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|First appearance||Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962)|
|Created by||Stan Lee|
|Alter ego||Peter Benjamin Parker|
Heroes for Hire
New Fantastic Four
|Notable aliases||Ricochet, Dusk, Prodigy, Hornet, Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider|
|First appearance||Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962)|
|Created by||Stan Lee|
|Alter ego||Peter Benjamin Parker|
Heroes for Hire
New Fantastic Four
|Notable aliases||Ricochet, Dusk, Prodigy, Hornet, Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider|
Spider-Man is a fictional character, a comic book superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko, he first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 (cover-dated Aug. 1962). Lee and Ditko conceived the character as an orphan being raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and as a teenager, having to deal with the normal struggles of adolescence in addition to those of a costumed crimefighter. Spider-Man's creators gave him super strength and agility, the ability to cling to most surfaces, shoot spider-webs using wrist-mounted devices of his own invention (which he called "web-shooters"), and react to danger quickly with his "spider-sense", enabling him to combat his foes.
When Spider-Man first appeared in the early 1960s, teenagers in superhero comic books were usually relegated to the role of sidekick to the protagonist. The Spider-Man series broke ground by featuring Peter Parker, a teenage high school student and person behind Spider-Man's secret identity to whose "self-obsessions with rejection, inadequacy, and loneliness" young readers could relate. Unlike previous teen heroes such as Bucky and Robin, Spider-Man did not benefit from being the protégé of any adult superhero mentors like Captain America and Batman, and thus had to learn for himself that "with great power there must also come great responsibility"—a line included in a text box in the final panel of the first Spider-Man story, but later retroactively attributed to his guardian, the late Uncle Ben.
Marvel has featured Spider-Man in several comic book series, the first and longest-lasting of which is titled The Amazing Spider-Man. Over the years, the Peter Parker character has developed from shy, nerdy high school student to troubled but outgoing college student, to married high school teacher to, in the late 2000s, a single freelance photographer, his most typical adult role. In the 2010s, he joins the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, Marvel's flagship superhero teams. In recent storylines, Peter Parker dies while his mind is in the body of his enemy Doctor Octopus; Doctor Octopus then lives on inside of Parker's body, taking the role of Spider-Man in The Superior Spider-Man (2013–present). However, on January 11, 2014, it was officially confirmed that the character will return in April 2014. Separately, Marvel also introduced a new Spider-Man, the mixed race teenager Miles Morales, in stories set in its Ultimate Comics-branded alternative universe.
Spider-Man is one of the most popular and commercially successful superheroes. As Marvel's flagship character and company mascot, he has appeared in many forms of media, including several animated and live-action television shows, syndicated newspaper comic strips, and a series of films starring Tobey Maguire as the "friendly neighborhood" hero in the first three movies. Andrew Garfield has taken over the role of Spider-Man in a reboot of the films. Reeve Carney stars as Spider-Man in the 2010 Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Spider-Man placed 3rd on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time in 2011.
In 1962, with the success of the Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics editor and head writer Stan Lee was casting about for a new superhero idea. He said the idea for Spider-Man arose from a surge in teenage demand for comic books, and the desire to create a character with whom teens could identify.:1 In his autobiography, Lee cites the non-superhuman pulp magazine crime fighter the Spider (see also The Spider's Web and The Spider Returns) as a great influence,:130 and in a multitude of print and video interviews, Lee stated he was further inspired by seeing a spider climb up a wall—adding in his autobiography that he has told that story so often he has become unsure of whether or not this is true.[note 1] Looking back on the creation of Spider-Man, 1990s Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco stated he did not believe that Spider-Man would have been given a chance in today's comics world, where new characters are vetted with test audiences and marketers.:9 At that time, however, Lee had to get only the consent of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman for the character's approval.:9 In a 1986 interview, Lee described in detail his arguments to overcome Goodman's objections.[note 2] Goodman eventually agreed to a Spider-Man tryout in what Lee in numerous interviews recalled as what would be the final issue of the science-fiction and supernatural anthology series Amazing Adult Fantasy, which was renamed Amazing Fantasy for that single issue, #15 (cover-dated August 1962, on sale June 5, 1962). While this was indeed the final issue, its editorial page anticipated the comic continuing and that "The Spiderman [sic] ... will appear every month in Amazing."
