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Comic Book / Nick Spencer's Spider-Man

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Back to basics.
And yeah, I know I'll end up regretting this. But as I sat there looking at Boomerang, all I could think about was myself and the people I'd let down so much lately. How so many of them had forgiven me — even given me opportunities to set things rights. If they could do that, why can't I? Bottom line — we all need second chances sometimes.
Peter Parker, TASM Vol.5, Issue 7

Launched as part of the Marvel: A Fresh Start initiative after a historic ten years, Dan Slott's massive Spider-Man run has finally come to an end. Who could fill in for such large web-shooters? Let's start with Nick Spencer, who gave us the criminally-underrated Superior Foes of Spider-Man.

Peter Parker is not having a good day. After climbing out of the hole that came out from the destruction of Parker Industries, he's been knocked down again as it's been exposed that a paper Otto wrote in his body was plagiarized (as it happens from Otto's own thesis), his Aunt May is angry with him for not admitting that he did such a thing and the hero community is angry with him because Mayor Wilson Fisk is showering support for him and not the rest of them. All in all, a typical case of Parker Luck. That, or the mysterious maggot-infested villain who knows so much about Peter lurking in the shadows.


Notable Storylines created during this run include:

Examples of Tropes in this storyline

  • Accidental Proposal: Peter gave one to Felicia in the past, when he gifted her a special Spider-Tracer on one of her jewelry boxes, making her think he was proposing for a second which freaked her out.
  • Alien Invasion: The first issue deals with this, with Spidey aiding the Avengers, Defenders, X-Men, the Human Torch and the Thing in repelling them. It's actually a ruse by Mysterio that comes to an end once Spidey takes notice of something odd.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Peter opens his heart out and lets loose all his vulnerability as he confesses to Mary Jane how much he loves her and needs her in his life. MJ responds at once with a Big Damn Kiss.
    Peter Parker: We've been through so much together. And i know that on my end at least, if you hadn't been there—I wouldn't have survived it. Because, yeah, I can do a lot of things. Swing from buildings, climb walls. All that stuff. But to do this? And do it right? I need you. I wish I had all the answers. I wish I knew how to make everything better and safer and easier and simpler — but I just— I just can't anymore. Maybe this is a mistake. I'm sorry. This isn't fair to you. Maybe I should—
    Mary Jane Watson: Whoa, whoa. Easy, tiger— (kisses Peter). We're in this together, Pete. We always have been.
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  • Arc Villain: Kraven The Hunter for the Hunted storyline.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: In #16 Kraven is revealed to have raised a number of clones in the Savage Land to be like him and set them free into the world. When he calls them back, only one returns — having killed all of his brothers because he felt they were tarnishing Kraven's legacy. Kraven calls him an abominable monster with tears in his eyes, finishing with how proud he's made him.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: As Black Cat points out, the Thieves Guild's theft of superheroes' belongings may have been reversed, but the fact that they were able to do it as easily as they did re-established the fear and respect that they had lost, which is what they wanted in the first place.
  • Badass in Distress: Black Cat is furious and insulted when Kraven tells her he captured her so she could be a Damsel in Distress for Spider-Man to rescue.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Tri-Sentinel, who was last seen being rendered inert thanks to Spidey and Nova in David Michelinie's run, comes back to wreck havoc.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Reconstructed to the point of being a massive Take That! towards Slott's run. After being caught plagiarizing, Peter can't admit that Otto Octavius took over his mind and wrote the paper without blowing his identity as Spider-Man. After losing Aunt May's respect, Peter has a Heel Realization: he never should have accepted the things that Otto had built for him in the first place.
  • Costume Inertia:
    • Black Cat returns to her classic black-and-white costume, ditching her black-and-gold "Queenpin" costume.
    • After its destruction in [[/Mike Costa's Venom Venom]], Scorpion also returns to his original costume after years of wearing Powered Armor, though this one has an actual stinger instead of the club-tail the old version had.
