5 Times Spider-Man Was in Charge (and How Well That Worked Out)
As Spider-Man takes on a leadership role in the War of the Realms, we look back at some other times he was the boss!
Spider-Man has taken the helm of a team that was once led by Thor in SPIDER-MAN & THE LEAGUE OF REALMS #1, on sale Wednesday, May 15. However, Spidey has earned himself a reputation of being something of a, well, ineffective leader. Does he deserve that status though? Here are five times Spider-Man had to play boss.
A team of heroes with checkered pasts—Puma, Will-O’-The-Wisp, Prowler, Rocket Racer, and Sandman—they did not even receive their name until after Spider-Man no longer guided them.
They actually began as a “Spider-Man Intervention Team” when the hero seemed to have gone rogue and become a corporate thief. Eventually, in the course of the team tracking the Wallcrawler, it became clear that Spidey had only stolen from wealthy industrialist Winston Walker as part of a wider-ranging plan made with Silver Sable to expose Walker’s connection to the Maggia. Once everyone got on the same page, Webhead took over and together, the Outlaws exposed Chameleon as having stolen J. Jonah Jameson’s identity. They later located the kidnapped newspaper man.
Years later, Spider-Man got the band back together—minus Wisp—when he felt he could no longer trust the Avengers. Much inter-hero conflict ensued until Puma realized the shape-shifting Space Phantom had been at the root of all the hero-on-hero violence. At that moment, the Avengers and the Outlaws worked together to stop Phantom, seize an ancient entity made up of cannibalistic bugs, and send it into space before Kingpin could get a hold of it.
Spider-Man eventually got results from his teammates but not until a lot of punching took place. Maybe some better communication skills would have improved things?
Although Venom often is labeled the leader of the band of heroes who stands up against Carnage, his “family,” and an increasingly out of control New York City population, this ignores the fact that Spidey clearly called the shots. Venom may have gotten the ball rolling, but Captain America absolutely did not look to him for instructions.
In addition to Venom and Cap, the team featured Black Cat, Cloak, Dagger, Deathlok, Firestar, Iron Fist, Morbius, and Nightwatch. A team prone to in-fighting due to Venom and the Webslingers’s decidedly different opinions regarding the use of lethal force, they struggled to work together, let alone stop the threat Carnage posed. In fact, at one point, Spider-Man left Venom to Carnage’s designs when Parker and Brock could not seem to work out their disagreements.
In the classic tradition of villains, however, Carnage turned on his family, and in the ensuing confusion the heroes proved able to overwhelm the villains with good vibes (literally). Carnage briefly tricked everyone into believing he had died but he then pressed the advantage by taking another swing at Venom. Brock pitilessly beat his spawn into submission.
Spider-Man abandoned a teammate to what could have been death, and the heroes only managed to survive and win based on Carnage’s inability to stop himself from trying to kill literally everyone even his allies. You take any win in the hero business, I suppose, but this cannot be considered Peter Parker’s finest moment.
Professor Spidey Teaches the Next Generation of Mutants
Wolverine has died and his school for mutants needs a new teacher. Who better than… Spider-Man?
It may seem odd, but Spidey does have a history of being a teacher as Peter Parker. More importantly, before Logan died, he asked Spider-Man to ferret out a betrayer he seemed sure had infiltrated the student body.
By being his usual irreverent but crafty self, the Wallcrawler managed to teach the students and gain their trust. He later discovered that one student turned to a villain for help for their friend, help said student escape the villain’s control, and save everyone. He also got to argue with Sauron about a dinosaur’s best use of their powers.
Although we have not seen it in a while, Spider-Man maintains a connection to his students and will occasionally take them on “field trips” to patrol for crime.
Webhead finally found the exact right combination of responsibilities and “teammates” to be the best leader he can be.
Morlun and his family decided the time has come to really destroy the Spiders and the Great Web with it. They activated a full-court press, invading all sorts of multiple realities to kill bearers of the Spider-mantle. The Parkers and other Spider-types, however, refused to be sitting ducks and began to enter each other’s realities to organize a force to take down Morlun and Co., save each other’s lives, and preserve the Web.
The main Marvel Universe’s Spider-Man ended up as the de facto leader due to his experience facing Morlun—an Inheritor—on multiple occasions and not just living to tell the tale but actually defeating the bad guy.
The forces on both sides organized and engaged in moves and countermoves until the Spiders finally gained the upper hand and forced the Inheritors into a world where they could only survive in a bunker to hide from radiation poisoning.
Spidey spent a lot of the series reacting, not acting, and falling backwards into victories. Heck, he almost let the Superior Spider-Man unwind the whole of existence. Nonetheless, he proved to be an inspiration and, when push came to shove, smart and brave enough to help defeat the Inheritors.
This era of leadership began while Otto Octavius “lived” inside Peter Parker’s body and operated as the Superior Spider-Man. However, when Parker took back control of his physical form, he opted to continue to run the company, albeit while publicly claiming to no longer be associated with Spider-Man.
For a time, Spider-Man seemed to be doing a bang-up job of being a hero-CEO. However, between rapid expansion, some dubious choices—like applying to build a super prison—and his work as a costumed hero, Parker left the company highly vulnerable. First, it was revealed that the Zodiac had fully infiltrated an international branch of the company. Then Doc Ock attempted to buy back the company he started and reduced the London branch to rubble when Spidey refused. Finally, rather than let Hydra seize control, the Webslinger destroyed Parker Industries from within.
Peter, admittedly, fell asleep at the wheel for a bit. However, when the chips were down, he did the right thing regardless of the personal sacrifice to himself. As a result, both Octavius and Hydra were denied all means of dangerous tech and further influence.
How will Spider-Man fare as a leader during battle in the War of the Realms? You’ll have to read to find out!
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