Posted August 21, 2012 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Comics

50 AMAZING SPIDER-MOMENTS, Part 4: Things Get Personal

Welcome to the fourth installment of 50 AMAZING SPIDER-MOMENTS!

In this five-part feature, we’ll take a look at 50 of the greatest and most interesting moments in Spider-Man’s history. (Check out Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, and Part 3 HERE!)

Life as Spider-Man is certainly a rollercoaster ride, in more ways than one. Sure, there’s the *actual* feeling of being on a rollercoaster when he’s swinging through the city, leaping from building to building and spinning in mid-air. Dodging bombs and claws at Spidey’s speed would definitely be enough to make anyone hurl, too! However, being New York’s #1 arachnid hero is also one emotional loop-the-loop after another. Through the years, Spidey has seen and survived so many ups and downs, perhaps even more of the latter than the former. He has gained and lost friends, learned valuable lessons, and still manages to crack jokes and smile behind the mask.

In this part, let’s take a look at some of the emotional highs and lows in Spidey’s colorful 50-year career.

Happy 50th birthday, Spider-Man!

Photobucket20. Webhead VS Canucklehead! Spider-Man VS Wolverine #1 (February 1987)

Spider-Man and Wolverine rather reluctantly work together in order to track down a former KGB agent, Charlemagne, who also happens to be an old flame of Wolvie’s.

A lot of significant and surprising events take place in this story. For starters, Ned Leeds is killed off in this one-shot; this is perhaps the first time that a one-shot or graphic novel has had such a strong impact on regular continuity. Additionally, this is the first time Spider-Man is clearly illustrated to kill another person. While it WAS an accident, it is not enough to stop Peter from feeling guilty over what happened. The story also clearly illustrates the difference between Spider-Man’s and Wolverine’s methods, and shows a side of Peter’s photojournalistic career that he wasn’t particularly fond of – taking pictures of crime scenes and dead bodies.

Despite Wolverine hogging most of the action scenes in this book, this is really more of a Spider-Man tale.


Photobucket 19. Farewell, My Brother… Peter Parker: Spider-Man #75 (December 1996)

Remember how, in Part 1 of this series, I mentioned that Peter eventually reclaims the mantle of Spider-Man after Ben Reilly’s stint? Well, this is the tragic story of how it happened.

After being made to believe that he was actually a clone, Peter Parker comes face to face with the mastermind behind the whole Clone Saga: none other than the original Green Goblin, Norman Osborn, revealed to have survived his wounds from way back in Amazing Spider-Man #122. After trapping all of Peter’s family and friends inside a bomb-rigged Daily Bugle, Norman Osborn confronts both Peter Parker and a badly beaten Ben Reilly. A fierce battle soon ensues, wherein Ben leaps into harm’s way to save Peter from being impaled upon the Goblin Glider’s spike. Ben’s fatal injury sparks a powerful rage inside Peter, allowing him to send the Goblin crashing down to Earth in a flurry of exploding pumpkin bombs. Unfortunately, Ben Reilly does not make it, and as Peter takes him away from prying eyes, he turns to dust in Peter’s arms, proving once and for all that Peter is the original and Ben was the clone all along.

While almost all of the Spider-fandom was happy to have Peter back in action as the one true Spider-Man, many fans felt the sting of Ben’s loss. To this day, fans continue to petition to bring back Ben Reilly in some form. Currently, another clone is operating under Ben’s old, discarded alias: using Spider-Man’s reworked Big Time costume, Kaine is the new Scarlet Spider, starring in his own monthly series.


Photobucket 18. Repent, Sinner! Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110 (October 1985-January 1986)

This story is regarded by many Spider-Man fans as one of the best Spidey stories ever told. A consistent placer in many “Best of Spider-Man” lists, The Death of Jean DeWolff places Spidey and Daredevil squarely in the middle of a chaotic situation: A man calling himself the Sin-Eater has been relentlessly killing people of power who have been upholding the rights of criminals. One of his victims is Spidey’s ally, police officer Jean DeWolff.

This story sees Spider-Man pushed to his emotional limits as he finds out that the late DeWolff admired him beyond the professional level. It is also in this story where we see the devastating results of Spider-Man beating up a non-powered individual; he completely flies off the handle when he catches the Sin-Eater and discovers that he is none other than DeWolff’s partner, Detective Stan Carter. A violent fight also occurs between Daredevil and an enraged Spider-Man, ending in DD doing his best to persuade Spidey that the justice system still works, and that even criminals have rights and deserve to be protected when the situation calls for it.

