"With great power comes great responsibility"
Spider-Man is a fictional Marvel Comics superhero. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko. He first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962). Lee and Ditko conceived of the character as an orphan being raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and as a teenager, having to deal with the normal struggles of youth in addition to those of a costumed crime fighter. Spider-Man's creators gave him super strength and agility, the ability to cling to most surfaces, shoot spider-webs using devices of his own invention which he called "web-shooters," and react to danger quickly with his "spider-sense", enabling him to combat his foes.
When Spider-Man first appeared in the early 1960s, teenagers in superhero comic books were usually relegated to the role of sidekick to the protagonist. The Spider-Man series broke ground by featuring Peter Parker, a teenage high school student to whose "self-obsessions with rejection, inadequacy, and loneliness" young readers could relate. Unlike previous teen heroes such as James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes and Robin, Spider-Man did not benefit from being the protegé of any adult mentors like Captain America and Batman, and thus had to learn for himself that "with great power comes great responsibility" — a line included in a text box in the final panel of the first Spider-Man story, but later retroactively attributed to his guardian, the late Uncle Ben.
Marvel has featured Spider-Man in several comic book series, the first and longest-lasting of which is titled The Amazing Spider-Man. Over the years, the Peter Parker character has developed from shy, high school student to troubled but outgoing college student, to married high school teacher to, in the late 2000s, a single freelance photographer, his most typical adult role. He is now a member of an unofficial splinter group of the Avengers, one of Marvel's flagship superhero teams. In the comics, Spider-Man is often referred to as "Spidey," "web-slinger," "wall-crawler," or "web-head."
Spider-Man is one of the most popular and commercially successful superheroes. As Marvel's flagship character and company mascot, he has appeared in many forms of media, including several animated and live-action television shows, syndicated newspaper comic strips, and a successful series of films starring actor Tobey Maguire as the "friendly neighborhood" hero in the first three, and Andrew Garfield in a planned reboot of the films.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Comic book character
- 3 Powers and equipment
- 4 Enemies
- 5 Supporting characters
- 6 Cultural influence
- 7 Non-Marvel versions and parodies
- 8 In other media
- 9 Awards and honors
Creation and development
In 1962, with the success of the Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics editor and head writer Stan Lee was casting about for a new superhero idea. He said that the idea for Spider-Man arose from a surge in teenage demand for comic books, and the desire to create a character with whom teens could identify. In his autobiography, Lee cites the non-superhuman pulp magazine crime fighter The Spider as a great influence, and in a multitude of print and video interviews, Lee stated he was further inspired by seeing a spider climb up a wall---adding in his autobiography that he has told that story so often he has become unsure of whether or not this is true. Looking back on the creation of Spider-Man, 1990s Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco stated he did not believe that Spider-Man would have been given a chance in today's comics world, where new characters are vetted with test audiences and marketers. At that time, however, Lee had to get only the consent of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman for the character's approval. In a 1986 interview, Lee described in detail his arguments to overcome Goodman's objections. Goodman eventually agreed to let Lee try out Spider-Man in the upcoming final issue of the canceled science-fiction and supernatural anthology series Amazing Adult Fantasy, which was renamed Amazing Fantasy for that single issue, #15 (Aug. 1962).
Comics historian Greg Theakston says that Lee, after receiving Goodman's approval for the name Spider-Man and the "ordinary teen" concept, approached artist Jack Kirby. Kirby told Lee about an unpublished character on which he collaborated with Joe Simon in the 1950s, in which an orphaned boy living with an old couple finds a magic ring that granted him superhuman powers. Lee and Kirby "immediately sat down for a story conference" and Lee afterward directed Kirby to flesh out the character and draw some pages. Steve Ditko would be the inker. When Kirby showed Lee the first six pages, Lee recalled, "I hated the way he was doing it! Not that he did it badly -- it just wasn't the character I wanted; it was too heroic". Lee turned to Ditko, who developed a visual style Lee found satisfactory. Ditko recalled: "One of the first things I did was to work up a costume. A vital, visual part of the character. I had to know how he looked ... before I did any breakdowns. For example: A clinging power so he wouldn't have hard shoes or boots, a hidden wrist-shooter versus a web gun and holster, etc. ... I wasn't sure Stan would like the idea of covering the character's face but I did it because it hid an obviously boyish face. It would also add mystery to the character...."
Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962). Cover art by Jack Kirby (penciller) & Steve Ditko (inker).In an early recollection of the character's creation, Ditko described his and Lee's contributions in a mail interview with Gary Martin published in Comic Fan #2 (Summer 1965): "Stan Lee thought the name up. I did costume, web gimmick on wrist & spider signal." At the time, Ditko shared a Manhattan studio with noted fetish artist Eric Stanton, an art-school classmate who, in a 1988 interview with Theakston, recalled that although his contribution to Spider-Man was "almost nil", he and Ditko had "worked on storyboards together and I added a few ideas. But the whole thing was created by Steve on his own... I think I added the business about the webs coming out of his hands".
Kirby disputed Lee's version of the story, and claimed Lee had minimal involvement in the character's creation. According to Kirby, the idea for Spider-Man had originated with Kirby and Joe Simon, who in the 1950s had developed a character called The Silver Spider for the Crestwood comic Black Magic, who was subsequently not used. Simon, in his 1990 autobiography, disputed Kirby's account, asserting that Black Magic was not a factor, and that he (Simon) devised the name "Spider-Man" (later changed to "The Silver Spider"), while Kirby outlined the character's story and powers. Simon later elaborated that his and Kirby's character conception became the basis for Simon's Archie Comics superhero the Fly. Artist Steve Ditko stated that Lee liked the name Hawkman from DC Comics, and that "Spider-Man" was an outgrowth of that interest. The hyphen was included in the character's name to avoid confusion with DC Comics' Superman.
Simon concurred that Kirby had shown the original Spider-Man version to Lee, who liked the idea and assigned Kirby to draw sample pages of the new character but disliked the results—in Simon's description, "Captain America with cobwebs". Writer Mark Evanier notes that Lee's reasoning that Kirby's character was too heroic seems unlikely—Kirby still drew the covers for the first issues of Spider-Man. Likewise, Kirby's given reason that he was "too busy" to also draw Spider-Man in addition to his other duties seems false, as Kirby was, in Evanier's words, "always busy". Neither Lee's nor Kirby's explanation explains why key story elements like the magic ring were dropped; Evanier states that the most plausible explanation for the sudden change was that Goodman, or one of his assistants, decided that Spider-Man as drawn and envisioned by Kirby was too similar to the Fly.
Author and Ditko scholar Blake Bell writes that it was Ditko who noted the similarities to the Fly. Ditko recalled that, "Stan called Jack about the Fly", adding that "[d]ays later, Stan told me I would be penciling the story panel breakdowns from Stan's synopsis". It was at this point that the nature of the strip changed. "Out went the magic ring, adult Spider-Man and whatever legend ideas that Spider-Man story would have contained". Lee gave Ditko the premise of a teenager bitten by a spider and developing powers, a premise Ditko would expand upon to the point he became what Bell describes as "the first work for hire artist of his generation to create and control the narrative arc of his series". On the issue of the initial creation, Ditko states, "I still don't know whose idea was Spider-Man". Kirby noted in a 1971 interview that it was Ditko who "got Spider-Man to roll, and the thing caught on because of what he did". Lee, while claiming credit for the initial idea, has acknowledged Ditko's role, stating, "If Steve wants to be called co-creator, I think he deserves [it]". Writer Al Nickerson believes "that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created the Spider-Man that we are familiar with today [but that] ultimately, Spider-Man came into existence, and prospered, through the efforts of not just one or two, but many, comic book creators".
In 2008, an anonymous donor bequeathed the Library of Congress the original 24 pages of Ditko art of Amazing Fantasy #15, including Spider-Man's debut and the stories "The Bell-Ringer", "Man in the Mummy Case", and "There Are Martians Among Us".
A few months after Spider-Man's introduction in Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962), publisher Martin Goodman reviewed the sales figures for that issue and was shocked to find it to have been one of the nascent Marvel's highest-selling comics. A solo ongoing series followed, beginning with The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (March 1963). The title eventually became Marvel's top-selling series with the character swiftly becoming a cultural icon; a 1965 Esquire poll of college campuses found that college students ranked Spider-Man and fellow Marvel hero the Hulk alongside Bob Dylan and Che Guevara as their favorite revolutionary icons. One interviewee selected Spider-Man because he was "beset by woes, money problems, and the question of existence. In short, he is one of us."Following Ditko's departure after issue #38 (July 1966), John Romita, Sr. replaced him as artist, and would provide the pencil drawings of the character over the next several years. In 1968, Romita would also draw the character's extra-length stories in the magazine-format series The Spectacular Spider-Man, a graphic novel precursor designed to appeal to older readers but which lasted only two issues. Nonetheless, it represented the first Spider-Man spin-off publication, aside from the original series' summer annuals that began in 1964.
