Follow TV Tropes

Following

Comic Book / Spider-Man

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/AmazingFantasy15.jpg
Spidey's first appearance, August 1962. note 

"And a lean, silent figure slowly fades into the gathering darkness, aware at last that in this world, with great power, there must also come—great responsibility! And so a legend is born and a new name is added to the roster of those who make the world of fantasy the most exciting realm of all!"
The Narrator, Amazing Fantasy #15, complete full closing caption. Written by Stan Lee.
Advertisement:

One of Marvel Comics' most popular superheroes, Spider-Man is a comic book character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. He first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August, 1962), which contained his origin story. Geeky Ordinary High-School Student Peter Parker attends a scientific demonstration and is bitten by a spider made radioactive by the experimental device, passing on the proportionate strength, speed, agility, and senses of a spider. At first he uses his power for self gain. After his Uncle Ben is shot by a mugger that Peter could have stopped, he learns that with great power must also come great responsibility, and becomes the amazing Spider-Man!

At its debut, this Marvel Comics tale was a landmark in comic book characterization. He actually seemed like a real person, with day-to-day worries. Peter Parker was unpopular in his high school (though not without his supporting cast of friends). He and his aunt were poor, due to the death of their breadwinner. To get by, he had to sell pictures of his super-hero self to a man who only used them as a way to smear and tear down Spider-Man's reputation, in a nice inversion of the Clark Kent/Superman situation. Of course, he persevered, and with his powers, his native intelligence, and his nifty web-shooters, he went on to battle a bevy of strange supervillains. Spider-Man was in many ways Jack-of-All-Stats of the Marvel Universe. While he wasn't the fastest, strongest, smartest or most skilled hero there was, Spidey possessed enough of all these qualities to be able to handle a wide variety of situations and villains.

Advertisement:

Initially Spider-Man had a strongly serialized continuity during the era of EIC Stan Lee where Marvel as a whole told stories in near real-time. Comic-Book Time was gradually introduced under his successors but still, Spider-Man's stories remained on the realistic side, a place where characters who died stayed dead, and supporting characters and fixtures from one era died in the next, new supporting characters coming in while old ones were either Put on a Bus only to return later in a new role and new form. Status-quo changes had impact and lasting consequences. Spider-Man started out as a high school student, went to college, worked as an adult, had a series of girlfriends, before having long-term relationships with first Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane, Felicia Hardy, before finally reuniting with MJ and getting married to her. In The '90s, falling in line with the general trends in other Marvel titles, as well as tendencies in superhero titles from other companies, Spider-Man gradually came to be affected by retcons, characters coming Back from the Dead, Kudzu Plot and in 2007-2008, a Cosmic Retcon that reversed 20 years of real-life continuity to tell a new altered status-quo that is in fact a composite of elements from different parts of Spider-Man's publication history.

Advertisement:

Originally Spider-Man was published in The Amazing Spider-Man which is still considered the flagship title and center of gravity. Due to his immense popularity and fame however, he became a tri-monthly title in The '70s and The '80s with The Spectacular Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man being published alongside Amazing three times a month. Amazing dealt with the main story and series in general, while Spectacular and Web of Spider-Man dealt with smaller stories, one-shots and provided A Day in the Limelight to supporting characters or villains. As time passed, other titles such as Peter Parker: Spider-Man, The Sensational Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man also took over as sister titles, as did some miniseries and Alternate Universe spinoffs. These titles also came to acquire significant prestige in their own right with many iconic stories first featured there, and a story-arc that takes place across all monthly titles, which first happened in 1987, became a regular occurrence in later years.

Summary of Publication History and Important Creative Runs

    open/close all folders 

     1962- 1980 
  • Lee-Ditko's Spider-Man (1962-1966) — The original run of Spider-Man by its co-creators has many of the most iconic and often reproduced elements of the entire mythos. This includes Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man's iconic Origins Episode originally published in the last issue of an anthology comic but an immediate success and hit. The iconic cover by Jack Kirby, the art by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee's dialogues created one of the greatest stories, with a fable like simplicity about how Peter's life goes on a rollercoaster from nobody to somebody and then comes crashing down when tragedy strikes him. The success of this story led to Spidey's flagship title, Amazing Spider-Man #1-38. It featured the first and seminal appearances of many classic Spider-Man villains, Spider-Man's supporting cast, and showing the character growing and maturing almost in real time from high school student to college student which happened in what's considered the masterpiece of this era, If This Be My Destiny, aka the Master Planner arc.

  • Lee and Romita Sr's Spider-Man (1966-1972) — John Romita Sr. took over Ditko's role as artist and plotter after he left. As in the case of Ditko, the works were in the Marvel Method and Lee adapted himself to Romita Sr's strength and wavelength (i.e. romance comics) albeit Lee also took a more stronger hand in this time owing to the latter's unfamiliarity with plotting out stories by himself. Comprising Issues #39-110, this marked the end of Stan Lee's involvement with the regular Spider-Man continuity, he would contribute to the Spider-Man newspaper strip (and indeed write far more for that then he ever did in the main comics). This era codified Peter Parker's dominant comic look, crystallized his supporting-cast (Harry Osborn as his best friend, Flash Thompson as Vitriolic Best Buds) and the Breakout Character that is Mary Jane Watson, as well as The Kingpin.
    • Green Goblin Unmasked Romita hit the ground running with this story which finally answered and resolved the great mystery of the previous run, the truth behind Spider-Man's most mysterious and dangerous enemy.
    • Romita Sr. initially tried to be consistent with Ditko's art-style. It was with Issues 42-44 however, which had Mary Jane Watson's first appearance that Romita really established the new style. Spider-Man would no longer be the story of just Peter Parker and his closed world as in the Lee-Ditko era but it would now encompass a regular supporting cast, love triangles, and a more social and less hostile atmosphere. In short, Spider-Man would be Lighter and Softer and later Spider-Man runs often celebrated this college era as a time of innocence and sweetness embodied by the Love Triangle of Peter, Mary Jane, and Gwen Stacy, he latter of whom became Peter's First Love. However, this is only the most famous part.
    • Green Goblin Reborn!: Romita Sr and Lee also put out a number of tense and dark issues, including this landmark comic published in 1971 when the U.S. Department of Health approached Marvel and asked them to do an anti-drug storyline. There was one little problem: The Comics Code forbade drugs anywhere, both good and bad. Marvel decided to write a three-parter where Harry Osborn was shown to be popping pills and ignore Comics Code approval for those three issues. Along with Green Lantern/Green Arrow doing a heroin storyline the same year, this was one of the first signs of transition to the socially- and politically-conscious Bronze Age of Comics.
    • The Death of Captain George Stacy: The first major Character Death since Amazing Fantasy #15 albeit overshadowed by the one that came after that. It happened in Issue #90 and its fallout shaped the end of the era.
    • The Six Arms Saga: Where Peter decides to go Spider-Man No More one more time and creates a potion that removes his powers only to give himself extra hands. This story is notable for introducing Morbius the Vampire.
    • The other notable element of the Lee-Romita era was the decision to start including greater diversity. Issue #51 saw the introduction of Robbie Robertson, the first and still the most notable and important African-American supporting character in the series, who was the Hypercompetent Sidekick to Jonah and in the course of the series would become another important Parental Substitute and mentor to Peter Parker. The other major character was Prowler I, aka Hobie Brown, a small time hood who Spider-Man converts into an ally and friend. The Prowler in Issue #87 became the first character other than Peter to wear the Spider-Man outfit, and certainly the first POC to do so. When Brian Michael Bendis created Miles Morales, Spider-Man's most prominent Affirmative Action Legacy he made his character's Arch-Enemy into Prowler II, Aaron Davis, in allusion to the original Hobie (whose heroic aspect was given to Jefferson and Miles Morales).

  • Gerry Conway's Spider-Man (1972-1975) — Stan Lee was followed by Gerry Conway, a former fan turned writer who at the age of 18-19 had the daunting task of stepping in Stan Lee's foot-steps. Where Lee worked via Marvel Method, Conway had a strong voice as writer and while working with artists it was his views and ideas that really made it to the story. As such he's seen by some as Spider-Man's first actual writer in the traditional sense. He wrote 110-149 nearly the same amount of issues that Ditko did and in many ways just as important and defining for stories going forward. Conway introduced a slew of iconic characters and concepts — Hammerhead, The Punisher (who ultimately became his own sub-franchise), the Jackal, the Spider-Mobile.
    • The Night Gwen Stacy Died — Conway's most important contribution. A landmark story that ended the Silver Age of Comics, published in 1973. Peter Parker's life had settled down a bit. He was in a steady relationship with Gwen, and started getting some respect from the people around him but there was that snag. Norman Osborn was part of his supporting cast, demoted to an amnesiac lame dad for most of the previous run (save the drug issue) but a walking time bomb waiting to go off as far as Peter was concerned. In issue 121-122, Osborn relapsed into the Green Goblin and decided to hurt Spider-Man and then he just happened to run into Gwen Stacy and this led to a confrontation on the George Washington Bridge. Spider-Man arrives, just in the nick of time, like the song goes...except this time he doesn't. Gwen Stacy dies. Never before had a superhero failed like this. This also resulted in the first major fan backlash among Spider-Man readers and arguably the first real fan controversy about a superhero storyline ever.
    • The First Clone Saga — Conway's other lasting contribution, is the elevation of Mary Jane Watson as Spider-Man's long-term Love Interest. His run documented the slow maturity of MJ, and Peter's growing feelings for her, with the two falling in love with each other around the time of the major story that closed Conway's original run, which Conway created as a response to the Gwen Stacy backlash and as a Bookend to his major story. A clone of Gwen returns to Peter's life just when he and MJ are moving on. This tests their bond and feelings but in the course of a crazy mind-bending adventure that somehow combines the Silver and Bronze Age (intense scenes of longing, grief, and guilt mixed with goofy confrontation with villains in empty stadiums), Peter realizes that he's no longer the same man who fell for Gwen. He goes back to Mary Jane and the two of them at the close of Issue #149 commit to their love for each other. Conway's final run is often considered a kind of ending to Spider-Man since it marked the end of his Coming-of-Age Story from teenager to man (what with the final panel implying that he crossed the final rite of passage).
    • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man (1976) — After completing his run, Conway wrote and edited the first ever inter-company non-continuity crossover where Spider-Man and Superman fight, team up against Luthor and Doc Ock and at the end, Peter, Clark, MJ and Lois go on a double date. The story confirmed Spider-Man's status as one of the big three, or rather big twonote .

