From the same line as the Mid-90s Daredevil I got a couple weeks back. Gwen Stacy was Spider-Man/Peter Parker’s love interest before Mary Jane came along, and the comics made it seem like she was going to be his one true love for all time, until she ended up dying when the Green Goblin threw her off the George Washington Bridge. Spidey tried to save her, but the whiplash caused by his webline snapped poor Gwendolyn’s neck.
That single moment from the story “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122, summer 1973) was the first time that a named love interest in mainstream comics was ever killed. That single moment is considered to be the end of the Silver Age of comics, which began in 1956 when DC Comics first rebooted The Flash. From Gwen’s death forward, comics “grew up” and the Bronze Age was a bit darker and more cynical than the previous two decades had been.
Soon, characters like The Punisher and Wolverine were introduced; They were “heroes” in that they tried to stop villains from doing anything worse, but their methodology was more violent, and at any point prior in comics’ history they would have been thought of as outright villains.
Gwen was also the focus of Spider-Man villain, The Jackal, who was Peter and Gwen’s teacher in college. Professor Miles Warren became obsessed with the young woman and sought to clone her after her death so that he could do with the clone the things that he could never do with the actual Gwen (told you the Bronze Age was a bit darker). This eventually led to Warren cloning Spider-Man as well as himself, which came to a head in Amazing Spider-Man #149 (1975) where Spidey seemingly battled his clone to the death.
Of course, that lead to the 1990s Spider-Man Clone Saga, which… I definitely have some more custom toys and art that will go over that, someday.
Anyways, Gwen Stacy’s death lead to her becoming one of the most important and iconic characters in comics. And Hasbro has immortalized her in plastic. And for some reason, you can swap her head with that of Mary Jane? So I guess now you can play out your own scenario where Gwen dies and gets replaced by MJ.
If you’re interested in reading more about Gwen Stacy, I think the Spider-Man: Blue story by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (2002-2003) does a really good job of modernizing the early 1970s era of Spider-Man into a six-issue (or single graphic novel) tale.
Anyways, there’s a minor history lesson about a toy I got in the mail yesterday.