    • Invoked by Kraven, who prepares Spider-Man for his grand hunt by gassing him and dressing him in a replica of his black suit, i.e. the same costume he wore when Kraven beat him.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Much like he once did to the Kingpin, Spider-Man cuts loose and delivers a one-sided beatdown to Taskmaster (who had watched a tape of Spidey's fighting style, mind you) when the latter accidentally blows up a restaurant where Aunt May was dining and tries to interfere with saving her to keep fighting. The resuling "battle", if it can be called such, involves Spider-Man beating him up for a whole page and tossing him out of the window as if he were a mere thug, to the point Taskmaster decides to bail it. Lampshaded by Black Ant how humiliating it had been for Taskmaster to lose like this.
  • Deal with the Devil: Mysterio made a deal with a demon to escape from Hell, and now a demon has decided to collect on that debt. Demons tend to not forget when you owe them one, as Mysterio finds out when one decides to collect on the debt Mysterio owes in exchange for coming back to life. Also, because it has been so long Mysterio had practically forgotten about it. Making deals with demons is a very, VERY bad idea. Mostly on account that said deal will more than likely benefit them more than you. Just ask Mendel Stromm. Oh wait you can’t. Because he’s dead.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: After Kraven kills his family to raise a batch of his clones, his daughter Ana (who participated in the familicide) leaves him in disgust. When it's revealed that one clone killed all the others, Kraven's reaction initially seems to be invoking this — with him breaking down in tears and calling his last remaining "son" a monster — before subverting it by Kraven saying how proud he is.
    • Occurs again in the same arc, when one of the hunters finds Lizard!Billy Connors and refuses to kill him. The hunter is disgusted at the thought of killing a child and thought they were only hunting super-powered adults.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Kraven the Hunter was last seen palling around with Squirrel Girl and turning over a new leaf as the "Unhuntable Sergei". Suffice to say, it didn't stick and he's now back to trying to hunt and kill Spider-Man. The reveal that he created clones of himself in the Savage Land, and accelerated their aging and sent them to different corners of the world implies that "Unhuntable Sergei" was just a clone. And also he's been unceremoniously killed off by one of the rogue clones.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: The heroes are currently treating Spidey this as they're not too happy that Mayor Wilson Fisk is showering all of this praise on the webslinger and kicking them to the curb. Of course, this is part of Fisk's plan.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Peter and Mary Jane end up having dinner with the Connors family in issue 14.
  • Heel Realization:
    • After being accused of plagiarizing his thesis, Peter at first denies being at fault of anything, both to others and even to himself. However, after being scorned by Aunt May, Peter realizes that, while it's true that he didn't plagiarize anything, when he saw that Otto had gotten the doctorate for him, he just rolled with it without a second thought. He still took credit for something he didn't earn, and used it to further his career. As he puts it himself, his problem is not that "he may do the wrong thing", but rather that "he may not do the right thing", while the panel references Uncle Ben's death.
    • J. Jonah Jameson gets hit with this hard after seeing how toxic his vendetta against Spider-Man was up until they buried the hatchet. Besides the obvious reasons like his bankrolling the creation of the Scorpion, the Spider-Slayers, and the Human Fly, his relentless anti-Spidey propaganda distorted the truth about deceased Bugle-reporter-turned-crime-boss Frederick Foswell (aka the Big Man) to even his son Frederick Jr.; to the point that Frederick Jr. became delusional and psychotic with his own hatred for the webslinger, and captured both after Jameson's Heel–Face Turn to finally see "justice" done.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The clone of Ned Leeds ends up protecting Aunt May when a battle between Spidey, the Rhino, Taskmaster, and Black Ant causes the restaurant to collapse.
  • History Repeats: Hunted (ASM #16 V.5) opens with Spider-Man reeling from the death of Ned Leeds' clone, all the while having an unknown sense of dread, while Kraven the Hunter plots behind the scenes, just when Peter and MJ get back together after a break-up. That's more or less how Kraven's Last Hunt opened, when the real Ned Leeds died a few issues back, Peter and MJ just got married, Spider-Man has an unknown sense of dread, and Kraven plots behind the scenes.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: How do Spidey and the Black Cat drive off the Thieves Guild? Turns out Kamala has the equivalent of the "Where's my iPhone?" app on her cell phone, which was one of the items they stole.
  • Humiliation Conga: The first issue is just one long one for poor Peter. With the exception of the ending, that is.