     1980- 1994 
  • Roger Stern's Spider-Man (1980-1984) : After Conway, Spider-Man entered an uneven period filled with a few strong stories and new characters (namely Black Cat) but was otherwise seen as lacking the spirit and freshness of the previous era. Peter and MJ broke up after she rejected Peter's proposal and an editorially mandated break-up (by Marv Wolfman) to shake things up. MJ would be Put on a Bus, Harry Osborn was married to Liz Allan. Roger Stern originally worked on the smaller character-centric The Spectacular Spider-Man before taking over the main title from Issue 206, starting an intermittent run that introduced the Hobgoblin, made Felicia Hardy and Black Cat the third great romance in Spider-Man's life and put out a couple of seminal issues. Towards the end Stern returned Mary Jane to the regular continuity, and set up the love triangle between MJ-Peter-Felicia as the replacement for the classic one.
    • The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man: A small story published as a side-story in a single issue (Amazing #248) it ended up over-shadowing the A-Story and celebrated as one of the most humanistic and stirring moments in the entire mythos where Spidey visits one of his fans and just spends time chatting, even revealing himself as Peter Parker and explaining his origins to a total stranger. It's only at the end that we learn that the boy is a Littlest Cancer Patient with days left to live, wishing to meet his hero before he passed on.
    • Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut (Issue #229-230): One of the greatest battle issues and fights in Spider-Man's career.
    • The Hobgoblin: The major signature villain in Stern's run which created a mystery that ran for several issues. Stern decided to quit before revealing it, starting a problem for the character that he would resolve belatedly in The '90s with Hobgoblin Lives! note .

  • Tom DeFalco's Spider-Man (1984-1987): DeFalco originally succeeded Stern as writer and working with Ron Frenz worked intermittently on Spider-Man in a period where editors such as Jim Owsley (better known as Christopher Priest more celebrated for his work on Black Panther) and EIC Jim Shooter were being nosy and interfering. His biggest contributions are the storylines expanding on Mary Jane's past and backstory (revealing that she was Peter's Secret Secret-Keeper for some time now) and making her Peter's confidant. He also incorporated the major costume change in Spider-Man The Alien Costume when In 1984, as part of the Crisis Crossover Secret Wars, Spider-Man got a new, alien costume that responded to his thoughts. Eventually later writers would make this costume into a symbiote who was attempting to permanently merge with Peter. He also co-created Silver Sable in this time, who would become a Spider-Man fixture and spinoff character in her own right. DeFalco would be fired and then rehired in-between this run. DeFalco returned near the end is notable for contributing Issues #290-293, showing Peter proposing to MJ a second time and this time saying yes, leading to the biggest status-quo shake-up in Spider-Man history since Issue #28 (when Peter graduated High School and went to college), after which he would take over from Shooter as EIC on Marvel, a position he would occupy until the Mid-90s ending when he oversaw the Clone Saga, and continuing after that by working on Spider-Girl.

  • During the same era, in-between DeFalco's firing, Peter David took over and contributed a few seminal Spider-Man stories. He would return periodically after from time to time during later runs, including the Mackie and Byrne era as well as JMS (where he wrote Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man). He also created the Legacy Character Spider-Man 2099 and worked on its original series.
    • The Commuter Commuteth (Amazing Spider-Man #267): which is still the iconic Spider-Man outside Manhattan story whose gimmick, i.e. New York suburbs don't have the high buildings that are easy for web-swinging, were adapted scene-for-scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
    • The Death of Jean DeWolff: which was published in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man between Issues 107-110 in 1986 when Spider-Man's friend, police captain Jean DeWolff, was found murdered in her apartment. The hunt for DeWolff's murderer becomes the impetus for an exploration of moral relativism among superheroes, the flaws of the criminal justice system, the desire for vengeance, and the clash of values between the idealistic Daredevil and the pragmatic Spider-Man. This was Peter David's first professional Comic Book writing assignment, and is noted for subverting the comic-book stereotype of Heroic Sacrifice in character deaths.

  • The Spider-Marriage (1987-1994): The major change in Spider-Man continuity that happened when Peter got married to his long-time love interest Mary Jane Watson:
    • The Wedding (The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21): The result of a strange series of circumstances. At a convention Stan Lee and EIC Jim Shooter had been asked by fans if they would have Peter get married to Mary Jane (referring to the newspaper continuity where the two were long the Official Couple as opposed to the regular continuity which stuck to a permanent melodrama and rotating love-interest model). Lee, crowd-pleaser that he was shrugged and said he was okay with it, and Shooter having been put on the spot said he was okay with it too. The response was picked up by the media and it was widely popular among fans and general readers, including those who had long given up on reading Spider-Man in the regular continuity for years having grown tired of the Static Character nature of his stories. Both Shooter and Lee hashed out a plan immediately for the big event to coincide together. For brand reasons, Shooter felt that having Peter Parker marry in the newspaper strip and not in the regular continuity, with the former having a general readership beyond comics fans at the time and Lee's own name, potentially delegitimized the regular continuity and led to Marvel losing a major coup with the first major superhero wedding ever (at a time when Superman and Batman in their main continuities were still single). Besides it was also a very popular decision among fans since this was a major status-quo they wanted but it was polarizing among writers and regular comics readers (a smaller number in terms of demographics but more regular and reliable in the long run). So the marriage had to happen in the regular continuity, even if Peter and MJ at this time were friends with strong feelings for one another but also hesitant about starting a relationship again leave alone a marriage. The result was a series of issues in 1987 that saw MJ over three issues resolving her family baggage and saying yes to Peter followed by the famous Annual, published in 1987 and written by David Michelinie, featuring cover art by John Romita Sr.
    • Kraven's Last Hunt: The period of the marriage was immediately followed by a series of iconic storylines starting right out of the gate with this one by J. M. DeMatteis. This landmark story was published over two months in every monthly Spider-Man title being a kind of crossover in Spider-Titles and it became the first Spider-Man story to be collected in hardcover (or trade paperback, for that matter), and one of Marvel's first collections. Kraven the Hunter sets out to prove that he's a better man than Spidey, and starts by shooting him and burying him. It was the first major story featuring Spider-Man as a married man.
    • Best of Enemies: Another important story from this time is Spectacular Spider-Man #200 which deals with the death of Harry Osborn, written by J. M. DeMatteis. Harry Osborn the wayward friend of Peter, rejected suitor of MJ, tortured son of Norman, and troubled young father, relapses into becoming the Green Goblin one more time over his grief and nostalgia for his long-gone college youth and the innocence that he, Peter and MJ lost. He finally attains a measure of redemption before dying in a classic story.
    • Parallel LivesGerry Conway, like Lee, would never quite become a major writer on Spider-Man again, but he returned later to contribute for some smaller side stories, notably dealing with Robbie Robertson. Parallel Lives one of the first "graphic novels" published after Peter and MJ's wedding is a tribute to the love story at the heart of Spider-Man which Conway did more than anyone to bring to fruition.note 
    • Venom: This landmark story that introduced Spider-Man's third great Arch-Nemesis and the biggest villain in the title since Steve Ditko left. The Symbiote that Spider-Man had driven away by exploiting its Achilles' Heel, sonic attacks and loud noise in general, whereupon it merged with a reporter Eddie Brock who felt Spider-Man had wronged him and became the recurring villain Venom. Venom was a runaway hit but he went from villain to Anti-Hero Substitute, leading writers to create Venom's own Venom, leading to Carnage.
    • Maximum Carnage: An event from 1993; Carnage recruits C-list villains into a Legion of Doom, and Spidey recruits a number of heroes (and Venom) to stop them. Mainly of note for being the highest-selling multi-title comic series in History (displacing Crisis on Infinite Earths) until Civil War - the reason for such a large mega-run was summarized by writer/E.I.C. Tom DeFalco as being a test to see how a multi-title series would function in the Spidey-verse, something that was tried before, but with a much smaller cast.

     1994- 2018 
  • The Clone Saga (1994-1996): Gerry Conway's original Clone Saga was an emotional roller-coaster and farewell to Gwen Stacy and the nostalgia she represented. That was what he intended at any rate and that was how it was received originally. But near the end of his story there was a bit where Spider-Man fought a clone of himself in a stadium and for a brief moment Peter had Cloning Blues and readers wondered if the Peter we saw was the clone all alongnote . Inspired by The Death of Superman and Knightfall stories which expressed a tragic attitude to its iconic heroes by temporarily removing them and replacing them with Anti-Hero Substitute, an attempt was made to give Spider-Man his own equivalent. It was also felt that this would be "back to basics" and temporary. Peter was now married and a new character could be the hip former single Spider-Man of the past and contrast with Peter's present. That was the original idea for a six month story. What followed, thanks to a period where marketing and merchandising was inspiring creative as well as a period of weak editorial oversight was a story stretched out for three years with endless backtracking, padding and spinning of wheels as Ben Reilly, Kaine, the Jackal (the villain of the original Saga who died at the end of it and was totally forgotten until the second one) returned to wreak havoc on Spider-Man's life along with a slew of characters that were hard to keep track off. Mary Jane also became pregnant, Aunt May died in Issue #400 written by J. M. DeMatteis (which despite later retcons is still considered a classic story in its own right, and works as a standalone). Meanwhile, Marvel dropped the bombshell and triggered the second backlash in its creative history (the first being Gwen's death). The Spider-Man we'd been following for the past twenty years was a clonenote . The response to this story (that the Spider-Man who fought the Juggernaut, romanced Black Cat, met the Kid who Collected Spider-Man, wore the Black Suit, grieved over the death of Captain DeWolff, married MJ and survived Kraven and fought Venom and Carnage wasn't the real deal) was loud and negative. Even if Ben Reilly was positively received by some, the entire project fell apart and the whole thing was hastily undone through a series of retcons and quietly swept under the rug — with the main consequence that the original Green Goblin was back among the living. (Oh, and providing a possibly-dead baby to become Spider-Girl in an alternate timeline.) Aunt May also came back at the end.

  • Post-Clone Saga (1996-2000): This period was notable for a brief attempt at a Continuity Reboot Setting Update, John Byrne's Chapter One which despite initial notices was quickly retconed and canceled over to fears that it was an attempt to replace the original story. It was followed by Howard Mackie's run which led to the brief death of Mary Jane Watson at the demand of editors, followed by Peter Parker at his lowest and most depressed period in his life. Green Goblin, the revived Norman Osborn decided to catch up and get his Arch-Enemy mojo back in Revenge of the Green Goblin by Roger Stern, a bleak, angsty and violent story where the Goblin tortures and gaslights Peter Parker into becoming his heir only for him to refuse. Near the end Mary Jane was alive after all and she and Peter returned, but the trauma of her period of captivity and resulting PTSD leads her and Peter to separate for a brief period. She would leave New York and go to LA and recover in the meantime. In 2000, Brian Michael Bendis wrote Ultimate Spider-Man another attempt at a Chapter One Setting Update but this one proved popular and influential, starting the Ultimate Marvel sub-franchise which dominated the turn of the millennium.

