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  1. #1

    Default "Everyone knows that Peter loves Mary Jane, but Gwen was his real, true love."

    At a Swedish comic convention, C.B. Cebulski said that he thinks Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker's true love.

    https://comicbook.com/marvel/2019/06...bulski-marvel/

    “Still to this day, I think the death of Gwen Stacy is the one that always rips my heart out,” You know, everyone knows that Peter loves Mary Jane, but Gwen was his real, true love in my opinion. I recently got to see the original artwork, literally the original drawings of her death, and it was just heartbreaking. I was at a museum and they had the original pages and I was almost crying because in black and white it was just even more bare and in your face.”
    What do you guys think about this question?

    Mary Jane is much more comfortable with his life as Spider-Man, but Gwen's death is a different type of tragedy if she were just someone he would have broken up with at some point.

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    What do you guys think about this question?
    For one thing it goes against the intent of the original writer of that story (Gerry Conway), and the actual editorial reasons for Gwen's death (John Romita Sr. wanted a character death to shake things up and ultimately agreed with Conway that Gwen was most disposable and least essential but also emotionally resonant for the surprise/shock/stunt to work). And it's also clear if you read the actual two issues of ASM #121-122 that the emotional center of that story is the epilogue with Mary Jane.

    This is a case where you have the actual story colliding against the myth that people created around the story.
    "By the mid-1970s Spider-Man’s great plot-lines – The Death of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s ethereal blonde girlfriend, who would haunt him as Kim Novak haunts James Stewart in Vertigo...were well behind him. And Peter Parker had settled for what seemed to us a second-best girlfriend, the dark-haired ‘girl next door’, Mary Jane Watson...In fact, I’d sentimentally rewritten my personal history, according to the dicta of the Bullpen Bulletin, so that until my research into the movie disproved it, I could claim (in Bookforum, two years ago) that "the first romantic loss for a lot of guys my age was Gwen Stacy’s death." This was a retrospective fiction, I now see. Gwen Stacy was dead before I met her...the halcyon past is not always what it is cracked up to be. My researches unearthed this horrible fact –- the Marvel scripters who followed Stan Lee on the job killed off Gwen Stacy because they found her unworkably dull, a cold fish. Red-haired Mary Jane was more approachable, sexier, all along. If I’d known sooner I might have been spared some pining."
    — Jonathan Lethem, "The Amazing..." review of Spider-Man published in the London Review of Books, "Vol. 24 No. 11 · 6 June 2002"

    "Gwen's Stacy death made her the holy version...this ideal woman for Peter...People who say that weren't around for the whole run. They've forgotten how nasty she was. She wasn't the most stable. She'd be all lovey-dovey one moment, and then hands-off the next. She was very strange. Just prior to her death, there was a long period when they were on the outs."
    — Roger Stern, Spider-Man Crawlspace Episode 37: Roger Stern Interview Pt. 2', Timestamp: 52:00 — 55:00

    ...but Gwen's death is a different type of tragedy if she were just someone he would have broken up with at some point.
    My personal feeling is that Gwen's death represents something for a group of fans because well a lot of people identify with Peter, and so when you have a poor kid like Peter dating a rich girl and so on, the death of that rich girl registers like a loss. You know the only girl from a higher social class that Peter dated and so on. It's no accident that every AU showing Peter/Gwen whether it's House of M or that Fox cartoon ends up being about Peter being rich and living the American dream rather than having the perfect relationship. I always felt that Peter's relationship with Gwen in the entire Lee-Romita era was in terms of subtext about social climbing. And in the end, Peter was cast out permanently from that world by the Osborns.

  3. #3
    Really Feeling It! Kevinroc's Avatar
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    I think that's a really unhealthy way to look at relationships.

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    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevinroc View Post
    I think that's a really unhealthy way to look at relationships.
    Cebulski's or the quotes I cited, or what I said?

    I definitely think that trying to make Gwen "Peter's true love" is a way to elevate her death to have more meaning than it originally did. I also wonder if making such statements matters anymore since the most profitable version of Gwen is a teenage girl years younger than Peter from an AU who isn't and never was Peter's love interest and who for most young kids is a love interest for Miles Morales.

    Interestingly, Cebulski wrote for Marvel Fairy Tales and he wrote the Spider-Man Fairy Tales one-shot on "Little Red Riding Hood" with MJ as Red and Peter/Spider-Man as the woodsman (and venom is the wolf). So he does write Peter/MJ well.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member CrimsonEchidna's Avatar
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    See, I wonder if Betty Brant had been killed off back in the day if we get an over-romanticized filter of her relationship with Peter and her being his "lost one-true love."
    The artist formerly known as OrpheusTelos.

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    Really Feeling It! Kevinroc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Cebulski's or the quotes I cited, or what I said?

