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1722: Amazing Spider-Man #121 (v1)

" The Night Gwen Stacy Died "
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Amazing Spider-Man #121 (v1)
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Editor-in-Chief: Roy Thomas
Cover Artists: John Romita Sr.
Writers: Gerry Conway
Pencilers: Gil Kane
Inkers: John Romita Sr.
Colourists: David Hunt
Letterers: Artie Simek
Editors: Roy Thomas
Cover Date: June 1973
Release Date: March 1973
Story Arc: The Death of Gwen Stacy (1 of 2)
Pages: 20
Cover Price: $0.20
Times Read: 438                 Times Rated: 259
Plot Flags:  
Universes:   Earth-616  
Go to Issue #120 Go to Issue #122

Shanna the She-Devil #4 (v1)
Shanna the She-Devil #5 (v1)
Amazing Spider-Man #121 (v1)
Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1)
Amazing Spider-Man #123 (v1)
1720: Shanna the ...
#4 (v1)
1721: Shanna the ...
#5 (v1)
1723: Amazing Spi...
#122 (v1)
1724: Amazing Spi...
#123 (v1)
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Issue Blurb
Peter has returned from Camada as quickly as possible to tend to Harry, who has fallen ill. However, when he tries to see his friend he is turned away by an irate and unstable Norman Osborn, but will Peter be able to face the consequences when Norman finally snaps.
Issue Detail Divider
Character Appearances
Main Characters
Spider-Man last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #120 (v1). Spider-Man next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1).
Supporting Characters
  Gwen Stacy
Gwen Stacy last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #120 (v1). Gwen Stacy next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1). This issue features her death..
  Harry Osborn
Harry Osborn last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #119 (v1). Harry Osborn next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1).
  Mary Jane Watson
Mary Jane Watson last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #118 (v1). Mary Jane Watson next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1).
  Joe Robertson
Joe Robertson last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #118 (v1). Joe Robertson next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1).
  J. Jonah Jameson
J. Jonah Jameson last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #119 (v1). J. Jonah Jameson next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1).
  The Green Goblin
The Green Goblin last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #119 (v1). The Green Goblin next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1).
Group Appearances
Daily Bugle
Daily Bugle last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #118 (v1). Daily Bugle next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1).
Equipment, Items & Vehicles
Web-Shooters last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #120 (v1). Web-Shooters next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1).
Pumpkin Bomb
Pumpkin Bomb last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #98 (v1). Pumpkin Bomb next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #137 (v1).
Goblin Glider
Goblin Glider last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #98 (v1). Goblin Glider next appears in Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1).
Issue Detail Divider
Issue Notes
  There are no notes for this issue.

Issue Detail Divider
Issue Review
   February 17, 2017
Tragic masterpiece.
The script is brilliant, and quite simple. Harry's illness brings the core characters together, but his father's rage at seeing Peter unlocks memories...
Norman's plight is well written. And just as tragic as the eventual outcome.
The final battle is as gripping as the best Spidey fights. The ending comes from nowhere. And is so terrible that you can't quite believe it.
Issue Detail Divider
Issue Synopsis
There is not synopsis for this issue.

Issue Detail Divider
  Anonymous Says:    
  2012-03-21 17:27:26  
  ASM #121-122 getting the spotlight treatment on "Comic Book Men."  

  Loki120 Says:    
  2012-10-10 19:46:55  
  This one snuck up on me. As in, I knew it was coming, but didn't realize that it was the story I was reading until the climax at the end. Really good.  

  TStarnes Says:    
  2012-10-10 21:32:49  
  Yea, for such a big moment for the character, it happens really fast.  

  Kez Says:    
  2012-10-23 18:21:41  
  Gotta say, wish I hadn't already known this was gonna happen. I can imagine this would have hit me like a freight train if I hadn't been aware of it for like a year before reading.  

