The man who killed Gwen Stacy

gwen-stacyON THIS DATE in 1952, Gerry Conway was born in Brooklyn. At age seventeen, he began his comic-book career by writing a 6½-page horror story for DC’s House of Secrets.

Two years later, Conway moved on to Marvel, where he would pen a pair of Spider-Man scripts that recalled his horror-comic origins. In June of 1973, Spider-Man issues 121 and 122 brought the double deaths of Peter Parker’s original girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, and the first Green Goblin, Norman Osborne.

The Goblin killed Gwen Stacy by taking her hostage, and then throwing her off a bridge. Spider-Man shot a web that caught her before she hit the water, but it didn’t save her. Stacy’s head snapped when the web caught her leg, presumably breaking her neck.

The death of Gwen Stacy shocked Spider-Man readers. “People thought that I was some kind of … murderer,” Conway told Knight Ridder in 2002. “How dare I kill this beautiful girl — who basically nobody cared about until she was dead. She served no purpose other than she was a babe.”

deathofgreengoblinSince 1973, several other superhero girlfriends have been killed. The Comics Buyer’s Guide calls this “The Gwen Stacy Syndrome.”

In the next issue, Spider-Man caught and pummeled the Green Goblin at a warehouse. When the Goblin sent his glider racing toward the back of Spidey’s head, the superhero ducked. The glider slammed into the villain at full force, killing him.

Conway returned to DC comics in the mid-1970s, writing for Superman and Detective Comics (starring Batman), among others. He later wrote for several television programs, including “Matlock,” “Diagnosis Murder,” and “Law & Order.” He also produced a number of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” episodes.

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