Regardless, Lee received Goodman's approval for the name Spider-Man and the "ordinary teen" concept, and approached artist Jack Kirby. As comics historian Greg Theakston recounts, Kirby told Lee about an unpublished character on which he had collaborated with Joe Simon in the 1950s, in which an orphaned boy living with an old couple finds a magic ring that granted him superhuman powers. Lee and Kirby "immediately sat down for a story conference", Theakston writes, and Lee afterward directed Kirby to flesh out the character and draw some pages. Steve Ditko would be the inker.[note 3] When Kirby showed Lee the first six pages, Lee recalled, "I hated the way he was doing it! Not that he did it badly—it just wasn't the character I wanted; it was too heroic".:12 Lee turned to Ditko, who developed a visual style Lee found satisfactory. Ditko recalled:
One of the first things I did was to work up a costume. A vital, visual part of the character. I had to know how he looked ... before I did any breakdowns. For example: A clinging power so he wouldn't have hard shoes or boots, a hidden wrist-shooter versus a web gun and holster, etc. ... I wasn't sure Stan would like the idea of covering the character's face but I did it because it hid an obviously boyish face. It would also add mystery to the character....
Although the interior artwork was by Ditko alone, Lee rejected Ditko's cover art and commissioned Kirby to pencil a cover that Ditko inked. As Lee explained in 2010, "I think I had Jack sketch out a cover for it because I always had a lot of confidence in Jack's covers."
In an early recollection of the character's creation, Ditko described his and Lee's contributions in a mail interview with Gary Martin published in Comic Fan #2 (Summer 1965): "Stan Lee thought the name up. I did costume, web gimmick on wrist & spider signal." At the time, Ditko shared a Manhattan studio with noted fetish artist Eric Stanton, an art-school classmate who, in a 1988 interview with Theakston, recalled that although his contribution to Spider-Man was "almost nil", he and Ditko had "worked on storyboards together and I added a few ideas. But the whole thing was created by Steve on his own... I think I added the business about the webs coming out of his hands".:14
Kirby disputed Lee's version of the story, and claimed Lee had minimal involvement in the character's creation. According to Kirby, the idea for Spider-Man had originated with Kirby and Joe Simon, who in the 1950s had developed a character called the Silver Spider for the Crestwood Publications comic Black Magic, who was subsequently not used.[note 4] Simon, in his 1990 autobiography, disputed Kirby's account, asserting that Black Magic was not a factor, and that he (Simon) devised the name "Spider-Man" (later changed to "The Silver Spider"), while Kirby outlined the character's story and powers. Simon later elaborated that his and Kirby's character conception became the basis for Simon's Archie Comics superhero the Fly. Artist Steve Ditko stated that Lee liked the name Hawkman from DC Comics, and that "Spider-Man" was an outgrowth of that interest.