  Duhhaag Says:    
  2012-12-20 09:45:00  
  Classic material, 5 stars.  

  john54542 Says:    
  2012-12-22 17:13:23  
  I've been aware of this story for 30 years but have not read it til now. Well done!  

  instantdeath999 Says:    
  2013-03-15 01:10:35  
  Well that was certainly sudden. Have to say, I'm disappointed that Gwen never learned Peter's secret identify. That would have made the death even more powerful.

The end of the issue was pretty well done. Don't think we've ever had Spider-man threaten to kill someone before. And of course, Spidey's "Don't you see? I saved you..." is the best indication that comics are changing. Before, heroes always saved their friends.

  Drax Says:    
  2013-07-01 17:33:50  
  Wow, even knowingly going through this issue, it was still a shock. I mean, it was even more brutal than I ever imagined. That little sound effect on page 18 just sent chills down my spine.  

  mrwrite3000 Says:    
  2013-10-07 22:10:55  
  Going into the order, I had no idea who Gwen Stacy was, or what would happen to her; but you comic fans make it basically impossible for anything of significance to be a surprise. Oh well.  

  fragsel Says:    
  2013-10-07 23:29:21  
  @mrwrite3000 I always said: If You want to avoid spoilers just rate it, mark it as read and KEEP AWAY FROM appearancess & comment section. At least that what I would do If I wanted to avoid spoilers...  

  podgejeff Says:    
  2013-12-29 02:11:23  
  What a classic issue. Peter's attempts to rationalize what happened immediately after really hit hard. I can't imagine how shocking that was to readers in 1973.  

  leisch Says:    
  2014-02-16 18:20:39  
  Probably the most important 'death' after Uncle Ben. One of the few that stuck (I think, not reading new since about 2003). After this the next important death was Superman which turned death into a publicity stunt used to temporarily pump up sales. The Book "Marvel:The Untold Story" gives a good account of the development of the issue and the reaction which caused Stan to fail to back up his staff when the controversy started.  

  Schabenc Says:    
  2014-05-17 20:12:58  
  It's too bad we will never get the reaction of Gwen finding out that Peter is Spider-Man. RIP Gwen!  

  scottyjrules Says:    
  2015-01-21 09:28:50  
  One of the most powerful comics ever written. The last two pages always get me. I can't even imagine what a shock this must have been reading this in 1973...  

  Imperator Says:    
  2015-03-08 18:45:24  
  Just wooooooooooow. I am really impressed. I can not get sleep after this one. Amazing and ultimately sad.  

  TheAmazingGatorMan Says:    
  2015-04-03 08:19:20  
  This may have been the most powerfully emotional comic book I have ever read. The last 2-3 pages were intense, crescendoing to the conclusion that I've heard about for so long, but never read and never anticipated something like this. Amazing..  

  ViolentPhlegm Says:    
  2015-04-05 23:22:03  
  There are some very effective uses of diversion here that maximize the emotional impact of the ending. First, the cover reveals that a major character will be killed off and for most of the story it appears fairly certain that the character in question will be Harry Osborne. Given the disturbing news (revealed in the previous issue) that Harry has relapsed into drug use, it appears that the issue will end up being a cautionary tale about that topic. Even after the story shifts and Gwen is put in peril, I think most readers in 1973 would have expected Peter to rescue Gwen and then receive the "shocking" news of Harry's death at the very end of the issue. The Gwen segment itself is told without cliche or melodrama. There is no big, final moment between Gwen and Peter. She doesn't find out about his secret identity and he doesn't finally propose to her. Because of this, we are blind-sided by what happens and are not given any resolutions to Gwen's life-story to soften the blow. And finally, there's THAT panel: Peter exclaiming elatedly (and maybe also a bit arrogantly) at the success of his rescue, the sound effect of the web catching Gwen's legs, and that other, tiny, devastating ever-so-easy-to-miss second sound effect...  