  • JMS' Spider-Man(2001-2008): The first writer to have an extended run on the title since Roger Stern, JMS introduced a series of new concepts and ideas. Namely the Myth Arc of the Spider-Totem. He also wrote the 9/11 response issue in ASM-36, V2 (which became famous for the entirely black cover by John Romita Jr). His run became celebrated for "The Conversation" (ASM-38), the comic where Aunt May after discovering Peter is Spider-Man finally has a heart to heart talk with her nephew about the lies he has told her since the age of 15 (which much like the retconned Aunt May death issuenote  is still considered a classic). Peter also became a high school teacher in this time and in Issue #50, Spider-Man and MJ reunite and commit to their relationship again. His later run was also affected by a series of stories by other writers, including Brian Michael Bendis' New Avengers where Spider-Man became an active member of a super-team, leading to JMS migrating the Parker family to Stark Tower. Then there was Civil War by Mark Millar which revealed Spider-Man's identity to the world and the consequences of that story led to Back in Black where Spider-Man and his family became outlaws on the lam. Other important stories in this time is Marvel Knights by Mark Millar and "To Have and to Hold" by Matt Fraction as well as Paul Jenkins' work on Spider-Man in The Spectacular Spider-Man. This run ended with the third major backlash in Spider-Man history: One More Day. After Aunt May takes a bullet meant for him, Peter becomes so distraught that he's willing to make a Deal with the Devil to fix things. The price for this soul-destroying bargain. His happy marriage to MJ, a future child with her, and Peter going back to the status-quo of the Post-Conway to Late-DeFalco era albeit somehow every story that happened before still happened in the same way regardless. Side-effects include, Peter's identity (which was public since Civil War) is a secret once more and Harry Osborn is alive again, he's free to date any random Girl of the Week (or month or whatnot) again. And of course, writers can start screwing with Peter's love life again. This story marked the start of Spider-Man's current era.

  • Dan Slott's Spider-Man (2010-2018): Originally serving as one of a slew of writers on Marvel's brain trust that charted out the new status-quo in Brand New Day, Slott ultimately became the major writer of Spider-Man and with more than 200+issues on Spider-Man in main titles, secondary titles, mini-series and other stuff, he has become the most Spider-Man writer ever, having spilled more ink on Spider-Man than any other writer in its history. Spidey's supporting cast was expanded to new faces, while old relationships and concepts were updated. Starting from "Big Time", Slott became the main writer. His first big success was Spider-Island, an event story from 2011 which spanned all of the ongoing Spider-Man satellite books as well as much of the Marvel Universe. A mysterious viral outbreak grants the whole of Manhattan powers similar to Peter Parker's. Anarchy soon follows, and things are complicated further as Spidey's old foe The Jackal resurfaces and takes advantage of the chaos. The aftermath saw Kaine acquire his own ongoing book series (Scarlet Spider). This was followed by Ends of the Earth and Superior Spider-Man, a 2012-2014 Spider-Man event that saw Peter Parker disappear from his own title for the longest gap in his history (the previous being Kraven's Last Hunt). This was followed by the Parker Industries arc which saw Peter Parker elevated to a rich businessman. In the same period there was Spider-Verse where Spider-Man teams up with many, many other people with Spider-powers as well as Alternate Universe counterparts of himself in order to stop a danger that threatens them all. Features massive amount of Continuity Porn as Spider-Men from previous AU storylines (such as The Clone Saga and House of M), Spider-themed spin-off books, What If? one-shots, Animated Series, Video Games and even Live Action all interact with each other on the same page while travelling between dimensions in a desperate bid to save themselves from extinction. Slott ended his run with Go Down Swinging published in 2018, stopping at Issue #801.

  • After BND and during the start of Slott's run, a decision was taken to make The Amazing Spider-Man the main series, but published multiple times. As Slott's run advanced and he developed many spin-offs a new writing team came on board to help him including Christos Gage who wrote selected issues and Spider-Geddon, the sequel series to Spider-Verse. Chip Zdarsky meanwhile revived Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man as the second series starting in 2016. His run included subplots such as Teresa Durand, who might or might not be Peter's long-lost sister. His run also included "My Dinner with Jonah" (Issue #6) where Spider-Man sits down for an interview with J. Jonah Jameson and at the end of which he reveals his identity to him after which they become allies albeit of a very vitriolic kind. In he mean-time, Brian Michael Bendis who had created Miles Morales in the Ultimate Marvel Alternate Continuity eventually imported him wholesale into the mainline 616 Universe, laying the groundwork with Spider-Men (a crossover between Post-OMD Peter and Post-Death of Spider-Man Miles). He then wrote a series of his adventures as the street-level Spider-Man to contrast Peter's move up the ladder to corporate super-heroics before ending his run, and his time in Marvel with Spider-Men II which ensured that Miles would remain in the 616 from here on out. Nick Spencer also wrote the highly popular cult series The Superior Foes of Spider-Man to show the Lower-Deck Episode of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery. Eventually Spencer would succeed Slott at the end of 2018 as the mainline Spider-Man writer.