An early 1970s Spider-Man story led to the revision of the Comics Code. Previously, the Code forbade the depiction of the use of illegal drugs, even negatively. However, in 1970, the Nixon administration's Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asked Stan Lee to publish an anti-drug message in one of Marvel's top-selling titles. Lee chose the top-selling The Amazing Spider-Man; issues #96–98 (May–July 1971) feature a story arc depicting the negative effects of drug use. In the story, Peter Parker's friend Harry Osborn becomes addicted to pills. When Spider-Man fights the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn, Harry's father), Spider-Man defeats the Green Goblin, by revealing Harry's drug addiction. While the story had a clear anti-drug message, the Comics Code Authority refused to issue its seal of approval. Marvel nevertheless published the three issues without the Comics Code Authority's approval or seal. The issues sold so well that the industry's self-censorship was undercut and the Code was subsequently revised. In 1972, a second monthly ongoing series starring Spider-Man began: Marvel Team-Up, in which Spider-Man was paired with other superheroes and villains. In 1976, his second solo series, The Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 2, began, running parallel to the main series. A third series featuring Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, launched in 1985, replacing Marvel Team-Up. The launch of a fourth monthly title in 1990, the "adjectiveless" Spider-Man (with the storyline "Torment"), written and drawn by popular artist Todd McFarlane, debuted with several different covers, all with the same interior content. The various versions combined sold over 3 million copies, an industry record at the time. There have generally been at least two ongoing Spider-Man series at any time. Several limited series, one-shots, and loosely related comics have also been published, and Spider-Man makes frequent cameos and guest appearances in other comic series.
The original Amazing Spider-Man ran through issue #441 (Nov. 1998). Writer-artist John Byrne then revamped the origin of Spider-Man in the 13-issue limited series Spider-Man: Chapter One (Dec. 1998 - Oct. 1999, with an issue #0 midway through and some months containing two issues), similar to Byrne's adding details and some revisions to Superman's origin in DC Comics' The Man of Steel. Running concurrently, The Amazing Spider-Man was restarted with vol. 2, #1 (Jan. 1999). With what would have been vol. 2, #59, Marvel reintroduced the original numbering, starting with #500 (Dec. 2003).
By the end of 2007, Spider-Man regularly appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man, New Avengers, Spider-Man Family, and various limited series in mainstream Marvel Comics continuity, as well as in the alternate-universe series The Amazing Spider-Girl, the Ultimate Universe title Ultimate Spider-Man, the alternate-universe tween series Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, the alternate-universe children's series Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, and Marvel Adventures: The Avengers.
When primary series The Amazing Spider-Man reached issue #545 (Dec. 2007), Marvel dropped its spin-off ongoing series and instead began publishing The Amazing Spider-Man three times monthly, beginning with #546-549 (each Jan. 2008).
Comic book character
Further information: Fictional history of Spider-Man
This section traces the ongoing narrative of the fictional Marvel Comics' character Peter Parker, the superhero Spider-Man, created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko in 1962. It refers to the character's mainstream comic book appearances and does not reflect representations of Spider-Man in other media or in alternate-reality stories.
As comics historian Peter Sanderson writes, "People often say glibly that Marvel succeeded by blending super hero adventure stories with soap opera. What Lee and Ditko actually did in [The] Amazing Spider-Man was to make the series an ongoing novelistic chronicle of the lead character's life. Most super heroes had problems no more complex or relevant to their readers' lives than thwarting this month's bad guys.... Parker had far more serious concern in his life: coming to terms with the death of a loved one, falling in love for the first time, struggling to make a living, and undergoing crises of conscience."
In Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, high school student Peter Parker is a science whiz orphan living with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. As depicted in Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962), he is bitten by a radioactive spider at a science exhibit and "acquires the agility and proportionate strength of an arachnid." Along with super strength, he gains the ability to adhere to walls and ceilings. Through his native knack for science, he develops a gadget that lets him fire adhesive webbing of his own design through small, wrist-mounted barrels. Initially seeking to capitalize on his new abilities, he dons a costume and, as "Spider-Man", becomes a novelty television star. However, "He blithely ignores the chance to stop a fleeing thief, [and] his indifference ironically catches up with him when the same criminal later robs and kills his Uncle Ben." Spider-Man tracks and subdues the killer and learns, in the story's next-to-last caption, "With great power there must also come — great responsibility!"
