The original Prowler, Hobie Brown, was created by Stan Lee and John Buscema, first appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man #78 (dated November 1969).
A young African-American window washer with engineering prowess, Hobie devised the Prowler alias to cover his identity while thieving around New York City. During his first heist, however, Hobie was stopped by none other than Spider-Man.
Upon learning the Prowler was really just a misunderstood kid (not unlike himself when he started out), Peter became something of a mentor to Hobie, even occasionally asking him to impersonate Spidey for various reasons. Hobie Brown has the distinction of being the first character other than Peter Parker to sport the Spider-Man costume in the publication history of Spider-Man, making him in effect for the brief issue of Amazing Spider-Man #87, his first Legacy Character.
Aside from being the Prowler, an alternate universe version of Hobie exists on Earth-138 as the anti-establishment punk rocker Spider-Punk, mainly appearing in the Spider-Verse crossover and its sequel, Spider-Geddon. And though Hobie is not actually in the game itself, the Spider-Punk costume is an unlockable skin for Peter to wear in the 2018 Spider-Man video game.
Hobie Brown has appeared in:
Hobie Brown provides examples of:
- Angry Black Man: He's a black man who, while not necessarily angry, felt under appreciated by his boss and came up with a get-rich-quick scheme that pitted him against Spider-Man. His Spider-Punk self is more in line with the "angry" part of the trope.
- Ascended Fanboy: Hobe was once a lowly geek, but now works alongside Spider-Man and S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Black and Nerdy: He uses his exceptional intellect to create gadgets capable of tangling with Spider-Man.
- Badass Bookworm: He's a skilled engineer.
- Badass Cape: It's a cape that doubles as a glider. Eat your heart out, Batman
- Cape Wings: He can use his cape to glide.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Hobie's a subversion in that he started out trying to use his inventions to earn money legitimately. He only turned to crime because his bigoted boss wouldn't give him a chance.
- Killed Off for Real: Subverted. He seems to be killed by new Electro (Max Dillon's former girlfriend Francine Frye) during the The Clone Conspiracy and Jackal cloned him. In the last issue, the original Hobie Brown was eventually found fully recovered in one of the sub-basements of the Jackal's second headquarters following the deterioration of his clone.
- Expressive Mask: The shape of his eye lenses change depending on his facial expressions.
- Gadgeteer Genius: He is naturally inventive, especially in the field of pneumatics.
- Improbable Weapon User: He defeated Spider-Man (temporarily) using gadgets he invented for window cleaning.
- Weak, but Skilled: In his first appearance he was able to do rather well by catching Spider-Man off guard.
In the Ultimate universe, Aaron Davis is a technologically-savvy burglar who performs his crimes as the Prowler. But more importantly, Aaron is the uncle of Miles Morales, and is generally responsible for turning the young boy into the second Spider-Man of Earth-1610. During a heist on Oscorp, a genetically enhanced spiders stows away with Aaron, ultimately finding its way to Miles and biting him.
Aaron and Miles eventually began working together, once their mutual identities became known to the other, but Miles ended their relationship upon realizing his uncle was exploiting their bond for his own means. Though Aaron would end up killed a short time after, he later showed up alive and well in the mainstream Marvel Universe, which now also contained Miles after the events of Secret Wars.
Despite being a newer creation than Hobie Brown, Aaron has shown up quite prominently in other mediums since his introduction. He appears as a civilian in Spider-Man: Homecoming, portrayed there by Donald Glover. Though he's never shown as the Prowler in the film, a Freeze-Frame Bonus reveals he's used the Prowler alias as a petty crook. Prowler also appears in the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse film, as voiced by Mahershala Ali. Unlike Glover's Davis, this version does appear as the Prowler, and is a crucial antagonist in the story, opposite Miles' titular Spider-Man.
Aaron Davis has appeared in:
- Ultimate Spider-Man (various runs)
- Spider-Man vol. 2 (2016 2018)
- Miles Morales: Spider-Man vol. 1 (2019-)
Aaron Davis provides examples of:
- Adaptational Nice Guy: Both of his counterparts in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, while still criminals, do genuinely love Miles. The MCU incarnation tells Peter about a meeting between Adrian Toomes's gang and Mac Gargan's in order to prevent them from unleashing alien-based weapons that could possibly hurt Miles. The Into the Spider-Verse incarnation has a My God, What Have I Done? reaction to learning the person he's been chasing was Miles, and willingly takes a bullet from Fisk rather than kill Miles; he even uses his last moments to encourage Miles to be a better man than he ever was.
- Badass Longcoat: Which he wears over his skintight suit, for no real reason as far as can be told.
- Badass Normal: It's clear that the Prowler is a very skilled fighter, being able take Spider-Man hand-to-hand. He's also very fit and skilled, being able to adapt to and use a wide range of mechanics and devices that require large amounts of athleticism.