Simon concurred that Kirby had shown the original Spider-Man version to Lee, who liked the idea and assigned Kirby to draw sample pages of the new character but disliked the results—in Simon's description, "Captain America with cobwebs".[note 5] Writer Mark Evanier notes that Lee's reasoning that Kirby's character was too heroic seems unlikely—Kirby still drew the covers for Amazing Fantasy #15 and the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Evanier also disputes Kirby's given reason that he was "too busy" to also draw Spider-Man in addition to his other duties since Kirby was, said Evanier, "always busy".:127 Neither Lee's nor Kirby's explanation explains why key story elements like the magic ring were dropped; Evanier states that the most plausible explanation for the sudden change was that Goodman, or one of his assistants, decided that Spider-Man as drawn and envisioned by Kirby was too similar to the Fly.:127
Author and Ditko scholar Blake Bell writes that it was Ditko who noted the similarities to the Fly. Ditko recalled that, "Stan called Jack about the Fly", adding that "[d]ays later, Stan told me I would be penciling the story panel breakdowns from Stan's synopsis". It was at this point that the nature of the strip changed. "Out went the magic ring, adult Spider-Man and whatever legend ideas that Spider-Man story would have contained". Lee gave Ditko the premise of a teenager bitten by a spider and developing powers, a premise Ditko would expand upon to the point he became what Bell describes as "the first work for hire artist of his generation to create and control the narrative arc of his series". On the issue of the initial creation, Ditko states, "I still don't know whose idea was Spider-Man". Kirby noted in a 1971 interview that it was Ditko who "got Spider-Man to roll, and the thing caught on because of what he did". Lee, while claiming credit for the initial idea, has acknowledged Ditko's role, stating, "If Steve wants to be called co-creator, I think he deserves [it]". Writer Al Nickerson believes "that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created the Spider-Man that we are familiar with today [but that] ultimately, Spider-Man came into existence, and prospered, through the efforts of not just one or two, but many, comic book creators".
A few months after Spider-Man's introduction, publisher Goodman reviewed the sales figures for that issue and was shocked to find it to have been one of the nascent Marvel's highest-selling comics.:97 A solo ongoing series followed, beginning with The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (cover-dated March 1963). The title eventually became Marvel's top-selling series:211 with the character swiftly becoming a cultural icon; a 1965 Esquire poll of college campuses found that college students ranked Spider-Man and fellow Marvel hero the Hulk alongside Bob Dylan and Che Guevara as their favorite revolutionary icons. One interviewee selected Spider-Man because he was "beset by woes, money problems, and the question of existence. In short, he is one of us.":223 Following Ditko's departure after issue #38 (July 1966), John Romita, Sr. replaced him as penciler and would draw the series for the next several years. In 1968, Romita would also draw the character's extra-length stories in the comics magazine The Spectacular Spider-Man, a proto-graphic novel designed to appeal to older readers. It only lasted for two issues, but it represented the first Spider-Man spin-off publication, aside from the original series' summer annuals that began in 1964.
An early 1970s Spider-Man story led to the revision of the Comics Code. Previously, the Code forbade the depiction of the use of illegal drugs, even negatively. However, in 1970, the Nixon administration's Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asked Stan Lee to publish an anti-drug message in one of Marvel's top-selling titles.:239 Lee chose the top-selling The Amazing Spider-Man; issues #96–98 (May–July 1971) feature a story arc depicting the negative effects of drug use. In the story, Peter Parker's friend Harry Osborn becomes addicted to pills. When Spider-Man fights the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn, Harry's father), Spider-Man defeats the Green Goblin, by revealing Harry's drug addiction. While the story had a clear anti-drug message, the Comics Code Authority refused to issue its seal of approval. Marvel nevertheless published the three issues without the Comics Code Authority's approval or seal. The issues sold so well that the industry's self-censorship was undercut and the Code was subsequently revised.:239
In 1972, a second monthly ongoing series starring Spider-Man began: Marvel Team-Up, in which Spider-Man was paired with other superheroes and villains. From that point on there have generally been at least two ongoing Spider-Man series at any time. In 1976, his second solo series, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man began running parallel to the main series. A third series featuring Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, launched in 1985 to replace Marvel Team-Up. The launch of a fourth monthly title in 1990, the "adjectiveless" Spider-Man (with the storyline "Torment"), written and drawn by popular artist Todd McFarlane, debuted with several different covers, all with the same interior content. The various versions combined sold over 3 million copies, an industry record at the time. Several limited series, one-shots, and loosely related comics have also been published, and Spider-Man makes frequent cameos and guest appearances in other comic series.:279 In 1996 The Sensational Spider-Man was created to replace Web of Spider-Man.