Despite his superpowers, Parker struggles to help his widowed aunt pay rent, is taunted by his peers — particularly football star Flash Thompson — and, as Spider-Man, engenders the editorial wrath of newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson. As one contemporaneous journalist observed, "Spider-Man has a terrible identity problem, a marked inferiority complex, and a fear of women. He is anti-social, castration-ridden, racked with Oedipal guilt, and accident-prone ... [a] functioning neurotic". Agonizing over his choices, always attempting to do right, he is nonetheless viewed with suspicion by the authorities, who seem unsure as to whether he is a helpful vigilante or a clever criminal.
Notes cultural historian Bradford W. Wright, "Spider-Man's plight was to be misunderstood and persecuted by the very public that he swore to protect. In the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of the Daily Bugle, launches an editorial campaign against the "Spider-Man menace." The resulting negative publicity exacerbates popular suspicions about the mysterious Spider-Man and makes it impossible for him to earn any more money by performing. Eventually, the bad press leads the authorities to brand him an outlaw. Ironically, Peter finally lands a job as a photographer for Jameson's Daily Bugle."
He quickly faces such new supervillains as the Chameleon (introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #1, March 1963), the Vulture (#2, May 1963), Dr. Octopus (#3, July 1963), the Sandman (#4, Sept. 1963), the Lizard (#6, Nov. 1963), Electro (#9, Feb. 1964), Mysterio (#13, June 1964), the Green Goblin (#14, July 1964), Kraven the Hunter (#15, Aug. 1964), and the Scorpion (#20, Jan. 1965). In his personal life, he begins dating Jameson's secretary, Betty Brant, and in issue #28 (Sept. 1965), he graduates from high school and enrolls at Empire State University, a fictional institution evoking the real-life Columbia University and New York University. There he begins to balance the aspects of his life and goes from being a social outcast to a young adult with friends, including erstwhile antagonist Thompson. He meets Harry Osborn, who will become his best friend and college roommate, and future girlfriend Gwen Stacy (both in issue #31, Dec. 1965). He discovers that Harry Osborn's industrialist father, Norman Osborn, is secretly the Green Goblin, who in turn discovers Spider-Man's true identity.
These mid-1960s stories reflected the political tensions of the time, as early 1960s Marvel stories had often dealt with the Cold War and Communism. As Wright observes, "From his high-school beginnings to his entry into college life, Spider-Man remained the superhero most relevant to the world of young people. Fittingly, then, his comic book also contained some of the earliest references to the politics of young people. In 1968, in the wake of actual militant student demonstrations at Columbia University, Peter Parker finds himself in the midst of similar unrest at his Empire State University. ... Peter has to reconcile his natural sympathy for the students with his assumed obligation to combat lawlessness as Spider-Man. As a law-upholding liberal, he finds himself caught between militant leftism and angry conservatives."
Following months of attempts by Aunt May to introduce him to her friend Anna Watson's niece, Mary Jane Watson, Parker agrees to a date and discovers, at the climax of issue #42 (Nov. 1966), that Mary Jane is a beautiful, vivacious redhead. Artist John Romita, Sr. recalled that writer and editor-in-chief Stan Lee "wanted her to look something like a go-go girl. I used Ann-Margret from the movie Bye Bye Birdie, as a guide, using her coloring, the shape of her face, her red hair and her form-fitting short skirts. I exaggerated her dimples and the cleft in her chin." Regardless, Parker begins dating Gwen Stacy. As Spider-Man, he has his first encounters with supervillains the Rhino (#41, Oct. 1966) — the first original Lee/Romita Spider-Man villain — the Shocker (#46, March 1967), and the physically powerful and well-connected criminal capo Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin (#50, July 1967). Gwen's Stacy's father, New York City Police detective captain George Stacy is accidentally killed during a battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus (#90, Nov. 1970).
Death of Gwen Stacy
In issue #121 (June 1973), the Green Goblin throws Gwen Stacy from a tower of either the Brooklyn Bridge (as depicted in the art) or the George Washington Bridge (as given in the text). She dies during Spider-Man's rescue attempt; a note on the letters page of issue #125 states: "It saddens us to say that the whiplash effect she underwent when Spidey's webbing stopped her so suddenly was, in fact, what killed her." The following issue, the Goblin appears to accidentally kill himself in the ensuing battle with Spider-Man.
Working through his grief, Parker eventually develops tentative feelings toward Watson, and the two "become confidants rather than lovers." Parker graduates from college in issue #185, and becomes involved with the shy Debra Whitman and the extroverted, flirtatious costumed thief Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, whom he meets in issue #194 (July 1979).
