Spider-Man's Greatest Moments
THWIP! over to Marvel Unlimited to celebrate Spider-Man Day!
In August of 1962, the world met Peter Parker, “Midtown High’s only professional wallflower.” Across eleven pages in AMAZING FANTASY (1962) #15, an introverted kid from Queens grew into the Amazing Spider-Man, a teenaged hero who’s code of conduct was shaped by loss from his first time in costume.
Fifty-eight years later, Spider-Man’s legacy has expanded across thousands of issues, complete with team-ups, crossovers, and even a unique cast of Spider-Heroes that span the Marvel Multiverse.
We’re well aware that with great power there must also come great responsibility. So, we’ve thoughtfully chosen a handful of iconic introductions and sensational stories that comprise the Wall-Crawler’s history.
Who is behind the most popular hero in the Modern Marvel age? Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. The contributions of both of these creators forged a character hitherto unseen in the Super Hero genre: a teenage wonder not relegated to sidekick.
Following their collaboration on AMAZING FANTASY (1962) #15, Ditko and Lee launched Spider-Man into his own solo series, an incredible four-hundred-plus issue run that you can read in full digitally. With issue #31, Ditko drew what many consider to be his finest work on the title—a three-issue arc that pitted Peter against his most dangerous foe to date… self-doubt.
[RELATED: Steve Ditko 1927-2018]
After a multi-armed melee with Doctor Octopus ends in defeat, Spider-Man was pinned beneath tons of industrial rubble… and his hope quickly waned. Across a series of simple-yet-impactful pages, Spider-Man summoned every ounce of his resolve to keep trying despite crushing odds. With every shred of his super-strength, and the spirits of Aunt May and Uncle Ben by his side, Spidey freed himself from certain death after nearly throwing it in. Not only was this a testament to his character, it was a powerful lesson too: You will face defeat. You will want to give up. But every bit of power that you have comes from within, and it is enough.
Ditko and Lee’s imaginative partnership also introduced Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery, a dozen or so Super Villains that have consistently menaced the Web-Slinger for five decades and running.
In Spidey’s first Annual, Ditko brought his signature oddness to this gaggle of super-powered foes, all aligned to take down Spider-Man as the “Sinister Six.” Their first assembly? Doctor Octopus, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Sandman, and the Vulture. With Doc Ock at the helm, the Daily Bugle’s Betty Brant and Aunt May were taken hostage to invoke the hero. And the plan worked—too well. In a series of splashy, cityscape battles, Spider-Man made short work of each contender, a disappointing blow to Doc Ock’s ego, and further fuel to the foul fire that assembled the Sinister Six in the first place.
We know that Spider-Man’s beginnings came on the heels of tragedy, more specifically the death of his Uncle Ben by an armed robber. But perhaps an even more brutal blow was the death of Gwen Stacy, Peter’s first love, and the woman who inspired his courage.
Marvel legends Gerry Conway and Gil Kane are behind this now-famous storyline, a turning point for Spider-Man (and readers), that reinforced the very real consequences of a Super Hero’s struggle. In a fateful flash, the Green Goblin, AKA Norman Osborn, threw an unconscious Gwen off the George Washington Bridge… and Spider-Man’s quick reflexes proved just as fatal as her fall.
While Green Goblin first appeared in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #14, this arc cemented his status as Spider-Man’s unmatched nemesis.
Back in 1985, Spider-Man returned from the Beyonder’s Battleworld in SECRET WARS with a hitchhiker in tow. Unbeknownst to readers, this souped-up black suit was actually a bonded extraterrestrial symbiote, a sentient lifeform resembling inky ooze. While Spidey’s black suit had the nifty trick of assuming the appearance of civilian wear, it didn’t take long for the Wall-Crawler to realize that it was (really) hard to take off. Over the course of several titles, collected here, Spider-Man was astounded and horrified at his costume’s limitless potential to transform. It wasn’t until THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #258 that Reed Richards discovered the suit’s alien origins, along with its sensitivity to sound. Sonically blasting the suit off of Spider-Man, Richards placed this specimen in a containment tube… but a symbiote always finds its host.
In THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #300, the inheritor of the symbiote was disgraced journalist Eddie Brock, a one-track-minded antihero who blamed Spider-Man for his career going up in flames. Venom was unleashed, and the rest is history.
This marriage may not have lasted, but the love remains.
While it’s true that much of Spider-Man’s journey has been laden with hardship, we felt it important to include one of the most joyous moments in Spider-canon: the wedding between Peter Parker and longtime love, Mary Jane Watson!
Assembled before family and friends, Peter and MJ exchanged their vows in a Super Hero wedding that, surprisingly, wasn’t marred by some superhuman or cosmic disaster. ‘Bout time too—MJ turned down Peter’s proposals twice after a long courtship, first in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #183 and again in issue #291!
Since meeting on the pages of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #42, actor/model MJ has been a vivacious counterpoint to Peter’s reserved ways… he himself found it unbelievable that he landed such a fun-loving gal!