Tropes for 616 Comics in General

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Occasionally Spidey will get sick and tired of juggling the demands of heroics and ordinary life for the benefit of an unappreciative world and hang up the web-shooters until something spurs him into action again. Inverted in the mid-90's story "Peter Parker No More", in which Spider-Man suffers a mental breakdown after one emotional hit too many, and decides to all but give up his civilian identity, spending all his time in costume.
  • The Adjectival Superhero: Spidey might have the most adjectives. He has Amazing, Spectacular, Sensational, and his favorite Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. He was called the Bombastic Bag-Man, when he borrowed a Fantastic Four costume with a paper bag as a mask. When Venom acted as him during Dark Reign, Venom was called the Sinister Spider-Man. He is also the Avenging Spider-Man, as a member of the Avengers. And the Fantastic Spider-Man as a member of the FF. And the Superior Spider-Man when Otto takes over as Spider-Man. There's also Ultimate Spider-Man.
  • Aesop Collateral Damage: The origin of Spider-Man is all about this: he refuses to stop a fleeing criminal, and subsequently Uncle Ben is killed by that criminal, teaching our hero that valuable lesson that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Harry Osborn, the second Green Goblin in the later-retconned but still well remembered story "Best of Enemies" in ''The Spectacular Spider-Man #200".
  • Always Save the Girl: Subverted with Gwen Stacy in "The Night Gwen Stacy Died".
  • Alpha Bitch: Liz Allan started as one of these, before she was Put on a Bus. Like her ex-boyfriend Flash (see above and below), she had become much more mature when Peter runs into her several years later. Then there's Gwen Stacy in the Ditko era before rewrites changed her personality.
  • Art Evolution: Spidey is almost never depicted as the original "boy in a Lucha costume" after Todd McFarlane's run.
    • Ditko's work noticeably improved further into his run. When he was plotting his own stories, his work became more visual.
    • John Romita Sr's work started out as a close-copy of Ditko's, featuring nine panel pages and such. But as Romita grew more confident with his work and as Ditko's run was further back in the memories of readers, Romita began to space out his work a bit more, allowing for more visual panels, and eventually Romita adopted his own style.
    • John Romita Jr's work noticeably improved in the interim between his first run with Roger Stern and his second run after the reboot (mostly with J. Michael Stracynski).
    • Todd McFarlane's work started out fairly standard until proportions and anatomy became more-and-more exaggerated, some would say for the worse. Erik Larsen followed similar trajectory.
    • Mark Bagley's issue as guest penciller, Amazing #345, was rather rough and the proportions were off and Bagley didn't quite have the character design right. But by the time he'd grown into his role as a regular penciller, his work was so iconic that it was featured on just about every piece of Spider-Man merchandise.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: Spectacular Spider-Man #86 was published during Assistant Editor's Month, so the gimmick of that issue was that Bob DeNatale threw out Al Milgrom's artwork in favor of that of Fred Hembeck, whose style is far from realistic. The issue's storyline was that the Fly realised he's losing his humanity and seeks revenge upon J. Jonah Jameson and Spider-Man, and the humor is limited to Spidey's usual wisecracks (apart from the humor stemming from Hembeck's art, like the Fly having Xs for eyes when Spider-Man punches him). After the Fly is defeated, Danny Fingeroth (the actual editor of the comic) returns and puts an end to the cartoonish artwork. You can see images from this issue here.
  • Artistic License – Law: During one storyarc, the father of Spider-man's foe Sandman is framed for the murder of an alternate reality Ben Parker and given a quick death sentence. When the governor (or maybe NYC's mayor) learns that Sandman's going to break out his father, he orders the immediate execution of the man, something that violates a wide range of laws and civil rights protections, and nobody involved in law enforcement bothers to say 'you can't do that; it's illegal'.
  • Artistic License – Physics: During the first Sinister Six fight, Spidey grounds himself to make himself immune to Electro's electricity blasts. This actually would make him much more vulnerable to them.
  • Back from the Dead: Between Carnage and The Green Goblin, it would seem that death is more of an inconvenience than anything. Though the Goblin is notable for lasting twenty-odd years, which seeing as he is an arch enemy is probably a record. Aside from a few cases of impostors and hauntings, Uncle Ben has, however, remained the only Marvel character who hasn't come back.
  • Backstab Backfire: After the Green Goblin killed Gwen Stacy, Spidey tracked him down and beat him nearly to death. Spidey was so angry that he wanted to kill the Goblin, but at the last minute stopped himself. He thought that Osborn was no longer a threat, but Osborn, who was still able to remotely control his goblin glider, positioned it behind Spider-Man and hit the gas, hoping to impale him. Spidey dodged the glider and it hit Osborn instead, killing him. At least, that's how the story originally went.
  • Book-Ends: In a sense. This was intended to be the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15. Many years later, it ended up being a variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #700.
  • "The Breakfast Club" Poster Homage: In The Avenging Spider-Man #12, Peter and Deadpool explore Peter's dreams to find out who is trying to infiltrate his brain. At one point, Peter dreams characters into The Breakfast Club, which is introduced with a shout-out to the original poster. Peter is Brian, redheaded love interest Mary Jane is Claire, jock frenemy Flash is Andrew, Deadpool himself is Bender...and he doesn't know who Allison is, so the person impersonating her must be the villain. It turns out to be Hypno-Master.
    Deadpool: What a weirdo. You couldn't be dreaming of Mean Girls?
  • Body Horror:
    • In "The Six Arms Saga", Spidey created a formula to rid himself of his spider-powers, which instead caused him to sprout four extra arms. On no less than three separate occasions he has been forcibly turned into a man-spider hybrid. As if the poor guy didn't have enough to deal with...
    • The Tarantula is subjected to an attempt to give him spider powers. It gradually turns him into a monstrous mutated tarantula and he commits Suicide by Cop.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: During one arc, Spider-Man lost his "spider-sense" ability. After struggling to defeat enemies who he'd normally have no problems handling he realised just how much he'd relied on it in battle and decided to get training in martial arts from Shang-Chi, The Master of Kung-fu. Together they created "The Way of the Spider", a unique martial art based around Spider-Man's unique combination of superpowered strength, speed and agility to compensate for the loss of his spider-sense. When Spider-Man regained his spider-sense he was able to combine his spider-sense with The Way of the Spider to make him an even more dangerous opponent than he was before the loss.
  • Carnival of Killers: "Identity Crisis" is about Spider-Man being framed for murder and a $5,000,000 bounty on his head, dead or alive. Eventually he assumes several different costumed identities so he can keep up the superhero game without being harassed, but before he thought of that he was fighting off dozens of bounty hunters every day. The guys after the 5 mil ranged from mundane gun nuts and thrill seekers (like the Hunters) to professionals (like the Dealy Boys) to actual costumed villains (like Override and Aura).
  • Cartesian Karma: This is Peter's problem after he gets his body back following the Superior Spider-Man arc, in which Doctor Octopus controlled his body. Many of his prior relationships are strained, especially that with his former lover, Black Cat, who has made a Face–Heel Turn and doesn't care that it was Octavius in Peter's body when she was attacked.
  • Cat Girl: Western costumed variant in the Black Cat.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: A few of the characters had their looks patterned on Hollywood icons:
    • The Kingpin was conceived as a homage to Sydney Greenstreet, a character actor in many Humphrey Bogart films where he often played heavy-set bad guys and gangsters. The Greenstreet resemblances were dialed down after Frank Miller got to him however.
    • Gwen Stacy's original appearance in Steve Ditko's page was based on Veronica Lake. After her character evolution, later writers modeled her design on blonde actresses in Alfred Hitchcock films especially Kim Novak in Vertigo (who as Madeleine wears a similar beige coat akin to what she wore in her final comic).
    • Norman Osborn and his son Harry are dead ringers for Joseph Cotten, down to a similar facial structure and of course the corn-rows wavy hairstyle. Cotten played a number of character parts in Orson Welles movies but a major hit of his was Shadow of a Doubt where he plays a businessman who is secretly a psychopathic murderer, much like Norman.
    • John Romita Sr. admitted that he modeled Mary Jane Watson on Ann-Margret who had appeared in a number of Elvis Presley movies. When Mike Deodato was drawing her, he based her on Liv Tyler.
  • Continuity Reboot: One More Day is essentially the COIE of Spider-Man dividing the history of 616 Spider-Man into two distinct eras (Pre and Post-OMD). Of course EIC Quesada and others at Marvel disagree (since it's part of their brand identity they do not Continuity Reboot like DC and they are sure not to call it reboots when they do it). According to Quesada every story Pre-OMD still happened the same way way but Peter and MJ weren't married but rather lived together. But as JMS and others note, the Post-OMD retcon fundamentally altered and changed the characters and moments of multiple stories for more than twenty years.
    • For instance a flashback to Kraven's Last Hunt from Post-OMD issues implies that it was Uncle Ben's memory that gave him the Heroic Resolve to come out of the grave when in the comic it was MJ and her role as his newlywed wife that gave him his strength. Likewise, Quesada also claims that Baby May never happened when that was a major part of the entire The Clone Saga. Nick Spencer's Spider-Man which opens with a Shout-Out to Matt Fraction's "To Have and to Hold" (an annual that celebrates Peter and MJ's marriage and is fundamentally about it) alludes to it being a dream Peter had about how things should be, which alludes to the fact that the marriage was crucially relevant to several stories that no longer work with a substitute.
    • JMS pointed out in interviews that as far as he was concerned, his entire run on Spider-Man is erased, since the stories he wrote and the consequences it had no longer make any sense after the reboot. The Other a story where Peter tussled with Morlun and ended up with organic webbing at the end, now exists Post-OMD in an altered version where apparently Peter still battled with Morlun but did not die, and still had mechanical shooters, as described in Spider-Verse.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • Post-OMD, Harry Osborn somehow still being alive all this time but Out of Focus is something that Marvel writers never fully explained since doing so would have to get them to explain what happened in Revenge of the Green Goblin a story arc where Norman tries to torture and gaslight Peter into becoming the Goblin after his revival, an action that was inspired by Harry's death during his exile to Europe and simply doesn't make sense in tone and motivation with Harry somehow still being alive through it all. Writers have simply not alluded to this elephant in the room and merely bypassed it.
    • Part of Mephisto's deal had Peter's identity becoming secret again, but OMD and the follow-up One Moment in Time (which is essentially a reboot and retelling of OMD) created a Continuity Snarl where according to the story, Dr. Strange who erased everyone's memories of Peter Parker being Spider-Man did so for those who didn't know the identity before Civil War, but this doesn't explain how Norman Osborn and Black Cat forgot his identity despite knowing his identity well before that.
  • Cool Loser: Peter Parker after high school. He becomes a handsome, good-looking, and muscled guy (and indeed is often called hunk by many girls) but he still remembers and defines himself in the time he was a nerd. He also has little difficulty in attracting girlfriends but a hard time holding on to them.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: In the early 1990's arc where Peter Parker's parents return from the dead, May realizes they're imposters when they refer to the wrong date for their anniversary, indicating that they somehow don't know about their secret wedding several months prior.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Go ahead and try to kidnap Mary Jane...call us when you stop hurting from the smackdown she'll give you.
  • Darker and Edgier: The tone of the Spider-Man comics in the original 100 issues run was generally light-hearted and grounded but it could vary within issues to something comedic to dark, angsty, and violent stories. Gerry Conway's run on Spider-Man was significantly darker than Lee and Romita's (featuring major character death, psychological breakdowns and breaking up of friendships) and writers after him also balanced extremes in Peter's life.
  • Dating Catwoman: Literally, with the Black Cat becoming Spider-Man's girlfriend for a while before getting back together with and later marrying Mary Jane.
    • Subverted with The Queen. Despite her beautiful appearance and her flirting, Spider-Man is not attracted to her at all and finds her disgusting, but that doesn't stop her from forcing herself on him. However, all of New York thought this trope was being played straight when the News captured the first kiss between them and assumed it was Spider-Man who initiated the kiss with his new adversary.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Different characters related to Spider-Man, such as supporting cast members, villains, and second-tier heroes who first appeared in spider-books have all been developed over the years via subplots and main story-lines or even spin-off mini-series.
    • Gerry Conway's late 1980's, early 1990's Spectacular Spider-Man run was built upon the concept of "A Day In the Limelight", as far as his run centering around the Joe Robertson, a longtime supporting cast member of Spider-Man. Similarly, the only Spider-Man stories by loathed writer Howard Mackie that are liked by fans are the ones that had Howard focusing on the supporting cast members.