In the 200th issue (Jan. 1980), Spider-Man confronts the burglar who killed his uncle, in a story written by Marv Wolfman, with the final page scripted by character co-creator Stan Lee. As one historian wrote, "This event was still quite recent to Peter, as, thanks to the magic of comics, only four or five years had passed since he was bitten by the spider." In issue #257 (Oct. 1984), Watson reveals to Parker that she knows he is Spider-Man.
From 1984 to 1988, Spider-Man wore a different costume than his original. Black with a white spider design, this new costume originated in the Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars limited series, on an alien planet where Spider-Man participates in a battle between Earth's major superheroes and villains. The first comic book appearances of the suit occurred in three comics all cover dated May 1984: Marvel Team-Up #141, The Amazing Spider-Man #252, and The Spectacular Spider-Man #90. In a later-published but chronologically earlier story in Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8 (Dec. 1984), Spider-Man's original red-and-blue costume is destroyed in a battle; Parker comes across a machine that conjures him a uniform that responds to his thoughts, greatly enhances his powers, provides him with its own supply of web-fluid, and can change its appearance at his command. Sometime after his return to Earth, however, he discovers in issue #258 (Nov. 1984) that the costume is actually an alien symbiote bent on permanently bonding with its host. Parker rejects and defeats the symbiote in the spin-off title Web of Spider-Man #1 (April 1985) and begins wearing a cloth replica, initially alternating between it and his original costume, then wearing it full-time after his last original is destroyed in battle against the villain Magma in Web of Spider-Man #17-#18). NYPD detective Jean DeWolff, one of Parker's friends, is murdered in a storyline running through The Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110 (Oct. 1985 - Jan. 1986), Meanwhile, the symbiote merges with reporter Eddie Brock to become the cannibalistic supervillain Venom in issue #298 (May 1988), and Parker returns to his original red and blue costume.
Not unexpectedly, the change to a longstanding character's iconic design met with controversy, "with many hardcore comics fans decrying it as tantamount to sacrilege. Spider-Man's traditional red and blue costume was iconic, they argued, on par with those of his D.C. rivals Superman and Batman. The negative response was puzzling for a medium where constant change is the norm: characters are regularly killed off and brought back from the dead."
Parker proposes to Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man #290 (July 1987), and she accepts two issues later, with the wedding taking place in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987) — promoted with a real-life mock wedding using actors at Shea Stadium, with Stan Lee officiating, on June 5, 1987. David Michelinie, who scripted based on a plot by editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, said in 2007, "I didn't think they actually should [have gotten] married. ... I had actually planned another version, one that wasn't used." Parker published a book of Spider-Man photographs, Webs, and returned to his Empire State University graduate studies in biochemistry in #310 (Dec. 1988).
In the controversial 1990s storyline "The Clone Saga", a clone of Parker, created in 1970s comics by insane scientist Miles Warren, a.k.a. the supervillain the Jackal, returns to New York City upon hearing of Aunt May's health worsening. The clone had lived incognito as "Ben Reilly", but now assumes the superhero guise the Scarlet Spider and allies with Parker. To the surprise of both, new tests indicate "Reilly" is the original and "Parker" the clone. Complicating matters, Watson announces in The Spectacular Spider-Man #220 (Jan. 1995) that she is pregnant with Parker's baby. Later, however, a resurrected Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) has Watson poisoned, causing premature labor and the death of her and Parker's unborn daughter. The Goblin had also switched the results of the clone test in an attempt to destroy Parker's life by making him believe himself to be the clone. Reilly is killed while saving Parker, in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #75 (Dec. 1996), and his body immediately crumbles into dust, confirming Reilly was the clone.
In issue #97 (Nov. 1998) of the second series titled Peter Parker: Spider-Man, Parker learns his Aunt May was kidnapped by Norman Osborn and her apparent death in The Amazing Spider-Man #400 (April 1995) had been a hoax. Shortly afterward, in The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2, #13 (#454, Jan. 2000), Watson is apparently killed in an airplane explosion. She turns up safe and alive in vol. 2, #28 (#469, April 2001), but she and Peter become separated in the following issue.
Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski began writing The Amazing Spider-Man, illustrated by John Romita Jr., beginning with vol. 2, #30 (#471, June 2001). Two issues later, Parker, now employed as a teacher at his old high school, meets the enigmatic Ezekiel, who possesses similar spider powers and suggests that Parker having gained such abilities might not have been a fluke — that Parker has a connection to a totemic spider spirit. In vol. 2, #37 (#478, Jan. 2002), May discovers her nephew Parker is Spider-Man, leading to a new openness in their relationship. Parker and Watson reconcile in vol. 2, #50 (#491, April 2003), and in #512 (Nov. 2004) — the original issue numbering having returned with #500 — Parker learns his late girlfriend Gwen Stacy had had two children with Norman Osborn.
