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.
Ultimate Peter Parker's Death
Ultimate Spider-Man, like the rest of the Ultimate universe, promised to be a darker, more edgy take on everyone's favorite Web Head. How, then, do you make a story about an orphaned teenager losing his father figure due to his own arrogance even more depressing? Easy. You kill him when he's 16.
In the Death of Spider-Man arc, Peter can't really catch a break. He gets beaten within an inch of his life by the Sinister Six, but repeatedly puts off medical treatment in order to save his family and his community. He takes a bullet for Captain America, survives a bridge blowing up, and still manages to bash Norman Osborn to death with a truck. The resulting explosion, however, finally does him in. With the last of his strength, he manages to tell Aunt May that he "did it." He made up for not being able to save Uncle Ben by saving her.
With that, Peter Parker died, leaving New York City a better place than he found it.