    I definitely think that trying to make Gwen "Peter's true love" is a way to elevate her death to have more meaning than it originally did. I also wonder if making such statements matters anymore since the most profitable version of Gwen is a teenage girl years younger than Peter from an AU who isn't and never was Peter's love interest and who for most young kids is a love interest for Miles Morales.

    Interestingly, Cebulski wrote for Marvel Fairy Tales and he wrote the Spider-Man Fairy Tales one-shot on "Little Red Riding Hood" with MJ as Red and Peter/Spider-Man as the woodsman (and venom is the wolf). So he does write Peter/MJ well.
    Cebulski's comment.

  7. #7
    Mighty Member Zeitgeist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    What do you guys think about this question?
    You're just asking for trouble, arentcha?


    Quote Originally Posted by Kevinroc View Post
    I think that's a really unhealthy way to look at relationships.
    Expand, pls. How is it unhealthy?
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonEchidna View Post
    See, I wonder if Betty Brant had been killed off back in the day if we get an over-romanticized filter of her relationship with Peter and her being his "lost one-true love."
    wait are you implying she isn't

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    Really Feeling It! Kevinroc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeitgeist View Post
    Expand, pls. How is it unhealthy?
    Let's say you're 20 years old, and your girlfriend for the last year or so dies. A girlfriend that you were never completely honest with (and I'm being generous with that). And every other relationship you will ever have, including one that lasted longer and you were completely more open and honest with, is not as meaningful.

    That's a really unhealthy view of relationships. This idea that you can't really move on is really unhealthy.

  10. #10
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    Cebulski is certainly entitled to his opinion and, from a certain point of view, he does make a valid point. However, although he had romantic ties to Betty Brant and Liz Allen, Gwen is Peter's "First" true love. We've all had one. Sometimes you end up with them long-term and others you don't. In the end, no matter what, you always maintain a soft spot for them.

    But I think everyone involved came - quite rightly I might add- to the conclusion that the relationship would never truly evolve beyond what it was. Which was very vanilla. Now, some may argue that she was never really given a true chance to develop by the writers. Which may be true. But even Stan Lee admitted that Mary Jane always stood out as the right girl for Peter.

    From her first mention in Amazing #15, Mary Jane was always in the background. Then, after she was formally introduced, she was a prominent fixture of the support cast. She provided a much needed contrast to Peter in some ways, while complimenting him in others. She knew Peter was Spider-man from the beginning and still signed on to be with him anyway. She understands him in ways no other love interest has shown since.

    True love is defined as being a meeting of each other’s expectations and loving each other with trust, acceptance, and support. True love is about treating someone with the kind of respect that they deserve because you view them in a loving manner. Those three words: trust, acceptance, and support, were often lacking in Peter and Gwen's relationship. But they were, ultimately, the basis for his with Mary Jane.

    Gwen will always hold a place in Peter's heart. She will never, ever be forgotten. But Mary Jane is the one who has always been "there." The one who knew Peter was Spider-man, yet kept that information to herself because she valued him for the person he is. Hell, she even came to accept it. Even though she has questioned his role as Spider-man, she continues to support him regardless.

    Don't know about you guys, but that sums up "true love" to me.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonEchidna View Post
    See, I wonder if Betty Brant had been killed off back in the day if we get an over-romanticized filter of her relationship with Peter and her being his "lost one-true love."
    Steve Ditko (as per Blake Bell's biography) actually did legit pitch a story for whacking Betty to Stan Lee. In Ditko's vision, Betty would die in a common accident, like falling down the stairs or some other random thing, of the kind that happens every day and not at the hands of a criminal. Stan Lee vetoed it because he felt that doing so would just pile more baggage on Peter, and Steve Ditko, believe it or not, said that Stan Lee had the right of it about this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevinroc View Post
    Let's say you're 20 years old, and your girlfriend for the last year or so dies. A girlfriend that you were never completely honest with (and I'm being generous with that). And every other relationship you will ever have, including one that lasted longer and you were completely more open and honest with, is not as meaningful.

    That's a really unhealthy view of relationships. This idea that you can't really move on is really unhealthy.
    Not moving on and so on isn't the unhealthy thing in my view if that was what they had Peter do. It's perfectly logical, sane, and adult, that Peter after Gwen's death avoids relationships out of fear for what would happen to Gwen. But the thing is Peter did move on and in about a year's time or so, he got over her. That's what the First Clone Saga was all about. It's about Peter getting over and moving on from Gwen's death and realizing that he loves Mary Jane which is what convinces him that he's the real deal and not the clone since all his clones are stuck in the past and the Jackal, Mr. Clone-Fixated, is a necrophiliac, the embodiment of all Gwen Stacy fans as far as Conway was concerned (Conway has always had contempt, rightly so, for fans of Gwen who don't remember her when she was alive).

