwen Stacy is brought back from the dead.
Marvel’s editor in chief at the time Joe Quesada shot down the idea. His reasoning for this was pretty simple. Quesada felt that it would have been way too difficult to explain how the stories in place would have changed as a result of Stacy’s return to the living world. So, it was too hard to explain Gwen Stacy’s return from the dead, but erasing a marriage from the minds of an entire universe was completely understandable. What a load.
5. She Told Off Aunt May!
Aunt May has to be the most caring and loving parental figure in comic books history, to the point where it becomes a fault of her character. She worries too much about Peter and thinks he’s a sensitive boy that needs coddling. Thankfully, we have Gwen Stacy here to put her in her place.
Aunt May is having one of her typical worrying episodes while Peter staying out doing his Spider-Man duties when Gwen Stacy comes into the Parker household with Harry Osborn in tow. May asks Gwen what happened to her “poor, dear boy” and Gwen tells Peter’s aunt she had to hear for a long time. She screams at Aunt May that Peter Parker is no longer a mere “boy” but a man, a man that she loves very much who doesn’t need the constant coddling that Aunt May forces on him.
4. Stan Lee Tried To Deny Approving Her Death
While Stan Lee may have made his name as the creators of household names like Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, his true strength is his showmanship ability. He can work crowds and please the masses like no other, so he would never say something that might shake people’s faith in him.
Shortly after Gwen Stacy was killed in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, Stan Lee was giving a speech at a college campus when a group of fans expressed their anger at Lee for allowing Gwen to die. Even though Lee tried to calm their anger by saying that the decision to kill Gwen was made without his approval, that wasn’t the truth.
According to Amazing Spider-Man writer Gerry Conway, his editor Roy Thomas did indeed clear plans to kill Gwen Stacy with Stan Lee. Thomas says that Lee’s main focus at the time was expanding the line of comics and didn’t necessarily care much about what was happening in the books themselves.
3. She Tried To Slap Peter Parker
Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker’s relationship is sometimes misportrayed by some fans to be this ideal and perfect loving union. The reality of it though was that it was anything but. In fact, Stacy didn’t think too highly of our wall-crawling protagonist early on.
One day while Peter is roaming the Empire State University campus on his way to his next class, he spots Gwen Stacy, the girl who he had previously ignored because he his mind was elsewhere and Peter is kind of dumb like that sometimes. So right when Peter tries to go to class with her, Gwen shoots him down and Parker responds with a retort he immediately regrets. Stacys don’t take that kind of crap and she goes to slap our hero, but thanks to his spider-sense he stops the slap. So as you can see, the early goings of Gwen and Peter’s relationship were anything but smooth.
2. She Originally Wasn’t Going To Die
There have been a couple of alternate realities proposed by Marvel showing what could have been if Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker had stayed together. But little did we know that there was almost no need for these “what if” stories, because Gwen Stacy wasn’t supposed to die.
In an attempt to shake up Spider-Man, comic writer Gerry Conway wanted to kill off a supporting character in the book. Originally, Conway and his editor Roy Thomas thought that Aunt May should be the one who bit the bullet, but artist John Romita Sr. had a different idea in mind; kill Spider-Man’s girlfriend. Conway loved the idea, and so a story was crafted to kill off Gwen Stacy.
1. She Had Twins With… Norman Osborn
As much as most comic book fans have tried to block this from their memories and as sorry as I am to bring this up once more, it is imperative that those who don’t know learn this.
In 2004’s “Sins Past” storyline, it is unveiled that shortly before her death at the hands of the Green Goblin, she had sex with… the Green Goblin. Now to be fair to Gwen Stacy, she didn’t know that Osborn was the villain and also at that point in the timeline Osborn had exercised the Goblin persona from his mind. Not that the story really made that clear and it was only thanks to Marvel making a fan theory by Spider-Man superfan J.R Fettinger canon.
Not only did the two have sex, but Gwen got pregnant with twins who, because of Norman Osborn’s DNA, grew at an accelerated rate causing them to be physical adults even though they’d only been alive for about 10 years. The Stacy twins fight Spider-Man in the storyline but most readers were so floored by the revelation that anything else in the story seemed so minor.
The Death of Gwen Stacy may be one of the most important moments in Spider-Man history, but this storyline is definitely the grossest.