  squidfishious Says:    
  2015-05-26 14:05:27  
  I don't understand why everyone gets so excited about a dead girl. This is a lazy, un-imaginative "twist" from Conway and Romita who were desperate to maintain the thematic status quo (getting extremely stale after 10 years), and also have a shocking moment, and couldn't think of a better way to do it. The issue itself is ghoulish and the plotting rushed. The build-up to the death is almost non-existent, given that just last issue Spider-Man was in Canada battling the Hulk for no reason, and Peter and Gwen's relationship hadn't been more than superficially developed in ages.  

  duncanm @ squidfishious (original post):    
  2015-06-01 03:38:48  
  That's the whole point, and why it's so tragic. There was no build up, no change to the status quo, no tip off that this was going to happen. It was brutal and a shock, unexpected just like our losses in real life. I'm sorry but I think your idea that this was lazy and unimaginative comes from the fact that you're reading this decades later and you knew it was going to happen. Back then, this simply didn't happen. Sure minor characters would sometimes be killed off, usually a male friend dying a heroic death. But for the girlfriend of a superhero to be offhandedly murdered despite said hero's best efforts was unthinkable, and this shook the industry to the bone. I personally can't wait until the letters start coming into Marvel from this issue.  

  squidfishious @ duncanm (original post):    
  2015-06-01 09:32:33  
  I get that it was shocking and historically significant, but neither of those things make it good. I actually think even less of it after finishing the rest of Conway's run on ASM, which has few redeeming qualities, and does not build on Stacy's death to improve the story or Parker's character to any great extent.  

  jwerth Says:    
  2015-09-01 22:44:08  
  I'm with ViolentPhlegm and duncanm - the lack of cliche and melodrama leading up to this death gives it much greater impact. I also think ASM SHOULDN'T become totally about how Gwen's death impacts Peter, that's too much of a Women in Refrigerators thing. Let it be sad and tragic and leave us focused on that, not on what Gwen's death means to Spidey.  

  MattDog37 Says:    
  2016-04-04 15:10:40  
  Is that supposed to be Flash Thompson with blonde hair on the cover?  

  Shocker Says:    
  2016-12-06 09:02:34  
  Wow! 5 stars. I knew it was coming. I've read it before (like a hundred times), but it still moves me...  

  Beaustaff Says:    
  2017-04-28 11:44:58  
  Man that was an awesome issue. Totally heartbreaking.  

  dadoodoflow Says:    
  2017-05-06 09:19:36  
  Well, welcome to the Bronze Age.

@leisch I'd say Bucky and Jean Gray were significant and felt lasting during the time, the return of Jean Gray was the beginning of the end of reading Marvel for me

I like how it doesn't feel like a special issue

I think 30 years is a fair enough time not to have declare spoilers, and these comments are actually pretty good about trying not to spoil things

When we were young, and not so young, on long car rides, we would play comic sound effect war. "Snikt" "Bamf" Pum Spak" etc. My friend's whispered "Snap" was a memorable victory. I can't believe I actually reproduced.

Now Playing " The Dead Girls" Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

  skabeaters Says:    
  2017-05-23 02:57:12  
  This one didn't capture the moment for me like I thought it would. That mask takes all of the emotion out of the moment, it's hard to put it into context without facial expressions. And with a character that is always making light of every situation it's hard to tell how upset he is or how serious he is taking it.  

  Locust75 Says:    
  2017-06-10 15:45:37  
  5 stars. In the words of Forrest Gump...That's all I have to say about that...

'Nuff Said - "I saved you, honey...don't you see? I saved you..."-Spider-Man

  Russ Says:    
  2017-06-27 13:06:11  
  well, it happened; this is the issue where comic book innocence was destroyed forever.

I think commenters above touched on the majority of the critical points, so there's no point in rehashing it. But there's a couple of things I think are worth touching on.