In 1998 writer-artist John Byrne revamped the origin of Spider-Man in the 13-issue limited series Spider-Man: Chapter One (Dec. 1998 - Oct. 1999), similar to Byrne's adding details and some revisions to Superman's origin in DC Comics' The Man of Steel. At the same time the original The Amazing Spider-Man was ended with issue #441 (Nov. 1998), and The Amazing Spider-Man was restarted with vol. 2, #1 (Jan. 1999). In 2003 Marvel reintroduced the original numbering for The Amazing Spider-Man and what would have been vol. 2, #59 became issue #500 (Dec. 2003).
When primary series The Amazing Spider-Man reached issue #545 (Dec. 2007), Marvel dropped its spin-off ongoing series and instead began publishing The Amazing Spider-Man three times monthly, beginning with #546-549 (all Jan. 2008). The three times monthly scheduling of The Amazing Spider-Man lasted until November 2010 when the comic book was increased from 22 pages to 30 pages each issue and published only twice a month, beginning with #648-649 (both Nov. 2010). The following year, Marvel launched Avenging Spider-Man as the first spinoff ongoing series in addition to the still twice monthly The Amazing Spider-Man since the previous ones were cancelled at the end of 2007. The Amazing series temporarily ended with issue #700 in December 2012, and was replaced by The Superior Spider-Man, which had Doctor Octopus serve as the new Spider-Man, having taken over Peter Parker's body. Superior was an enormous commercial success for Marvel, and ran for 31-issue before the real Peter Parker returned in a newly relaunched The Amazing Spider-Man #1 in April 2014.
In Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, high school student Peter Parker is a science-whiz orphan living with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. As depicted in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962), he is bitten by a radioactive spider (erroneously classified as an insect in the panel) at a science exhibit and "acquires the agility and proportionate strength of an arachnid." Along with super strength, he gains the ability to adhere to walls and ceilings. Through his native knack for science, he develops a gadget that lets him fire adhesive webbing of his own design through small, wrist-mounted barrels. Initially seeking to capitalize on his new abilities, he dons a costume and, as "Spider-Man", becomes a novelty television star. However, "He blithely ignores the chance to stop a fleeing thief, [and] his indifference ironically catches up with him when the same criminal later robs and kills his Uncle Ben." Spider-Man tracks and subdues the killer and learns, in the story's next-to-last caption, "With great power there must also come—great responsibility!"
Despite his superpowers, Parker struggles to help his widowed aunt pay rent, is taunted by his peers—particularly football star Flash Thompson—and, as Spider-Man, engenders the editorial wrath of newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson. As he battles his enemies for the first time, Parker finds juggling his personal life and costumed adventures difficult. In time, Peter graduates from high school, and enrolls at Empire State University (a fictional institution evoking the real-life Columbia University and New York University), where he meets roommate and best friend Harry Osborn, and girlfriend Gwen Stacy, and Aunt May introduces him to Mary Jane Watson. As Peter deals with Harry's drug problems, and Harry's father is revealed to be Spider-Man's nemesis the Green Goblin, Peter even attempts to give up his costumed identity for a while. Gwen Stacy's father, New York City Police detective captain George Stacy is accidentally killed during a battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus (#90, Nov. 1970). In the course of his adventures Spider-Man has made a wide variety of friends and contacts within the superhero community, who often come to his aid when he faces problems that he cannot solve on his own.
In issue #121 (June 1973), the Green Goblin throws Gwen Stacy from a tower of either the Brooklyn Bridge (as depicted in the art) or the George Washington Bridge (as given in the text). She dies during Spider-Man's rescue attempt; a note on the letters page of issue #125 states: "It saddens us to say that the whiplash effect she underwent when Spidey's webbing stopped her so suddenly was, in fact, what killed her." The following issue, the Goblin appears to kill himself accidentally in the ensuing battle with Spider-Man.