Currently back on as boyfriend/girlfriend following the (complicated) dissolution of their marriage, MJ has remained a constant source of support for Peter, especially noteworthy given his occupational hazards. Whether or not they’re “official,” she is a confidant, a friend, and for many fans, the love of Spidey’s life.
“Face it, Tiger. You just hit the jackpot!”
[RELATED: A Handy Guide to Surviving a Marvel Wedding]
A wild chapter in Spider-history by J. M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck! Original Sinister Six member Kraven the Hunter turned his obsessive hatred of Spider-Man on its head… by attempting to become that which he loathed the most. In a six-part epic that reads like a Gothic horror, Spider-Man took the full brunt of Kraven’s rage when he was buried alive, his identity and suit stolen for two whole weeks by this unprincipled predator.
We’ve all heard that misery loves company, right? Well, that also holds true for deranged super-powered killers. After springing himself from the Ravencroft Institute (read its full history here), symbiote host Cletus Kasady wrangled up a crew of like-minded murderers to unleash their own brand of mayhem on the streets of Manhattan.
This event also marked one of the first Spider-Man/Venom team-ups. Realizing that he was dangerously outmatched, Eddie Brock: Venom enlisted Spider-Man’s help. Plus, we got some backup from the likes of Captain America, Iron Fist, Cloak, Dagger, Firestar… and quite a few surprise guests.
There’s not a whole lot of story you’ll need to catch up on pre-event. Although, if you’re not familiar with Carnage, we recommend two issues—Cletus Kasady’s first appearance as Brock’s cellmate in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #344, and his first time bonding with the Carnage symbiote in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #361-363.
[RELATED: 14 Reasons to Read ‘Maximum Carnage’]
MILES MORALES’ FIRST APPEARANCE (ULTIMATE FALLOUT #4)
The debut of Brooklyn-based Web-Slinger, Miles Morales!
Following the death of the Ultimate Universe’s Peter Parker, Miles assumed the mantle after gaining spider-powers of his own! Although, in addition to sticking to walls and having the proportional strength of an arachnid, Miles had invisibility skills to boot. His complete origin can be found in ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN (2011) #1, the first issue in a fan-favorite series that followed his learning curve toward becoming a hero. Although this legacy was heavy, a young and grounded Miles proved more than ready for the challenge.
The body of Peter Parker. The mind of Doctor Octopus. This is precisely the scenario set up in the “Superior Spider-Man” saga, the 2013 storyline that swapped Spider-Man’s psyche into Doc Ock’s decrepit and dying form. During this terrifying switcheroo, Peter’s memories flooded Doc Ock’s consciousness, so that the former foe had a full sense of the responsibility, and trauma, that weighed so heavily on Spider-Man. Aspiring to Spidey’s heroism while maintaining his unhinged scientist self, Doc Ock’s “Superior” Spider-Man was a hybrid of engineering genius paired with the values of a Friendly Neighborhood Wall-Crawler.
The seeds to the “Superior” arc were planted way back in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #600, but it was in issues #698-700 where this weird science project became complete. From there, Spider-Man: Doc Ock did whatever a spider could, and then some, in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN (2013).
Every Spider-man, woman, teen, child, mech armor, and pig, spun their collective stories in this crossover event that drew in every known Spider-hero from Marvel’s vast Multiverse.
When the unstoppable Morlun and his family of Inheritors began targeting all Spider-beings, Peter Parker joined with an army of Web-Slingers and Wall-Crawlers to dissemble their ranks. Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel spearheaded this unifying event, centered around a single entity that threatened to unravel Spider-Man’s tightly woven web.
Notably, it was SPIDER-VERSE that gave us Spider-Gwen, first introduced in EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE (2014) #2. On Earth-65, it was Gwen Stacy who was bitten by a radioactive spider instead of Peter. Taking the name Spider-Woman, (while affectionately called Spider-Gwen by fans), she uses her great powers responsibly to protect not only New York, but the entire Web of Life.
Dan Slott signed off with an emotional tale in the conclusion to his record-breaking run.
Norman Osborn scoured the globe for a cure to the genetic tampering that once prevented him from becoming the Green Goblin—and, at the tail end of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2015), he finds it! His new weapon? The Carnage symbiote.
Green Goblin + Carnage = the Red Goblin in one of the most exciting stories in all of Spidey lore. Spider-Man would bear new scars following this battle for the ages, culminating in a cataclysmic finale that robbed the Wall-Crawler of one of his closest friends. Although his staunchest (and most surprising) allies united against this monstrous mash-up, it was Spidey alone who doled out final justice to a villain who had claimed so much.
We wrap up with a Spidey moment to come! This October, the “Last Remains” arc will kick off in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) #50, running through issue #55. This chapter promises to turn Spider-Man’s world upside down with a heavy dose of the ole’ Parker luck… and that’s after Spidey takes the beating of his life. Nick Spencer and artist Patrick Gleason are back on this issue, expanding on the strange backstory of Kindred, an as-yet revealed identity who has been terrorizing Spidey’s dreams. No one in Peter Parker’s world will be ready for what comes next… trust us.
Pick up issue #50 in print or digital this fall!
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