Spider-Man is the daily newspaper strip that is basically the adventures of Spider-Man in an Alternate Continuity to the monthly comic books. The strips are written by Stan Lee and have been illustrated by the likes of John Romita Sr, Alex Saviuk, Fred Kida, and Larry Leiber (Stan's brother). Larry Leiber and Saviuk are the regular artists for the thirty years from The '90s to The New '10s, with Saviuk pencilling the Sunday strips and the daily strips with Leiber penciling the daily strips, and Joe Sinnott as the Sunday artist. Although Stan remains credited on every strip, the strip was ghost written by Roy Thomas from 1999 to 2019, with Lee acting as editor. Nonetheless, in his early years, Lee did work on the strip and it's notable for the fact that unlike the main comics where he used "Marvel Method" (which is more accurately Stan's method), he really did plot out and write the strip himself over several dailies. He actively followed the strip until his death.
Leiber's retirement in summer 2018 and Stan's death later that year called the future of the strip into question. On March 7th 2019 it was announced that Marvel had cancelled the comic, even though several weeks of strips (featuring Spider-Man fighting the Kangaroo) had already been completed, and that it would be replaced by reruns starting March 25th that year. The future of Marvel's foray into newspaper comics is presently unclear, though it's expected to continue in some way under a different creative team. Sunday artist Joe Sinnott (who wrote the first Dr. Doom comic in the '60s) announced his retirement at age 92 after the final Sunday strip was run on March 17. The major changes continued on April 4th 2019, when the Comic Kingdom website that hosts the strips online was overhauled.
There are many changes in the strip's presentation, both to pacing and to how Spidey interacts with the rest of the Marvel Universe. He's met Daredevil relatively recently, and had a crossover with the X-Men in the 90's that was adapted to the Animated Series. There was also a switch to Peter Parker's domestic situation to match with the "Brand New Day" storyline... and readers' letters made the writers agree to drop that. At the same time during the BND era, Lee collaborated with artist Marcos Martin for a series of non-canon one-shots called "Spidey Sundays" in the style of the newspaper strip printed in the main Amazing Spider-Man title as a back-up feature (and subsequently published separately as Spidey Sunday Spectacular #1).
A storyline in the strips from The '70s, where the Kingpin attaches a tracking bracelet on Spider-Man inspired one of its readers, New Mexico district judge Jack Love, to develop the ankle bracelet. The strips were also initially responsible for Peter marrying Mary Jane Watson, with the 616 books following suit. From 2010 through to 2015, the strips were the only place where fans could still enjoy the adventures of Peter and MJ as a married couple, before it was eventually joined by the Renew Your Vows universe. With the new creative changes coming to the strip later in 2019, it remains to be seen if the marriage will remain a part of the strip at all.
The Spider-Man comic strip provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptational Name Change: The Mole Man is Melvin Kurtzman, rather than Harvey Elder. (Although it's still a reference to Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, and their character "Melvin Mole".)
- All Just a Dream: The switch to an unmarried Peter in early 2009 was done with no explanation, thus passing it off as a dream had some merit in this case. And the strip where he wakes up almost comes across as a Take That! (the title for the story was "Will The REAL Peter Parker Please Stand Up?").
- Used again to explain a transitional Sunday strip published on March 24th 2019, the day before the strip began reruns of previous stories. The strip revealed that Peter was dreaming "of good times and bad", recalling the recent battle with The Purple Man in the Grand Finale and the previous instance his wife's theatre venue was shut down. This particular Sunday strip was a partial reworking of an edition published in November 2014, with mentions and images of Killgrave replacing mentions and images of Doctor Ocotpus.
- Anti-Hero: The Punisher, obviously, in his guest appearances.
- Arch-Enemy: Due to Spider-Man's tendency to get incapacitated by means of a brick or another heavy object to the head (see Tap on the Head below), bricks are jokingly referred to as being his most dangerous foe by some readers.
- As You Know: Due to the casual nature of a newspaper strip, this is used frequently for readers who might not have read the previous day's strip. Especially when some newspapers don't have Sunday strips.
- Author's Saving Throw: Using the dream as a Reset Button, in order to avoid repeating the "One More Day" mistake (and basically admitting so).
- Canon Foreigner: Plenty of characters show up who aren't seen in any other Spider-Man canon, including villains created specifically for the strip.
- Character as Himself: Stan "The Man" Lee made an appearance in 2015 as the creator of Marvella the action heroine Mary Jane plays in several direct-to-video movies. He hangs around long enough to take a selfie with both Mary Jane and Black Widow.
- Classical Movie Vampire: An arc has an heiress fear a vampire is after her, and he looks like this. It is a washed-up actor trying to stage a stunt to revive his career.
- Continuity Nod: A story arc with Sandman in 2009 makes it clear that the events of Spider-Man 3 are canon to the strip.
- Costume Copycat: A guy pretends to be Spider-Man's Secret Identity, but for the fame and fortune. Peter has to save him when villains inevitably go after the impostor.
- Create Your Own Villain: Quentin Beck became Mysterio thanks to Spider-Man confusing a horror movie production with an actual monster attacking a Damsel in Distress. Beck points out that Spider-Man's attack on a low-budget uninsured suit as well as the damage done to props in that shot, ruined his movie career.
- Crossover: In Spider-Man: The Mutant Agenda, the comic strip version of Spider-Man meets the X-Men. Together, they take on the Hobgoblin and the scientist Landon, who is working on a cure for the mutant gene.