    • Tom DeFalco wrote quite a few issues focusing on Mary-Jane's backstory which had been hinted at earlier but never elaborated. Matt Fraction's "To Have and to Hold" is entirely about her and it's considered one of the great Spider-Man stories.
    • "The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man" focuses on a single shot Spider-Man character.
  • Divergent Character Evolution:
    • Venom is currently undergoing this in recent titles since much of the role that he originally occupied, as a scary murderous villain, Shadow Archetype and Evil Counterpart to Spider-Man and Anti-Hero Substitute were later given to Carnage, Kaine, Superior Spider-Man and Ben Reilly alongside a slew of other new characters who have Spider powers like Miles Morales and Silk in the mainline canon. As such Venom is reinterpreted into a new mythos and identity separate for itself.
    • The Hobgoblin was invented by Roger Stern as a variant of Norman Osborn's Green Goblin, a popular villain with many Legacy Character after him taking on the identity but all seen as pretenders to his crown. Stern saw Hobgoblin as a master criminal without insanity and as a new kind of goblin that could be Norman's long-term replacement after he had been killed off. However by the time of The '90s, Norman had come Back from the Dead and the new Norman while still insane was also a high-functioning sociopath and master plotter and planner. Not only was the Green Goblin back but the advantages that the Hobgoblin supposedly had over Norman had been erased, and as such Roderick Kingsley is reinterpreted in recent comics as a master-criminal networking fixer who creates identities to loan/borrow/buy for other criminals while Norman has bought out Kingsley's company and established himself as top goblin.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run actually reads quite differently from later versions. The characters, for instance, look quite different. From her more recent depictions, you'd never guess that Gwen Stacy started out as this kind of character. Likewise, her personality was also a good bit colder. Peter Parker himself was drawn to look fairly plain whereas John Romita Sr. made him quite handsome.
    • From the way the aesop Comes Great Responsibility is emphasized (with some liken it to Batman's "My parents are dead!"), it is often surprising how underplayed it is in the early stories. For one thing, the aesop was never spoken by Peter out loud nor attributed to Uncle Ben, it comes from the narrative captions at the end of Amazing Fantasy #15 and later writers would Retcon this into a message Uncle Ben told Peter. For instance, Issue 1 of The Amazing Spider-Man has Peter trying to work as a kind of performing artist in New York and parlay his superheroics into some form of income, which belies the impression from later adaptation that Uncle Ben's aesop transformed him overnight into a monkish commitment to superheroism. In fact, for most of the run, Peter was constantly trying back and forth to sort out his life, with the basic impression being that Peter was always muddled and divided about how his life would be like.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • The original "If this be my destiny" Master Planner arc was this for Spider-Man's entire high-school arc. His Aunt May is sick, he has to fight the Master Planner (Dr. Octopus), and he's just starting in college. Despite being at his lowest ebb with virtually no way to fight back, Peter overcomes the odds, defeats and scares Dr. Octopus and exposes him as the Planner, he finally gets one over JJJ (negotiating a raise), maturely gives up on Betty Brant and passes by, and saves his Aunt. It was the first unambiguous triumph Spider-Man had after many half-hearted back-and-forth failures in the early run and it's still one of the few outright positive moments in all the books.
    • Eddie Brock is dying of cancer. Alone, and forgotten except as a remorseless monster to the public at large, and the remnants of his old "pal" are floating around in his head telling him that he still has one chance at revenge by killing a comatose May Parker or just disappearing off the world with nothing to show for it. Or he can just sit in his bed waiting to die with Venom tormenting him until the end of his wasted life. Instead, he cuts himself trying to remove the remnants of Venom from his blood and it works. After Spider-Man saves him, he tells the remnants of the symbiote to shut up. After being exonerated for the crimes he committed as Venom, he met Mr. Li, who offered him a job. Eddie accepted, and when Mr. Li touched him, the remnants of The Symbiote were fused to his immune system, turning him into Anti-Venom.
  • Failure Hero:
    • Peter defines himself by his failure to save Uncle Ben, and later Gwen Stacy, and later instances of Peter trying and failing to save people he cared about (such as Jean DeWolff) triggered a violent No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from him. Marvel also tried to back away somewhat, noting that after killing off Gwen Stacy, Marvel realized that they could not do that to Peter's other Love Interest, since they felt it would make him too much of a failure that Spider-Man's fun quippy personality would not be possible to maintain.
    • He can't even escape it in other Marvel Comics; take one appearance in She-Hulk, where he managed to take Jameson to court for libel, but had to call the whole proceeding off because if Jameson went down, Peter Parker would have to go next, as he had supplied Jameson with the pictures the Daily Bugle had used for their slanderous stories.
    • For long term readers, One More Day more than The Night Gwen Stacy Died has made Peter this for all time. Noting that Peter's run after that is more or less of a guy stuck in a Lotus-Eater Machine as a result of a pact with Mephisto that he is not even aware of.
  • Festival Episode: In Untold Tales of Spider-Man #19, teenage Peter Parker is taking pictures of a festival for J. Jonah Jameson.
  • Freak Lab Accident: How Andy Maguire, soon-to-be Alpha, got his powers in a parallel to Spidey.
  • First Girl Wins: Spider-Man's earliest love interest Betty Brant didn't become his long term love and the two characters have basically settled into being "best friends". Gwen Stacy was his first real relationship and the first girl he fell in love with, while Mary Jane Watson was the first girl Peter proposed to, and the only one to say yes (which remains true even Post-OMD since the wedding nearly did happen) for the time being.
  • Friends with Benefits: Shortly after One More Day, Spidey tried having this with the Black Cat. It didn't last long.
  • Genre-Busting: Spider-Man as a whole is a superhero story that is also a classic Bildungsroman, a high school drama, romance story of all kinds (from teen romance all the way to epic melodramatic Star-Crossed Lovers stuff), kitchen sink working-class drama, a Screwball Comedy, science-fiction, and horror.
  • Girl Next Door: Gwen Stacy, originally. Mary Jane, in all versions but the original. Amusingly Mary Jane was literally a girl next door in the original, as the niece of Aunt May's next-door neighbor. Gwen came from a totally different social background: her father was a respected elder citizen of New York who belonged to the same gentlemen's club as millionaires J. Jonah Jameson and Norman Osborn. Her boyfriend before Peter was Harry Osborn, prospective heir of the latter while MJ came from the same working-class Queens background that Peter did.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: In the first 25 issues of Amazing Spider-Man where many classic villains debuted, almost all of them incorporate the color green. Chameleon, Vulture, Tinkerer, Doctor Octopus, the Sandman, the Lizard, Living Brain, Electro, the Big Man, Mysterio, The Green Goblin and the Scorpion all had green as a part of their overall look (Kraven the Hunter was the most notable exception). Even villains Spidey fought from other comics like Doctor Doom, the Ringmaster and the Beetle all prominently sported green. The creators may have realized this eventually, as many of the classic villains who debuted in the next 25 issues (Crime-Master, Molten Man, the Looter, the Rhino, the Shocker, Kingpin) started to subvert the trend.
  • Grand Theft Me: The premise of Dan Slott's Superior Spider-Man is Doc Ock pulling this on Spidey.* Heel–Face Turn:
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Roger Stern's "The Daydreamers" (Amazing Spider-Man #246) shows Felicia Hardy, Jameson, Mary Jane, Peter Parker having a series of fantasies about their ideal world, in each of them they are larger-than-life, special, important, and come up on top.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: The woman Peter eventually married and his most prominent love interest to date, is the redheaded Mary Jane. Though if you look at his list of girlfriends you will find that a lot of them tend to be blonde (Liz Allan, Gwen Stacy, Felicia Hardy, Carlie Cooper according to some artists).
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: To the point where he's the trope picture. He saves countless people, the entire city, and even the entire universe many, many, many, times, but he will still not get the credit he deserves. This has dialed down in recent years since while JJJ continues to harbor an irrational (almost obsessive) hatred for Spider-Man, the average New Yorker is as likely to think of Spider-Man as a great, if not the greatest, hero as they are to think of him as a menace. Even JJJ has admitted, at times and usually under extreme duress, that Spider-Man is at least trying to do good.
  • How Much Did You Hear?: In Amazing Fantasy Vol. 2 #15, Spider-Man realizes that in the famous cover of Amazing Fantasy #15, he pretty much declared his real name in the presence of the guy in his armpit. Fortunately for him, the guy was screaming too loudly to hear it.
    Spider-Man: Um...you didn't hear that thing I just said, right? You know? About how the world may mock... yadda yadda yadda?
  • Hypocritical Humor: In one of the earlier issues, Spider-Man, of all people, tells Mysterio to quit it with the sarcasm.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Depending on your definition of "sequel" is:
    • Many characters iconic to the Spider-Man franchise don't actually appear until much later in the comic's run even if they were mentioned early. For instance, Mary Jane Watson was mentioned as early as Issue #15 and appeared (with her face obscured) in Issue #25 and another appearance in the annual but she doesn't have her first full appearance until issue 42. Harry Osborn, Peter's best friend, and Gwen Stacy don't appear until Peter goes to college in Issue #28 but adaptations make them into high school students anyway.
    • The Green Goblin, Spider-Man's Arch-Enemy appeared in Issue 13 after the likes of Vulture, Mysterio, and the rest. The Kingpin comes more than 50 issues later. Black Cat appeared more than 190 issues in. Venom doesn't make his first real appearance until issue 299 in 1988, over 25 years of publication later.
  • Informed Ability: Some Marvel Databooks states that Spidey can lift and support the weight of around 10 tons, and yet many writers had Spidey struggle with situations that his Super Strength could easily do the work; common examples are when he is saving people from some catastrophe that wrecked the city, so there are civilians stuck in cars (inside or under them) and debris, much of the time he is struggling to lift some car or piece of concrete that can't weight over a ton and half. It seems Peter can only do justice to his informed strength when he is in Determinator mode, he has supported the weight of collapsing buildings more than once, which in itself is much more than he could possibly endure. Of course, databooks aren't always reliable.
  • Interclass Friendship: During the early days of the series, Peter Parker, living with his widow aunt May Parker, was friends with Harry Osborn, son of evil business man Norman Osborn. Sadly, the friendship falls apart thanks to Harry learning his dad was the Green Goblin and Peter was Spider-Man and thinking he killed him. Indeed, in Peter's circle in college, the only one of his friends who shared his working-class background was Mary Jane Watson.
  • It's All About Me: Peter Parker had this attitude after he got bitten by a spider, saying that all he cares about is himself and Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and the rest can go to hell. An attitude that has its logical and tragic consequence when it leads directly to the death of his father-figure. This attitude of selfishness is also something shared by many of Peter's supporting cast and on some level, all his villains. Jameson in particular, though he also navigates it somewhat.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Various other heroes outrank Spidey in combat skill, intelligence, speed, reach or strength, but he's got enough skill in all these areas to handle most situations and bad guys.
  • Jerk Jock: Flash Thompson. Later subverted in that he smartened up and returned from his overseas military service a much better man. Then Green Goblin put him in a coma and he developed amnesia and lost all memories from the point that he entered the service. Luckily, he reverted back when he rejoined up and lost his legs.
  • Juxtaposed Halves Shot: During The Silver Age of Comic Books, when Peter Parker's Spidey Sense is triggered while he's in civvies, we often see his face half normal and half in his costume's mask.
  • Lighter and Softer: See "Darker and Edgier". The first notable example was when John Romita replaced Steve Ditko and Peter Parker's existence became less of a Crapsack World as a result.
  • Likes Clark Kent, Hates Superman:
    • Both of Peter's first love interests Betty Brant and Gwen Stacy liked Peter but hated Spider-Man with Gwen even believing and repeating Jameson's screed against the wall-crawler and blaming him for her father's death.
    • Jameson was a jerk to both Peter and Spider-Man (and actually to most people), but he did like Peter more, and during Civil War proclaimed betrayal that someone who he saw as his own son had been essentially lying and undermining him all these years.
    • Aunt May in the classical era loved Peter but hated Spider-Man albeit she mellowed down later, and in Amazing Spider-Man 400, claimed to have been a Secret Secret-Keeper for some time. When this was retconned it was back to the same old same old until JMS had her learn his secret leading her to overcome her suspicions over Spider-Man, making up for it (by cancelling her subscription to the Daily Bugle), becoming closer to Peter, and then when that was retconned, her Post-OMD version on the whole has no animus against Spider-Man's identity, and likewise Spider-Man now has public favor anyway.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Spider-Man inverted this dynamic originally owing to the fact that unlike Superman and Batman, both of whom are more charismatic figures than their civilian alter-egos (in the classical era certainly), Spider-Man started out as a Hero with Bad Publicity and weirdo, who is distrusted by the press. For most of Peter's run, a major hurdle for his girlfriends and stress in their relationships with him, wasn't them liking Peter but if they were able to look past the general sentiment and public opinion against his alter ego and see him for the hero he was.
