Posted August 22, 2012 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Comics

50 AMAZING SPIDER-MOMENTS, Part 5: The Spider and The Man!

Welcome to the fifth and final 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, Part 3 HERE, and Part 4 HERE!)

As we reach the end of our journey, let’s take a look at 10 significant moments that deeply affected the life of Peter Parker – both as the “Spider” and as the “Man”. We’ll examine some of the toughest decisions he’s ever had to make, and look at the consequences of his choices. We’ll also be taking a glimpse at some of the most tragic events in his career, and how they helped shape him into the hero he is today.

Without further ado, here are the 10 defining moments in Spider-Man’s career that illustrate why he is truly Amazing.

Happy 50th birthday, Spider-Man!

Photobucket 10. “My Name Is Peter Parker, And…” Civil War #2 (July 2006)

In a bold move that received massive real-world media attention, Spider-Man unmasks in support of the Superhero Registration Act!

Peter made the decision partly because he felt indebted to fellow Avenger Iron Man (Tony Stark). Tony valued Peter’s intellect (and encouraged him to put it to good use), provided financial support and shelter to the Parker family, designed a high-tech suit for Spider-Man, and became a tech-savvy father figure of sorts for Peter. It was for these reasons that he found it easy to trust in Stark’s vision of a world protected by government-sanctioned superheroes, properly trained and fully accountable for their actions. With Aunt May and Mary Jane backing his decision, Peter reveals to the world that he has been Spider-Man since he was fifteen years old.

Unsurprisingly, this turns out to be a very bad decision.

The revelation of Spider-Man’s secret identity had various effects on those closest to Peter. Predictably, J. Jonah Jameson was foaming at the mouth, and his anger coupled with the realization that he was betrayed by the person he almost loved like a son prompted him to file a lawsuit against Peter. Betty Brant was finally able to understand why Peter behaved the way he did for so many years, Flash Thompson couldn’t believe it and maintained that it was all a clever ruse by the real Spidey, Debra Whitman (an old girlfriend of Peter’s) wrote a tell-all book that painted Spider-Man in a negative light because she needed the money, and Peter himself was forced to resign as a teacher due to the danger that his very presence at school posed to his students. Most importantly, however, Peter and his family became the target of numerous assassins and criminals seeking revenge on the wallcrawler for years of incarceration and humiliation at his hands. The fact that Peter eventually defected to Captain America’s side (upon realizing that his “boss” Tony was starting to behave like a totalitarian monarch with a dash of supervillainy) didn’t help matters, and eventually Aunt May was shot under the orders of the Kingpin, which led to Back in Black, which lead to One More Day, which lead to Brand New Day and an unmarried Spider-Man.


Photobucket 9. The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man! Amazing Spider-Man #248 (January 1984)

Spider-Man takes the time to visit a young fan, Tim Hammond, who has spent the last few years meticulously collecting every single news article related to Spider-Man. He also has various trinkets connected to Spidey’s adventures – film reels showing Spider-Man’s TV appearances, bullets that Spidey dodged during a shoot-out, and various other paraphernalia. The night goes on, with Spidey and Tim exchanging more stories about Spidey’s origin and early career. By the end of their little meet-and-greet, Tim asks Spider-Man to unmask for him, with the promise that he would never tell another soul as long as he lives. Initially hesitant to unmask, Peter eventually relents, and makes Tim appreciate the irony that he had actually been selling photos of himself to the Daily Bugle all these years.

The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man was actually just a backup feature in this issue – the main event was a rather forgettable battle with a rather forgettable foe (Thunderball from the Wrecking Crew). However, it is for The Kid that this issue is remembered by fans and included in many “Best of” lists. In fact, the now-defunct Wizard Magazine published a hardbound book reprinting this story, as well as the battle between Spider-Man and Juggernaut (which also happens to be on this list).

I know I provided a short summary of the story , but believe me, you MUST read this for yourself to fully appreciate it, for reasons I won’t spoil here. This story was so well-loved by fans that it was even adapted as a two-parter in Season 3 of Fox’s Spider-Man: The Animated Series in the ’90s.


Photobucket 8. The Talk Amazing Spider-Man (V2 #38) #479 (February 2002)

After a particularly vicious battle with the vampiric Morlun a few issues back, Peter leaves his tattered, bloody costume on the floor of his apartment while he dozes off to recuperate. Unfortunately, Aunt May walks in while Peter is asleep, sees the remnants of the costume, sees her bloody, bruised nephew, and immediately puts two and two together.