He joins the superhero team the Avengers in New Avengers #1-2. After their respective homes are destroyed by a deranged, superpowered former high-school classmate, Parker, Watson, and May move into Stark Tower, and Parker begins working as Tony Stark's assistant while again freelancing for The Daily Bugle and continuing his teaching. In the 12-part, 2005 story arc "The Other", Parker undergoes a transformation that evolves his powers. In the comic Civil War #2 (June 2006), part of the company-wide crossover arc of that title, the U.S. government's Superhuman Registration Act leads Spider-Man to reveal his true identity publicly. A growing unease about the Registration Act prompts him to escape with May and Watson and join the anti-registration underground.
In issue #537 (Dec. 2006), May is critically wounded by a sniper and enters a coma. Parker, desperate to save her, exhausts all possibilities and makes a pact with the demon Mephisto, who saves May's life in exchange for Parker and Watson agreeing to have their marriage and all memory of it disappear. In this changed reality, Spider-Man's identity is secret once again, and in #545 (Jan. 2008), Watson returns and is cold toward him.
That controversial storyline, "One More Day", rolled back much of the fictional continuity at the behest of editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, who said, "Peter being single is an intrinsic part of the very foundation of the world of Spider-Man". It caused unusual public friction between Quesada and writer Straczynski, who "told Joe that I was going to take my name off the last two issues of the [story] arc" but was talked out of doing so. At issue with Straczynski's climax to the arc, Quesada said, was "...that we didn't receive the story and methodology to the resolution that we were all expecting. What made that very problematic is that we had four writers and artists well underway on [the sequel arc] "Brand New Day" that were expecting and needed "One More Day" to end in the way that we had all agreed it would. ... The fact that we had to ask for the story to move back to its original intent understandably made Joe upset and caused some major delays and page increases in the series. Also, the science that Joe was going to apply to the retcon of the marriage would have made over 30 years of Spider-Man books worthless, because they never would have had happened. ...[I]t would have reset way too many things outside of the Spider-Man titles. We just couldn't go there...."
In this new continuity, designed to have very limited repercussions throughout the remainder of the Marvel Universe, Parker returns to work at the Daily Bugle, which has been renamed The DB under a new publisher. He soon switches to the alternative press paper The Front Line. J. Jonah Jameson becomes mayor of New York City in #591 (June 2008). Jameson's estranged father, J. Jonah Jameson, Sr., marries May in issue #600 (Sept. 2009).
Powers and equipment
Main article: Spider-Man's powers and equipment
A bite from a radioactive spider on a school field trip causes a variety of changes in the body of Peter Parker and gives him superpowers. In the original Lee-Ditko stories, Spider-Man has the ability to cling to walls, superhuman strength, a sixth sense ("spider-sense") that alerts him to danger, perfect balance and equilibrium, as well as superhuman speed and agility. Some of his comic series have him shooting webs from his wrists. Brilliant, Parker excels in applied science, chemistry, and physics. The character was originally conceived by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as intellectually gifted, but not a genius. However, later writers have depicted the character as a genius. With his talents, he sews his own costume to conceal his identity, and constructs many devices that complement his powers, most notably mechanical web-shooters. This mechanism ejects an advanced adhesive, releasing web-fluid in a variety of configurations, including a single rope-like strand to swing from, a net to bind enemies, a single strand for yanking opponents into objects, strands for whipping foreign objects at enemies, and a simple glob to foul machinery or blind an opponent. He can also weave the web material into simple forms like a shield, a spherical protection or hemispherical barrier, a club, or a hang-glider wing. Other equipment include spider-tracers (spider-shaped adhesive homing beacons keyed to his own spider-sense), a light beacon which can either be used as a flashlight or project a "Spider-Signal" design, and a specially modified camera that can take pictures automatically.
Main article: List of Spider-Man enemies
Writers and artists over many years have managed to establish an exciting and notable rogues gallery of villains to face Spider-Man. The three most infamous and dangerous enemies as voted by fans are the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Venom. Other characters include the Hobgoblin, Kraven the Hunter, Carnage, the Scorpion, the Sandman, the Lizard, Mysterio, the Vulture, Electro, the Kingpin, Rhino, the Shocker, and the Chameleon. As with Spider-Man, the majority of these villains' powers originate with scientific accidents or the misuse of scientific technology, and they tend to have animal-themed costumes or powers, and many have green costumes. At times these villains have formed groups such as the Sinister Six to oppose Spider-Man. It is revealed that Spider-Man has new enemies in New Avengers.
