Who killed Gwen Stacy?
Or why Superheroes need to know about physics' law of momentum conservation, causal deviance, possible world ontology and memetics.
This post, written by Karim N'Diaye, was first published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog.
As a follow-up to Olivier's post, I would add Superheroes comic books to the list of improbable physics in arts. Pr James Kakalios (Univ. Minnesota) has written a book on this very question called the Physics of Superheroes. Lately, he also gave a few talks discussing some examples at the CONvergence SF convention. Interestingly enough, from video #1, it appears that Spider-man actually killed his girlfriend by abruptly stopping her fall from a bridge with one of his high-precision webshoot, incidentally breaking her neck in the 10-g deceleration.
People here might quickly jump to moral responsibility and causal deviance issues: Who is then the killer of the late Gwen Stacy? Spider-man or the Green Goblin who pushed her from the bridge? (The story doesn't say if the latter has been cautious enough to break her neck before throwing her off the Brooklynn Bridge, or sadistic enough not to). And admitting that the Green Goblin did killed Ms. Stacy, should Norman Osborn, his schizophrenic alter ego be held responsible for this?
Next question for the philosophers of yours: In which sense, would Peter Parker (the undressed Spider-man) be the one who killed his beloved Gwen, as both Spider-man and sir Parker corefer to the same entity in the fictious New York of the Amazing Spider-man series. Any clue from Saul Kripke's approach of possible world semantics?
Finally, regarding this comic strip written by some real guys at Marvel Comic's headquarters in the real New York, the question remains: Who is it from our concrete-and-steel world that killed Gwen Stacy? Which of the writers, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gil Kane, John Romita, or Gerry Conway held responsibility for that? I give you the answer: it's Mary Jane Watson. No, not the character in love with Peter Parker, the meme of her!
Let me end with this quote from Virginia Woolf who killed herself too by drowning in the Ouse river, with no Spider-man to save her: "Fiction is like a spider's web"