WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Ghost-Spider #9, by Seanan McGuire, Ig Guara, Ian Herring and VC’s Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
In the regular Marvel Universe, Gwen Stacy is a character who infamously died at the hands of the Green Goblin. Her death was an important moment in the Spider-Man mythology and her loss not only weighed heavily on Peter Parker, but paved the way for his relationship with Mary Jane Watson. While there were certain attempts to bring Gwen back through cloning, the character has remained dead for a long time. However, another Gwen Stacy has since risen to prominence ever since her debut in 2014: Ghost-Spider, formerly known as Spider-Gwen.
Spider-Gwen debuted in Edge of Spider-Verse #2 by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez. This version of Gwen Stacy hails from the wider Marvel Multiverse. On her home, Earth-65, Peter Parker became the monstrous Lizard and it was she — not Peter — who was bitten by a radioactive spider to become her world’s Spider-Woman. It’s a small change, but it’s one that has had massive repercussions for this Gwen Stacy’s life. In Ghost-Spider #9, Gwen goes through somewhat of a meta moment when she essentially compares herself to a “what if” scenario.
In the current ongoing series, Gwen has begun to divide her time between the regular Marvel Universe on Earth-616 and on her own homeworld. After all, on Earth-65, everyone knows her secret identity while in the prime universe, no one has any idea who she is. Because of this, she can go to school in anonymity. The rest of the time, she goes back home to her father, police captain George Stacy.
In Ghost-Spider #9, Gwen returns from Earth-616 and saves several people from a fire. While the next morning, she finds herself in a fight with her dad.
The two argue about Gwen putting her life on the line every time she puts her superhero costume on. George just wants her to be safe, but Gwen argues that it’s no different than when he joined the police force. She has an obligation and a responsibility to protect the people of New York, just like he does. Eventually, cooler heads prevail, and their discussion leads Gwen to play the “what if?” game. What if Peter had lived? What if she had no superpowers? However, it’s not something she wants to get lost in.
“I’ve met people who look at our whole universe as a big game of ‘what if,'” she tells her father. “What if Gwen Stacy didn’t die? What if she got super-powers instead?” Here, Gwen appears to be referring directly to Marvel’s famous What If? comics, which usually examine one-and-done stories where one big change is made to a certain character: What if the Avengers never assembled? What if Jane Foster found Thor‘s hammer? What if Spider-Man became the Punisher? Over the years, there have been many volumes of the What If? series, featuring alternate takes on familiar stories.
Gwen’s reference to the “what if?” game is a meta moment for the character, considering that while she didn’t debut in a What If? comic, she was originally conceived as exactly that: A “what if” version of Spider-Man. That may have been how she started out, but she has quickly earned her own spot in the Marvel Universe.
KEEP READING: How Spider-Gwen Became Ghost-Spider – and Why
In Seanan McGuire and Ig Guara's Ghost-Spider #9, Gwen Stacy breaks the multiverse down to her father and proves she's kind of aware of her origin.