This week we decided to go a little to the past and talk about our favorite neighborhood wall crawler. Spider-Man originally debuted way back in the 1960’s of course out of Amazing Fantasy. Since then, Marvel has expanded the Spider-Man character to fit the shoes of several superheroes or heroines. There are several versions of Peter Parker, but he is not the only Spidey on the block. Since Spider-Verse is in full swing, we figured this was the perfect time to take a look at what we feel are the best incarnations of Spider-Man in comics. Let us know your favorite incarnations in the comments below.
10. Spider-Man Noir (Peter Parker) First Appearance Spider-man Noir #1
The first Spider-Man to make our list exists in a different Marvel Universe. Set in 1933 during the Depression, Peter Parker stumbles upon a group of Gangsters stealing artifacts from a museum. One of the artifacts is a spider-statue which breaks open. One of the spiders come out and infects Peter. He wakes up in a giant black web and has the proportional strength, speed, agility, spider sense, and the ability to shoot organic webs from his hands. He doesn’t have the ability to stick to walls so he leaps from roof top to roof top. Spidey Noir is a novel idea and it got a couple of runs, but lacks the flair that makes a Spider-Man last. You can play as SpiderMan Noir in the video game Shattered Dimensions to get in on the dark world yourself.
9. Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O’Hara) First Appearance The Amazing Spider-Man #365 1992
Miguel was brilliant bio-geneticist living in New York who was trying to recreate the Spider-Man gene in other people. An accident cause O’Hara’s DNA to be split and Spider-man 2099 was born. His powers include superhuman strength, speed, agility, reflexes, durability, hearing, enhanced healing, health enhanced vision (telescopic and night-vision), and genius-level intelligence. He has talons on his fingers and toes that enable wall-crawling, act as weapons, and can be folded down; he can shoot organic webbing from his forearms, can cause temporary-paralysis with venom from fangs, and wears indestructible costume of unstable molecule fabric with air-foil that allows gliding (whew, thats a lot!) O’Hara had it made in the powers department. The series was well received when it launched, but suffered when Marvel felt the hardships of bankruptcy. It was sad since the series had a decent creative team. Luckily Superior Spider-Mn brought him back to us and now he can be found swinging the streets of modern New York under the penmanship of Peter David once more.
8. SpiderWoman (Jessica Drew) First Appearance Marvel Spotlight #32
Next we have three Spider-Women. Jessica Drew was the first. She was a character in the 80’s that was used on and off but really never got the fan fare she deserved. They even tried putting her in the animated show to push her likability. The character saw the peak of her popularity thanks to Brian Bendis and his Secret Invasion story line, that he built in the background for years. The woman we though was Jessica Drew was actually the Skrull queen Veranke. Jessica differs from Spider-Man because of her powers consist of limited flight, bio-electric “venom” stings, and superhuman strength. She also spent time as a Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Since returning from her imprisonment by the skrulls, she hasn’t missed a beat and continues to be a central super hero in the Marvel Universe.
7. Spider-Girl (May Parker) First Appearance What If? (vol 2) #105
In the 616 universe, Peter and Mary Jane had a baby, but she died at birth (or taken by Norman Osborne or just wiped out of continuity in general.) Cut to an alternate future version that finds Peter and Mary Jane still married and in which their baby never died. She’s named May Parker after Aunt May and of course inherits the powers of her father. Unbeknownst to Peter, May decides to become an adventurer with the help of Mary Jane. Peter is no longer Spider-Man after losing a leg in battle with the Green Goblin. The series ran 100 issues after a slow start, even relaunching to give it a second chance. Considering the changes to Spider-Man as of recent events this future will probably never be seen in regular continuity, but this is still a strong alternate reality where we can still see May everyone now and then.
6. Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octavius) First Appearance The Superior Spiderman #1
If you were like me, you hated the concept of Doc Ock taking over the mind of Peter Parker at first. Here’s the story; Doc Ock was on his death bed and discovered how to switch minds with Spider-Man. The residual effects were that Peter’s spirit lingered in his mind, so when Doc Ock’s body died, Peter’s spirit was retained. Sounds slightly stupid huh? The result is that Ock started embracing the concepts of being a hero with a hard edge that Peter never really had. It gave Spidey a new personality full of confidence, but lacked the jokes and puns. Doc also used his genius to build a corporation. I must say I had to eat my words, as most did, as this was actually a suprisingly good turn of events. It was nice to see Spider-Man kicking butt, being more on the offensive. It was an enjoyable read. Superior Spidey is returning in the Spider-Verse story line.