- End of an Age: The March 17th 2019 Sunday edition of the newspaper strip was the last project for legendary Marvel inker Joe Sinnott, who retired upon it's completion at the age of 92, having worked at Marvel for seven decades.
- After nearly 32 years, the end of the strip's current run means there are presently no new stories being told with Peter and Mary Jane as a married couple across any of the active comics, although the strip reruns will continue to cover more recent stories of their marriage.
- Roy Thomas' stint as newspaper ghost writer from 1999 to 2019 made him one of the longest serving Spider-Man writers of all time, eclipsing the runs by Brian Micheal Bendis and Dan Slott on mainline titles Ultimate Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man
- Follow in My Footsteps: Averted. Spider-Man is hesitant about having children because he doesn't want his kids to have his superpowers and deal with the problems of his life, which is why he's tempted by Magneto's promise to fix his genes so that his children don't inherit his powers. At the end of the comic, MJ to Peter's surprise admits she would be fine if their children would have his powers, making Spider-Man reconsider though for the time being Peter and MJ agree not to have kids.
- Grand Finale: The original era of the newspaper strip ends with Peter, MJ and Luke Cage teaming up to oppose The Purple Man, with the Parkers heading off to Australia afterwards for a well-earned vacation.
- Happily Married: Peter and MJ were first married here and remained married for thirty two real-time years, making this interpretation of their union the longest running in the Spidey brand.
- Hypnotize the Princess: When heiress Muffy Ainsworth is captured by a vampire, she's hypnotized so that she will agree to stay with him. Even though it was really an actor just staging a stunt to revive his career, hypnotizing her was real, just meant to look like a vampire's spell.
- Idiot Ball: So many characters pick this up that it is not unusual for the series to descent into an outright Idiot Plot at times.
- Lighter and Softer: This newspaper strip skews younger, funnier, and lighter in tone than the Spider-Man stories of other versions. It's often an outright comedy in most respects.
- Ms. Fanservice: Mary Jane is often seen lounging around their apartment wearing lacy pink lingerie for no discernible reason except to be fanservice. To further drive the point home, her debut in the strip is just as much of an Establishing Character Moment as it is in the source material: she's wearing a shirt, with the only "buttoned" button being the one right above her belly button, and not wearing a bra.
- Mythology Gag: The movie that Mysterio worked on which Spider-Man attacked due to confusion, is called "The Monster-Maker", a reference to a real-life movie project prepped by Stan Lee and Alain Resnais which ended up falling through due to lack of funding.
- Pretty in Mink:
- Muffy Ainsworth, being an heiress, owns a few furs. This includes a fur trimmed jacket in Spidey's first adventure with her, and a white fur jacket in a later adventure where he saves her from (apparent) vampires.
- Mary Jane has worn a few fur-trimmed jackets.
- In the arc where a guy pretends to be Spider-Man for the fame and fortune, his wife buys a fur coat among other things. When he's complaining about some lawsuits based on what Spider-Man did (or people imagined he did), his wife is just trying on the fur in front of a mirror and telling him of the jewelry she bought.
- Red Skies Crossover: During the Spider-Verse event, Darker and Edgier villain Morlun invades the comic strip's universe to devour Peter's soul, but quickly becomes vexed with the daily strip's constant resetting, giving the Great Weaver enough time to save Peter and hide his dimension from the Inheritors.
- Rogues-Gallery Transplant: As it is the only long-term running newspaper strip for any Marvel property, Spider-Man was the sole active hero (though occassionally more familiar figures would appear for one-offs) and he fought the entire spectrum, not only his own rogues but also Magneto, Dr. Doom, Mole Man, and Sabertooth among others.
- Spider-Sense: It seems to work only to let Spider-Man know where trouble is or to help him find pieces of paper with important information. If someone comes up from behind to whack him over the head with a blunt weapon, or a brick falls off of a wall, he's helpless to avoid being knocked out.
- Start of Darkness: For quite a few villains.
- Take That!:
- In addition to the aforementioned "dream" retcon of the "unmarried" Spidey status quo from early 2009, in 2010, during a crossover with Iron Man, Spidey is asked by Stark if he would ever make his identity public. Spidey makes it clear such action would be far too dangerous and would put people he loved in danger. A No-Prize to whoever can guess what that's referring to...
- Anyone who's tired of Peter's ridiculous moping over his "no-one dies" policy in the 616 comics will be happy to know daily strip Spidey is not as quick to lay blame on himself for causing a death. During a 2013 storyline involving The Tarantula, Peter is partially responsible for the death of the Tarantula's trecherous girlfriend when he jams her rifle with webbing. She pulls the trigger and receives a fatal back-blast. Rather than mull over the death he has helped caused, Peter lightly brushes it off, pinning the blame squarely on the girl's shoulders for firing the weapon, and quickly changes the subject.
- A 2014 storyline with Doctor Octopus putting up the pretense of being a crime-fighter seems to be the strip's way of poking fun at Superior Spider-Man
- The final storyline of the newspaper strip's original run sees Peter saying "get thee behind me Satan" in the March 16th 2019 edition of the strip, and the March 17th strip, the final edition to be published on a Sunday, sees Peter and MJ walking off into the sunset still happily married and declaring their love for one another.
- Tap on the Head: Happens very often to Spider-Man. It is a miracle how he manage to steer clear of permanent brain damage with all that trauma applied to his skull. Then again, Spider-Man having brain damage might explain a lot of the odd behavior he exhibits from time to time.
- Underside Ride: Spider-Man and Tarantula cling the underside of an army truck bringing reinforcements in order to sneak into a prison.