Gwen Stacy’s death is perhaps ones one of the saddest and most notable deaths in comic book history. Once Peter Parker’s longtime girlfriend, her sudden and tragic death changed the course of Amazing Spider-Man and shocked readers. Even Stan Lee himself discusses this unexpected outcome in an interview with Kevin Smith. But how did Gwen Stacy die, and why is it significant?
To find the answer we must turn to Amazing Spider-Man 121. The issue starts with Harry Osborn in a bed while at home, ill from drug abuse. Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy are both visiting him. Peter attempts to visit as well but Norman Osborn, Harry’s father, catches him outside Harry’s door and makes it clear that he is not welcome in his home. Peter thinks about Norman Osborn being the villain The Green Goblin but has amnesia preventing him from remembering. After leaving we see Norman on the phone and his company’s stock continues to decline another thirteen percent, which makes him angry with beads of sweat on his forehead.
Unfortunately Norman Osborn suddenly remembers that he is The Green Goblin and because he blames Peter for what happened to him and his son, he decides that Spider-Man must die. Gwen waits for Peter to come back to his apartment while we see The Green Goblin from outside the window approaching from his flying glider. Meanwhile Spider-Man is sick due to the cold climate while he was in Canada, and this is effecting his focus and balance while web-slinging. He goes to his apartment and sees that Osborn took his girlfriend. He uses his spider-sense to find The Green Goblin on the top of The George Washington Bridge in New York City. This is when we begin to find out how Gwen Stacy died.
Spider-Man approaches and The Green Goblin basically tells Spider-Man to kill himself or else Gwen Stacy dies. Since Peter is sick and has a bad sense of balance, he decides to cut the fight short by grabbing his enemy with his web shooter and with all of his spider-strength he pulls him toward him and punches him with everything he has. Goblin falls toward the Hudson River but uses his remote-controlled flyer to recover. Spider-Man thinks his best bet is to pick up Gwen and run. She seems to be in a state of shock. The Goblin flies by and whacks her off the bridge toward the water. Spider-Man tries to use his web-shooter to catch her and manages to get her leg. Unfortunately, her suddenly stopping in mid air caused her head to swing back and her neck to snap, therefore killing her. This is how Gwen Stacy dies.
The Green Goblin returns on his glider and calls Spider-Man a romantic idiot. He explains that she was dead before his webbing reached her, and a fall from that height would have killed anyone before they struck the ground. Spider-Man holds his fist in the air while cradling Gwen Stacy’s body with his other hand. He says that he killed the woman that he loved, and for that he is going to die. So it is clear that the Green Goblin accomplished his goal in emotionally hurting Spider-Man.
Gwen Stacy’s death is historically significant in comic books because it was not often when recurring characters would die, and her death was sudden. She was significant because she was Peter Parker’s first true love, and the most influential relationship in his life. If you love Spider-Man comics you should try to collect this issue (Affiliate Link), however it’s very pricey due to its popularity. Now that you know how Gwen Stacy died, what are your thoughts? Did you find it shocking? Leave a comment.