    • Both Betty Brant and Gwen Stacy liked Peter but hated and distrusted Spider-Man, with the latter blaming him for the death of her father. Mary Jane Watson, Peter's long-term love interest was the first one to admit outright that Spider-Man was cool, and she would flirt with both Peter and Spider-Man during their early interactions. In addition, a later Revision has it that she always knew, but didn't say anything. In the original context, the fact that MJ liked Spider-Man at his most distrusted and went against public opinion and general sentiment to express that view, meant that she actually did like the real Peter Parker, contrary to the general trope.
    • Felicia Hardy is more conventional, in the Silver Age Lois Lane sense of preferring Spider-Man over his bland alter-ego but putting a new wrinkle in that it's based not on ignorance but knowing Peter's double life and still liking Spider-Man over "plain ol' Peter". Black Cat proves compatible as Spider-Man's sidekick and partner but not in his civilian life, which needless to say confuses Peter to no end.
    • Interestingly, in the case of Felicia Hardy vs. Mary Jane, there's a divide between which Alter Ego of Peter's they prefer with their preferences reflected in their favorite Spidey costumes. Felicia likes Peter's "Black Symbiote" look (which has colors similar to her outfit), while Mary Jane likes Peter in his classic red and blue (and red of course being her signature color).
    • After the Cosmic Retcon of One More Day attempts were made to claim that Mary Jane Watson, of all people, only ever loved Peter because she knew he was Spider-Man all along. To say that this would be contradictory to her previous characterisation or ignorant of the original context, would be an understatement. When Nick Spencer took over the franchise from Dan Slott, one of the first things he did was affirm that MJ always loved Peter Parker for who he is, recognizing that Peter and Spider-Man weren't separate individuals but essentially the same person.
    • In a non-romantic sense, Eugene "Flash" Thompson is a huge fan of Spider-Man while usually being a bully to Peter and thinks he's the coolest guy on the planet, albeit as Peter notes, not usually for the right reasons in that he likes Spider-Man for being strong powerful and beating people up i.e. seeing him as another kind of bully. Generally, he grows out of it and he ends up friends with Peter in his older years and cited Spider-Man as an inspiration for joining the army and becoming a serviceman. In Go Down Swinging, Flash learns Peter is Spider-Man and dies shortly after but calls out Peter as his friend and hero.
  • Make Them Rot: Carrion, a minor enemy, has the ability to cause organic matter to rot with a touch.
  • Meta Origin: The spider that bit Peter was revealed to have given powers to two others, Silk (who was also bitten) and the Thousand (who ate it in a bid to become superhuman, explaining what happened to it).
  • Mistaken for Cheating: When he first fought The Queen she easily defeated him before forcibly kissing him while he was unconscious. This public make out was captured on the News, but all of New York assumed that Spider-Man was the one who kissed Queen. Aunt May accidentally revealed the kiss to Mary Jane before she found out herself and Mary Jane gave Peter a hard time for awhile because of the kiss.
  • Money, Dear Boy: invoked This is what Peter Parker first thought of using his spider-powers for, before it resulted in Uncle Ben's death. Even then, the first issue of his regular series features him attempting to join the Fantastic Four because he thinks the members get paid.
  • Monster Modesty: Spidey has had several monstrous villains over the years. While some employ Nonhumans Lack Attributes, we do get characters like The Lizard and Vermin, two monster characters who have varying degrees of intelligence and enjoy running around in torn up pants (and a lab coat in the Lizard's case).
  • Motive Decay: None of Spider-Man's villains ever started out with stable motives:
    • Dr. Octopus tends to jump around from being the strongest around, to destroying New York / The World, to ruling New York / The World, proving he's the smartest, or being a crime lord. Justified when you take his brain damage into account. Not quite Motive Decay when you consider his original Evil Plan was to... hold some hospital staff hostage, followed by some odd scheme to take over a nuclear power plant and rebuild it in his own image, for a purpose whose details were never specified. He then started committing crimes solely to lure Spider-Man into a fight in order to avenge his past defeats.
    • Just about every adaptation featuring him has gone out of their way to invert this for Venom, making his dislike of Spidey and / or Peter much more personal, if not any more well-founded.
    • Green Goblin's early motives was become New York's crime lord, humiliating Spider-Man, and then after being hit with Easy Amnesia, he goes dormant as reformed!Norman Osborn, resurfaces to murder Gwen Stacy, goes underground in Europe and plots The Clone Saga for, profit? and then since returning he has become even more erratic than usual.
    • Peter's own motives can also be questioned. After being bit by Spider-Man he tried to make money, create web fluid, learnt his aesop about power and responsibility, and alternates all his time caring for Aunt May, studying in college, and saving the world, without any long term plans to "fight crime", help his family or advance his social career, aside from just helping around with fighting crime. The attempt by writers to spin new material out of a guy who's more or less still static and stuck in the same place when he was still bitten by the spider is arguably one of the reasons for the more controversial storylines later on.
  • Mutual Envy: The Spider-Man/Human Torch Trade Paperback "I'm With Stupid" shows their relationship through the years, with the last story, "I'm With Stupid" pointing out the good things they have: Spidey gets to be near all the hot women and also be able to follow Reed without needing a translation into "normal," Johnny gets to have the trappings of fame and go to various universes Spidey would do anything to go to. Or the perks of power "with NONE of the responsibility."
  • Narcissist: A trait that nearly all Spider-Man all Spider-Man characters to some level have showed at different times:
    • Peter after being bitten by a spider, decides to court celebrity and fame as a performer rather than his use his newfound superpowers and changes for scientific analysis and research. While Uncle Ben's death teaches him why this isn't good, he still retained a narcissistic streak well into his later years such as Roger Stern's "The Daydreamers" where he dreams about winning the Pulitzer, the Nobel, joining the Avengers and the Fantastic Four at the same time with both of them fighting each other over him, and of course Jameson kisses his boots and grovels at his feet. This changes after his marriage with Mary Jane where both of them realize their Hidden Depths and he becomes more genuinely selfless. Post-OMD, he retains some sense of it, such as insisting to Mary Jane that it's okay for him to lie to Carlie Cooper for his double life because he wants her to love him for "plain ol' Pete" only for her to dump him, as MJ more or less predicted she would, when she finds out that he lied to her. And as Peter Lampshades in Nick Spencer's issues, he rather liked the fame and adulation that came with being a CEO of a company with unearned wealth and degree.
    • Even his work as Spider-Man has an element to it. Peter's main angst as Spider-Man is primarily how his guilt affects him and him personally, and how it screws up his life, and how his attempts to help others causes problems for him because he's misunderstood or he's unlucky. His reaction to Goblin killing Gwen is how Norman killed "his woman". In Slott's "No One Dies", his excessive concern and grief over losing loved ones leads him to add a new Heroic Vow which Mary Jane points out is excessive and grandiose since he's a superhero and not god and that his great sensitivity tends to make him lose sight of what he is actually capable of and what his actual responsibilities are.
    • Narcissism is also a trait and flaw for many of Peter's supporting cast one which they overcome. Flash Thompson goes from selfish jock to a dedicated serviceman inspired by Spider-Man to serve something bigger than himself. Gwen Stacy in Ditko's run started out as a self-absorbed Ice Queen before mellowing out to an overly sensitive girl in Lee-Romita's run. J. Jonah Jameson is of course almost supremely self-absorbed and self-centered even when he is doing good, acting noble, and serving something bigger than himself, with his narcissistic side co-existing with his heroic side.
    • Mary Jane is interesting for someone who others see as this, and who also tells herself that she is one many times, but actually proves to be more consistently selfless than most. After walking out on her broken home and abandoning her sister to make something of her life, she became devoted to her Aunt Anna and even her neighbor May Parker, notably being friendly and visiting them even when Peter is too busy. Her decision to stick by Peter in The Night Gwen Stacy Died even after she lashes out at him. Her support and encouragement of Peter being Spider-Man during one of his "Spider-Man no more" phases when they were friends (thinking out how she, the most irresponsible person she knows, prefers Peter continuing to remain the most responsible man person she has ever met), and ultimately becoming a very devoted, faithful, and loving wife to Peter. Post-OMD, MJ lapses to her pre-character development narcissism but her selfless streak returns from time to time (such as encouraging Peter to find love and happiness even if she is still in love with him herself), helping her boss Tony Stark and flirting with superheroics even when she doesn't want to.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Poor Peter Parker will probably never hit his 30s. In the regular 616 Continuity, Peter is in his mid-20s, and out of college while Ultimate Spider-Man, the cartoon adaptations and other continuity focused entirely on his high-school days. Early Marvel Universe comics averted Comic-Book Time and had the characters advance and age in the comics, this applied to the Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange and the X-Men. As such Peter remains a mid-20s guy in the mainstream comics largely for the sake of Grandfather Clause even if editors and writers have said that he's essentially an adolescent character and Kid Hero, and on account of Lost in Imitation stated above, the Spider-Man of the Pop-Cultural Osmosis is either a teen hero or a college kid. As such, while Peter has grown up from a teenager to a young adult, the writers generally try to enforce Status Quo Is God to keep Peter's lifestyle and personality young and relatable. For example: Peter was, at the time of his introduction, around the same age as the original X-Men, yet all of them are already in their early-mid thirties while Peter was only in his mid-twenties after Civil War, and as of 2017 his last stated age was 28. Likewise, Spider-Man was already a hero when the Avengers were a start-up, and in Issue #3, Iron Man is the one coming to him asking for his help (alongside the Fantastic Four and the X-Men) only for Peter to insist he's busy whereas more recently the Avengers and Iron Man are established as senior figures to him. As a side effect, this means that all Spidey stories set in between the Seventies Note  to the 2000's took place over a period of at most five or six years In-Universe, which is really rather cramped.
  • Not Me This Time: Subverted in that even though Norman Osborn will often deny involvement in a scheme hurting Spider-Man, lazy writing will often retcon him as being the mastermind.
  • Not So Different: In regards to Alpha, MJ points out to Peter their similarities. Deep down, Peter knew that if it weren't for the tragedy of losing Uncle Ben, he'd probably be doing exactly the same things Alpha was doing then.
  • Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome: Pretty much all of Spidey's love interests, but Mary Jane will be the stand out example, since she's not only the target of the villains, but also of Marvel editors.
  • The One Who Made It Out: Some of the stories (at least before the Dan Slott eranote ) and adaptations of Spider-Man deal with Peter's Angst about the fact that being Spider-Man is delaying or hurting his ambitions and plans for his career or attempts to live up to his potential. This is also part of the arc of his supporting characters.
    • It was in the background of the If This Be My Destiny— story which heightens the isolation and loneliness Peter faces with Aunt May dying, struggling to pay bills, coming of as aloof, while the final panel has the doctor noting how Spider-Man gets credit while The Real Heroes like Peter get little reward. This was part of the reason why Peter initially avoided being set up on a date by Aunt May for the as-yet unseen Mary-Jane because he was drawn to the wider social circle of Empire State University while he felt that Aunt May's match would be a little too typical for his sake (he was wrong of course).
    • Norman Osborn in his revival often taunted Peter for being an underachiever who more or less still lives in the same way he did as a young man, was still poor and came of as an underachiever. Doctor Octopus in the Superior Spider-Man initially expressed the same views.
  • One-Winged Angel: Sometimes, Spider-Man mutates into a spider-like monster.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Spidey will usually toss off a steady stream of jokes and one-liners during a fight... unless he's seriously ticked off, in which case whoever he's fighting is about to have a really bad day.
  • Outdated Outfit: Mary Jane for one, but the early Steve Ditko-drawn issues are especially bad for this. Seeing almost all the adult men wearing fedoras, teenage boys wearing bow ties, and girls wearing long skirts is especially jarring by today's standards.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the "Learning to Crawl" sideseries published after Peter got his body back from Otto Octavius. Set in the days right after Peter first got bit, and focusing on his earliest trials of being Spider-Man and engaging with another budding superhero/villain named Clash, the series features art that's a deliberate throwback to the Lee/Ditko era, while simultaneously talking about posting Spider-Man's first fight with Crusher Hogan on MeTube, texting, going viral, etc.