5. Spider-Woman (Gwen Stacy) First Appearance The Edge of Spider Verse #2
So did you know Gwen Stacy was a drummer in a band called the Mary Janes? That’s right in a band! Oh yeah she’s Spider-Woman too. In the new Spider-Verse story line in an alternate reality, Gwen is bitten by the spider and takes the mantle of Spidey instead of Peter. In this world, Gwen doesn’t have an uncle Ben to drive her Power=Responsibility to drive her. She has the death of Peter Parker to keep her hero days going. The downside of her existence is the fact that she has to survive being hunted by her own dad. I didn’t want to buy this book when I saw it at the shop. It was a nice twist and I enjoyed the new take and style of the costume that was chosen. Sure, yell that it is too soon to include her on the list, but we love Gwen Stacey and her making the list is a testament of who strong her debut has been. We can’t wait to see more!
4. Scarlet Spider/Spider-Man (Ben Riley) First Appearance The Amazing Spider-Man #149
Ben Riley is the clone of Peter Parker. He was created in 1975 by the Jackal. During a battle with Spider-Man, it was thought that Ben was killed, only to return years later after being in exile. This was the madness that was the Clone Saga. Love it or hate it, it happened. Ben became Scarlet Spider first to help Peter fight evil. It was thought at one point that Ben was the real Peter Parker not the clone, as Marvel tried to push Ben with his altered personality and new supporting cast as Spider-Man. Peter took it as a sign to go into retirement for awhile. Ben redesigned the Spider-Man costume (personally, my favorite by the way) and went into battle. Several heroes notice the difference in Spidey which made it harder for them to trust him. Ben was killed in battle at the same time Peter and Mary’s baby was stillborn, leaving his body to disentegrate, proving he was the clone all along, not Peter. We have a soft spot for old Ben and still miss him.
3. Black Symbiote Spider-Man (Peter Parker) First Appearance Secret Wars #7
In the 80’s Spidey was battling in the Secret Wars with a number of heroes. With the need of new threads, he finds a machine to create a new uniform. Who knew the damn costume was alive? The black symbiote gave Spidey a new look that made him stronger, buy it also warped his sense of right and wrong. When Peter was sleeping the suit took him out to fight crime. Peter tried to remove the suit but couldn’t without the help of Reed Richards. Realizing the suit was alive Peter went back to red and blue. The symbiotic escaped to find a new host. It found Eddie Brock. Venom was born. Venom became Peter’s greatest villain since the symbiotic retained all of Peter’s memories. The symbiotic held a long sense of resentment for Peter which fueled Brock’s hate for since Peter got him fired from the Daily Bugle. The symbiote may be best known as Venom, but we loved it when it was still just Spider-Man.
2. Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales) First Appearance Ultimate Fallout #4 2011
The Ultimate Universe in general was not an idea I really liked, at first. Hey why don’t we reboot Spider-Man once again? Thank you Michael Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley for making Spidey good again as they brought a younger version of Spider-Man to a younger audience without the decades of continuity, as well as actually not totally alienated longtime readers. It was good storytelling and decent artwork that was consistent in the new Ultimate Universe. The best was yet to come however. After the death of Peter a new Spider-Man was conceived. Miles Morales was an African Hispanic character, a Spidey for a new generation. Miles is a Brooklyn kid that gains the spider powers through a bite from a radioactive spider just like Peter. Miles differences are that he doesn’t really want to risk his life fighting crime. This is where his story becomes interesting and worth the read. At this point the Ultimate Universe can fall, it just can’t fall with Mile in it.
1. Spider-Man (Peter Parker) First Appearance Amazing Fantasy #15 1962
The story always begins and ends with the normal, 616, Peter. He is always our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. No matter when you grew up, you know Spider-Man. He is one of the biggest icons of the Marvel Universe. Peter has been through alot over the last 60 years. He has in some cases not aged well with the times, but he always gets revigorated better than ever. He has been a member of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. They have made 5 feature films about him. We have a timeless character that no matter how many years it has been, we will always love the original the most.