Working through his grief, Parker eventually develops tentative feelings toward Watson, and the two "become confidants rather than lovers". A romantic relationship eventually develops, with Parker proposing to her in issue #182 (July 1978), and being turned down an issue later. Parker went on to graduate from college in issue #185, and becomes involved with the shy Debra Whitman and the extroverted, flirtatious costumed thief Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, whom he meets in issue #194 (July 1979).
From 1984 to 1988, Spider-Man wore a black costume with a white spider design on his chest. The new costume originated in the Secret Wars limited series, on an alien planet where Spider-Man participates in a battle between Earth's major superheroes and villains. He continues wearing the costume when he returns from the Secret Wars, starting in The Amazing Spider-Man #252. Not unexpectedly, the change to a longstanding character's iconic design met with controversy, "with many hardcore comics fans decrying it as tantamount to sacrilege. Spider-Man's traditional red and blue costume was iconic, they argued, on par with those of his D.C. rivals Superman and Batman." The creators then revealed the costume was an alien symbiote which Spider-Man is able to reject after a difficult struggle, though the symbiote returns several times as Venom for revenge.
Parker proposes to Watson a second time in The Amazing Spider-Man #290 (July 1987), and she accepts two issues later, with the wedding taking place in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987)—promoted with a real-life mock wedding using actors (with model Tara Shannon as Watson) at Shea Stadium, with Stan Lee officiating, on June 5, 1987. However, David Michelinie, who scripted based on a plot by editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, said in 2007, "I didn't think they actually should [have gotten] married. ... I had actually planned another version, one that wasn't used."
In a controversial storyline, Peter becomes convinced that Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider (a clone of Peter created by his college professor Miles Warren) is the real Peter Parker, and that he, Peter, is the clone. Peter gives up the Spider-Man identity to Reilly for a time, until Reilly is killed by the returning Green Goblin and revealed to be the clone after all. In stories published in 2005 and 2006 (such as "The Other"), he develops additional spider-like abilities including biological web-shooters, toxic stingers that extend from his forearms, the ability to stick individuals to his back, enhanced Spider-sense and night vision, and increased strength and speed. Peter later becomes a member of the New Avengers, and reveals his civilian identity to the world, furthering his already numerous problems. His marriage to Mary Jane and public unmasking are later erased in another controversial storyline "One More Day", in a Faustian bargain with the demon Mephisto, resulting in several adjustments to the timeline, such as the resurrection of Harry Osborn, the erasure of Parker's marriage, and the return of his traditional tools and powers.
That storyline came at the behest of editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, who said, "Peter being single is an intrinsic part of the very foundation of the world of Spider-Man". It caused unusual public friction between Quesada and writer J. Michael Straczynski, who "told Joe that I was going to take my name off the last two issues of the [story] arc" but was talked out of doing so. At issue with Straczynski's climax to the arc, Quesada said, was
...that we didn't receive the story and methodology to the resolution that we were all expecting. What made that very problematic is that we had four writers and artists well underway on [the sequel arc] "Brand New Day" that were expecting and needed "One More Day" to end in the way that we had all agreed it would. ... The fact that we had to ask for the story to move back to its original intent understandably made Joe upset and caused some major delays and page increases in the series. Also, the science that Joe was going to apply to the retcon of the marriage would have made over 30 years of Spider-Man books worthless, because they never would have had happened. ...[I]t would have reset way too many things outside of the Spider-Man titles. We just couldn't go there....
Following the "reboot", Parker's identity was no longer known to the general public; however, he revealed it to his teammates in the New Avengers and his friends in the Fantastic Four, and others have deduced it. Parker's Aunt May married J. Jonah Jameson's father, Jay Jameson. Jonah himself has been elected Mayor of New York City, and Parker became an employee of the think-tank Horizon Labs.
