With the Ravencroft Institute even more sinister in the Heroes Reborn reality, Gwen Stacy faces immense pressure from all sides.
The following contains spoilers for Heroes Reborn: Night-Gwen #1, by Vita Ayala, Farid Karami, Erick Arciniega, and VC’s Cory Petit, on sale now.
While the familiar faces of the Marvel Universe have been twisted into darker, more violent versions of themselves in the Heroes Reborn reality, one popular character that has stuck to her noble roots — both as a civilian and superhero — is Gwen Stacy. Operating as the superhero Nightbird, Gwen also maintains a daily job that has her work as a psychiatrist at the Ravencroft Institute, attempting to rehabilitate some of the most notorious supervillains in the world. And as the toll of Gwen’s superhero career work strikes particularly close to home, the effects can seen bleeding into Gwen’s civilian life as well.
Working at the Ravencroft Institute, Gwen’s co-workers are the Night Nurses, with Christine Palmer and Claire Temple appearing prominently in the facility. And as Gwen works directly with Bullseye, trying to rehabilitate and reform the bloodthirsty serial killer, it’s clear that she has much to think about even outside of her work. Recently, Gwen was held hostage by the Green Goblin, with the deranged supervillain poised to kill her as he had in the main Marvel Universe. Instead, the Goblin’s plans fell apart thanks to the actions of Nighthawk and Gwen herself, with the psychiatrist severely wounding Norman Osborn after being enhanced by his Goblin gas and obtaining several of his lethal blades to turn against him.
Gwen’s day job is taking a heavy toll on her apparent relationship with Misty Knight, even with the Night Nurses doing their best to work alongside her. And with her personal life in shambles, the demands of Gwen’s work and the dual nature of her superhero life leads her to overlook that one of her oldest friends has since descended into villainy. One of Gwen’s college classmates was Flash Thompson, with the jock no longer having the heroic example of Spider-Man to inspire him, instead becoming a hovering bully that threatened anyone that got close to Gwen. This would include Professor Miles Warren, with the man becoming the supervillain the Jackal, with Flash eventually claiming the mantle for himself.
Driven, Gwen uses her skills as a superhero to bust many of the Marvel Universe’s most notorious supervillains, with everyone from corrupt police officers to costumed enemies like Hammerhead, Mister Negative and Black Mariah. In a world gone even more horrifically bent thanks to the wider machinations of Mephisto, Gwen is one of the figures in the Marvel Universe working the hardest to keep a sense of order in all walks of her life, one of the few relatively uncorrupted by Mephisto’s influence as the world she knew has quickly careened off of its usual course into something decidedly more twisted and sinister.
While the Gwen Stacy of the main Marvel Universe’s life may have been cut tragically short, her alternate universe counterparts have always worked towards the greater good of the world. The Gwen of the Heroes Reborn reality is no different, selflessly dedicating every aspect of her life in pursuit of justice. However, encounters with the Green Goblin and the Jackal both clearly weigh heavily on Gwen, in both her professional and personal lives. And while Gwen has more than proven herself a successful crimefighter in her own right, as well as a criminal psychiatrist, the superhero may be burning the candle at both ends as she strives to keep a bent world from breaking completely.
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