Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Untold Tales of Spider-Man

Go To

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

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


Untold Tales of Spider-Man provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: After discovering the thrill of helping Spider-Man, Peter Parker's classmate Sally Avril decides to use her acrobatic skills to fight crime. She creates a blue-and-white costume, calls herself Bluebird, and arms herself with various homemade egg-themed gadgets.
  • Adaptive Armor: Commanda's armor can generate a force field, fire electric shocks, and change its shape and appearance at her will.
  • Armed with Canon: Occurred since Untold Tales ran around the time the regular Spider titles were entangled in The Clone Saga mess; this became exacerbated when John Byrne created Spider-Man: Chapter One, his attempt to update the old Lee and Ditko stories. Needless to say, Byrne simply disregarded most of what Busiek had done. That said, Chapter One was stricken from canon before even finishing and subsequently Untold Tales was back in canon.
  • Advertisement:
  • Art Shift: The backup story of Untold Tales #-1, "Hydra and Go-Seek", was written and drawn by Fred Hembeck.
  • Ascended Extra: The Headsman first appeared in several issues of Untold Tales, before being promoted to a main character on Thunderbolts.
  • Call-Forward: One issue sees Spidey facing Hawkeye, who was an Iron Man villain at the time. Spidey realizes that Hawkeye is just being used by Black Widow and tries to convince him that he can be a hero.
  • Continuity Nod: Lots, due to the nature of the series.
  • Confronting Your Imposter: Averted, Spider-Man never bothers going after the fake Spider-Man running around Forest Hills committing minor vandalism to smear him, he's too busy dealing with Batwing. Flash Thompson ends up stopping him instead, revealing him to be a mentally ill Jason.
  • Criminal Mind Games: Issue #6 has Spidey and the Human Torch working together to stop The Wizard, who left logic-based puzzles as clues to his next caper. The crime spree is The Wizard's attempt to prove that he is smarter than the Torch, but Genius Bruiser Teen Genius Spider-Man solves them all fairly easily.
    The Wizard: You can't have solved that equation that fast! You can't! I'm smarter than you — smarter than any costumed clown — and I'll prove it! You hear me? I'LL PROVE IT!
  • A Day In The Lime Light:
    • Issue #16 focuses on Mary Jane during this period. Highlighted is her perspective on knowing that Peter is Spider-Man.
    • The -1 issue (an issue taking place before the main series) focused on Peter's parents during their spy days. This was notable in that they rarely show up in continuity.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Ascended Extra Sally Avril serves as one for the Kid Hero in almost the exact opposite direction from Peter. Rather than some injustice, Sally is motivated by fun and glory. She uses weapons developed by her friend Jason, but despite him being of above-average intelligence, they either have no combat function or are so poorly conceived and useless that it earns her the mockery of villains. Finally, despite being a skilled gymnast and a descent fighter, when Spider-Man decides she needs to learn her lesson and refuses to help her, she ends up on the receiving end of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from a street thug who any other Kid Hero would have absolutely no problem with. When Spidey finally forces her to call it quits, she decides to get her adrenaline fix as a photographer, convinces the unlicensed driver Jason to run a red light, and is killed in a car crash because she was hanging out a window.
  • Everyone Has Standards: In one early issue, Jason attempts to prank Peter by stealing all the clothes in his gym bag while he's showering. Most of the other teens think Jason just crossed the line from funny to overly cruel, and even Flash, usually the first to harass Peter, feels that was going overboard.
  • False Flag Operation: Menace, the villain Spider-Man and X-Men team up to fight, is seemingly a powerful teleporter with a Touch of Death, and leads a horde of blue-skinned minions, proclaiming mutant superiority as loud as he can. In reality, Menace is actually a group of anti-mutant criminals trying to incite public opinion against mutants while filling their own pockets. The deadly touch is just a cybersuit, and they cant teleport at all, they just show up in different places at the same time to make it look like they can.
  • Femme Fatale: Commanda doesn't hesitate to morph her armor into a low-cut dress when she tries to seduce Spider-Man.
  • Festival Episode: Issue #19 features the teenage Peter Parker taking pictures of a festival for J. Jonah Jameson.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Spidey, as usual.
  • Hidden Depths: During her focus issue, Mary Jane plays up her party girl attitude, while her thoughts reveal how much her family troubles and other issues bother her. She also tries to figure out the depths of Peter Parker, who she feels isn't just a shy bookworm or just a wise-cracking superhero.
  • Jerk Jock: In addition to Spider-Man regular Flash Thompson, Untold Tales featured Tiny McKeever, one of Flash's pals, who initially comes off as a copy of Flash. Peter eventually discovers why he's such a jerk: Tiny is under constant pressure from his abusive father to keep his grades up for football but genuinely lacks the intelligence, so Tiny takes it out on Pete because school seems so easy for him.
  • The Load: Sally Avril/BlueBird, whose crime-fighting zeal is surpassed by her inexperience and poorly developed gadgets. Spider-Man even allows one villain to hurt her quite badly in an attempt to dissuade her from crime-fighting.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The person who hired the Scorcher to steal weapons and electronic plans is revealed to be none other than Norman Osborn.
    • The person backing the Headsman is eventually revealed to be The Green Goblin.
  • Multilayer Façade: When The Crime-Master demands that the Green Goblin reveal his secret identity as a prerequisite for their team-up, due to the Goblin having deduced his own, the Goblin agrees and removes his mask to reveal...J Jonah Jameson! Turns out Norman Osborn had guessed Crime-Master would make this demand and was wearing a detailed Jameson mask. Completely unecessary at that, as fans who read the original Crime-Master storyarc knows that he died in a shootout with police before he could reveal the Goblins identity, fake or not.
  • Mutants:
    • Batwing, who was originally a prepubescent boy until he got lost in the Carlsbad Caverns and drank water polluted from illegal chemical dumping.
    • There's also an issue where Spider-Man encounters the original five X-Men.
  • Mythology Gag: When Peter attempts to go to an eye doctor after his glasses were broken by Flash in the original comics, he uses the alias "Peter Palmer," a nod to the first Chameleon story mistakenly giving him that surname instead of Parker.
  • Previously On…: To help out readers without encyclopedic knowledge of Spider-Man history, most issues include a one-page summary of recent events, both from Untold Tales and from the original the Lee-Ditko run.