- Black Sheep: His brother (Miles's dad) went straight a long time ago and his nephew is Spider-Man.
- Clothes Make the Superman: His work clothes, which include at least finger lasers. He'll also slip into any powered armor, etc. that's handy.
- Combat Pragmatist: He uses lasers in a fist fight, and is not above electrocuting and shredding enemies with a mass-razor launcher in order to facilitate an escape.
- Cool Uncle: Pre-spider bite, Miles looked up to Aaron and enjoyed spending time with him. This fell apart after Miles got his powers and Aaron deduced that his nephew was the new Spider-Man, and tried to make Miles into a villain as well. In more recent storylines, he's making an effort to redeem himself and be a good uncle to Miles again.
- Decomposite Character: He, Jefferson Morales, and his nephew Miles are ones for Hobie Brown. Hobie Brown started out as a criminal (Aaron), reformed (Jefferson), and likewise replaced Spider-Man (Miles).
- Did Not See That Coming: Turns out Scorpion has impenetrable skin. That whole "revenge stabbing" thing was not a good idea, in hindsight.
- Evil Counterpart:
- In a lot of ways, he's this to Uncle Ben. Both he and Ben are friendly uncles to Spider-Man and act as a mentor. In the end, Aaron is a manipulative ass who tries to exploit Miles and his friendliness is conditional.
- He also becomes this to Miles by becoming the Iron Spider.
- Evil Mentor: Decides that his nephew needs guidance — so that he'll be ready to take out the Scorpion, who stands in the Prowler's way.
- False Friend: He claims that he's just trying to train Miles out of familial care, but he's manipulative and cruel about it, blackmailing Miles and maintaining that Miles owes him for the powers. It's also clear that Miles is at least in part a tool to get rid of the Scorpion.
- HeelFace Turn: In Spider-Man #240, Aaron visits an ill Miles in the hospital and implies that he's going to try to be a better man. When Aaron appears again in Miles Morales: Spider-Man #7, he's sold the Iron Spider suit back to its creator and used the money to build an honest life for himself. He flat-out rejected joining forces with Tombstone, and he and Miles awkwardly but sincerely work to re-establish their bond from when Miles was younger.
- Honor Before Reason: For a certain value of "Honor". After the Scorpion's goons got a little too up-close-and-personal with him during their business transaction, he tries to kill the Scorpion in revenge once the Scorpion calls them off, instead of just finishing their business.
- Hot-Blooded: He makes some stupid decisions as a result. Trying to use a hold-out device as a regular weapon (it's one-use, hence the "hold-out" part), and threatening the Tinkerer when it doesn't work (he had specified that it was a "getaway jacket" and nothing else), and then immediately killing Tinkerer, the guy who makes his equipment because the Tinkerer gave him some generic information regarding Spider-Man's origins and Aaron apparently thought it was too sensitive to let him live.
- This becomes his undoing. Miles and he get into a fight and his recklessness (namely his using a sonic gauntlet in a fight even after seeing it get badly damaged) and disregard for anybody but himself and his own desires gets himself killed.
- Killed Off for Real: Died in Ultimate 12.
- Back from the Dead: Is revealed to be alive on Earth-616 in Spider-Man #234 and resumes his criminal career as the Iron Spider.
- Jerkass: Davis genuinely doesn't care about anyone but himself and isn't above blackmailing his own nephew to get what he wants.
- Morality Pet: He and Miles actually get along very well, Miles hanging out at his place when he needs to get away from his parents. For his part, Aaron makes sure to keep his criminal activities out of sight and is otherwise a doting uncle, being very encouraging when discovering Miles won the lottery for being accepted in the school. That gets thrown out the window early on once he finds out Miles is the new Spider-Man, at which point he quickly makes plans to exploit him.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: While robbing Oscorp, a genetically engineered spider, very similar to the one that bit Peter, snuck out of its holding chamber and into his bag, later biting Miles when he came over to visit and creating the second Spider-Man.
- Not So Different: Claimed this about Miles with his dying words.How about...that? You are...just...like me.
- Oh, Crap!: The Scorpion provides an extended one for him, once it becomes more and more apparent just how dangerous he is. Eventually he's just plain terrified of Scorpion.
- Powered Armor: Davis manages to buy a new model of the Iron Spider armor off the black market. This armor supposedly grants him a power-set similar to Spider-Man's.
- Starter Villain: For Miles Morales. His familial and emotional connection with Miles make him a far more personal threat then most and he gives Miles the most trouble as he's first starting out.
- Stern Teacher: Once he starts trying to get Miles to fulfill his potential. Which he does so by intimidating him and beating him up, though granted Aaron was planning on Miles' powers to make this backfire on himself.
- Teach Him Anger: He tries to get Miles to stop holding back as Spider-Man this way.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: From the the Tinkerer, of course. Unfortunately, he kills the Tinkerer early on, forcing him pilfer the Tinkerer's stash.