Main article: Spider-Man supporting characters
After his parents died, Peter Parker was raised by his loving aunt, May Parker, and his uncle and father figure, Ben Parker (usually referred to simply as Aunt May and Uncle Ben). After Uncle Ben is murdered by a burglar, Aunt May is virtually Peter's only family, and she and Peter are very close. Peter's first crush is fellow high-school student Liz Allan, although his first real love is Betty Brant, the secretary to Daily Bugle newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson. After their breakup, Parker eventually falls in love with his college girlfriend Gwen Stacy, daughter of New York City Police Department detective captain George Stacy, both of whom are later killed by supervillain enemies of Spider-Man. Mary Jane Watson eventually became Peter's best friend and then his wife. Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, is a reformed cat burglar who had been Spider-Man's girlfriend and partner at one point.
Eugene "Flash" Thompson was originally Parker's high school tormentor, and later a friend. Harry Osborn, son of Norman Osborn, was Peter's best friend in college and has remained so since. Joseph "Robbie" Robertson is the managing editor at the Daily Bugle, and his son, Randy Robertson is a friend and one-time roommate of Parker's.
Comic book writer-editor and historian Paul Kupperberg, in The Creation of Spider-Man, calls the character's superpowers "nothing too original"; what was original was that outside his secret identity, he was a "nerdy high school student". Going against typical superhero fare, Spider-Man included "heavy doses of soap-opera and elements of melodrama." Kupperberg feels that Lee and Ditko had created something new in the world of comics: "the flawed superhero with everyday problems." This idea spawned a "comics revolution." The insecurity and anxieties in Marvel's early 1960s comic books such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and X-Men ushered in a new type of superhero, very different from the certain and all-powerful superheroes before them, and changed the public's perception of them. Spider-Man has become one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world, and has been used to sell toys, games, cereal, candy, soap, and many other products.
Spider-Man has become Marvel's flagship character, and has often been used as the company mascot. When Marvel became the first comic book company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1991, the Wall Street Journal announced "Spider-Man is coming to Wall Street"; the event was in turn promoted with an actor in a Spider-Man costume accompanying Stan Lee to the Stock Exchange. Since 1962, hundreds of millions of comics featuring the character have been sold around the world.
Spider-Man joined the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1987 to 1998 as one of the balloon floats, designed by John Romita Sr., one of the character's signature artists. A new, different Spider-Man balloon float is scheduled to appear from at least 2009 to 2011.
When Marvel wanted to issue a story dealing with the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the company chose the December 2001 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. In 2006, Spider-Man garnered major media coverage with the revelation of the character's secret identity, an event detailed in a full page story in the New York Post before the issue containing the story was even released.
In 2008, Marvel announced plans to release a series of educational comics the following year in partnership with the United Nations, depicting Spider-Man alongside UN Peacekeeping Forces to highlight UN peacekeeping missions.A BusinessWeek article listed Spider-Man as one of the top ten most intelligent fictional characters in American comics.
Spider-Man was named Empire magazine's fifth-greatest comic book character.
Non-Marvel versions and parodies
Marvel made its own parodies of Spider-Man in such comics as Not Brand Echh, which was published in the late 1960s and featured such characters as Peter Pooper alias Spidey-Man. There was also Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, who appeared in the 1980s.
Japanese artist Ryoichi Ikegami drew a manga version of Spider-Man for the Japanese market between 1970 and late 1971. Peter Parker was renamed Yu Komori and various other Marvel characters, such as Electro and the Lizard, also featured but with different backgrounds.
Another Japanese manga was Hideshi Hino's The Bug Boy, which has been cited as inspired by Spider-Man. Like Peter Parker, Sanpei Hiromoto is bitten by a strange and tiny creature which turns him into a being with powers — in this case, a huge, poisonous bug. Unlike Parker, the bullying Sanpei experienced at school has not been balanced by a loving family home, and thus he becomes a supervillain rather than a hero.
The French comic Télé-Junior published strips based on popular TV series. In the late 1970s, the publisher also produced original Spider-Man adventures. Artists included Gérald Forton, who later moved to America and worked for Marvel. These strips were short stories with little or no continuity between them. Télé-Junior's version included regular characters from the comics like J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson, and Flash Thompson, who is at the friendly stage of his relationship with Parker. Villains including the Vulture and Electro also appeared.