In this issue, Aunt May pays a visit to Peter, revealing that she recently found out about his secret identity. While her issues about Peter’s dual life are not completely addressed in this issue, this is a heartwarming tale of aunt and nephew coming to terms with a shared loss they never had the chance to properly talk about in years – Ben’s death. Thanks to this revelation, another formidable ally is added to the list of people that both Spider-Man and Peter Parker can count on for unwavering emotional support. This story is significant because this is the first major development in Aunt May’s character ever since her “death” in Amazing Spider-Man #400. It’s a shame that OMD undid this magnificent story, but oh well.


Photobucket 7. Happy Birthday! Amazing Spider-Man #500 (October-December 2003)

An otherworldly menace shrouded in ancient magic manages to overcome the heroes of the Marvel Universe, and it is up to Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, to save it! In order to stop the powerful Dormammu from successfully reassembling himself and crossing over to our dimension, a time-displaced Spider-Man is forced to relive all of his battles, one after the other, in order to return to the present and warn the Marvel heroes before they trigger the events that lead to their demise.

While traveling through time, Peter is given a glimpse of his past AND his future, as well as the means to stop the spider from biting him in the first place (and thus undoing all the years of pain and suffering that being Spider-Man had brought to him). However, he stops himself, and Dr. Strange helps him to realize the lives he has saved constitute a number that is more than enough to make Spider-Man significant, a thousand times over. Naturally, Spidey prevails, and the threat of Dormammu’s re-emergence is neutralized. However, he also realizes that in the mad rush to save New York, he completely forgot that it was his birthday. For once, something really good happens to him, as he gets the chance to spend five minutes of his birthday with a very special (and dearly missed) person in his life.

The third in a three-part story arc, this landmark issue depicts some of Spidey’s toughest battles over the years, and how he won each of them through a combination of wits, skill, luck, and webbing. The real gems in this comic, however, are a gorgeous two-page spread by John Romita, Jr. showing our hero facing off against his entire rogues gallery, and the last four pages of the issue, illustrated by the second artist ever to work on Amazing Spider-Man, John Romita, Sr.


Photobucket 6. Love At First Slime! Secret Wars #8 (December 1984)

Forced to fight on a distant planet alongside other heroes against the most sinister villains of the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man soon finds his red-and-blues tattered and damaged beyond repair. In desperate need of a new costume, Spider-Man approaches a machine that “looks like it wants to make [him] a costume”, and gets engulfed in a strange, black liquid that immediately takes the appearance of the then-newcomer Spider-Woman’s costume. Able to create its own webbing, mimic civilian clothes, and provide a boundless pocket to store almost anything, Peter takes a liking to his new duds, oblivious to the fact that his new black costume was, in fact, a sentient being that is apparently in love with him… and wants to bond with him permanently!

The black costume was a big hit with fans – there is no denying the “cool” factor of an all-black costume with menacing white eyes and a giant spider emblem that wraps around the torso. Even if it wasn’t meant to last, it found new life (and love) as one of Spider-Man’s most fearsome enemies – Venom!


Photobucket 5. “With This Ring, I Thee Web!” Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987)

In this issue, the geek finally gets the girl.

After being turned down the first time around, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson tie the knot in this issue. This was such a historic event that Marvel even staged a real-life wedding at Shea Stadium to coincide with the book’s release, with actors standing in for Peter and Mary Jane, and the wedding ceremony officiated by none other than Smilin’ Stan Lee himself.

Not everyone was happy with the decision to turn Peter Parker into a married man. However, this remained the order of things for two decades, until, yep, One More Day happened.


Photobucket 4. “If This Be My Destiny…!” Amazing Spider-Man #31-33 (December 1965-February 1966)

This is one of Spider-Man’s greatest triumphs during his early career. As Aunt May lays dying due to a blood transfusion from Peter Parker, Peter races to acquire the cure for her unstable condition. He inevitably finds himself at odds with the Master Planner (revealed to be none other than Doc Ock) and must escape from under a ton of fallen debris in order to deliver the medicine to his aunt.

Almost ready to give up and allow himself to be crushed under a weight he was certain he could not carry, Peter gives himself a pep talk and uses his remaining strength to slowly lift the debris and free himself. With the medicine to save his aunt’s life in his hands, he trudges on, not letting any opposition stop him, and makes it to the hospital in time to deliver the medicine to the doctors. As a result, Aunt May recovers, and Peter’s commitment to being Spider-Man is reaffirmed.

