First off, do I agree with what Marvel allowed to do with Gwen Stacy?
The answer is no. My husband actually refused and refuses to read this explosive story arc. I did, because even if I don't agree with things, I'm curious enough to see if something that is considered controversial will pass my muster...and that muster for me is: Is it plausible? Does this controversy somehow advance the canon?
In other words, controversy should not come about for controversy's sake, it should come because there is a purpose and rhyme/reason to it.
MadGoblin penned two excellent essays about how this could
have happened, so I won't belabor into it. If you haven't read it, you can find them here:
but let's go back to my filters: is it plausible? and does this advance the canon of Spider-Man?
Is it Plausible? First of course, this is the realm of comics, where a HUGE grain of salt needs to be taken almost with every issue, because anything can and WILL happen, based on who is doing the writing and whatever their ego >cough<
creativity says they need to do to leave a stamp on the series. That being said, one is to take a grain of a salt and suspend belief, and another is dealing with the outright ridiculous. I think from a "plausability" stance, as in, setting aside the cast of characters and their emotions/relations at play, does the time line fit for this to even be able to happen (goblin acceleration and all?). I think the answer is yes, but BARELY. So even though I don't agree with the premise, the timeframe we are dealing with can support the story that there was a hidden affair, a resulting pregnancy and an accelerated delivery of twins, so under this criteria I check off a YES for plausability.
So that takes us to my next filter, does this controversy somehow advance the canon? My answer is mmmmaybe! Isn't it interesting that under this revelation, Peter wasn't the only one trying to figure out how to tell Gwen his biggest secret, Gwen also had a "oh honey, by the way..." secret for him? The irony of course is that tragedy struck before either one could have the heart to heart. And (and perhaps this would be what I bring to this discussion) being a grown woman/mother who has either seen or been privy to other women's problems/secrets I can certainly see Gwen caught up in that terrible scenario that would certianly guilt burden and frighten the cr@p of 19-21 year old girl/woman (it's not clear to me how old she is, but certainly around that age) and not knowing if the man she loves will forgive her / accept her for it.
I think I understand Peter Parker enough to know that he would never, ever leave Gwen to face this alone...au contraire
...knowing who the father was may have preciptated him to really make sure Norman/ the Goblin had another amnesia attack that he was never going to wake up from! He would have been rocked and shocked by the news, but he's the type of man who would have said "Don't worry Gwynnie, we'll get through this together...I love you!!" Now don't go telling me this is chick lit stuff, because it does happen in real life all the time. Real men don't go dumping the woman they love just because she's "sullied" or whatever, and Peter's enduring popularity is becuase he's is as close to a real man in the comics (albeit one with superpowers, but you guys know what I'm talking about...he's the guy that despite his features and foibles, in the end he does or tries to do the right thing). Especially since Peter has a soft spot for the vulnerable, the helpless and the outcast...for back in the late 60's (when this story was written), wouldn't that have been one of the most taboo of "no no's" for a young woman...getting pregnant without protection and having consequences? Of course, had she admitted that on the side she was a bloodsthirsty mercernary for hire and had a penchance for serial killing and eating her victims flesh, then I think he would have drawn the line and put an end to the relationship. Get my drift? In principle, Gwen didn't violate any of Peter's moral or honor codes...if we are to believe what the "revelation" told us, Gwen had a lapse of judgement as old as the story of Adam and Eve. But I digress...you now ask me, "okay, so does it pass your second filter or not? " Well, while it makes an attempt to shed some light on what Gwen did or did not do before she died and colors the character a little bit, I'm not 100% sure it advances the canon as a whole. If anything, now it gives Peter yet another heartache to carry with for the rest of his life. The whole enterprise feels to me like instead of exploring new story plots and villians, they have to go back and try to contrive one/some out of unexpecting holes in the past narrative. Like a "what if?" from the Watcher. As MadGoblin points out, where does or where will it stop after this?
So in conclusion, while I can live with the Sins Past arc, in the end, in all honesty, this comes off as a piece of bad, fanciful fan-fiction instead of something that is Spider-Man canon, even if it is "new". Sins Past does not diminish the stature of Gwen in my mind and the place she has in Peter's heart and memory...but it was an unecessary exercise that did nothing to advance any of the core Spider-Man canon, other than add another heavy log to Peter's misery pyre for him!!
edited to correct spelling errors
and add a couple of more things...