In issue #700, after the dying supervillain Doctor Octopus has swapped bodies with him, Parker dies. However, the ending of The Superior Spider-Man #1 it shows that Parker still exists within Doctor Octopus's mind. It is later revealed that the Peter Parker persona within Doctor Octopus's mind were just memories that he absorbed from Peter Parker, which he later purges to be completely free to control Parker's former body. However, when Doctor Octopus is possessed by the Venom Symbiote and is unable to to free himself of it, Peter's consciousness is revealed to still exist, having somehow escaped the mind-purge and breaks the Symbiote's hold over Doctor Octopus, enabling Flash Thompson to call it back to him.
On January 14, 2014, Marvel revealed that Peter Parker would be resurrected and The Amazing Spider-Man was re-launched in April 2014. Parker's consciousness will return to his body, but suffer from amnesia.
As one contemporaneous journalist observed, "Spider-Man has a terrible identity problem, a marked inferiority complex, and a fear of women. He is anti-social, [sic] castration-ridden, racked with Oedipal guilt, and accident-prone ... [a] functioning neurotic". Agonizing over his choices, always attempting to do right, he is nonetheless viewed with suspicion by the authorities, who seem unsure as to whether he is a helpful vigilante or a clever criminal.
Notes cultural historian Bradford W. Wright,
Spider-Man's plight was to be misunderstood and persecuted by the very public that he swore to protect. In the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of the Daily Bugle, launches an editorial campaign against the "Spider-Man menace." The resulting negative publicity exacerbates popular suspicions about the mysterious Spider-Man and makes it impossible for him to earn any more money by performing. Eventually, the bad press leads the authorities to brand him an outlaw. Ironically, Peter finally lands a job as a photographer for Jameson's Daily Bugle.:212
From his high-school beginnings to his entry into college life, Spider-Man remained the superhero most relevant to the world of young people. Fittingly, then, his comic book also contained some of the earliest references to the politics of young people. In 1968, in the wake of actual militant student demonstrations at Columbia University, Peter Parker finds himself in the midst of similar unrest at his Empire State University.... Peter has to reconcile his natural sympathy for the students with his assumed obligation to combat lawlessness as Spider-Man. As a law-upholding liberal, he finds himself caught between militant leftism and angry conservatives.:234–235
A bite from a radioactive spider on a school field trip causes a variety of changes in the body of Peter Parker and gives him superpowers. In the original Lee-Ditko stories, Spider-Man has the ability to cling to walls, superhuman strength, a sixth sense ("spider-sense") that alerts him to danger, perfect balance and equilibrium, as well as superhuman speed and agility. Some of his comic series have him shooting webs from his wrists. Academically brilliant, Parker has expertise in the fields of applied science, chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, mathematics, and mechanics. The character was originally conceived by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as intellectually gifted, but not a genius; however, later writers have depicted the character as a genius. With his talents, he sews his own costume to conceal his identity, and constructs many devices that complement his powers, most notably mechanical web-shooters. This mechanism ejects an advanced adhesive, releasing web-fluid in a variety of configurations, including a single rope-like strand to swing from, a net to bind enemies, and a simple glob to foul machinery or blind an opponent. He can also weave the web material into simple forms like a shield, a spherical protection or hemispherical barrier, a club, or a hang-glider wing. Other equipment include spider-tracers (spider-shaped adhesive homing beacons keyed to his own spider-sense), a light beacon which can either be used as a flashlight or project a "Spider-Signal" design, and a specially modified camera that can take pictures automatically.
Due to Spider-Man's popularity in the mainstream Marvel Universe, publishers have been able to introduce different variations of Spider-Man outside of mainstream comics as well as reimagined stories in many other multiversed spinoffs such as Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, and Spider-Man: India. Marvel has also made its own parodies of Spider-Man in comics such as Not Brand Echh, which was published in the late 1960s and featured such characters as Peter Pooper alias Spidey-Man, and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, who appeared in the 1980s. The fictional character has also inspired a number of deratives such as a manga version of Spider-Man drawn by Japanese artist Ryoichi Ikegami as well as Hideshi Hino's The Bug Boy, which has been cited as inspired by Spider-Man. Also the French comic Télé-Junior published strips based on popular TV series. In the late 1970s, the publisher also produced original Spider-Man adventures. Artists included Gérald Forton, who later moved to America and worked for Marvel.
