Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Gwen Stacy ‘was a nonentity, a pretty face’

“She was a nonentity, a pretty face. She brought nothing to the mix. It made no sense to me that Peter Parker would end up with a babe like that who had no problems. Only a damaged person would end up with a damaged guy like Peter Parker. And Gwen Stacy was perfect! It was basically Stan fulfilling Stan’s own fantasy. Stan married a woman who was pretty much a babe — Joan Lee was a very attractive blond who was obviously Stan’s ideal female. And I think Gwen was simply Stan replicating his wife, just like Sue Storm was a replication of his wife. And that’s where his blind spot was. The amazing thing was that he created a character like Mary Jane Watson, who was probably the most interesting female character in comics, and he never used her to the extent that he could have. Instead of Peter Parker’s girlfriend, he made her Peter Parker’s best friend’s girlfriend. Which is so wrong, and so stupid, and such a waste. So killing Gwen was a totally logical if not inevitable choice.”

— veteran writer Gerry Conway, in Grantland’s excerpt from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, explaining why, upon John Romita’s suggestion, they decided to kill Peter Parker’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy instead of his elderly Aunt May, creating one of the most memorable Spider-Man stories of all time. Judging by the excerpt, which offers a terrific snapshot of the Marvel workplace in the 1970s — prominent drug use, struggles with Stan Lee, trend-chasing — Sean Howe’s book will be a must-read. It goes on sale Tuesday.



I hate Gwen Stacy. Just a lame obstacle for MJ and Peter, like Lana Lang as an obstacle for Lois and Clark, or Talia as an obstacle for Bruce and Selina. I refuse to see The Amazing Spider-Man because Gwen was in it instead of Mary Jane.

total non-entity. they should have given her a backstory to flesh out her character. like…and i’m just spitballing here…her father was a cop who had a paternal relationship with spiderman. maybe they could have done something with that? oh, and then maybe the dad could die and gwen would hold spiderman responsible? it’s a little derivitive but it could have lead to some high soap operatics. too bad they never thought of that.

Completely disagree with the above comments by Conway.

They were a great match for many reasons. Gwen Stacy represented the stability that Peter never had, so apart from her beauty it was easy to see why Pete was attracted to her. She was also intellectually fairly close to him, certainly more so than brainless MJ. Gwen also understood the lifestyle of a superhero in the sense that as the daughter of a police officer, she was never sure when he was coming home. She never toyed with his emotions to the point where he didn’t know if he was coming or going (I’m looking at you, Ms Watson). She would have dealt with the secret identity better than anyone else – MJ, Betty, Debra, Felicia, etc.

MJ is a ditzy airhead by comparison, the female equivalent of Flash in many ways. She never made sense as a potential girlfriend or wife for Peter – even after the massive revisionist retooling of her personality.

Writers like to torture Peter Parker/ Spider-Man more than any other character in history. Therefore, Gwen’s death was inevitable, just a matter of when. Frankly, after nearly four decades, I’m sick of the constant misery that is Peter parker’s life.

I always thought of Gwen as a better match for Peter than MJ. What a lot of people seem to forget is that she was a fellow science major and Peter Parker’s intellectual equal. Also, at the time of Gwen’s death, I’d say that MJ was not really fleshed out at all, she was basically, an airhead party girl, and it would be years before the comics would explore the issues MJ had with her father and family. Another thing is that I definitely see a hot red-headed super-model as a greater (male) wish-fulfillment character than an attractive blond future scientist.


October 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Yeah, the “MJ was a better match” comments are 20-20 hindsight. At the time of issues 121 and 122, MJ was a one-trick pony character. In fact, it was not until around the time of the black costume, issue 259, and the wedding that MJ became a really well-fleshed-out character in the comic

Hey, Joan Lee is from the North East of England – no way could she be an uncomplicated blonde. Think endlessly fascinating, dark goddess.

