Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #121, June 1973

Comic Heroes - - Feature -

What hap­pened? Spi­der-Man and the Green Goblin’s on­go­ing, in­creas­ingly un­hinged ri­valry came to hor­ri­fy­ing, tragic con­clu­sion when the Goblin cap­tured Peter Parker’s but­ter-wouldn’t-melt girl­friend, the fra­grant Gwen Stacy, then threw her off a New York bridge. Spidey’s web­bing makes a last-minute save, of course, ex­cept this time some­thing ap­proach­ing real-world physics kicks in: hid­den be­low the heroic “Swik!” sound ef­fect as the web snags Gwen’s leg is a tiny “Snap!”, her neck break­ing from the jolt.

Why was it shock­ing? For any­one brought up on the first elec­tric decade or so of Marvel Comics – or, in­deed, on the Sil­ver Age in gen­eral, when most of the ma­jor comic book char­ac­ter and tropes we en­joy to­day were cre­ated or re­fined – Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #121-122 was like a full-on col­li­sion with a Mack truck. This was a defin­ing mo­ment, for golden girls like Gwen sim­ply didn’t die in comics. The he­roes al­ways saved them. Ex­cept Peter couldn’t help Gwen. The reper­cus­sions con­tinue, and the four-colour world changed, for bet­ter and for worse…

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