Spider-Man has had a large range of supporting characters introduced in the comics that are essential in the issues and storylines that star him. After his parents died, Peter Parker was raised by his loving aunt, May Parker, and his uncle and father figure, Ben Parker. After Uncle Ben is murdered by a burglar, Aunt May is virtually Peter's only family, and she and Peter are very close.
J. Jonah Jameson is depicted as the publisher of the Daily Bugle and is Peter Parker's boss and as a harsh critic of Spider-Man, always saying negative things about the superhero in the newspaper. Despite his role as Jameson's publishing editor and confidant Robbie Robertson is always depicted as a supporter of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
Eugene "Flash" Thompson is commonly depicted as Parker's high school tormentor and bully, but in later comic issues he becomes a friend to Peter. Meanwhile Harry Osborn, son of Norman Osborn, is most commonly recognized as Peter's best friend but has also been depicted sometimes as his rival in the comics.
Peter Parker's romantic interests range between his first crush, the fellow high-school student Liz Allan, to having his first date with Betty Brant, the secretary to the Daily Bugle newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson. After his breakup with Betty Brant, Parker eventually falls in love with his college girlfriend Gwen Stacy, daughter of New York City Police Department detective captain George Stacy, both of whom are later killed by supervillain enemies of Spider-Man. Mary Jane Watson eventually became Peter's best friend and then his wife. Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, is a reformed cat burglar who had been Spider-Man's girlfriend and partner at one point.
Writers and artists over the years have established a rogues gallery of supervillains to face Spider-Man. As with him, the majority of these villains' powers originate with scientific accidents or the misuse of scientific technology, and many have animal-themed costumes or powers.[note 6] Early on Spider-Man faced such foes as the Chameleon (introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #1, March 1963), the Vulture (#2, May 1963), Doctor Octopus (#3, July 1963), the Sandman (#4, Sept. 1963), the Lizard (#6, Nov. 1963), Electro (#9, Feb. 1964), Mysterio (#13, June 1964), Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin (#14, July 1964), Kraven the Hunter (#15, Aug. 1964),the Scorpion (#20, Jan. 1965), the Rhino (#41, Oct. 1966)—the first original Lee/Romita Spider-Man villain—the Shocker (#46, March 1967), and the physically powerful and well-connected criminal capo Wilson Fisk, also known as the Kingpin. The Clone Saga introduces college professor Miles Warren, who becomes the Jackal, the antagonist of the storyline. Harry Osborn then replaces Norman as the Green Goblin and also a derivative villain called the Hobgoblin was developed to replace Norman as archenemy in #238 until Norman was revived later. After Spider-Man rejected his symbiotic black costume, Eddie Brock, a bitter ex-journalist with a grudge against Spider-Man, bonded with the symbiote (which also hated Spider-Man for rejecting it), gaining Spider-Man's powers and abilities, and became the villain Venom in issue #298 (May 1988). Brock briefly became an ally to Spider-Man when Carnage, another symbiote-based villain, went on a murderous spree in issue #344. At times these enemies of Spider-Man have formed groups such as the Sinister Six to oppose Spider-Man. Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) and Venom (Eddie Brock) are generally described or written as his archenemies.
