Why do we read sad stories? For whatever reason, there’s something absurdly cathartic about digesting a gut-wrenching, soul-crushing tale of death, abuse, or perpetual states of teenage angst. We’ve experienced this with films, we’ve experienced this with novels, but for whatever reason, until recently, comic books have more or less been written off by people who don't regularly read them as frivolous, shallow entertainment with no real emotional impact.
Marvel Comics has been in the business of making people cry for as long as they’ve existed. Between the heavy social commentary on discrimination we’ve seen in X-Men titles dating back to the '60s all the way up to the death of America’s First Avenger in 2007, Marvel knows how to pull at our heartstrings. Here are some sad Marvel comics that will make you cry. Vote up the most emotional Marvel moments.
Spider-Man Faces 9/11 Head-On
When the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon happened in September 2001, it was genuinely difficult to process, especially for kids young enough to both comprehend what was going on and simultaneously have no idea the gravity of the situation at hand. That following December, Marvel released The Amazing Spider-Man #36: Stand Tall. The issue gives an incredibly real look at what lower Manhattan was like the day the towers fell, and through the eyes of Peter Parker, readers will realize that the emotional confusion they felt that day was universal.
The Death Of Captain America
In 2007, Marvel wrapped up its multi-title crossover event Civil War with The Death of Captain America and a series of five one-shots, collected as Fallen Son, each of which goes through a different stage of grief (Wolverine - denial, The Avengers - anger, Captain America - bargaining, Spider-Man - depression, Iron Man - acceptance) in the aftermath. Public reaction to Captain Roger's death was so overwhelming that it permeated into mainstream news.
Some outlets highlighted Cap as the moral beacon that's been there since the '40s, setting the standard for morality, while other outlets simply reported it wouldn't be permanent and was simply a means to soft-reset the character, since he had somewhat fallen out of touch with the modern world. Both were right, of course, considering Cap is often seen as the "lawful good" character on the standard D&D alignment chart and nobody really stays dead except for Uncle Ben.
The Death Of Gwen Stacy
In 1973, a small story arc in The Amazing Spider-Man (#121-122) greatly changed the way comics were perceived as a whole - the night Gwen Stacy died. Prior to this, the thought of killing someone so close to a main character's personal life outside of something akin to an origin story was pretty much unheard of and became one of the first mile markers of the Bronze Age of Comics. Subsequent issues involve Spidey questioning the exact cause of Gwen's death - was it the shock from the fall? Did he inadvertently kill her with his webbing, snapping her neck due to the force of the whiplash? The arc deals with the guilt that grief brings in a truly heartfelt way.
Tony Stark's Postmortem Confession To Steve Rogers
While it's easy to argue that the saddest moment from the Civil War crossover event was the death of Steve Rogers, Tony Stark's admission of guilt to Captain America's corpse in 2007's aptly titled Civil War: The Confession was more emotionally impactful for some readers. Death in comic books is cheap and rarely permanent, but the same can't be said for emotional revelations.
See, following Cap's murder, Tony Stark made a shocking confession to his old friend's corpse. He tells him that not only did he sense a conflict fomenting for years around the government registration of superheroes, but that he also knew they would fight on different sides of the issue. Stark was prepared to sacrifice their friendship since he knew they'd each be entrenched in their own ideology, but he didn't anticipate Captain America's death. It was a haunting eulogy and confession that reverberated through the Marvel landscape for years afterwards.