The image of an injured Spider-Man lifting an incredibly heavy piece of machinery in ASM #33 actually inspired a scene in the 2004 movie Spider-Man 2. This scene was also recreated in the Lizard story in Amazing Spider-Man #365 (which ALSO appears on this list, imagine that).


Photobucket 3. “Spider-Man No More!” Amazing Spider-Man #50 (July 1967)

In this issue, Peter Parker calls it quits!

Tired of watching his personal life go down in flames due to his being Spider-Man, Peter resolves to hang up the mask and tights when he sees a television program featuring J. Jonah Jameson on yet another lengthy tirade against his arachnid alter-ego. Realizing that there may actually be a shred of truth behind JJJ’s words, Peter Parker decides that he’s had enough, and disposes of his costume in a back alley trash can. This doesn’t last, though, as a quick scuffle with two armed robbers makes him remember the reason why he became a crimefighter in the first place: his grief at failing to stop the robber who would end up killing his beloved Uncle Ben. He soon retrieves the costume from JJJ’s office and resumes his fight against crime.

The trash can scene is so iconic that it has not only been homaged almost as many times as the cover to Amazing Fantasy #15, but was also an actual scene in Spider-Man 2. This story is notable for introducing crime boss and future Daredevil archenemy Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin… and for starting the tradition of, in Mary Jane’s own words to Aunt May, Peter throwing a hissy-fit about the job every couple of years.


PhotobucketPhotobucket2. The Death of Innocence Amazing Spider-Man #121-122 (June 1973)

The Night Gwen Stacy Died!

In this two-part story, the Green Goblin kidnaps Gwen Stacy and takes her to the Brooklyn Bridge to force Peter Parker and his webbed alter-ego to come out and play. The wallcrawler soon arrives, and proceeds to engage the Goblin in a no-holds-barred slugfest. The Goblin ends up knocking an unconscious (and possibly already dead) Gwen over the bridge, and Spider-Man, in a desperate attempt to save her, snags her ankle with a single webline. Tragically, the resulting whiplash snaps her neck, and a horrified Spider-Man realizes the morbid possibility that he may have been responsible for the death of the woman he loves. Driven  by rage and grief, Spider-Man tracks down the Goblin and confronts him in a warehouse. A fierce battle ensues, resulting in the Goblin accidentally getting impaled on his own glider.

The death of Gwen Stacy is regarded by many comics historians and fans to be the end of the Silver Age of comics. It was something that hardly ever happened in comics; after all, the hero is supposed to win, to save the girl and defeat his foe with zero casualties. The decision to kill Gwen actually came from creators  Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr. and editor Roy Thomas. They believed that Gwen had stagnated as a character, and that there were only two ways to go with her story: either marry her to Peter, or let her bite the big one. Since, at the time, Marvel didn’t want to have a married (and thus, aged) Spider-Man, they went with the other option.

Peter loved her so much that he never really got over his guilt, even long after he married Mary Jane. In fact, it was revealed in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Spider-Man: Blue that Peter still misses Gwen, and that her death has permanently scarred him – a scar that not even his marriage to Mary Jane was able to fully heal.


Photobucket 1. “With Great Power…” Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)

Surprise (not really)!

After all, what else could be the most Amazing moment in Spider-Man’s history than the fateful spider bite that gave him spectacular powers?

Attending a demonstration on radioactivity, fifteen-year old Peter Parker is bitten by an irradiated spider and subsequently receives the arachnid’s proportionate speed, strength and agility. Initially seeking to make a fortune out of these new powers, partly due to the desire to lash out at a world that has done nothing but mock him at every turn, he tries his luck as a costumed wrestler and soon embarks on a TV career seemingly destined for success.

Unfortunately, his desire to look out after only himself and the people he cares about leads him to allow a thief to escape, claiming that it was not his responsibility to uphold justice. After his Uncle Ben is killed in a robbery, Peter chases the culprit to an abandoned warehouse, only to realize the horrific truth: the man who killed his uncle was the same man he did not stop when he had the chance. Thus, Peter learns a powerful lesson that sets him on a path of superheroics: With great power comes great responsibility!

This installment concludes 50 AMAZING SPIDER-MOMENTS! Thanks for reading!

I hope you had as much fun reading as I did listing these stories down. What do you think about my choices for the 50 most amazing Spider-Man moments? Do you agree with my picks, or do you think you could have done a better job? (What the hell are Maximum Carnage and One More Day doing on this list, anyway?!)

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments section, and stay tuned for more articles and comics-related ramblings from yours truly, only here on FlipGeeks!

Mikael Angelo Francisco