From her debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #31, fans had grown to love the on-again-off-again romance of Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker. So much so that even though she died on that bridge in 1973, comic book writers and creators have been bringing her back again and again. Whether it’s through cloning or alternate universes, Gwen Stacy’s appeal has endured throughout the years, resulting in the brand new run of Spider-Gwen, an AU comic where Gwen was bitten by that radioactive spider, not Peter Parker.
The first issue comes out today (henceforth known as Gwensday), and in honor of Ms. Stacy, we decided to look back and give a brief history of Spider-Man’s first love, showcasing our favorite Gwen Stacy’s over the years.
The OG Gwen (The Amazing Spider-Man #31)
Gwen was depicted as a fiery blonde who immediately recognized brilliance in Peter when no one else did. Even though their relationship got rocky at times, theirs was a love for the ages, up until her tragic death. This was the Gwen Stacy that launched a thousand ships.
The Clone Saga
Look. We know. No one thought that Clone Saga was great. It was a messy run from beginning to end, with a lot of plot holes in between. But you can’t deny that, the first time you saw Gwen Stacy alive and well again, your heart stopped for a moment and you dared to dream that maybe, just maybe, miracles really do happen.
While a confusing title, there was nothing confusing about the award-winning run of Marvels by Kurt Busiek. In it, the main events of the Marvel Universe from the 1930’s to the 1970’s are viewed from the eyes of everyman reporter Phil Sheldon, who grew up watching superheroes rise and fall. Late in life, he becomes disillusioned in life, only to bump into Gwen Stacy. Gwen Stacy gives him a new lease on life, and her cheerful optimism in how superheroes are there to help people is both uplifting and sadly tragic given what ultimately happens to her.
Ahh, Valentines Day; a day for love, romance, and curling up in a ball and crying. Or at least that’s what you did if you read Spider-Man: Blue. In it, Peter Parker reflects back on Gwen’s death years after it’s happened. He recalls their first meetings and how, ultimately, she was the love of his life. It’s beautiful, heart breaking, and a perfect way to capture how many fans feel about Peter and Gwen years after her death.
In the Ultimate universe, this Gwen is more of a punk-rebel, a Gwen who follows the beat of her own drum and is determinedly stubborn. Yet despite this, she’s a fierce and loyal friend to Spider-Man, and becomes part of his family in a way no one else ever has. Although she does die in this universe, she comes back as a pseudo-clone. So, y’know. Things are looking up for her.
Where would we be without the two film adaptations of Gwen Stacy? Played by Bryce Dallas Howard in the Sam Raimi series and Emma Stone in the Marc Webb series, both brought something unique to the table in their take as Gwen Stacy, but either way it was great getting to see Gwen alive and well on the big screen. Well, alive and well in Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man, anyways. We’re still not emotionally over The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
For those of you who don’t read comics, there’s been a little, tiny event going on in the Marvel universe called “Spider-Verse”, where literally every single iteration of Spider-Man makes an appearance. One of these iterations was a brand new one; Gwen Stacy of Earth-65, aka Spider-Woman. In her universe, SHE was the one who got bit, not Peter Parker. From there she joined a crew of other Spider-Men and Women from different universes to save the multiverse. She proved so popular that Marvel has given her her own series, which had it’s first issue released on February 24th, 2015. Which begs the question of why you’re still reading this and not going out and buying Issue #1. Go! Do it for Gwen! And Happy Gwensday to you all!
Watch Amy Dallen’s video about comic book deaths and Gwen Stacy here!
Written by Daniel Houbrick