Mar 23, 2015

The Night Gwen Stacy Died: A Comprehensive Visual History, Part 1

The Night Gwen Stacy Died – A Comprehensive Visual History
Part 1

A few years back, I started collecting original comic book artwork. I love getting commissions from artists, or sketches in my sketchbook at conventions, but my main focus is buying the original art used to publish the comics we all read and love. It is a very expensive hobby, but really rewarding when you snag that original page you were hoping for. Especially since, unlike comics, only one of each page of original art exists in the world. (Or at the most, two. The original pencils, and the original inks from bluelined copies of the pencils. Even then, those are two distinct pieces of artwork.) Once it’s gone, it’s gone, unless the owner decides to put it up for sale one day.

There are many reasons I might seek a page out. I love the artists involved, or the character depicted. It may be the overall artistry of the page. Or, the page is of a particular scene from the comic that I enjoyed, or depicts a scene that resonates with me. So, as you may imagine, sometimes when I’m reading a comic, I might be looking at the artwork in a different light than the average reader.

I’ve said it before, but The Night Gwen Stacy Died is my favorite comic book story. It has been ever since I read it as a small child. Being an original art collector, I’d of course love to get my hands on the originals for this classic storyline. However, the odds of me ever being able to afford even one page from that monumental issue are slim to none, much less one of the infamous pages depicting Gwen’s fall from the bridge. My only chance is to try and find and own any of the numerous times the scenes from that classic issue have been referenced or reinterpreted in other comics.

All of that useless blather is to say, this will be an ongoing, non-regular series of mine where I find and catalog all the various times that the death of Gwen has been depicted in comic book form. The goal is to find specific depictions of the incident in question, not necessarily homages or similar situations.

It may be morbid, but that’s kind of my thing. Let’s get started.

Before we begin, we’re going to take a look at the scene itself, from Amazing Spider-Man #121 by Gerry Conway, Gil Kane, John Romita, and Tony Mortellaro.

Gwen is knocked from the bridge by the Green Goblin.

Spider-Man famously tries to catch her with his webbing, to disastrous results.

After pulling her up, a distraught Spider-Man cradles her lifeless body in his arms.

So now you have a bit of an idea of the imagery that I’m going to be looking for.

First up is a truly disturbing reinterpretation from Amazing Spider-Man #655 by Dan Slott and Marcos Martin. Following the death of Marla Jameson, Peter has a nightmare about all of the people he’s lost throughout his life.

In the mini-series Spider-Man & Daredevil: Unusual Suspects, by Paul Jenkins, Phil Winslade, and Tom Palmer, an agent from Hell gets into the head of our intrepid hero (issue #4 of 4).

Incredible Hulk #607, by Greg Pak and Paul Pelletier, in an effort to get them to help him, Bruce Banner appeals to a group of heroes that have lost people before.

The mini-series Spider-Man and the Secret Wars by Paul Tobin, Patrick Scherberger, and Terry Pallot featured expanded looks at Spider-Man’s role in the original Secret Wars series. Here, the Enchantress is trying to keep Spider-Man from succumbing to the hallucinations caused by the heroes’ attack on Galactus.

What If? #24 by Tony Isabella, Gil Kane, and Frank Giacoia is an obvious reference, since it asks the question “What if Gwen Stacy Had Lived?” Not only does it have a full recreation of the original scene, but it’s drawn by the original penciler Gil Kane.

This time, when Gwen is knocked from the bridge, Spider-Man dives down to catch her instead of using his webline.

It’s a sure bet that anytime a goblin shows up, you’re probably going to see Peter thinking back to that monumental moment in his life. Amazing Spider-Man #136, by Conway, Ross Andru, Frank Giacoia, and Dave Hunt, would be no different. After Peter and Mary Jane are nearly killed by a bomb in his apartment, Peter wonders if the Green Goblin has returned from the dead to take yet another woman he cares about out of his life.

Amazing Spider-Man #177 by Len Wein, Andru, and Mike Esposito (incidentally with a publication date the same as the month and year I was born) another Green Goblin shows up, causing Peter to think back to that terrible incident.

Of course, there is the seminal Marvels #4 by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross.

Which beautifully depicts the fight from the viewpoint of the story’s narrator.

Amazing Spider-Man #700 by Slott, Humberto Ramos, and Victor Olazaba reinterprets the incident through the mind of Doctor Octopus, who had recently switched minds with Peter Parker, setting up the Superior Spider-Man series.

That’s all I have for now. Like I said, this will be a non-regular ongoing effort to catalog every visual reference to the infamous death of Gwen Stacy scene. As I find more images, I’ll release more parts to this series. If you’re reading this and find, or know of, any references yourself, please feel free to contact us and let us know.

Next time, something less morbid (maybe)!

1 comment:

Stinkin'thinkin'50 said...

I have no words...anyone who really knows my love for comics knows that Amazing Spider-Man #121 is my all-time favorite story. It broke my heart the first time I read has continued to break my heart ever since. Even after I've seen all the canon taken out of comics...this continues to be my favorite. It was great to see this article in writing. Wow...I'm blown away there's someone else who feels like I do about this. Thanks for the article and the way you parsed the story.

Steve Vega

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