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Quotes / The Night Gwen Stacy Died

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Tom DeFalco: In your mind, was Gwen still alive until her neck snapped?
Gerry Conway: "Could be! Honestly, I don't know — I'm not sure why I added that sound effect, or what I meant to accomplish; as I say, it was the result of a subconscious decision. Consciously, I've always thought that she was already dead when Spider-Man caught her. But if that's true, why did I put the 'SNAP' in? What was the purpose of it? Spider-Man couldn't hear it. It was strictly for the audience. What was I trying to say? That 'SNAP' came from a pure artistic impulse. It was not calculated or part of a master plan to mess with the readers' heads...That said, I'd sure like to believe she was already dead."
Comic-Creators on Spider-Man, Titan Books, 2004 Edition, Page 47-48.

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"Since they couldn’t marry Peter and Gwen, they say it was ‘inescapable’ — Gwen had to die. Not only is this a glaring and desperate attempt to absolve themselves of creative responsibility in the eyes of fans, it brings up an even more disturbing question: Was the writing staff so unable to think of any other potential avenues for the character’s fate? Couldn’t Gwen simply have left town, met someone else, gotten a job? Since when is a brutal demise the only alternative for a female character besides marriage? The misogynistic implications of this thinking are staggering."
Arnold T. Blumberg "Comic Book Market Place", 1998.

"By the mid-1970s Spider-Man’s great plot-lines – The Death of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s ethereal blonde girlfriend, who would haunt him as Kim Novak haunts James Stewart in Vertigo...were well behind him. And Peter Parker had settled for what seemed to us a second-best girlfriend, the dark-haired ‘girl next door’, Mary Jane Watson...In fact, I’d sentimentally rewritten my personal history, according to the dicta of the Bullpen Bulletin, so that until my research into the movie disproved it, I could claim (in Bookforum, two years ago) that "the first romantic loss for a lot of guys my age was Gwen Stacy’s death." This was a retrospective fiction, I now see. Gwen Stacy was dead before I met her...the halcyon past is not always what it is cracked up to be. My researches unearthed this horrible fact –- the Marvel scripters who followed Stan Lee on the job killed off Gwen Stacy because they found her unworkably dull, a cold fish. Red-haired Mary Jane was more approachable, sexier, all along. If I’d known sooner I might have been spared some pining."
Jonathan Lethem, "The Amazing..." review of Spider-Man published in the London Review of Books, "Vol. 24 No. 11 · 6 June 2002"

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"Now, when it comes to the Gerry Conway scripted "The Night Gwen Stacy Died/The Green Goblin's Last Stand", most fans are bound to talk about the impact the deaths of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn had on superhero comic books in general. Unsurprisingly so, as it is indeed, a tale ballsy for its time. It was unheard of to kill off the titular superhero's love interest and the arch-nemesis in a single story. I would, however, like to talk about a less discussed aspect of the tale which appeals to me the most. Which is saying a lot as the entire story is well crafted and perfectly executed. I am talking about the "Epilogue" scene between Peter and Mary Jane in ASM #122. It is but one page but oh, what a page it is. The range of emotion captured through the artwork of Gil Kane and strong inking of John Romita Sr. is moving, to say the least. But what touches me the most is how the moment between MJ and Peter plays the element of much needed hope in an otherwise downer of a story. The inclusion of this one page really subverts the entire tone of the arc, which could otherwise be viewed as rather sexist...I sincerely feel "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" is not any run-of-the-mill "Women in Refrigerators" tale...One of the reasons I find this story superior to even the finest of Wi R stories like Alan Moore's The Killing Joke is because it actively sets out to serve as a tool for the development of a male and female character's emotional arc. Here, Gwen's tragedy serves to strengthen Peter and Mary Jane's relationship, as opposed to Barbara Gordon's tragedy used as an exploitative tool to explore the Batman and Joker's relationship...Not only does Gwen's death force Peter and Mary Jane to grow up and prime them for a mature relationship, but it also expands the significance of not one, but two female characters. Let's face it, Gwen Stacy was a pretty irrelevant character when it came to the bigger comic landscape. Her shocking death however, changed all of that! Suddenly, she became iconic...It was a great loss which gave birth to the career of my favorite webslinging superhero, and it was a great loss which gave birth to my favorite love story in not only comics, but also in all of fiction. The wonderful and hope filled love story of Peter and MJ, borne out of the fateful night Gwen Stacy died."
— Reader "Eve K.", recorded by Brian Cronin in the commentary for the entry of The Night Gwen Stacy Died in CBR's 50 Greatest Spider-Man Stories, where it is second to Kraven's Last Hunt.

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I never imagined you could actually kill Gwen. You have more intelligence then I gave you credit for. I fervently hope Gwen doesn't make a miraculous recovery in #122 (or in any subsequent issues). I also hope Peter doesn't mourn her too long...how long can he grieve over a person whose brain was constructed entirely out of old Pepsi bottles and whose personality had the exact color, consistency, and flavor of a loaf of Wonder Bread?
Jane C. Hollingsworth, Letter to the Editor, "The Spider's Web" Column, published in Amazing Spider-Man, #125, a more or less accurate summation of Gwen's reputation before her death, among general readers, and female readers in particular.

Gwen's Stacy death made her the holy version...this ideal woman for Peter...People who say that weren't around for the whole run. They've forgotten how nasty she was. She wasn't the most stable. She'd be all lovey-dovey one moment, and then hands-off the next. She was very strange. Just prior to her death, there was a long period when they were on the outs.
Roger Stern Spider-Man Crawlspace Episode 37: Roger Stern Interview Pt. 2', Timestamp: 52:00 — 55:00

I'm really proud of my work on that issue — and the work of Gil Kane and John Romita. We had no idea that story would end up having the legacy it's had, but even at the time I was conscious of wanting to drive home what I believed was the core theme of Marvel's approach to superhero storytelling: that being a superhero doesn't make you immune to tragedy...Unfortunately, Gwen's death also inspired some terrible stories, including the "girl-in-a-refrigerator" trope women in comics rightfully decry. I'd like to think that our approach to Gwen's death wasn't a cheap shot to create sympathy for our male hero, especially because I tried to use that tragedy more as a motivation for the emotional growth of the woman who would become the most significant female in Peter Parker's life, Mary Jane Watson...It's astonishing to me that forty-five years later readers are still responding powerfully to that story. Astonishing and gratifying. As for Spider-Gwen... I love her, she's a terrific addition to the Spider-Verse.
Gerry Conway, Syfy Channel, January 8 2019 Interview.


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