  • Impossible Theft: Issue #8 deals with a Thieves Guild who somehow is able to hunt down and steal items from superheroes, even when it is literally impossible. Among the items taken are all of the costumes on display in the Avengers Mansion, Iron Man's entire arsenal, Captain America's shield, Thor's new hammer, Ghost Rider's car, Cyclops's visor, Doctor Strange's Eye of Agamotto, all of the Punisher's weapons, and Spider-Man's web-shooters.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Billy Conners. He can't stand living his life in the sewers because being a Lizard is the only way he can stay alive. He can't even go to the Xavier/Jean Grey Institute because he's technically not a mutant.
  • Literal Split Personality: Peter Parker and Spider-Man are split into separate individuals. However, it becomes apparent that this process isn't perfect due to their physical and psychological traits being split between them — Peter Parker is an ordinary human lacking all his powers and scientific knowledge, while Spider-Man lacks Peter's restraint and moral compass. They eventually merge together after realizing they're incomplete.
  • Living with the Villain: After Peter was suspected of plagiarism he returns to college and Fred Myers aka Boomerang ends up being one of his roommates.
  • Kill 'Em All: This is part of Kraven's endgame around arranging the animal-supervillain hunt, but with a twist: despite how it appears, it's the hunters he's killing. The Kraven-bots the hunters are controlling are powerful but not powerful enough to defeat all of the villains, and when the robot dies so does the pilot. The point is to wipe out a large number of the bored, rich, "killing for the hell of it" hunters Kraven loathes once the villains regain their footing and fight back en-masse.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Kingpin's idea to get to Boomerang by going after his roommate Peter Parker is nixed by an unknown, giant-centipede-carrying third party, who forces Fisk to kneel and remember "who really runs things around here".
  • Mayor Pain: The Kingpin actually uses new position as Mayor of New York to pretend to support Spider-Man, giving him praise and benefits, knowing the association between them will jeopardize Spider's relationship with other heroes and the public.
  • The Missus and the Ex:
    • Spider-Man is working with the Black Cat to take on the Thieves Guild, and at the end of the arc, Peter chooses to trust Felicia with his secret identity. Felicia is not looking to restart anything with Peter, and Mary Jane is not particularly jealous as she is confident of how indispensable she is in Peter's life.
    • Carlie Cooper spots MJ and Peter at Coney Island, and after he webs away she and Mary Jane chat. Carlie notes how the situation has changed from when saw MJ as her "ex's ex" and now they are reuniting when MJ and Peter are no longer exes anymore.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Issue #1 opens with a flashback to Matt Fraction's "To Have and to Hold", an issue that was intended to celebrate the Peter-MJ marriage and love story, and was an intentional Take That! to One More Day that the author knew was in production.
    • Issue #16 has Peter sick in bed with a flu, as MJ tends to him. Peter's narration trails off when he notes "he hasn't felt as sick since—" before he's interrupted. This is a reference to The Night Gwen Stacy Died when Peter was sick during the entire first issue, ASM #121.
    • Kraven creates 87 clones. Kraven's Last Hunt was published in 1987.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Just because you've worked with another mercenary for a long time doesn't mean they won't hesitate to betray you as Black Ant realizes once Taskmaster sold him out for extra cash.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted. The global barrier that was the headache of many a hero during Secret Empire ended up in the hands of Arcade. As he explains, the US Government wanted to make sure it couldn't be recreated but he "knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy..."
  • Official Couple: After spending so long having Slott repeatedly tease and sink it, Peter and Mary Jane are finally dating again in the main continuity after ten years. This ten year gap is the longest in their history of being apart after they first dating in earnest in 1975, where they were a couple until breaking up in Issue #192 in 1979, and exactly 100 issues after that MJ and Peter got married (in 1987) for the next twenty years.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Peter is accused of plagiarizing his work from Otto Octavius, with the fact that it was done when his body was hijacked obviously not being an excuse he can use. And as Peter realizes, not turning that degree in and running Parker Industries while still having an unearned doctorate does make him guilty. And Peter deals with the fallout of this academic disgrace which include being fired from the Bugle's post as scientific editor and having his degree and qualifications revoked.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Hitting Peter like a ton of bricks when someone that isn't buddy-buddy with the "late" Otto Octavius reveals that the thesis was plagiarized. Since revealing the truth will reveal his identity as Spider-Man, he's instantly accused of being a fraud, he's fired from the Daily Bugle because of the scandal and when he can't admit anything to Aunt May, she scorns him.
