Comicbook / Untold Tales of Spider-Man

Untold Tales of Spider-Man was a Spin-Off of the Spider-Man series of Comic Books. Written by Kurt Busiek and pencilled by Pat Olliffe, it featured new stories set in the early days of Spidey's crimefighting career, interweaving its plotlines with those originally created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

The title was part of an experiment by Marvel Comics to publish a number of new titles for only 99 cents, in hopes that the low price point would attract new readers who might have been put off by the higher prices for comics at the time. It ultimately ran for 26 issues (#1-25, with an issue #-1) from September 1995 to October 1997.

Untold Tropes Demonstrated by This Series Include:

  • A Day In The Lime Light: Issue #16 focuses on Mary Jane during this period. Highlighted is her perspective on knowing that Peter is Spider-Man.
    • The -1 issue (an issue taking place before the main series) focused on Peter's parents during their spy days. This was notable in that they rarely show up in continuity.
  • Action Girl: After discovering the thrill of helping Spider-Man, Peter Parker's classmate Sally Avril decided to use her acrobatic skills to fight crime. She created a blue-and-white costume, called herself Bluebird, and armed herself with various homemade egg-themed gadgets.
  • Adaptive Armor: Commanda's armor can generate a force field, fire electric shocks, and change its shape and appearance at her will.
  • Armed with Canon: Occurred since Untold Tales ran around the time the regular Spider titles were entangled in The Clone Saga mess; this became exacerbated when John Byrne created Spider-Man: Chapter One, his attempt to update the old Lee and Ditko stories. Needless to say, Byrne simply disregarded most of what Busiek had done.
  • Art Shift: The backup story of Untold Tales #-1, "Hydra and Go-Seek", was written and drawn by Fred Hembeck.
  • Ascended Extra: The Headsman first appeared in several issues of Untold Tales, before being promoted to a main character on Thunderbolts.
  • Call Forward: One issue sees Spidey facing Hawkeye, who was an Iron Man villain at the time. Spidey realizes that Hawkeye is just being used by Black Widow and tries to convince him that he can be a hero.
  • Continuity Nod: Lots, due to the nature of the series.
  • Criminal Mind Games: Issue #6 had Spidey and the Human Torch working together to stop The Wizard, who left logic-based puzzles as clues to his next caper. The crime spree was The Wizard's attempt to prove that he was smarter than the Torch, but Genius Bruiser Teen Genius Spider-Man solved them all fairly easily.
    The Wizard: "You can't have solved that equation that fast! You can't! I'm smarter than you — smarter than any costumed clown — and I'll prove it! You hear me? I'LL PROVE IT!"
  • Femme Fatale: Commanda doesn't hesitate to morph her armor into a low-cut dress when she tries to seduce Spider-Man.
  • Festival Episode: Issue #19 features teenage Peter Parker taking pictures of a festival for J. Jonah Jameson.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Spidey, as usual.
  • Hidden Depths: During her focus issue, Mary Jane plays up her party girl attitude, while her thoughts reveal how much her family troubles and other issues bother her. She also tries to figure out the depths of Peter Parker, who she feels isn't just a shy bookworm or just a wise-cracking superhero.
  • Jerk Jock: In addition to Spider-Man regular Flash Thompson, Untold Tales featured Tiny McKeever, one of Flash's pals, who initially comes off as a copy of Flash. Peter eventually discovers why he's such a jerk: Tiny is under constant pressure from his abusive father to keep his grades up for football but genuinely lacks the intelligence, so Tiny takes it out on Pete because school seems so easy for him.
  • The Load: Sally Avril/BlueBird, whose crime-fighting zeal was surpassed by her inexperience and poorly-developed gadgets. Spider-Man even allowed one villain to hurt her quite badly in an attempt to dissuade her from crime-fighting.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The person backing the Headsman is eventually revealed to be The Green Goblin.
  • Mutants: Batwing, who was originally a prepubescent boy until he got lost in the Carlsbad Caverns and drank water polluted from illegal chemical dumping.
    • There's also an issue where he encounters the original five X-Men.
  • Previously On: To help out readers without encyclopedic knowledge of Spider-Man history, most issues include a one-page summary of recent events, both from Untold Tales and from the original Lee/Ditko stories.
  • Revision: The whole point of the series. Busiek even included a timeline indicating where each story took place among the original Lee/Ditko stories.
  • The Power of the Sun: David Lowell, a.k.a. Sundown, who first appeared in Untold Tales Annual #1.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Sally Avril, one of Peter Parker's fellow students. She tries to become a vigilante like Spider-Man, but he tries to dissuade her due to the risks. Undaunted, she later dies in an auto accident after recklessly pursuing Spidey to get photographs of him in action.
  • Save the Villain: Spider-Man saves J. Jonah Jameson from being framed by the mob in issue #15.
  • Sewer Gator: The Lizard takes reptiles from the zoo in "Cry...Lizard!" and leads them into the sewers to make them into an army.
    Spider-Man: Alligators in the sewers, Lizzie? Isn't that a little... cliché?
  • They Would Cut You Up: This was the motivation behind Batwing's rampage in Untold Tales #2. When Spider-Man discovers that Batwing is actually a frightened mutated child and promises to get him help, Batwing freaks out completely.
    "Not going... get cut up by scientists... like mom said!"
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sally Avril. While she does (grudgingly) get the message that she's in way over her head trying to be a superhero when Spider-Man lets a mook kick the shit out of her before stopping him, she decides there's another way to get the action and excitement she craves, namely by running around town trying to take pictures of superhero battles and be a part of the action that way. So she bullies a friend into driving her at breakneck speed towards one such battle, hanging out the window and not wearing a seatbelt, while goading her friend so incessantly that he ignores all the rules of the road. Naturally there's a massive accident and she's killed. Spidey somehow finds a way to blame himself, and is mourning at her grave when the Human Torch shows up. Upon hearing the story, Johnny shows a surprising amount of insight and knowledge of human nature by cutting through Spidey's guilt bullshit and putting all of the blame on Sally, pointing out that her behavior proved she was an adrenaline junkie who was going to get herself killed sooner or later no matter what Spider-Man did or didn't do. Spidey realized that Johnny was right, and both of them departed the cemetary.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Spacemen are four astronauts who got their powers from a secret space mission, and are immediately lauded as honest heroes by reknown anti-vigilante J. Jonah Jameson. In reality, they're washout trainees who used their powers to steal money while blaming Spider-Man along the way.
  • Water Tower Down: Spider-Man uses it in issue #1 to defeat the Scorcher.