Comic book writer-editor and historian Paul Kupperberg, in The Creation of Spider-Man, calls the character's superpowers "nothing too original"; what was original was that outside his secret identity, he was a "nerdy high school student".:5 Going against typical superhero fare, Spider-Man included "heavy doses of soap-opera and elements of melodrama." Kupperberg feels that Lee and Ditko had created something new in the world of comics: "the flawed superhero with everyday problems." This idea spawned a "comics revolution.":6 The insecurity and anxieties in Marvel's early 1960s comic books such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and X-Men ushered in a new type of superhero, very different from the certain and all-powerful superheroes before them, and changed the public's perception of them. Spider-Man has become one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world, and has been used to sell toys, games, cereal, candy, soap, and many other products.
Spider-Man has become Marvel's flagship character, and has often been used as the company mascot. When Marvel became the first comic book company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1991, the Wall Street Journal announced "Spider-Man is coming to Wall Street"; the event was in turn promoted with an actor in a Spider-Man costume accompanying Stan Lee to the Stock Exchange.:254 Since 1962, hundreds of millions of comics featuring the character have been sold around the world.
Spider-Man joined the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1987 to 1998 as one of the balloon floats, designed by John Romita Sr., one of the character's signature artists. A new, different Spider-Man balloon float is scheduled to appear from at least 2009 to 2011.
In 1981, skyscraper-safety activist Dan Goodwin, wearing a Spider-Man suit, scaled the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois, the Renaissance Tower in Dallas, Texas, and the John Hancock Center in Chicago, Illinois.
When Marvel wanted to issue a story dealing with the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the company chose the December 2001 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. In 2006, Spider-Man garnered major media coverage with the revelation of the character's secret identity, an event detailed in a full page story in the New York Post before the issue containing the story was even released.
In 2008, Marvel announced plans to release a series of educational comics the following year in partnership with the United Nations, depicting Spider-Man alongside UN Peacekeeping Forces to highlight UN peacekeeping missions. A BusinessWeek article listed Spider-Man as one of the top ten most intelligent fictional characters in American comics.
Spider-Man has appeared in comics, cartoons, movies, coloring books, novels, records, and children's books. On television, he first starred in the ABC animated series Spider-Man (1967-1970) and the CBS live-action series The Amazing Spider-Man (1978–1979), starring Nicholas Hammond. Other animated series featuring the superhero include the syndicated Spider-Man (1981–1982), Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981–1983), Fox Kids' Spider-Man (1994–1998), Spider-Man Unlimited (1999–2000), Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003), and The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008–2009). A new animated series titled Ultimate Spider-Man premiered on Disney XD on April 1, 2012.
A tokusatsu show featuring Spider-Man was produced by Toei and aired in Japan. It is commonly referred to by its Japanese pronunciation "Supaidā-Man". Spider-Man also appeared in other print forms besides the comics, including novels, children's books, and the daily newspaper comic strip The Amazing Spider-Man, which debuted in January 1977, with the earliest installments written by Stan Lee and drawn by John Romita, Sr. Spider-Man has been adapted to other media including games, toys, collectibles, and miscellaneous memorabilia, and has appeared as the main character in numerous computer and video games on over 15 gaming platforms.
Spider-Man was also featured in a trilogy of live-action films directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire as the titular superhero. The first Spider-Man film of the trilogy was released on May 3, 2002; its sequel, Spider-Man 2, was released on June 30, 2004 and the next sequel, Spider-Man 3, was released on May 4, 2007. A third sequel was originally scheduled to be released in 2011, however Sony later decided to reboot the franchise with a new director and cast. The reboot, titled The Amazing Spider-Man, was released on July 3, 2012; directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield as the new Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield will reprise his role in the 2014 sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with Marc Webb returning to direct it.
A Broadway musical, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, began previews on November 14, 2010 at the Foxwoods Theatre on Broadway, with the official opening night on June 14, 2011. The music and lyrics were written by Bono and The Edge of the rock group U2, with a book by Julie Taymor, Glen Berger, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Turn Off the Dark is currently the most expensive musical in Broadway history, costing an estimated $70 million. In addition, the show's unusually high running costs are reported to be about $1.2 million per week.
From the character's inception, Spider-Man stories have won numerous awards, including:
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