The Death of Jean DeWolff successfully tackles the sensitive issue of criminal rights and capital punishment. It shows that “an eye for an eye” may sound just, but isn’t necessarily right. Furthermore, just like the next entry on this list, this story shows that even a man as morally well-adjusted and responsible as Spider-Man can have bad days…and that whenever they happen, people certainly get hurt.


Photobucket 17. “I’m Mad As Hell, And I Can’t Take It Anymore!” Web of Spider-Man #13 (April 1986)

In this issue, Spidey has had enough!

Tired of receiving negative press and accusatory headlines from The Daily Bugle, Spider-Man marches to J. Jonah Jameson’s office and confronts him, screaming at him for being such an ingrate after Spidey saved his and so many other people’s lives on countless occasions.

This heated confrontation between Spidey and JJJ brings a lot of things to light, most notably Jameson’s surprising strength of character. Even though he does everything in his power to give the wallcrawler a bad rap, he is not against printing retractions – or the truth – whenever Spider-Man is proven innocent of whatever he was accused of this week. Jameson also firmly believes that the Bugle merely mirrors public opinion, to which Spidey replies that the newspaper itself helps shape these negative opinions about him. Thus, the question about media’s influence on the public and vice versa is raised, and while no definite conclusion is given, we get some sort of closure in the fact that at least today, truth has prevailed once more.

This story is also significant because this serves to ground our hero once again. He is not an infallible superman; he gets hurt and angry just like the rest of us. No matter how selfless his reasons are behind donning the mask, he is still human, and still seeks positive reinforcement every now and then. He still makes mistakes, and it is this capacity to err that has made Spider-Man an enduring favorite for 50 years.


Photobucket 16. Hats Off To You, Captain… Amazing Spider-Man #90 (November 1970)

Captain George Stacy, one of Spider-Man’s few staunch supporters, dies saving the life of a child in this issue.

In a violent battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus, one of Doc Ock’s tentacles manages to dislodge a chimney, sending it falling down to the street. Captain Stacy gets pummeled and crushed after attempting to push a young boy out of the way, and by the time Spider-Man comes to his aid, it is too late for the elderly law enforcer. Before dying, however, he entrusts his daughter to Spider-Man,  cementing the theory that he knew all along that Peter Parker and Spider-Man were one and the same. Unfortunately, the death of Captain Stacy would cause an irreparable rift between Peter and Gwen, as Gwen blamed Spider-Man for her father’s death.


Photobucket 15. “Second Star To The Right, And Straight On ‘Til Morning.” Amazing Spider-Man #400 (April 1995)

It’s a horrible feeling to lose a mother… And downright depressing to lose two.

After suffering many heart attacks and constantly worrying about Peter’s safety, Aunt May lets go at last. However, before dying, she reveals something that takes our hero completely by surprise: she knows of his dual identity as Spider-Man, and has known about it for years. This adds another layer to the tall, icing-crusted cake that is Peter Parker’s guilt: for years, he has lied to and underestimated the one woman in the world whom he could trust more than his own wife. As she dies, Peter Parker tearfully sends her off with the immortal words of J. M. Barrie: “Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.”

This heartbreaking and moving Spider-Man story would unfortunately be undone 41 issues later by the revelation that this May was nothing more than a genetically-altered actress engineered by Norman Osborn as part of a highly complicated plan to turn Peter’s world completely upside-down.

…Yeah, I’m getting a headache from trying to find a way to explain the nightmare that was The Gathering of Five and The Final Chapter, so I’ll just let you read about them (here’s a hint: Check #5 on the list). Alternatively, you can take my word for it: The Gathering of Five and The Final Chapter sucked gigantic elephant testicles. In fact, these were so bad that the individual issues that constituted these two stories have been known to turn fruit rotten and spoil meat within a fifty-mile radius. True story.


Photobucket14. What A Good-Looking Reflection! Amazing Spider-Man #149 (October 1975)

Even if he lives, he dies!

In this issue, Spider-Man meets his clone (who at this point had not yet taken the name Ben Reilly) for the first time. The result of college professor Miles Warren’s lovesick obsession with Gwen Stacy, clones of Peter and Gwen were created with the sole purpose of making Spider-Man pay for the crime of killing Gwen. Warren, who took up the identity of the Jackal, believed that, in failing to save her, it was Peter… Spider-Man… who was truly responsible for Gwen’s death. The Peter clone in particular was created with all of the original’s memories implanted; in short, he believed himself to be the real deal, just as much as the original! Eventually, Peter and his clone find themselves dressed in identical Spider-Man costumes and fight until one of them falls and doesn’t get up. As everything is quickly resolved, the last Spidey standing is left to ponder whether he is indeed the original or if he’s actually the clone…

Three issues later, the Spider-Man who didn’t get up would be quickly disposed of in a smokestack incinerator after the Spider-Man who got up decided that his feelings for Mary Jane Watson were something that the Jackal couldn’t have implanted in him if he were the clone (since Warren used tissue samples taken during a time before Peter even realized he had feelings for MJ). After almost two decades, it would be revealed that the “clone” actually survived… and the rest, as they say, is history.


