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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #42!

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This is the forty-second in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous forty-one.

Let’s begin!

NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Gerry Conway did not intend to include the “snap” in the death of Gwen Stacy

STATUS: False

One of the most controversial issues in comic book history was Amazing Spider-Man #121, which featured the death of Peter Parker’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy.

1570_4_00121.jpg

One of the most controversial aspects of the comic was HOW Gwen died. As seen in the following panel, there was a tiny snap when Spider-Man attempts to snare her after she has been tossed off a bridge by the Green Goblin.

snap.JPG

It is not clear in the comic whether she was actually killed by the snap to hear neck or shock from falling. In fact, the Green Goblin actually argues that it WASN’T the snap that did her in, yelling to Spider-Man, “Romantic idiot! She was dead before your webbing reached her! A fall from that height would kill anyone-before they struck the ground!”

In fact, in a bizarre event rarely seen in comic of the day, Marvel took the letter column of #125 to specifically address the death of Gwen Stacy (also, to defend Stan Lee and Gerry Conway). Part of the piece was, in a way, a comic book autopsy. The column reads,

it saddens us to have to say that the whiplash effect she underwent when Spidey’s webbing stopped her so suddenly was, in fact, what killed her. In short, it was impossible for Peter to save her. He couldn’t have swung down in time; the action he did take resulted in her death; if he had done nothing, she still would certainly have perished. There was no way out.

However, the snapping action is different than literally having her neck snap.

In some reprints of the story, the little “snap” noise has been excised. Stan Lee (in Comic Buyers Guide #1277) even expressed some unease with the idea of her neck snapping, “I wasn’t aware of that. To me, that’s a little too – I don’t think we have to know her neck snapped, you know what I mean?”

Therefore, perhaps BECAUSE of this unease, for awhile, different creators involved with the issue, from artist Gil Kane to letterer Artie Simek even to Art Director, John Romita, were rumored to have added the little “snap” sound effect.

However, at the end of the day, Gerry Conways admits that it was part of his initial story idea.

In Tom DeFalco’s book of interviews, Comics Creators on Spider-Man, Gerry Conway speaks of including the snap, and how “It’s one of a very few inspired moments in my career when my subconscious mind made a choice that meant so much more than my conscious mind ever intended.”

So, if you want to blame, or praise, someone for the snap, blame/praise Gerry Conway.

(Thanks to Peter Sanderson for the Conway quote, Al Sjoerdsma for the Lee quote and Arnold T. Blumberg for the quote from #125)

On the next page, did the real-life inspiration for Kitty Pryde have to change her name because of the character?

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10 Comments

Here’s a suggestion if it hasn’t been done yet, I just discovered this column and am going through it.

But there’s also a urban myth that Superman was clearly based on Jesus, Luthor the devil etc.

The AGE of OWL!

Daredevil woulda laughed his @$$ off.

There is also an urban legend that Jesus was based on Horus, and Epipus, … and Hercules, … and Odysseus, and so on……..

Captain Whitebread

May 29, 2014 at 7:10 am

Considering the Jewish heritage of Superman’s creators, it’s more likely that Supes was based on the stories of Moses (both sent away by their parents as infants in order to save their lives).

“The Owl is a compelling character to try to revamp, as many comic book writers have tried it since then, including most recently Mark Waid.”

I like how that part might be timelier now than when this legend was first posted!

the age of owl would have been in interesting xover. for as some one once said there are no really lame heros or villains in comics just no one has found what is needed like for the owl to make them really reach their potential. that plus the fact would if the owl had replaced apocalypse wound up with warren as arch angel?

When is this Apocalypse hype gonna die?

Huh, guess the Owl’s proposed mutant connection stuck enough to inspire the whole MGH business.

All true. Michael Nowlan is also introduced in that issue. I have MUCH nostalgia for that comic.

Darrin Kelley

May 29, 2014 at 10:44 am

I was an original X-factor reader when Apocalypse was first introduced. I hated the character and still do. He has no personality. No way anyone sane can relate to him. He’s just a big evil to be big and evil.

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