First, whatever you all thought of Gerry Conway in the past, and I'll admit I'm not a big fan of him either, he wrote an absolute masterpiece here; you cannot argue this for a minute. The event was brilliantly handled, and like a few commenters said, nobody saw this coming. It's now a little hard to believe he wrote all those crappy stories at the start of his career; this story was about as flawless and perfectly executed as they come. Of course, it wasn't all Gerry, either; given that Marvel likes to tout events on its covers as selling points, even to the point of revealing spoilers, the cover was intriguing enough without giving anything away. If you're going to do a major event story, this issue is the prime example of how to do one.

Second, and this is a personal note here, I first read this story years ago when it was reprinted along with the second part, as a double-sized issue. And after re-reading it a few times over the years, I'm amazed at the impact has on the reader each time. Even knowing what's coming, it hits you hard like a blindside punch.

5 stars. And still in a little bit of shock 44 years later....

  Katryn Says:    
  2017-07-17 08:01:57  
  I'm just so sad that we never get those moments of Gwen finding out Peter's Spider-Man and everything that would follow from that. I'm sad that we'll never know if she could have accepted that or if she would still blame him for her father's death, both of which would have been absolutely fair enough. Why, Marvel? Why did you choose now to learn something about physics?  

  VenomousIntent Says:    
  2017-08-05 18:57:57  
  That scene where he is holding her gently in his arms ... was heart wrenching.  

  ronano Says:    
  2017-09-05 03:36:24  
  I knew this was coming, I even knew how it happened, but it didn't hurt the impact of this at all. I took longer to read this than I normally do, pouring over every panel and examining every facial expression.

Everything's already been said, but I thought Osborn's facial expressions and descent back to madness was chilling and expertly shown.

And that 3rd last page. The page length vertical panel showing the drop from afar and the very subtle "snap" were particularly incredible. I normally read a couple of comics a night, but I had to let this one stand alone.

  Spider-Borg Says:    
  2017-09-26 08:56:31  
  I just wish the title of the book was not ďThe night Gwen Stacy diedĒ. Because even if you donít look at character appearances, etc. itís still a spoiler just from glancing at the title of the book on CMRO. Thatís why they put it at the end of the issue. Hopefully this is the last time we run into this problem.  

  Nsmash Says:    
  2017-11-09 23:40:13  
  Almost a perfect issue. The only thing keeping this from 5 stars is Conway's captions trying to spoil the ending every chance they get. Even Gil Kane's up-nose art is used well here.  

  Allencthulhu Says:    
  2017-12-12 22:24:20  
  This reminds me of the end to "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" when the police arrive and James Bond is holding his wife's dead body in his arms and gently brushing her hair back and talking about having all the time in the world.

Five stars.

  ignaciotixi Says:    
  2018-01-26 11:27:39  
  Best. Comic. Ever.  

  metsguy Says:    
  2018-02-04 11:13:24  
  Gerry Conway really stepped his game up here. Even knowing what was coming, it still had an emotional impact.  

  JonahBlack Says:    
  2018-04-03 11:32:01  
  I honestly wonder if this was a bullpen wide effort to workshop the story. It seems like Conway's style was...reigned in for this one, with the prose simpler and more understated than is typical for him. It feels more Roy Thomas than Gerry Conway...  

Issue Detail Divider
Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys
This collection includes Amazing Spider-Man #89 (v1), Amazing Spider-Man #90 (v1), Amazing Spider-Man #91 (v1), Amazing Spider-Man #92 (v1), Amazing Spider-Man #121 (v1), Amazing Spider-Man #122 (v1), Amazing Spider-Man #88 (v1)
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Issue Letters Page

There are no letter pages submitted for this issue. If you would like to transpose and send at letters page, you can send it to tstarnes@gmail.com. Check in the forums for information about formating the letters page.
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Date User Name Update
   February 9, 2018 TStarnes Added Goblin Glider listing.
   February 9, 2018 TStarnes Added Pumpkin Bomb listing.
   February 9, 2018 TStarnes Added Web-Shooters listing.
   February 9, 2018 TStarnes
   February 9, 2018 TStarnes
   February 9, 2018 TStarnes Added Daily Bugle to the issue.
   November 26, 2017 TStarnes
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