  • Outside Ride: When he needs to get somewhere faster than he can web-swing, Spidey uses his enhanced athletic abilities to catch a ride and his clinging power to hang on.
  • Painted-On Pants: Mary Jane usually wears these. So does the Black Cat, both in and out of costume.
  • Pair the Spares: It's fairly common for supporting cast members to get bounced around like this. Harry Osborne used to date Mary Jane, but ended up marrying Peter's high school love interest Liz Allen after she hooked up with Peter. Similarly, Flash Thompson has dated Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy, Black Cat, Liz Allen, and Betty Brant, though only Betty and the Black Cat were exes at the time..
  • Progressively Prettier:
  • Put on a Bus: This happened to several characters over the years, ranging from Liz Allan to Flash Thompson to Debra Whitman to Harry Osborn to even Mary Jane herself. It turned out to be a round trip, since subsequent writers would bring them all back at one point or another.
  • Read the Fine Print: In The Amazing Spider-Man #14, Spidey signs a contract to appear in a movie. When the producer gives up on the idea to start another movie, he reveals that, according to the fine print, Spidey doesn't "get any money until the picture is completed". Spidey will never be paid for his work in the film because it'll never be completed.
    Spider-Man: You're not related to J. Jonah Jameson by some chance, are you?
  • Real Place Background: The Marvel Universe was renowned for being set in New York as opposed to the fictional cities of DC heroes, but even then Spider-Man still stood out originally for being the most tied to the city since the Fantastic Four had global and cosmic adventures while Dr. Strange likewise was an esoteric figure. A number of famous stories and plots use real-life places and monuments. Most notably, Gwen Stacy died at the George Washington bridge (though confusingly Romita Sr. modeled it on the Brooklyn Bride in the issue) and it's not uncommon for real life tourists and visitors to treat the real bridge as a memorial to her fictional death. Likewise, Peter and MJ's famous Make-Out Point is the top of the Empire State Building, celebrated as their spot since the Wedding annual, and revisited in Matt Fraction's "To Have and to Hold" as well as Spider-Island.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The infamous death of Gwen Stacy. Spidey caught her by the leg with his web to keep her from falling, only for the inertia from the sudden stop to snap her neck and kill her.
    • The strain of trying to maintain his personal life and super heroing really starts to pile up on Peter. Between being unable to socialize, keep up with his studies, and enduring the constant scorn of the press via his own boss he eventually gives it up. Albeit temporarily.
    • In Amazing Spider-Man issue #4, Spider-Man spies some no-good crooks casing a jewelry store and swoops out of the sky to punch their lights out....only for them to run to the nearest police officer and complain. Peter mentally facepalms for picking a fight with them before they've actually broken any laws.
    • Peter's goals after he discovers his powers is finding a way to monetize it, which emphasizes the social-material dimension on superheroics in a way the likes of Superman and Batman never didnote . Even after Uncle Ben's death due to neglecting to stop a burglar, when Peter understands the importance of responsibility, he's poor enough that he is constantly trying to find a way to earn a living, such as working as a performer in The Amazing Spider-Man #1 and later trying to monetize his web-shooters.
  • Really Gets Around: Peter Parker possibly has had more girlfriends than any superhero simply because his comics were among the first superhero stories took romance and relationships seriously (unlike Superman who at time spent most of his time messing over Lois and/or Lana in his Love Triangle until The '80s). He has most famously been in relationships with Betty Brant, Gwen Stacy, Black Cat, Debra Whitman, as well as many other minor one-time girlfriends in-between while having a major on-and-off relationship with Mary Jane Watson before their marriage. After OMD, Peter once again hits the dating scene and goes through a number of dead-end relationships before recently returning once again to MJ.
  • Reckless Pacifist: All very well when Spidey's dealing with supervillains, but sometimes he seems to forget how much ordinary people can take.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Apparently turning into a reptile is what turns Curt Connors into a humanity-hating villain. Blame it on that "lizard brain" thing, supposedly.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Shows up all the time in many (overlapping) love triangles:
    • During his period in high school, Peter often felt insecure about his crushes (Liz Allan, Betty Brant) because his rivals (Flash Thompson, Ned Leeds) were simply better matches owing to him being a struggling working-class student with an aunt to care for, and hardly had time and resources to show the girls a good time. Of course eventually Liz had feelings for him anyway but nothing came of it, while Betty and Ned Leeds had a troubled marriage before the latter's death.
    • This is gloriously inverted when Peter gets to college and becomes the lust-object for the gorgeous ladies — Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson. Gwen is the rich suitor he met in college and whose Dad was a respected and well-off city official, and MJ was the poor suitor from the same Queens neighborhood who his Aunt tried to set him up on a date with. Peter and Gwen hit it off since Peter found MJ flaky, unpredictable, and insensitive at the time, but eventually after Gwen's death, he and MJ fell for each other and had a long relationship before breaking up later, and then picking up their relationship after that which led to their marriage.
    • MJ for her part could have had Harry Osborn and his inherited wealth for the taking but she chose Peter instead, breaking up with Harry over his drug habit, and still pining for Peter even after Gwen and he are in a serious relationship. After Gwen's death, she and Peter grew closer and fell in love which so upset and enraged Harry that he placed a bomb in his apartment to kill both Peter and MJ, with Peter saving both at the last moment.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: In The Amazing Spider-Man #26, the narrator asks: Can Spider-Man solve this dark riddle, cloaked within a grim puzzle, hidden beneath the shadows of a deadly enigma??
  • Rogues Gallery Showcase: The original "Sinister Six" story was this more than anything, as the story featured Spider-Man fighting each of his enemies one on one rather in a group.
    • Played more straight with issue #100, which, if you haven't read it, features Spidey briefly battling various enemies, who call him out on his various insecurities, usually one that they share, finally culminating in his speaking with the recently deceased Captain George Stacy.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Depending on the Writer. A running theme in Spider-Man stories at least after Ditko left (since his run of stories generally had one-dimensional villains and his later objectivist turn was explicitly anti-Rousseauian). Spider-Man often believes that even his enemies are capable of being good or reforming since as an imperfect man with the blood of his Uncle on his hands, he is himself trying to be a better person.
    • Notably both Norman and Goblin, and Harry Osborn became sympathetic and still from time to time affect some sympathetic traits (albeit in the case of Norman since The '90s he's been shown as pure unadulterated scum). Recent examples include Eddie Brock and Dr. Octopus somewhat. Even The Sandman has done a turn or two as a hero.
    • This is also the case of Spider-Man's supporting cast. Most obviously Flash Thompson, Peter's high school bully who via Character Development becomes a better person, apologizes to Peter and later dies a hero. Then there's J. Jonah Jameson who Peter respects for his good qualities and Hidden Heart of Gold but begrudges for his dislike of Spider-Man and his smear tactics.
  • Run the Gauntlet: Spidey's first battle with the Sinister Six was one of these, where he was forced to battle the Vulture, Electro, Kraven, Sandman, Mysterio and Doctor Octopus one after another to save Aunt May and Betty Brant.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: Big time. After Uncle Ben, Pete has taken much more responsibility for the safety of New York than a hero of his modest power set should have. Other heroes respect the hell out of him for it, but consider it unhealthy.
  • Sanctuary of Solitude: Venom's origin story: Eddie Brock, down-on-his-luck reporter, is contemplating suicide in a church while Spider-Man is trying to escape from the Symbiote. After he successfully drives it off, it bonds with Eddie, and Venom is born.
  • Save the Villain
    • In Untold Tales of Spider-Man #15, Spidey saves his long-time antagonist J. Jonah Jameson from being framed by the mob. And was neither the first nor last time. Spidey has saved Jonah's behind so many times - with absolutely no gratitude from Jonah after all of it - you have to wonder why he bothers.
    • Shortly before the Gathering of Five arc, Spidey actually had to rescue Norman Osborn, and this Trope can be combined with What You Are in the Dark for that occasion. The Kingpin sent Nitro the Living Bomb to assassinate Osborn, which resulted in him, Spidey (in his civilian identity as Peter Parker) and Norman's little grandson Normie trapped in an elevator that was about to collapse, both of them pinned. Norman, being the Magnificent Bastard he is, actually took this time to gloat a little, telling Peter that he had no idea whether or not the security cameras were still working, and telling him that any displays of Super Strength by Peter could possibly give him away to anyone who was watching. Of course, Norman was just as strong, but claimed he was unwilling for that very reason. (Or maybe he was waiting until the last second, or was actually unable to free himself, just too proud to ask for help. We may never know.) Eventually, Peter had to take the chance to save Normie (and found out quickly that the security cameras had been quite broken by the explosion) and might have considered leaving his enemy to fall. But when Normie begged him to save his grandfather, he relented, and helped get Norman out. Even then, Norman couldn't help but goad him a little, telling him that if he had done nothing he would have been victorious in their feud. (And this would be a very large turning point in it; Norman would perform the Gathering of Five to gain more power to prevent things like this again, would be driven far more insane, his identity of the Goblin would be revealed, and his enmity with Spider-Man would become much deadlier than before.)
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: One story has Spidey get kidnapped by a sultry villainess that offers him "anything he wants". He request a solid cage thingy so she'll leave him alone as he was Happily Married to MJ at the time. Mary Jane herself being a glamorous actress and model who has guys drooling after her and likes to party and dance gets a lot of unwanted attention by men who think they will come and sweep her off. In "To Have and To Hold", a SHIELD agent who was formerly her bodyguard in Los Angeles where they were friendly in a period where she and Peter were briefly separated tries to signal an interest in her which she rebukes:
    Mary Jane: "Is that what you think we were? You work my security detail for a few months and now — now you’re Mr. S.H.I.E.L.D. man here to rescue me from my big, bad life? He’s my husband. You’re just some dude."
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Alpha certainly seems to come off as this. Andy has many parallels to Peter, with the major differences being he was an average, underachieving nobodynote  before he got his powers and after he got them, he never really learned to be responsible with them like Peter had, using them to become famous. He was even given a bit of hype before his appearance and became Spidey's sidekick only to be promptly de-powered by Spidey himself after one mistake too many in the third issue he appeared in, seemingly dropping off the face of the earth. In fact, one of the fuels for his rashness was an in-universe comment on his fansite calling him The Poochie!
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • Until Issue #38 or so, Spider-Man had organic real-time Character Development going from 15-year-old teenager to high school student, to freshman at college similar to other Marvel characters at the time which averted Comic-Book Time. When this Early Installment Weirdness ended (mostly because it became clear that Stan Lee's trope-playing and trope-defying approach which he saw as best a temporary fad, had led to a lasting series of IP), Marvel adopted a new approach called "the illusion of change" as a result of which Peter Parker's aging and situation has frozen into more or less what it was since he was in college. He's at best in his mid-twenties and has been so since the late-60s.
    • The only major status-quo change since Peter graduated high school was when he married, an event that happened mostly by accident mostly because it was unexpectedly popular as an idea among the regular public. It lasted for 20 years in real-time where multiple generations of readers saw Spider-Man as the married superhero. Marvel editors and executives spent most of their time since then backpedaling and reversing Peter to single status. They succeeded after Civil War in the regular continuity at least.
    • Spider-Man is the street hero, and he's still struggling, a bit of a Butt-Monkey and a loner hero among the superhero continuity. The situation changed briefly in the run-up to the Civil War and stayed in place until Superior Spider-Man alienated him from the superhero community again.
    • Mary-Jane Watson remains Peter's on-off Love Interest and no matter how many girlfriends and dates Peter and she have, they almost always return and start dating again sooner or later.
  • Story Arc: Whenever single writers work on an extended run, they tend to create a particular serialized plot and story either dealing with a particular story or villain, or on a character and thematic level, this allows them the satisfaction of providing their readers a conclusion of some sort even if the serialized nature continues. Lee-Ditko's Spider-Man, JMS' Spider-Man and Dan Slott's Spider-Man have their own pages dealing with stories in their runs. For other writers:
