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Was Gwen Stacy Awake When She Died?

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
Was Gwen Stacy Awake When She Died?

In Abandoned an’ Forsaked, we examine comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent).

Today, reader Gerald M. wanted me to address a major retcon that popped up in a recent Marvel comic book, but the interesting thing is that the retcon is not as new as you might think. So let’s look into whether Gwen Stacy was awake when she died.

First off, here is the famous death of Gwen Stacy from “Amazing Spider-Man” #121 by Gerry Conway, Gil Kane, John Romita and John Tartaglione…

It sure SEEMS like she’s unconscious, right? In fact, that played a major role in Roy Thomas initially determining that her cause of death had to be her neck snapping, since if she was unconscious, she couldn’t very well die of shock — and everyone agreed that she was unconscious.

One of the first comics to go into a lot of detail about Gwen’s death was 1999’s “Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man” #12 by Paul Jenkins, JG Jones and Jimmy Palmiotti, and in that look at her death, she’s more plainly unconscious…

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However, in a little-remembered retcon in “Amazing Spider-Man” #500 (by J.Michael Straczynski, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna), Spider-Man re-visits scenes from his past and in his trip to the Death of Gwen Stacy, she’s not just awake, she even shouts HELP!

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In fact, I don’t believe that there has been an in-depth exploration of Gwen’s death SINCE that point (Paul Jenkins did another one in “Peter Parker: Spider-Man” #50, but that predated “Amazing Spider-Man” #500). Some quick cuts of it, but not as in-depth as “Amazing Spider-Man” #500. Therefore, when the back-up story in “The Clone Conspiracy” #1 came out the other week by Dan Slott, Ron Frenz, John Dell and Edgar Delgado, it wasn’t necessarily retconning all that much with its revelation that Gwen WAS awake when she died, so she died pissed off at Peter for betraying her…

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That’s some rough stuff. What’s fascinating to me is how much Slott’s new story fits in with the original. She really ISN’T clearly unconscious in “Amazing Spider-Man” #121. However, there was still at least ONE retcon involved in “Amazing Spider-Man” #500, so this still fits the bill as a spotlight on a notable retcon.

Thanks for the suggestion, Gerald! If anyone else has one for a future column, just drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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