    You can't have Spider-Man move on and have healthier relationships with MJ and Felicia, and then MJ again, only for his mind to always go back to Gwen was the perfect one.

    But at the same time, I also wonder if this is a Marvel-wide thing. Marvel have historically catered to a toxic attitude to relationships. Like Hank Pym's relationship with Janet was based on the fact that Janet resembled Hank's first wife who died. In Hank's mind, Janet was always second to Maria. Then you had Scott/Jean and Scott/Madelyne where Scott went from mourning Jean, to marrying someone who looked just like Jean, and then ditching his wife and kid when Jean was alive all along. Wolverine's entire Origins is all about the fact that he fell in love with a Proto-Jean called Rose and has a thing for redheads out of some unconscious instinct.

    Peter Parker is actually more healthy than others when it comes to this, but if you spend a lot of time immersed in comic books and other Marvel stuff, there is this toxic mentality that says that the first dead girlfriend is always number 1. The real problem of course is Daredevil since he has so many dead girlfriends that there's a mourning competition there underway.

  12. #12
    Mighty Member Zeitgeist's Avatar
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    I really don't see this thread striking any new ground. Gwen as Peter's true love? Pssht! But here's my list of 30 reasons full of the exact same rationale why Mary Jane is his magical forever soulmate.doc:



    Quote Originally Posted by Kevinroc View Post
    Let's say you're 20 years old, and your girlfriend for the last year or so dies. A girlfriend that you were never completely honest with (and I'm being generous with that). And every other relationship you will ever have, including one that lasted longer and you were completely more open and honest with, is not as meaningful.

    That's a really unhealthy view of relationships. This idea that you can't really move on is really unhealthy.
    First, you make it sound like Peter acted maliciously with his secretiveness.

    Second, from personal experience, you can move on from your first loves but that never diminishes the impact they make on your life. That's a unique and formulative experience of which the importance never really dulls. Future loves after that can be just as strong, even stronger, but often they're different kinds, because they're different people at different stages and times. I've never lost a romantic partner though so I can't speak of that specifically, but that you'd always have a very special place for them doesn't strike me as unhealthy. I think you can hold enough place in your heart for them and other people - but also yes, trying to move on is important.
    Last edited by Zeitgeist; 06-03-2019 at 11:30 PM.
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  13. #13
    Really Feeling It! Kevinroc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeitgeist View Post
    First, you make it sound like Peter acted maliciously with his secretiveness.

    Second, from personal experience, you can move on from your first loves but that never diminishes the impact they make on your life. That's a unique and formulative experience of which the importance never really dulls. Future loves after that can be just as strong, even stronger, but often they're different kinds, because they're different people at different stages and times. I've never lost a romantic partner though so I can't speak of that specifically, but that you'd always have a very special place for them doesn't strike me as unhealthy. I think you can hold enough place in your heart for them and other people - but also yes, trying to move on is important.
    (I am not saying that Peter isn't allowed to grieve, isn't allowed to be sad, isn't allowed to feel guilty over Gwen's death. That's not how grief works.)

    I think Peter keeping such a huge secret, prioritizing such a huge secret (which he did. He even thought about how he could protect his secret from Gwen after rescuing her from the bridge), kind of undercuts this idea of "real, true love". Peter was lying to her every day of their relationship. Peter was planning on being married to her without ever telling her he was Spider-Man. If you're going to make the argument that Gwen was his "real, true love", you have to acknowledge this is messed up.

    But comics have a history of messed up messages. If you want a recent example, DC's Heroes In Crisis didn't do a good job explaining the virtues of mental health care.

  14. #14
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    I've hated this nonsense for years, because not only is it factually untrue based on canon alone, but it also fundamentally spits on what Spider-Man is as a character and cheapens him just to elevate that fetishized romantic fantasy filter on Gwen and her deadness. It's borderline creepy, and Marvel's obsession with it for years feels more on self projection.

    The notion that Peter is incapable of moving on from dead Gwen nor have fulfilling and greater relationships as an adult because he should be stuck obsessing over that tragic relationship for his entire life, that he can never truly move forward to have mature, satisfying relationships makes Peter look like a lame, unheroic, irresponsible manchild. It's weird - and how Marvel never seems to realize this is weirder.

    It's a shallow, unrealistic view on adult relationships all because Marvel wants to go shippery on Peter/Gwen and fixate on it like an outdated and toxic hyper romantic notion of what relationships are, out of a brain of a 12 year old.
    Last edited by emmafrosting; 06-04-2019 at 12:07 AM.

  15. #15
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    Gwen was Peters true love interest but she loved Spider-man..... no wait wrong franchise. Spider Man loved Gwen Stacy with all his heart and wanted her to be the mother of his little spiderlings but she loved Peter Parker and would never gave him time of the day.

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