Gwen Stacy: Who is the Ghost Spider?

Does Whatever a Ghost Spider Can

Ghost Spider:Is… Is that what this world thinks of Gwen Stacy? As nothing more than a victim? As nothing more than an inciting incident for a man in a mask?

Ghost Spider Annual #1

A villain is rampaging on a bridge. He lifts a car to throw at fleeing civilians, but stops when a strand of webbing hits his face. He tears the web away just in time to be kicked by a hero wearing a white costume. She dodges every blow he throws at her with a dancer’s grace.

Desperate for a distraction, the villain throws a boy from the bridge. The hero fires several strands of webbing at each of the child’s major joints. They slow his descent enough for the hero to safely catch him and swing him up to the bridge. As the boy runs to his parents, Gwen Stacy glares at the fleeing villain. Nothing will save him from her now. 

Gwen Stacy is one of Marvel’s most famous love interests. She began as a random damsel for Spider-Man, but her final story changed the comic book industry forever. So who is she? Why is she so influential? What is her connection to Spider-Verse’s Ghost Spider? Let’s find out.

College Hijinks: Gwen Stacy’s Backstory

Gwen:You said Peter Parker doesn’t have the guts? You crummy, dim-witted loudmouth! He could be half the man he is and still be worth ten of you!

Amazing Spider-Man #69

Gwen Stacy debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #31 in 1965. She was created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, who based Gwen on his wife, Joan Lee.

The daughter of police Captain George Stacy, Gwen attended Empire State University. The popular Gwen became the unofficial queen of the school. The only person who ignored her was Peter Parker, who was distracted by his secret role as Spider-Man. 

Peter’s lack of attention annoyed Gwen, but they soon bonded over a shared love for science and began dating. Gwen and Peter’s relationship was tumultuous because of her overall dislike of Spider-Man and Peter’s constant tardiness resulting from his heroics.

Peter and Gwen’s relationship deteriorated when Captain Stacy was killed in the crossfire of a fight between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus. They separated, with Gwen staying with her relatives in England until she could cope with her father’s death. She eventually returned, reunited with Peter, and headed for happily ever after.

The Night Gwen Stacy Died: Gwen Stacy’s History

[Spider-Man has caught Gwen with a web]

Spider-Man: [relieved] “Not only am I the most dashing hero on two legs, I’m the most versatile! Who else could save a falling girl from certain dea- Gwen? Hey kid, what’s wrong? Don’t you understand? I saved you. You can’t be… No! Oh, no, no, no. Don’t be dead, Gwen. I don’t want you to be dead! I saved you. Honey… don’t you see? I saved you…

Amazing Spider-Man #121

Gwen Stacy’s character was popular in the comics, but fans in real life couldn’t stand her. They flooded Marvel’s mail with requests to get rid of Gwen and pair Spider-Man up with his other love interest, Mary Jane. Even worse, the writers had reached a point where they planned to have Gwen and Peter marry. Instead, they decided it was time to get rid of her.

The Green Goblin broke into Spider-Man’s home to assassinate him. He wasn’t there, but Gwen was. Goblin kidnapped Gwen and brought her to the George Washington Bridge to serve as bait. Spider-Man arrived to rescue her and fought the Goblin. Gwen was knocked off the bridge during the scuffle.

Spider-Man desperately fired a web to keep Gwen from hitting the water. When he pulled her back up, he saw that she was dead. Initially blaming Green Goblin for the deed, he soon realized the sudden stop had snapped her neck. Spider-Man had accidentally murdered Gwen Stacy.

Gwen’s death was one of the most dramatic events in superhero history. At the time, a hero failing to save a random civilian was rare. Failing an important character was even more so. A hero failing to save their love interest, even accidentally killing them, was unthinkable! “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” is often seen as the end of the idealistic Silver Age of Comics and the beginning of the darker Bronze Age.

Even more shocking, Gwen was never resurrected. She was cloned by The Jackal a few times, and Mysterio has impersonated her on occasion, but the original Gwen Stacy has never been brought back. How fortunate then, that she isn’t the only Gwen in the Spider-Verse.

Rise of the Ghost Spider: Gwen Stacy’s Modern Stories

Gwen:We can play “What If?” forever. I’ve met people who view our whole universe as a big game of what if. What if Gwen Stacy never died? What if she got superpowers instead? What if, just once, she got to be the hero?

Ghost Spider #9

On Earth-616, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider. On Earth-65, the spider bit Gwen Stacy instead. She learned to use her superpowers and became Spider-Woman, usually called Spider-Gwen by fans and narrators.

Unbeknownst to Spider-Gwen, her friend Peter Parker was bullied and created a serum that would give him superpowers. The serum transformed him into a monster called The Lizard, which Spider-Gwen killed. He turned back into Peter as he died, admitting he just wanted to be special like her. For once, Peter was the Uncle Ben analog.

Spider-Gwen met Spider-Man during the event Spider-Verse. That’s a lot of spiders. They commiserated over failing their counterparts and decided to look after each other. Spider-Gwen has since made Earth-616 her home away from home and begun dating fellow dimensionally-displaced spider hero, Miles Morales.

Spider-Gwen seemingly died when she was caught in an explosion during the event Spider-Geddon. She was revealed to have survived and gathered an army of spider heroes from across the multiverse to save the day. Miles mistook Gwen for a ghost, leading her to rebrand herself as Ghost Spider.

Deadlier of the Species: Gwen Stacy’s Powers and Personality

Gwen: “As Spider-Woman, I’ve traveled the multiverse. I’ve stared down psychic vampires and psycho cops. Kicked in all the scary yellow teeth. And no, being caught or killed or found never truly scared me. No, what scares me is losing what I have in my hand now… what scares me is losing the people I love.”

Spider-Gwen #5

Earth-616’s Gwen Stacy had no superpowers or specialized training. She was brash, opinionated, and popular. Following her death, all of Gwen’s flaws were quietly swept under the rug. Any flashbacks or time travel stories portray her as the perfect, pure, “too good for this sinful Earth” girlfriend of Spider-Man.

Spider-Gwen has all of Spider-Man’s powers, but less experience with them. She can lift ten tons, has the trademark Spider-Sense, and uses web shooters that belonged to The Wasp. Spider-Gwen has picked up detective skills from her father and studied ballet, which she incorporates into her fighting style.

Spider-Gwen is also a skilled drummer who plays in a band called The Mary Janes. Marvel commissioned a real band called Married With Sea Monsters to perform three songs as the fictional band.

Spider-Gwen eventually lost her powers due to a complicated plot. She compensated by bonding to her universe’s version of Venom. She now has all of her old abilities as well as shape shifting, claws, and tendrils.

Spider-Gwen is very similar to her 616 counterpart. She won’t hesitate to curse out villains or call out heroes who endanger civilians. She feels guilty for letting Peter die and hates how most of her counterparts are remembered as victims by their Spider-Men. This causes her to avoid incarnations of Peter and spend time with other spider heroes.

The Actors Who Play Gwen Stacy

Mary Kay Bergman – Spider-Man: the Animated Series
Lacey Chabert – The Spectacular Spider-Man
Dove Cameron – Ultimate Spider-Man vs. the Sinister Six, Marvel Rising
Laura Bailey – Marvel’s Spider-Man
Bryce Dallas Howard – Spider-Man 3
Emma Stone – The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Hailee Steinfeld – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Didya get all that?

A tragic victim turned inter-dimensional badass.

Spider-Gwen image courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation.

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