Photobucket 13. The Spider and The Devil! Amazing Spider-Man #16 (September 1964)

The Wisecracking Wallcrawler Meets The Man Without Fear!

Forced to work together in order to defeat the Ringmaster, Spider-Man and Daredevil meet each other for the first time. It’s interesting to note that at this point in comics history, Daredevil was known to many fans as nothing but a generic Spider-Man clone, except much older, blind, and, well, not draped in cobwebs. Hell, even the second villain he ever faced was a hand-me-down from Spidey: Electro. Years later, he would develop into a character of his own and would gain a rich supporting cast and rogues gallery; however, the man who would become his greatest nemesis is essentially another Spider-Man leftover – Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin.

Spider-Man’s relationship with Daredevil is, in a lot of ways, much tighter than his friendship with the Torch. Johnny Storm is the guy Spidey would talk to if he wanted to party or needed relationship advice; Daredevil is the sort of friend Spider-Man would approach if he needed to figure out his life, or if he needed a stealthy patrol partner who ISN’T the Black Cat. Matt Murdock’s wisdom and patience, thanks in part to his years of studying and practicing law, serve to nicely offset Peter Parker’s youthful energy and immature behavior. Additionally, the knowledge of Peter’s secret identity makes Matt Murdock a unique ally, and it is fortunate for Spider-Man that he could depend on someone so trustworthy and dedicated to fighting the good fight. It also helps that they’re both acrobatic heroes, used to operating within the boundaries of the city, and utilizing every ledge and gargoyle to their advantage. These two are like peanut butter and jelly… Well, if peanut butter had echolocation and jelly never stopped talking.


Photobucket 12. “Hey… What Else Could I Do? You’re My Best Friend.” Spectacular Spider-Man #200 (May 1993)

The death of Harry Osborn was yet another tragic event directly caused by the legacy of evil that the original Green Goblin left behind after his apparent death. Harry’s discovery of Peter’s identity, coupled with his grief over losing his father Norman, drove him to insanity. Ingesting an enhanced version of the Goblin formula, Harry assumed the identity of the Green Goblin and became an even more poisonous thorn in Peter’s side. After a long period of tension between them, mostly involving their costumed alter-egos’ attempts to defeat one another, Harry manipulates Peter into a final confrontation of sorts inside a building that he rigged to explode. Despite cheating and eventually having Spider-Man at his mercy, the Goblin has a last-minute change of heart and saves everyone in the building…which unfortunately takes a toll on his health, ultimately killing him. On his deathbed, Harry affirms to Peter that he is still, despite everything that has happened, his best friend. Once again, Peter loses a loved one, thanks to the pain that being Spider-Man never fails to bring into his personal life.

Many years later, One More Day would undo the effects of this landmark issue, revealing that Harry was, in fact, alive all these years, and spent a long period of time recuperating before returning to New York. Despite this event being retconned out of continuity, Spectacular Spider-Man #200 remains one of the most powerful and emotional Spider-Man stories ever published.


Photobucket 11. “Face It, Tiger…” Amazing Spider-Man #42 (November 1966)

Amazing Spider-Man #42 featured a rather forgettable story about JJJ’s astronaut son, John. In all honesty, the only reason why anyone even remembers this issue is because of the last page. “Jazzy” John Romita Sr. certainly knows how to draw attractive characters, and so when he gave the world its first taste of the gorgeous redhead who would one day become Spider-Man’s beloved wife, comics readers everywhere suddenly felt that they hit the jackpot.

Photobucket Prior to her first full appearance in this issue, she was always depicted with her face obscured. However, if the reactions of the characters appearing with her were any indication, she was built up to be a real knockout. Thankfully, Romita Sr. didn’t disappoint; the skills he developed as an artist for romance stories definitely helped in giving MJ the look and feel that would become her iconic image, even decades after her introduction. The red hair, dimples, full lips, black shoulder-baring top, and almost impossible curves made Ms. Watson a clear winner. Hell, even our chatty protagonist could do nothing but stare slack-jawed at this creature of immense beauty.

And to think this is the girl our hero spent 26 issues trying to avoid. Talk about Parker luck!

That concludes the fourth installment of 50 AMAZING SPIDER-MOMENTS! Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the next 10 entries on this list. Also, feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments section!

Mikael Angelo Francisco