    • Lee-Romita's arc was more episodic but the overall theme was to give Peter a social circle and a series of friends, and try and have Peter get some direction for the future. Peter also struggles in this arc with his duties as superhero and as friend and boyfriend (to both Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy), getting neurotic because he keeps lying to them. This story arc gets resolved three times. The first is when Captain George Stacy, his second father figure after Ben's death and Spider-Man's first friendly authority figure dies, which also throws a wrench in his relationship with Gwen. Harry Osborn's drug issues which creates problems in his friendship with him, and then after Stan Lee left, it ends conclusively in Conway's The Night Gwen Stacy Died.
    • Gerry Conway's story arc which began with the death of Gwen Stacy and concluded in Issue #149 was essentially ending Peter's college era, and moving on from Gwen and falling in love with Mary Jane. Their growing friendship, love, and relationship which includes their First Kiss and ends with Their First Time (and probably Peter's first) was intended by Conway to signal Peter finding and overcoming tragedy and suffering, and experiencing a more adult romance than before. It also marked the end of Peter's Coming-of-Age Story from teenager to man.
    • Roger Stern who came over more than fifty issues after Conway left during which Spider-Man was run by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman who tended to avoid big story-arcs, dealt with Peter in the midpoint of his youth. Where after leaving college he goes to graduate school and is considering becoming a serious scientist. He also introduced the Felicia and Peter romance and towards the end the love-triangle between them and MJ. Likewise, Stern introduced the Hobgoblin mystery and the overall thematic arc is what people think of and expect of Spider-Man such as Felicia imagining Spider-Man as being a more sophisticated man than her, and Spider-Man as an object of wish fulfillment and heroism. The theme of masks and social roles is also dealt with deeply.
  • Take That!: A big one early in the Big Time storyline towards those who disguise their racism through being adamantly against immigration. The Goblin biker gang justifies their idolization of a known criminal by saying Norman Osborn also was a good businessman who made jobs for "good, white Americans," instead of Asgardians.
    • Dan Slott takes one at Brand New Day in Amazing Spider-Man #789. Peter, now crashing in Mockingbird's apartment and at one of the lowest ebbs of his life, is the recipient of a attempted moral-boosting speech by Bobbi:
    Mockingbird: C'mon. It's been weeks. I've found a new job. New digs. It's your turn. Time to get on with your life. Brand new day!
    • The same issue also mocks the infamous "Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda" T-shirt from Mockingbird's solo run. She ribs Peter about the clothes he's wearing (unseen heretofore to the audience) saying that it's not a good look. The POV switches over to a shot of Pete on the couch, wearing said shirt and retorting that it's Mockingbird's.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: And Spidey can keep it up all day.
  • Tears of Remorse: In the penultimate panel of his origin story.
  • Teen Genius: He designed his web fluid while still in high school and later designed the Spider-Tracer (which inspired the development of the real tracing bracelet).
  • Teeth Flying: Venom's teeth often go flying when Spider-Man gives him a beating. Not that it matters much, since they grow back in seconds.
  • Thememobile: Deconstructed with the Spider-Mobile, a vehicle that Spider-Man reluctantly endorsed in the early 1970s. He drove it into the East River almost as soon as he got it, and is hideously embarrassed whenever someone reminds him of it. Part of a Running Gag that Peter, being a native New Yorker and being able to webswing since he was 15, never learned to drive.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • "Kraven's Last Hunt" made Kraven a badass after several decades of being a loser villain. Similarly, Electro was given a major power increase in Amazing Spider-Man #425 to allow him Magneto-esque control over electromagnetic energies, Harry Osborn when he's Ax-Crazy, Roderick Kingsley when he became Hobgoblin.
    • The entire point of "The Gauntlet" story arc was this, giving each of Spidey's classic villains a revisit and making them more dangerous then they had been before.
    • "The Origin of the Species" arc gives one to Spidey after he almost loses it when he's tricked by the Chameleon to think Lily Hollister's baby was killed while he was trying to protect the baby from villains trying to sell it to Octopus. He then starts to hunt all villains in town to avenge the baby and find the one responsible.
    • MJ, during her character development and switch from friend to romantic interest. She started packing heat, took fighting lessons, and became far more practical and pragmatic in danger. Notable in the Newspaper comics, when Stan Lee got criticized for always making her a Distressed Damsel, so instead he turned her into a badass who often saves Peter's behind, which may or may not be the reason for her becoming a badass in comics too.
  • Token Motivational Nemesis: The nameless thief who took Uncle Ben's life isn't mentioned for over a decade, until he returns and dies in the 200th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. His only identified name is 'Carradine', and, thanks to the film, most fans have taken to calling him Dennis Caradine.
  • The Topic of Cancer:
    • Used as Fate Worse than Death in one version - It turns out Eddie Brock has cancer which, through hormonal imbalance, causes fits of rage, ruining his life. The symptoms also attract the symbiote to him. The symbiote wants to take over Peter but ends up attached to Brock and unable to switch hosts again. It has the power to stop the cancer from spreading but can't afford to cure it as it relies on it for food - this leaves Brock superpowered, angry and in constant pain - for the rest of his life.
    • A minor but very creepy villain Styx was at one point called "living cancer" - he was a victim of Playing with Syringes trying to find a cancer cure by way of Acquired Poison Immunity - by exposing him to mutagens. Instead it gave him a power to make anything he touches wither and rot. The experience also twisted his mind - if his ability wasn't limited to reach, he would be an Omnicidal Maniac.
  • True Love Is Boring: Outright stated by Word of God as the reason behind the Retconning of Peter and Mary Jane's divorce. And even before One More Day, writers and editors tried to break up, kill off, or otherwise end Peter and MJ's relationship time and time again. Also one of the reasons Gwen Stacy was killed. Nobody at Marvel was ready for a married Spider-Man yet, though in the case of Gwen, her being boring was also a reason (since MJ isn't, it's a lot harder to keep her out of Spider-Man's life).
  • Two-Person Love Triangle:
    • Both Betty Brant and Gwen Stacy liked Peter more than Spider-Man who they blamed for the death of their brother/father, which was an inversion (since originally Lois disliked Clark but preferred Superman). Later, Black Cat barely tolerated Peter Parker's presence, but was hot to trot for Spider-Man any time, the catch is that Black Cat knows that they are one and the same person and chooses Spider-Man in full knowledge. This goes back a long way with him; at the end of a very early adventure, Peter Parker calls Liz Allen on the phone to ask for a date only to have her tell him she's already told off his rival Flash Thompson and wants him off the line as well, since she's anticipating a call from Spider-Man. As she slams down the receiver, he laments that "Only a guy with my nutty luck could end up being his own competition!"
    • Also, in her early mainstream appearances, Mary Jane flirted both with Peter Parker and Spider-Man (when he rescued her) and often expressed admiration or attraction to Spider-Man. Years later, it was revealed that MJ knew that the two are one and the same all along. Making things interesting, MJ actually didn't want a serious relationship with Peter because she knew he was Spider-Man and she knew the issues with dating a superhero but her feelings for Peter were too strong for her to keep away entirely, especially after Gwen's death.
  • Unbuilt Trope: While obviously later writers didn't get the memo, the original Clone Saga by Gerry Conway was a Deconstruction of characters coming Back from the Dead, being fixated on The Lost Lenore, and not dealing with grief in a mature way. In that story, Prof. Miles Warren who became the Jackal (and who was intended as a one-time villain who died at the end of the story) is a stand-in for fans of Gwen Stacy who hounded Conway and others for killing off the character, and who likewise blamed Peter Parker and not the Green Goblin for her death. While the Gwen who came back is revealed later to be a clone, initially Peter and everyone assumed she was real, and Peter's still conflicted about Gwen's return because he's not the same person who loved her anymore, he has moved on and his feelings for MJ are stronger than his grief for Gwen, because unlike Miles Warren, who had a lecherous and creepy obsessive fixation for Gwen (putting her on a pedestal and fixating on her looks), Peter's at heart a normal and optimistic guy and indeed he overcomes his Cloning Blues when he realizes that since he's now in love with Mary Jane, he's the real deal since the clones are all fixated on his past with Gwen. In other words, Conway's story is a proto-deconstruction to a number of comic tropes that came afterwards (i.e. Death Is Cheap, Status Quo Is God, Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest especially as it came to be seen in the wake of The Dark Phoenix Saga) and why even should Gwen return, his feelings he once had for her would not be enough to renew a relationship which contrasts heavily with Cyclops dumping Madelyne Pryor for the revived Jean Grey even when he had married and had a child with her. It also contrasts completely against the spirit and intent of the second and more notorious Clone Saga which was a stunt intended to return Peter "back to basics" and reverse his Character Development.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Aunt May once inherited a nuclear power plant.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo:
    • At start of the story Peter has a crush for Liz Allan. However, she is Flash's girlfriend and initially considers Peter something of a loser, even taking part in the general ridicule that Peter endures on a daily basis. After, she hears an ailing Peter had donned a Spider-Man costume in order to save Betty Brant from Doctor Octopus and develops a crush on him. By this time, however, Peter's interest has waned considerably, as he notes that Liz never showed any real interest in him until he began dating Betty Brant and assumes that Liz's feelings are little more than a schoolgirl crush.
    • After OMD, Peter and MJ were on the outs. She moved on and developed a relationship with others while Peter wasn't ready to move on. Peter eventually decided to start a relationship with Carlie Cooper, while MJ started to reevaluate her feelings for Peter and eventually came to the realization that she still loved him during Spider-Island. The pair slowly tried getting back together, only for the events of Superior Spider-Man to drive them apart again. After Peter got his body back, MJ had already moved on and started a relationship with another man before again flirting with each during "Go Down Swinging" until she saw his Spider-Man outfit, but they are back in Nick Spencer's run.
  • Villain Over for Dinner: Aunt May and Mary Jane have a tendency of being visited by Spidey's foes in civilian garb.
    • Venom visited them both, although Mary Jane knew who and what he was and spent a long time terrified of him. He visited Aunt May as "a friend of Pete's". However, it has to be noted that due to Venom's twisted sense of fair play, neither Mary Jane or May were ever in any danger. Venom never made any threatening moves towards either of them, and Eddie Brock even chatted with May in a very friendly manner and helped her with household chores. Brock even gave Peter his word that he would never harm Aunt May. Later MJ took out the Chameleon when she realized that he wasn't Peter.
    • Norman Osborn did this a lot, obviously since he was one of the first villains to learn of Peter's secret identity. Though, a few of these times, even he wasn't aware he was the Goblin. Norman's son Harry did the same. Once again, Mary Jane was aware of what Harry had become and almost had a Heroic BSoD because of it. Remember, Mary Jane was friends with Harry and even dated him at one point.
    • Aunt May almost got married to Doc Ock once. She also took out the Chameleon disguised as Peter Parker with poisoned cookies because she knew he wasn't the real Peter.
  • Wham Line: Amazing Spider-Man 698:
    Doc Ock: "No... I'm Peter Parker."
    • For those who don't understand, Doc Ock, at death's door, reveals that he's Peter Parker, and the Peter Parker we've been following for the last issues was, in fact, Doc Ock in Peter's body. And now, he can't do anything to stop him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Retroactively done with the Amazing Fantasy Starring Spider-Man mini-series, which bridged the gap between Amazing Fantasy #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1. In the second issue of the series, Peter meets Joey Pulaski, a teenaged superheroine who he became friends with. She ends up being sent to jail after Spider-Man turns her in for committing a number of crimes, and for the rest of the mini-series, Spider-Man is devastated by the memory of her. Of course, since she was created in the mid-nineties, and her story set between those published in the early 60s, her existence begs the question "why haven't we heard of her until now?". The only time she ever appears is in the one story, and her existence is never explored again.
    • This happens a lot with these retro-active issues. The other villains in the same mini-series (a man named Undertaker and a suppervillain named Supercharger), despite being Spider-Man's first supervillains, never get any mention (indeed, the Chameleon is still toted as Spider-Man's first supervillain in the comics), and the original villains for Untold Tales of Spider-Man generally have never reappeared. The exception to this is The Scorcher, (Spider-Man's first black villain), who died within the series.
  • Will-o'-the-Wisp: There's a villain named Will o'the Wisp, who most often fights Spider-Man. He can control his density and hypnotize targets.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Green Goblin's origin. Though he was a piece of work for a long time before the formula made him worse.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Perks: How Peter was before the fateful day where he learned With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. Paralleled with Andy/Alpha who plays this trope straight, much to Peter's regret (and slight envy).


Top