When she "died" in the plane crash in PPSM #13 (Vol.2), was that supposed to be a permanent death, like Ben Reilly's stint as Spiderman was initially supposed to be permanent? Except for the story where Spiderman fights the Hulk, the whole thing was treated so nonchalantly. There was never any really sense of tragedy; no retrospectives, no tribute issues, nothing.
And to kill off such a popular character in such a way, I don't think anyone liked it or bought it. To be honest, the only reason why I collected Spiderman briefly after Revenge of the Green Goblin was to see when she would be back. Once she returned, I gave up almost completely on the series until the rejuvenated Spectacular Spiderman (remember that this was the reboot doldrums).
I seriously think it was just a publicity stunt and a gimmick to keep people reading.