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Marvel Shows How Gwen Stacy Could Have Become Spider-Man

Contains spoilers for "What If...? Dark: Spider-Gwen" #1

"The Night Gwen Stacy Died" is reversed in Marvel Comics' brand-new "What If...?" story, which shows how Gwen became the new Spider-Man in a world without the web-slinger.

One of the most significant deaths in comic book history came in Gerry Conway and Gil Kane's "The Amazing Spider-Man" #121, where a fight between Spidey and the Green Goblin led to the tragic and shocking death of Gwen Stacy. While different versions of Gwen have returned in numerous multiversal stories, the most famous being Spider-Gwen, her death remains unique in comics as it has largely stuck for over 50 years.

Now, Marvel is reimagining Gwen Stacy's final moments in "What If...? Dark: Spider-Gwen" #1, part of a new "What If...?" line of comics retelling classic moments with a dark twist. Here, Marvel reveals what would have happened if Gwen had survived the Green Goblin encounter that originally cost her life and Peter Parker had died in her place. As a result, a new spider-hero rises in the Marvel Universe, and another major tragedy occurs.

How Spider-Man dies and Gwen takes on the mantle

"What If...? Dark: Spider-Gwen" #1, by Conway, Jody Houser and Ramon Bachs, opens with the Green Goblin and Spider-Man fighting on a bridge, with Peter Parker attempting to save Gwen Stacy from the villain, much like the original event took place in "The Amazing Spider-Man" #121. However, when Gwen is thrown off the side of the bridge and Spider-Man grabs her, as they fall, he hits his head on a wall as the pair come crashing down. In this reality, Peter saves Gwen, but at the cost of his own life. Stacy unmasks Spider-Man and learns his true identity, holding Peter's lifeless body while the Green Goblin taunts her and leaves.

Following Peter's funeral, Gwen decides to suit up in his Spider-Man costume. She ascends to a rooftop, intending to use a web-shooter to start swinging across the city. However, before testing out the webbing, she stops, realizing her lack of powers and training aren't enough for her to take on the mantle of Spider-Man. Instead, Gwen visits Harry Osborn and asks for help stopping the Green Goblin. She reveals Peter was Spider-Man, convincing Osborn to join forces with her in taking down the villain who cost him his best friend's life — not realizing his father, Norman, was actually the Green Goblin. Gwen and Harry prepare for another encounter with the villain, with Gwen bringing her late father's gun to the fight, intending to get violent revenge on the man who took Peter from her. Unfortunately, the mission doesn't go as planned.

Gwen Stacy's attempt to stop Green Goblin creates another villain

After leaving a note telling the Green Goblin Spider-Man is still alive, Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn trick the villain, trapping him in webbing inside an abandoned building. Gwen pulls out her gun, places her finger on the trigger, and prepares to kill the man who took her boyfriend's life — but despite being in the moment she had worked and waited for, Gwen cannot shoot the Green Goblin. As she tells Spider-Man's killer Peter wouldn't want her to murder him, the Green Goblin laughs and tells her he should have killed her when he had the chance. A gun is fired, and Harry Osborn is revealed to have pulled the trigger, telling the Green Goblin he's neither weak, nor a hero.

When the Green Goblin calls out for Harry, shocked that his son shot him, Harry quickly realizes he killed his father, unaware of the truth about his villainous persona. He immediately blames Gwen for the incident, telling her he'll make her pay.

Gwen Stacy gets rid of the gun by throwing it into the ocean, while Harry's trauma leads him to become the new Green Goblin in his father's place. Realizing she helped create a new monster, the comic ends with Spider-Gwen officially becoming the new Spider-Man, wearing Peter's old costume as she swings into action to stop Harry from terrorizing New York City. While the original Spider-Man and Green Goblin may be dead, the story concluding with Gwen and Harry taking on their roles is a more than fitting ending.

This What If...? story is worth continuing

It's clear after reading this that it would be fun to see a miniseries showing how Gwen becomes Spider-Man. Yes, Spider-Gwen exists, and this version of Gwen Stacy shouldn't replace her. But watching the character become the new Spider-Man in a world similar to Marvel's main continuity as opposed to Ghost-Spider's universe, which is drastically different from the main Marvel Universe, would be exciting — especially if Gerry Conway wanted to return to tell it. As the man who wrote Gwen's original death, his voice in this story makes it feel much more important than a usual "What If...?" one-shot. There's significant weight to the events and Peter Parker and Norman Osborn's deaths. You want to see what happens next.

Readers can see Gwen Stacy become Spider-Man in "What If...? Dark: Spider-Gwen" #1, written by Gerry Conway and Jody Houser, with art by Ramon Bachs, colors by Dee Cunniffe, and letters by VC's Ariana Maher. The issue is now available at comic book stores and online retailers.