In the 1973 Turkish film 3 Dev Adam (known in English as Three Mighty Men or Turkish Spider-Man vs. Captain Turkish America) Spider-Man is portrayed as the villain of the film, confronted by Captain America and Santo (a Mexican wrestler character). He has no spider powers in the film, however.
The Indian version of Spider-Man, Spider-Man: India was created by Sharad Devarajan, Suresh Seetharaman, and Jeevan J. Kang along with Marvel Comics.
The Arachnid (formerly The Adventures of Lil' Spidey) is an unofficial continuation of the Spider-Man series, following Spider-Man's first son Tom Parker.
In other media
Main article: Spider-Man in other media
Spider-Man has appeared in comics, cartoons, movies, coloring books, novels, records, and children's books. On television, he appeared as the main character in the animated series Spider-Man, which aired from 1967–1970 on ABC, the live-action series The Amazing Spider-Man (1978–1979), starring Nicholas Hammond, the syndicated cartoon series Spider-Man (1981–1982), Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981–1983), Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994–1998), Spider-Man Unlimited (1999–2000), Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003), and The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008–2009) in which Peter Parker/Spider-Man is voiced by Josh Keaton. In one episode of The Super Hero Squad Show, the Mayor of Superhero City tells Wolverine of a hero that was bitten by a radioactive insect.
Spider-Man also appeared in other print forms besides the comics, including novels, children's books, and the daily newspaper comic strip The Amazing Spider-Man, which debuted in January 1977, with the earliest installments written by Stan Lee and drawn by John Romita, Sr. Spider-Man has been adapted to other media including games, toys, collectibles, and miscellaneous memorabilia, and has appeared as the main character in numerous computer and video games on over 15 gaming platforms. Spider-Man was also the subject of a series of films directed by Sam Raimi and starring actor Tobey Maguire as the title character. The original Spider-Man film was released May 3, 2002, its first sequel, Spider-Man 2, premiered June 30, 2004, and the next sequel, Spider-Man 3, premiered on May 4, 2007. Spider-Man 4 was scheduled to be released May 6, 2011, however Sony announced that the series would be rebooted, and a new director and cast would be introduced. The reboot is scheduled to be released in summer 2012. It was announced on February 10, 2010 that the new film, which is still untitled, will begin production in December directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt. Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin will produce the 3D film to be released July 3, 2012. Andrew Garfield has been signed to play the new Peter Parker.
Awards and honors
From the character's inception, Spider-Man stories have won numerous awards, including:
- 1962 Alley Award: Best Short Story — "Origin of Spider-Man" by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Amazing Fantasy #15
- 1963 Alley Award: Best Comic: Adventure Hero title — The Amazing Spider-Man
- 1963 Alley Award: Top Hero — Spider-Man
- 1964 Alley Award: Best Adventure Hero Comic Book — The Amazing Spider-Man
- 1964 Alley Award: Best Giant Comic - The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1
- 1964 Alley Award: Best Hero — Spider-Man
- 1965 Alley Award: Best Adventure Hero Comic Book — The Amazing Spider-Man
- 1965 Alley Award: Best Hero — Spider-Man
- 1966 Alley Award: Best Comic Magazine: Adventure Book with the Main Character in the Title — The Amazing Spider-Man
- 1966 Alley Award: Best Full-Length Story - "How Green was My Goblin", by Stan Lee & John Romita, Sr., The Amazing Spider-Man #39
- 1967 Alley Award: Best Comic Magazine: Adventure Book with the Main Character in the Title — The Amazing Spider-Man
- 1967 Alley Award Popularity Poll: Best Costumed or Powered Hero — Spider-Man
- 1967 Alley Award Popularity Poll: Best Male Normal Supporting Character — J. Jonah Jameson, The Amazing Spider-Man
- 1967 Alley Award Popularity Poll: Best Female Normal Supporting Character — Mary Jane Watson, The Amazing Spider-Man
- 1968 Alley Award Popularity Poll: Best Adventure Hero Strip — The Amazing Spider-Man
- 1968 Alley Award Popularity Poll: Best Supporting Character - J. Jonah Jameson, The Amazing Spider-Man
- 1969 Alley Award Popularity Poll: Best Adventure Hero Strip — The Amazing Spider-Man
- 1997 Eisner Award: Best Artist/Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team — 1997 Al Williamson, Best Inker: Untold Tales of Spider-Man #17-18
- 2002 Eisner Award: Best Serialized Story — The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2, #30–35: "Coming Home", by J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita, Jr., and Scott Hanna
- No date: Empire magazine's fifth-greatest comic book character.