  • The Power of Hate: Jason embraces this as a way of dealing with the guilt of Sally's death and targets Spider-Man. Unusual for this trope, he isn't effective at it, being limited to try and framing Spider-Man for petty vandalism and theft, and is eventually caught by Flash Thompson, and revealed to be legitimately unbalanced due to the guilt and in need of professional help. Spider-Man himself never even bothered to go after him.
  • The Power of the Sun: David Lowell, a.k.a. Sundown, who first appeared in Untold Tales Annual #1.
  • Revision: The whole point of the series. Busiek even included a timeline indicating where each story took place among the the Lee-Ditko run].
  • Sacrificial Lion: Sally Avril, one of Peter Parker's fellow students. She tries to become a vigilante like Spider-Man, but he tries to dissuade her due to the risks. Undaunted, she later dies in an auto accident after recklessly pursuing Spidey to get photographs of him in action.
  • Save the Villain:
    • Spider-Man saves J. Jonah Jameson from being framed by the mob in issue #15.
    • He also saves The Kingpin from The Vulture in #20, though he has no idea he's doing it, he never actually saw who Vulture was going after, and even if he had, this was before the two had met.
  • Sewer Gator: The Lizard takes reptiles from the zoo in "Cry...Lizard!" and leads them into the sewers to make them into an army.
    Spider-Man: Alligators in the sewers, Lizzie? Isn't that a little... cliché?
  • Suicide by Cop: Batwing attempts this when Curt Connors attempt to cure him seemingly fails.
  • Talking Down The Suicide: Of all people, The Vulture does this when he stumbles across Jason on a rooftop, preparing to kill himself over the death of Sally Avril. Unfortunately, Vulture does this by convincing Jason to embrace The Power of Hate instead, and blame Spider-Man for Sally's death rather than dealing with it in a healthy way.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: In their confrontation in #20, Spider-Man talks down the Vulture by complete accident, when pointing out that it's not the Vultures style to do someone else's dirty work (he'd been freed from prison to kill The Kingpin), and asks if this is what he wanted in his old age; to be a weapon for someone else. Vulture, who was already ambivalent about the whole thing, stopped fighting and turned himself in.
  • They Would Cut You Up: This was the motivation behind Batwing's rampage in Untold Tales #2. When Spider-Man discovers that Batwing is actually a frightened mutated child and promises to get him help, Batwing freaks out completely.
    Batwing: Not going... get cut up by scientists... like mom said!
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sally Avril. While she does (grudgingly) get the message that she's in way over her head trying to be a superhero when Spider-Man lets a mook punch the shit out of her before stopping him, she decides there's another way to get the action and excitement she craves, namely by running around town trying to take pictures of superhero battles and be a part of the action that way. So she bullies a friend into driving her at breakneck speed towards one such battle, hanging out the window and not wearing a seatbelt, while goading her friend so incessantly that he ignores all the rules of the road. Naturally there's a massive accident and she's killed. Spidey somehow finds a way to blame himself, and is mourning at her grave when the Human Torch shows up. Upon hearing the story, Johnny shows a surprising amount of insight and knowledge of human nature by cutting through Spidey's guilt bullshit and putting all of the blame on Sally, pointing out that her behavior proved she was an adrenaline junkie who was going to get herself killed sooner or later no matter what Spider-Man did or didn't do. Spidey realizes that Johnny is right, and both of them depart the cemetery.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Spacemen are four astronauts who got their powers from a secret space mission, and are immediately lauded as honest heroes by renown anti-vigilante J. Jonah Jameson. In reality, they're washout trainees who used their powers to steal money while blaming Spider-Man along the way.
  • Water Tower Down: Spider-Man uses it in issue #1 to defeat the Scorcher.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: