Amazing Spider-Man #90-94: The Death of George Stacy (1970)

We’re now onto one of the best-remembered Spider-Man Deaths (capital D) Gwen’s dad Captain George Stacy. It doesn’t directly affect Harry much, this one, but it has repercussions for all Peter’s inner circle. It all starts in ASM#90

Peter rather touchingly looks in on Harry before he goes on the hunt for Doc Ock. “Why am I getting so morbid?” he wonders. Well, he’s about to find out.

Peter finds Doc Ock, of course, otherwise there would be no story.

Unfortunately, the fight between Spidey and Ock dislodges some debris, and Captain Stacy ends up dying to save the life of a little boy. Oh, and because Spider-Man is Spider-Man, the watching New Yorkers blame him for it.

Turns out that George always knew Peter and Spider-Man were one and the same, and his last words are about his daughter.

But alas, not long afterwards all this would turn out to be for nothing. Gwen will die in a far worse way than her father and change the lives of everyone who knew either of them.

Harry appears on the cover of ASM#91, shaking an angry fist. He has his arm around MJ but she actually doesn’t appear in the issue at all. (Neither does Aunt May.)

And Harry can be seen in the background at George Stacy’s funeral, looking sad while Peter comforts Gwen.

Gwen does not deal with her grief well.

I always thought it was interesting that Gwen, shown elsewhere to be a pretty liberal person by the standards of the day, goes right from her dad’s funeral to signing up to endorse Sam Bullit, a hardline right-winger (someone whom Robbie describes as a “fledgling fascist” and who Peter compares to Hitler) because she thinks it will help her bring Spider-Man to justice. Surely this must have affected her relationships with everyone around her, Harry and MJ and Flash just for starters, but we never find out.

I’ll die on these hills: Gwen was always a more interesting character than anyone including the writers gave her credit for, and also absolutely 100% not the saintly innocent she was later portrayed as. Here, she clearly never gave a second thought to what this guy’s policies would do to people who weren’t her (ie a beautiful rich white girl in the 1970s.) This side of her was never explored again, but perhaps Gwen and Harry had conversations in the afterlife about the extreme moral compromises one makes to avenge a father.

“You’d be in some spot if I dropped you now!” Spider-Man tells Gwen. Ohhh, ouch.

(Also, here’s Iceman aka Bobby, he’s in this issue!)

This story ends with Sam Bullit being arrested (to the best of my knowledge he never showed up in a comic again) and then we’re straight into the next story. But wait, this is a Harry Osborn blog, where’s Harry? Well in truth he’s not really in this arc that much at all. He does make a very brief appearance in Hobie Brown’s flashback in ASM#93

-plus an appearance and a namecheck in ASM#94, whenever Peter is thinking of his friends.

-but that’s all that Harry fans (assuming there were any back then, were there? I hope there were) got until the following year!

Want to read these stories? They’re collected in the Death of the Stacys book.

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