With a bag of chips. Go Joanie! X

Oh, and here’s Joan Lee, talking about being Gwen Stacey!

I’m very much on the “disagree” side (and FYI, catsmeow, Gwen appeared before MJ, so she’s not really like Lana or Talia at all).

But yeah, looks like a great book; Steve Bissette’s been praising it up-and-down as the most important book ever written about what was really going on behind-the-scenes in those days. Looking forward to reading it.

MJ appear before lame and boring Gwen (Amazing Spiderman #50) why do people keep thinking that.

Surely you can troll better than that, hate crime.

Gwen Stacy was the Anna to MJ’s Summer. It made more sense, but it was way less interesting. Yes, I referenced The OC, and I won’t ever stop.

What’s the OC?

Jeph Leob, back when he was doing really great things, fleshed out Gwen in Spider-Man: Blue in a way that proves Gerry wrong. Yeah, it was a bit of a retcon, but by and large that story was derived from the original 60s comics. He more or less proves that Gwen was a fairly complex character, and that MJ at the time was not. And then demonstrates that MJ’s growth was very much an indirect outgrowth of Gwen’s death.

I like Gerry’s Spidey work. He was, in his day, one of the best superhero writers (and creator of Firestorm, which makes him awesome). But I think he just didn’t get Gwendy.

Glad to see the majority disagreeing.

Also can’t help but feel that Conway’s opinion is coloured by the fact he received a lot of flak for killing her off. It would be no surprise if he had negative feelings towards her because of that.

I have to disagree that she was a non-entity without any problems. Hell, dating Peter Parker by itself presents problems especially when the girl dating him has no idea that he’s Spider-Man and therefore has no context for why he takes off in the middle of dinner or even a conversation.

Also the comment about Peter being “damaged” is a bit overkill. It gets into the ballpark of where rather than being willing to run with genre on it’s own terms writers do things like insisting on rationalizing Batman as crazy because only a crazy person would put on a costume and fight crime. In the real world, yes. In the context of a superhero story, no. Peter is haunted by his Uncle’s death and the mistake he made but he’s also turning that into a source of strength that enables him to do something positive that honors Ben’s memory and what he learned from that experience. Just as Bruce Wayne turned the tragedy of his parents death into becoming a force that protects people from the evil that took his parents lives.

Even accepting for a moment that Gwen was some bland non-entity there are better (and more interesting ways) to write a character out of the story than killing them off. The saddest thing about the Death of Gwen is the lesson the industry learned from it: If you can’t fix it, kill it.

So here we are where character’s are killed off left and right often in infinity more crass and gratuitous fashion than Gwen was. Then the big two have the nerve to be surprised when they have a giant hole left where a character used to be hence the parade of resurrections we always get. Worse this cycle will repeat itself often with the same damn character!

Death in comics has become nothing more than cheap heat. A crutch for comicbook publishers to lean on when they need to fluff sales.

..and that sadly is the ultimate legacy of The Death of Gwen Stacy.

He’s right. Gwen was a pretty face and a blank slate for the readers to project their ideal woman onto. So, of course, she was and remains very popular, almost forty years after her death.


October 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I’d love to hear Conway – or anybody – describe in detail why MJ was “the most interesting female character in comics” at the time of Amazing #121-122

Of course that would require knowledge of many other females in comics at the time – knowledge which very few, including Conway have

Heck Betty and Veronica both, from Archie, were much more interesting than Gwen and MJ

“Mary Jane Watson, who was probably the most interesting female character in comics”

Yikes! If MJ was the most interesting what does that say about the rest of the female characters? Considering MJ is a pretty empty vessel herself.

Wow, I never expected something like this to come from my favorite writer. (Planning to meet him at next year’s Emerald City Comic-Con, so excited!)

Gwen better than MJ? Perish the thought!
Let’s not forget that Gwen had an affair with the Green Goblin and spawned two murderous children.

…Fanboy rampage in 3, 2, 1…


Edgy Comics Bingo 101.

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