Death of Stacys

The Amazing Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys is a reprint of issues 88-92 and 121-122 from the 1970’s run of Amazing Spider-Man. The first part of this collection introduces Gwen Stacy and her importance to the story. It also kills off Mr. Stacy (Gwen’s father), creating the conflict between Gwen and Peter. The second part kills off Gwen. Thus, the stories are related, but have different enemies and are separated in time.

In the first part of this volume, Peter Parker, better known as Spider-Man, is struggling to juggle all the parts of his life. He has a wonderful girlfriend in Gwen Stacy, but between work and fighting crime, it is hard to find time to be with her. Eventually, Gwen Stacy’s father is killed during the fallout of a fight between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus. Gwen blames Spider-Man for her father’s death. Not knowing she is blaming her boyfriend, she vows to hurt Spider-Man as he has hurt her. Peter has to deal with the double blow of losing a father-figure and the guilt of his girlfriend’s father dying and confusion with how to defend Spider-Man (i.e. himself) without pissing off Gwen.

In the second half, the Green Goblin appears to try and defeat Spider-Man. The Green Goblin captures Gwen as a way to lure Parker to him. He then gives Parker a choice – kill himself and save Gwen or watch her die. As Spider-Man tries to stop the Green Goblin, the Green Goblin pushes Gwen off a bridge. When Parker shoots webbing and snags her foot, Gwen snaps her neck and she is killed — or was she dead already? Parker is inconsolable and goes after the Green Goblin. In the ensuing fight, the Green Goblin is killed (fans of the Tobey Maguire version of Spider-Man will recognize the scene) and Parker is scarred forever.

The arcs portrayed in these issues were an iconic moment in the storyline of the Spider-Man character. Both the first and the second story arc are key moments – the reader needs the first one to really get the impact of the second. This was one of the first times in history that a superhero comic killed off a major character and signaled a turning point in comic storytelling. Now that superheroes could be more vulnerable, the stories could take a darker turn.

In the introduction, Gerry Conway states that Gwen was killed off simply because her storyline was boring. But this decision, seemingly made on a whim, had a lasting effect on Spider-Man’s story and on comics in general. Most of what makes this collection interesting is that it kills off a main character and by doing so, inadvertently ushers in a new, darker period in comics such as Frank Miller’s Dark Knight. But besides that, it’s not a stand-out volume.

The art looks like old Sunday newspaper comics with flat colors and a primary color palette.The story, too, feels dated; it’s faster paced than today’s comics, with more plot packed into a shorter space.

Old-school fans of Spider-Man will not want to miss the chance to revisit this important story in the Spider-Man saga. Fans of comic books in general will be interested to see a pivotal moment in comics history, when superheroes began to be allowed darker plot lines. Fans new to the series, both teens and adults, will be interested to see these origins of Spider-Man’s personality and beliefs.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys
by Stan Lee
Art by John Romita, Gerry Conway
ISBN: 9780785167273
Marvel, 2012

  • Emma Weiler

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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