    • Due to screwing over the other members of the Sinister Several, they want nothing to do with Boomerang and he’s now so incredibly lonely he made LMDs of them to keep him company. Turns out constantly stabbing others in the back leaves one short on friends.
    • Just because you turn away from one kind of villainy doesn't mean you're always on the side of angels, as Spidey learns the hard way when Black Cat, despite abandoning her "Queenpin" schtick, is still a thief and still willing to steal things.
    • While Jonah is trying to be supportive to Spider-Man ever since Peter revealed his secret identity to him, Jonah is still a man who is a bit wrapped up in himself. When Peter tries to get him to refuse the award Fisk wants to give him and stop saying Peter supports Fisk, Jonah refuses because this is his time to shine. He relationship with Robbie also soured because Robbie is no longer listening to his advice on matters regarding the Daily Bugle.
      • As well, years and years of accusing Spider-Man of being a menace comes back to haunt Jonah when he's confronted by the son of Frederick "Big Boss" Foswell and tries to get Jonah to murder Spidey when the time comes.
    • Due to the rise of New Media and the lack of sensationalism that J. Jonah Jameson provided coupled with Peter being discredited, the Daily Bugle is falling under hard times.
      • This also bites Jolly Jonah in the ass as his sensationalism towards Spider-Man being removed means he's losing listeners and his spot on the radio show.
  • Restraining Bolt: As it turns out, Curt Connors was able to get a working Inhibitor Chip to get the Lizard under control, being able to change him whenever he wishes but stops the Lizard from harming people. As it turns out, it's also Awesome, yet Impractical as Connors can't even protect his students when Black Ant and Taskmaster drops in.
  • Retcon: Issue #16 indicates that almost every appearance Kraven the Hunter has made post-Amazing Spider-Man #637 — most notably in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl — was one of his clone "sons" impersonating him.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Spencer annexes a lot of elements and concepts from X-Men's Rogues and their corner of the Marvel Universe:
    • The Thieves Guild are usually connected to the X-Men, especially Gambit via the New Orleans branch. This is the first time they've shown other branches or interacted with others.
    • Arcade also shows up from #14 onwards, also an X-Men villain but here an ally to Kraven.
    • Kraven also tussles with the High Evolutionary in the Savage Land, who is a Marvel-wide villain but appeared in many X-Men stories.
    • The Animal Themed Superbeings that Kraven has captured also include the likes of the Owl (a Daredevil opponent) and the entirety of Serpent Solutions (usually foes of Captain America).
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: The wraparound cover of issue #1(seen above) does not feature Mary Jane Watson among the collage of familiar faces in Spider-Man's life. Perhaps to add to the surprise when it's revealed that MJ and Peter are officially back together again.
  • Sole Survivor: Ana Kravinoff is the only survivor of Kraven's purge of his family.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When various heroes gather to deal with their weapons and artifacts being stolen by the Thieves Guild, Reed Richards and Tony Stark suggest a complex method of figuring out where the Guild took their items. Ms. Marvel then announces that her cellphone was one of the items stolen, and she just got a ping from her "Find My Phone" ap.
    Tony Stark: This is embarrassing.
  • Status Quo Is God: You would think that being married to a super-rich man like John Jameson would've left Aunt May well-off after his passing? As it turns out, the man stretched himself too thin between other benefactresses, an unscrupulous agent, and pouring too much money into the ultimately failed Parker Industries. Thus Peter doesn't have a rich relative he can rely on.
    • Peter has not only lost Parker Industries but has also lost his doctorate. Meaning he's back to being a grad student again.
  • The Stinger: The first issue ends with Peter being given a second chance at legitimately earning his doctorate and is sent to his first class... taught by the Lizard?!
