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Reading Spider-Gwen: Sacrificing Your Dreams} ?> In Edge of Spider-Verse #2, Peter Parker is dead. Gwen Stacy is Spider Woman, riddled with guilt over his demise, and she finds herself overwhelmed with the prospect of her double lives.
In a culture that constantly tells me to chase my dreams no matter what, this comic sends a different message. As Gwen is swinging through the streets chatting with her dad on the phone (hands-off devices recommended when you’re Spider-Woman), he encourages her to leave her band and go to college. At this point, he’s unaware she’s Spider-Woman and is juggling her dreams with a host of other responsibilities.
“I love music, Dad. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” she says.
“I know, honey,” he replies, “and the things we love are always worth fighting for. But everyone has something they want. What is it the world around you needs? What is it that only you can give?”
I instantly rebel at reading this line, because everyone knows you’re supposed to put individual dreams above everything else. It’s why university students jump between majors until they discover their passion. It’s why people switch jobs when they don’t love their work any more. It’s why advertisements tell me I’m worth it. It’s why Gwen plays in a band instead of attending university, and why she becomes Spider-Woman in the first place—to avoid responsibility and do what she wants.
But maybe there’s something to Captain Stacy’s advice. Maybe I should consider what I can offer others instead of just what I want for myself. I want my innermost desires and the unique things I can offer to line up, but they don’t always. Sometimes these decisions come up in small ways, like running an errand for a friend when I’d rather be at home playing video games. And sometimes they’re bigger choices, involving careers and other life decisions. Does this mean I should pursue doing something I hate simply because I can? Not necessarily. But it does mean bringing others into the equation.
“This is where I’m needed most,” Gwen says at the end of the issue. She takes it upon herself to define what wearing the mask means so Peter’s death wasn’t in vain. She’s accepted the responsibility of being Spider-Woman, because she can offer the world something it needs—protection, justice, and a girl in a pink spidey suit. And she’s left me wondering what I can offer the world that no one else is doing.
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