The web of Gwen: 10 years after her debut, Spider-Gwen keeps spinning gold


The Gwen Stacy of Earth-65, aka. Spider-Gwen, has taken the character out from the ‘tragic death of a lover’ trope and into the limelight. — Photos: Marvel Comics

There is no better character than Gwen Stacy to really underline which generation of comic book readers I belong in.

For me, she will always be Peter Parker’s first love, whose death rattled the comic book world 51 years ago. These days, however, fans will know her not as Peter’s tragic love, but as the Amazing Spider-Gwen.

Half a century ago, Gwendolyne Maxine “Gwen” Stacy died in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol.1) #121, during a battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin on the Brooklyn Bridge.

While comic fans and scientists are still at odds over what actually killed her (was it the fall, or the whiplash from Spidey’s attempt to catch her with his webs?), the truth is Gwen’s death eventually became a pivotal point (or what the Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse film calls a “canon event”) in both Spidey mythos and mainstream comics.

Some even equate Gwen’s death to the end of the Silver Age, with the fictional tragedy causing shockwaves in a comic book era where deaths of major characters were still a rarity.

Spider-Gwen made her debut in 2014’s Edge Of Spider-Verse #2.Spider-Gwen made her debut in 2014’s Edge Of Spider-Verse #2.

Over the years, there have been numerous attempts at resurrecting Gwen via clones, but they all failed miserably. To make matters worse, there was even a much-maligned storyline about Gwen having an affair with Norman Osborne, which resulted in the birth of two super twins! Fortunately, this was later cancelled after Harry Osborne revealed that this was just a fictitious ruse to antagonise his dad.

It wasn’t until a decade ago in 2014 that a new Gwen Stacy arrived and finally spun a decent enough web to stick around for good.

Whether you know her as Spider-Gwen, Spider-Woman, or Ghost Spider, or seen her in the comic books, the Spidey And His Amazing Friends cartoon, or in the brilliant animated movies Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, there is no doubt that Gwen has finally broken out on her own, and is no longer just “Peter Parker’s late ex”.

Out from the Spider-Verse

Co-created by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez in the pages of Edge of Spider-Verse #2 (2014), the concept of Spider-Gwen originally started with her being Spider-Woman – a Spidey-variant from another universe.

Like Earth-616’s Peter Parker, this Earth-65 version of Gwen was bitten by a radioactive spider, later becoming Spider-Woman. In her world, however, Peter transforms into the villainous Lizard in order to protect himself from bullies.

During the inevitable battle between the two, Gwen unleashed her entire might on the Lizard, and the fight eventually took a fatal toll on Peter’s heart. In his dying moments, he reverted to human form and confessed to Gwen that he just wanted to be like her.

This turned out to be the “with great powers ...” moment for Gwen, who then decided that she would use her powers to protect others and to atone for Peter’s death.

The Peter Parker in Spider-Gwen’s life turned out to be the villain Lizard of Earth-65.The Peter Parker in Spider-Gwen’s life turned out to be the villain Lizard of Earth-65.

Early revelation

Unlike Earth-616 Peter, who took several decades before revealing his superhero status to Aunt May, circumstances dictated that Gwen had to reveal her secret to her father, NYPD chief George Stacy, at a very early stage.

In fact, she did so right off the bat in Edge Of Spider-Verse #2. When Chief Stacy tried to arrest her, she removed her mask and told her father the truth – that she needs to atone for Peter’s death, and that her mask “is my badge now”.

Shocked by the revelation, he tells her to run, and later on, proves to be an invaluable ally by providing support and helping her to cover up her superhero activities.

Gwen was forced to reveal her secret identity to her father very early on.Gwen was forced to reveal her secret identity to her father very early on.

Fashion for action

With her unique backstory and sassy attitude, Spider-Gwen became a hit right off the bat, with critics and fans also loving the cool aesthetics of her hooded costume, which was also oh-so cosplayable.

This was all thanks to Rodriguez’s own vision for her costume, which was totally different to (then Amazing Spider-Man scribe) Dan Slott’s initial idea of giving her a costume that was based on her clothes from Amazing Spider-Man #121, trenchcoat and all.

Banding together

So if Gwen is now the heroine and Peter is now the villain, what about Mary Jane? Well, with Peter gone and no possible love triangle happening, MJ has been recast as the lead singer and guitarist of a band called “The Mary Janes”, in which Gwen happens to be the drummer, with Betty Brant as the bassist and Glory Grant on keyboards.

And to make things even more interesting, they are also involved in a Battle Of The Bands, coming up against ... the Black Cats, fronted by none other than Felicia Hardy.

Gwen is also part of a band called the Mary Janes, fronted by, well, Mary Jane.Gwen is also part of a band called the Mary Janes, fronted by, well, Mary Jane.

The one and only

During the Spider-Verse storyline in 2014 , Gwen was selected as one of the Multiverse’s “Spider-Totems” to fight the vampiric Morlun and the Inheritors. Then, she met several other Spider-Women, but she was the only Gwen Stacy, as most of the other universes’ Gwen were dead, which led to the nickname “Spider-Gwen”.

A touching moment happened during that event where she met Earth 616’s Peter Parker and they both consoled each other on their personal loss, and agreed to look out for each other.

Gwen and Miles once explored getting into a relationship, but eventually decided to remain friends ... for now.Gwen and Miles once explored getting into a relationship, but eventually decided to remain friends ... for now.

Going the extra Miles

Gwen also has a close relationship with another Spider-Man, Miles Morales in the comics, just like in the Spider-Verse movies.

The two of them actually explored going into a relationship during the 2017 Sitting In A Tree storyline, but while there were indeed sparks between them, they decided to stay friends instead.

Things turn out differently on Earth-8 though, where Gwen marries Miles and has two Spider-powered kids, Charlotte and Max Morales!

Gwen came up with the 'Ghost-Spider' codename during the Spider-geddon event.Gwen came up with the 'Ghost-Spider' codename during the Spider-geddon event.

Ghostly calling

In case you were wondering why Gwen is also called Ghost-Spider (or sometimes Spider-Ghost) on top of Spider-Woman, that particular nickname came up after Gwen was presumed dead after an explosion during the 2018 Spider-Geddon storyline.

Aptly enough, it was Miles who inspired this nickname – after she comes back from the dead to help save the day, he asks her if it is really her and not “a ghost or something”, and she decides that she likes the sound of “Ghost-Spider”.

Gwen also goes by that name in the ongoing Spidey And His Amazing Friends kids cartoon, in which Miles is also known as Spin, not Spider-Man.

With her popularity soaring thanks to the success of the Spider-Verse movies, we’re looking forward to seeing Spider-Gwen in more stories to come.

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Marvel Comics , Spider-Man , Spider-Gwen

   

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