  • Take That!:
    • As explained above, the story starts off throwing a couple of jabs at some of the most controversial left-overs from Slott's run, but there is another blatant one: During her presentation of the Watcher system for detecting plagiarism, Cindy Lawton uses as an example the story of a student who sold his soul to Mephisto in exchange for a passing score, deeming it "the saddest story of them all". Three guesses for which story is Spencer referencing here. The first two don't count.
    • The Life Foundation, a major organization that did battle with both Spider-Man and Venom in the late 80s and most of the 90s, is revealed to have been struck by Chapter 7 bankruptcy with Mendel Stromm lamenting how their desire to survive the end of the world couldn't save them from financial collapse.
    • Much of Peter's discussion with Spider-Man in issue #4 seems to be a criticism regarding much of the problems that dogged the book during Dan Slott's run. That Spider-Man had become more about giant robots and cartoony adventures than actually being true to what Spider-Man means. Spider-Man even retorts that fighting crime should be fun (An often used defense of Slott's run to excuse the more fantastical elements) and that Peter should be a multi-millionaire and the head of his own company (Referencing the controversial Parker Industries storyline). Peter responds by pointing out that Spider-Man isn't about having a good time, and asks what happens when things stop being fun.
      • For that matter, Spider-Man's personality minus-Peter Parker becoming an irresponsible, thrill-seeking profiteer whose trademark quips shift mainly to dated pop-culture references could be considered one to Spider-Man's characterization in his own comics over the last decade.
    • After a decade of constantly pushing Peter away due to the dangers brought by his career as Spider-Man, Mary Jane finally realises that Peter's heroics are also the reason she has remained in love with him and that she cannot want for a normal life for him as that just would not be true to who either of them are. After hearing from Peter that he needs her in his life to be who he is, she decides to give their romance yet another go.
    • Issue #16 has one to the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 2 #32 - #35, revealing that the "Unhuntable Sergei" was one of Kraven's eighty-seven clone "sons", and was killed off-panel by one of his brothers for being weak and disgracing Kraven's legacy.
    • Issue #16 has Kraven calling poachers cruel monsters for killing entire species for self-profit and trophy hunters weaklings who disgrace the things they kill to try and retain some vigor that was never there to begin with... completely disregarding that he's been both over the years.
  • Take That, Audience!: While heading off to battle the Tri-Sentinel, Spider-Man laments pop-culture's stagnating trend towards nostalgia rather than accepting change — throwing shade at those who complained about the Affirmative Action Legacy changes that had been taking place since Marvel NOW and led to many of those changes being reversed in Marvel Legacy and Marvel: A Fresh Start.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: Subverted. Peter goes to visit Aunt May, and try to get rid of the printed newspaper so that she doesn't see the headline about him losing his degree. He did it, but it was of no use: she already knows it, because she configured her cell phone to give alerts when the newspaper app mentions him (usually to read his articles, but now it displayed those news).
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Issue 9 reveals that Jarvis had started a outreach program called the "Look-Ups", allowing for those who know superheroes personally to get their problems off their chest without fear of being recognized. Some of those who use the program seemingly include Foggy Nelson, Ganke, Pepper Potts, and Willie Lumpkins.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Black Ant and Taskmaster are always working together, as they were hired to hunt down villains with Animal Motifs for Kraven. After Taskmaster backstabs Ant for the bonus money once their job is done, he shows genuine remorse for having to do it.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: After everything that happens to Peter in the first issue, he get back together with Mary Jane Watson.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Peter cites this as the reason which makes him realize that his Humiliation Conga is deserved, noting that it's another instance where he failed to do the right thing when he had no one watching him (comparing it implicitly to when he let the Burglar escape). He notes that after getting his body backed he passed by the plaque showing his degree and did nothing when he should have reported it then and there and canceled his own degree. Accepting Parker Industries and Octavius' ill-gotten gains on a silver platter is also something he considers a moral lapse.
  • The Worf Effect: Badass Normal Kraven is able to intimidate the High Evolutionary (who is usually depicted as being an Avengers or even cosmic-level threat) into doing his bidding by killing some of his New Men.
  • You Are Not Alone: Edwin Jarvis is revealed to have created an anonymous support groups for people who know superhero secret identities, and invites Mary Jane to participate.


Example of: