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You can read the comic book history of old "Web-head" otherwise known as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Bone up on his comics origins, and learn why this comics hero has become so popular that he made the leap from comics to the big screen!

Spider-Man Spider-Man is the quintessential Marvel character. Although a super hero, he is spared none of the slings and arrows of ordinary life; he experiences difficulties with friends, family, sweethearts and employers. His powers enable him to do good, but not to improve his own lot in life, and it is his simple humanity, rather than his exotic talent, that has won him millions of enthusiastic fans. He is one super-hero who has not lost the common touch, and in fact he is frequently described as "your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man."

In his 1962 debut, Spider-Man took to fighting crime for a reason commonplace in comc books: he was motivated by the murder of a father figure, his Uncle Ben. Yet Spidey's driving force is guilt, not revenge; he must live forever with the knowledge that he could have prevented the killing if he had not been so self absorbed. Perhaps he suffers from a classic Oedipus complex; in any case he is certainly neurotic, forever agonizing over the choices that confront him when he attempts to do the right thing. Despite his best efforts, he is viewed with a touch of suspicion by those in authority, and is sometimes considered little more than a criminal himself.

Although nobody seems to understand him, Spider-Man has the spirit to be a joker as well as a tragic figure. He is quick with a quip, appreciates the irony of his endless predicaments, and relishes the chance to play tricks on people who never suspect that he and Peter Parker are one and the same.

As originally depicted by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Peter Parker was just a bit of a wimp. Bright, imaginative, but nonetheless an alienated adolescent, he might well have been a typical comic book reader. Although he has matured and gained in confidence over the years. Spidey is still all to human. He misses appointments, catches the flu when he needs to fight, forgets to put film in his camera and has trouble paying the rent. In short Spider-Man remains Everyman, "the super hero who could be you."

From 1982 to 1988, Spider-Man was seen around town in this black costume,but now he has returned to his true colors.

Caught in the web

The first Spider-Man story was originally intended as no more than a one-shot experiment, and almost didn't get into print at all. "Martin Goodman didn't want to publish it," recalls Stan Lee. Goodman was convinced that readers would find the subject of spiders distasteful.

Fortunately for all concerned, a comic book called Amazing Fantasy was about to be canceled due to faltering sales. "Nobody cares what you put in a book that's going to die," Lee says, "so I threw in Spider-Man. I featured him on the cover and then forgot about him." For the occasion the comic book reverted to its original title of Amazing Fantasy, an appropriate amendment since Spider-Man was to be the most important adolescent super hero in comics.

Spider-Man was the hero and teenage helper rolled into one; he was his own sidekick. Marvel's first editor, Joe Simon, theorized that kid companions like Captain America's Bucky were important because they gave the protagonist someone to talk to; Spider-man talked to himself. In fact he has delivered more siloquies than Hamlet. In his first appearance he mused out loud but subsequently Lee adopted the device of the thought balloon with its characteristic bubbles. "I used those thought balloons to help the exposition," says Lee. "I could put interesting thoughts there that weren't necessarily about what ws happening in that particular panel - something to hold the reader's interest."

Spider-Man, despite the fact that he was not originally intended to star ina series, became the epitome of the radical innovations that characterized The Marvel Age. Lee used him to challenge the very concept of the super hero. Spider-Man was neurotic, compulsive and profoundly skeptical about the whole idea of becoming a costumed savior. The Fantastic Four argued with each other, and The Hulk and Thor had problems with their alter egos, but Spider-Man had to struggle with himself.

In the original story (August 1962), Peter Parker is a bookish, bespectacled high school student, isolated and unpopular. An orphan, he lives with his elderly relatives, Aunt May and Uncle Ben. While attending a science exhibit, Peter is bitten by a spider that has accidentally received a dose of radioactivity. As a result, Peter acquires the agility and proportionate strength of an arachnid. He sews his own super hero uniform and uses his scientific knowledge to build mechanical devices that eject sticky webbing, but he is less interested in fighting crime than in making a buck. Disguised as Spider-Man, he becomes a professional wrestler and then demonstrates his abilities on television. Hw blithely ignores the chance to stop a fleeing thief, but his indifference ironically catches up with him when the same criminal later robs and kills Uncle Ben. Eventually Spider-Man subdues the murderer, but for a tearful Peter Parker, there is no peace. He wanders remorsefully off into the night to the accompan iment of Lee's now famous caption: "With great Power there must also come - great responsibility!"

This story, with its challenge to comic book clichťs, created an unexpected sensation. "A few months later," Lee recalls, "we got the sales figures, and that Spider-Man issue of Amazing Fantasy was one of the best selling books we ever had. There were no flies on us, so we put him out in his own title." However, the usual months of creative and production work leading to publication kept < Amazing>#1 from appearing until March 1963.

Until this time Jack Kirby had been drawing all of the company's new characters, but Spider-Man ended up in the hands of another artist. Kirby drew several pages of a version of Spider-Man, but he never completed a story. Kirby's version was as bold and dynamic as the rest of his work, but Lee wanted something a bit more offbeat and edgy. Steve Ditko was the artist to provide it, an Lee asked him to illustrate the initial Spider-Man adventure. The now famous cover for the first story was drawn by Kirby and Ditko together. "Steve Ditko was a fine artist, " says Kirby, "and he did a fine job on Spider-Man".

Born in 1927 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Ditko had already won a cult following with the dark moody tales he had illustrated for comic books like Amazing Adult Fantasy. An intensely private individual who shuns personal publicity and consistently refuses interviews, Ditko has always preferred to let his work speak for itself. The analogy to Peter Parker working behind the mask of Spider-Man may not be entirely inappropriate. Ditko was the perfect choice to depict the new antihero, a skinny kid who just didn't know what to do with the extraordinary gift that had unexpectedly come his way. "Steve was every bit as inventive as Jack Kirby was," says Lee. "He always added so much." As time went on, Ditko also began to contribute significantly to the plotting of the stories. >From the very start, Ditko's sensitive, humanistic portrayal of the beleaguered Peter Parker was enough to alter the look of the medium forever: he brought a touch of realism into a world of fantasy.

Peter Parker - His Life and history

Peter Parker was only a young boy when his parents died in a plane crash. He immediately moved in with his fathers older brother and wife. Ben and Mary Parker were an elderly couple with no children of their own, and they raised Peter as if he were their son. They rarely spoke about Peter's real parents, so Peter became convinced that his parents had left him because of something he had done. Afraid of being abandoned, Peter worked hard to win his uncle's approval - though he didn't have to worry. Ben and MAry truly loved their nephew and would have done anything to please him.

High School

Peter was an honor student, and his teachers always thought very highly of him. He always came prepared for class, and completed all of his asignments. The other students , however, had little time for a know-it-all like puny Peter. The girls thought he was too quiet, and the boys considered him a wimp. Peter was pinfully shy, and some of his classmates misinterpreted his silence for snobbery. He had trouble making friends, but never stopped trying. He often invited other students to join him at science exhibits or monster movies. But they usually responded with ridicule, and almost never asked him to join them.

May Parker insisted that peter wear glasses, but after he became Spider-Man his eyesight improved. Flash Thompson broke Peter's last pair of glasses during a shoving match, and Peter never got around to buying a new pair. Before hi gained his spider powers, Peter had considerably less than average strength for a boy of his age. Clumsy and uncoordinated, he also had no athletic ability. He had a fear of heights - even getting a book from the top shelf in the library resulted in his suffering severe symptoms of vertigo.

Peter always thought of his Uncle Ben as his best friend. Ben had an extensive collection of old comic books and science fiction magazines that he enjoyed sharing with his nephew. Peter spent hours reading these comics and their stories about outrageous heroes and their intriguing adventures. He dreamed of being a costumed adventurer like Captain America, striking terror in the hearts of criminals.

Peter Parker graduated from Midtown High with the highest scholastic average in the school's history, but he almost missed the ceremony. Instead of attending to last minute graduation details, Peter was trading punches with a superhuman villain, the Molten Man. He won his fight and arrived home just in time to change for the ceremony. Later, he was thrilled to discover that he had won a full scholarship to Empire State University.


Fascinated with science ever since Uncle Ben took him to his first monster movie, Peter Parker immersed himself in his studies. Despite web swinging and a hectic social life, he was determined to be success and to make his Aunt May proud. Peter was more self confident in college than he had been in high school. Leaving home for the first time, he moved into a bachelor pad and even bought a motorcycle. Spider- Man ruined Peter's college graduation. In the week before the ceremony, Spidey was battling the Green Goblin and the Rocket Racer. He couldn't graduate with the rest of his class since he'd missed a required gym class.

Peter finally got his degree from Empire State University, but he continued his studies as a graduate student, and took a job as a teaching assistant. With all these activities, as well as being Spider- Man, Peter's life got a little too hectic. He decided he needed a rest, and he withdrew from the graduate program. Later, taking Aunt May's advice, he returned to college and continued working toward his master's degree.

Throughout his career as Spider-Man, Peter has always been torn between his sense of duty and the mixed feelings he has received from the public. This reception has varied from praise to outright condemnation, and it has left the teenager confused about his role. It has even driven him to the brink of despair, causing him to throw away his costume and renounce his alter ego. Nevertheless, his dedication to using his powers responsibly has always led to Peter donning the mask again in the hope that some day the world will learn to appreciate Spider-Man.

Spider-Man's Powers

His Spider-Sense

He may not know if you've been bad or good, but he can always sense when you're dangerous. Spider- Man possesses many incredible abilities, but his most amazing power must be his uncanny spider-sense. This strange tingling sensation, which originates in the back of his skull, warns him of danger. The danger could be something immediate, like a gun being aimed at him or a punch being thrown at the back of his head. Or it could be something subtle, like a slippery floor or a sandwich that contains tainted meat. While his spider-sense cannot tell Spider-Man the exact nature of a particular threat, it always lets him know when and which way to move in order to avoid the danger.

Spider-Man's spider sense is like having a personal radar unit. He doesn't have to worry about watching where he's walking or web-swinging because it always guides him away from danger. Loose ceiling tiles or rotted roof tops don't trouble Spider-Man because his spider-sense warns him in plenty of time to avoid them. Even if he were trapped in complete darkness, hi spider-sense would prevent him from bumping into anything. And Spidey's spider-sense tingles if someone can see the web-slinger out of costume, warning him that he may be spotted.

Like a Geiger counter that somehow reacts to danger, Spider-Man often uses his spider-sense to track down enemies. He has also developed special spider-tracers that are attuned to his spider-sense and can help him to pinpoint foes who are far away. Thanks to his spider-sense, it's practically impossible to sneak up on Spider-Man to ambush him. Not only can he sense the exact direction of an impending threat, but his spider-sense immediately triggers his amazing reflexes to help him avoid injury. He often dodges blows before they are actually thrown. ...Its one weakness is its inability to detect Carnage and Venom.

Since his spider-sense instinctively reacts to trouble, Spider-Man depends on it most when he is in a fight, weaving his way through a hail of bullets without a scratch. Over the years he has come to realize that his reflexes work a lot faster than his mind. Because he can trust his Spider quick reflexes completely, Spidey is free to come up with the witty one-liners he spouts to distract his opponents.

Wall Crawling

Nothing seems to unnerve a bad guy more than being approached by a certain webbed crime-fighter who is crawling up the side of a nearby wall. Though Spider-Man possesses many amazing powers, his ability to cling to any surface is certainly the most unsettling. No matter how friendly our neighborhood web-slinger claims to be, the sight of him scurrying across the ceiling can be very distracting. The fact that he looks like a monstrous insect whenever he scampers up a building helped Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson convince the public that Spider-Man is a menace. Many people hate spiders, and are easily frightened by someone who can hang from their ceilings and cling to their walls.

No one knows exactly how Spider-Manís wall clinging ability works. Peter Parker has often theorized that he has a form of bio-magnetic power that allows him to increase the attraction between the molecules in his body with those of the surface he climbs. All that is known for certain is that he can stick to anything. No matter how smooth or slippery a surface may be, Spidey can attach himself. He just has to keep concentrating until he can bond with it. Unlike his spider-sense, the web headís clinging power is strictly a conscious act. He can never stick to something by accident. He must deliberately press his hand to an object and chose to adhere to it. Of course, Spidey likes to show off as much as the next fellow. He occasionally likes to run upside down along a ceiling or strides up a wall.

Once Spider-Man has latched on to an object, only he can decide when to release it. No outside force has managed to pry him from a surface if he consciously wants to stick to it. Foes with superhuman strength have been known to rip Spidey from walls and ceilings, but thatís only because these surfaces have shattered under the strain. Chunks of drywall or pieces of ceiling tile can usually be spotted clinging to Spidey whenever this situation occurs. If someone as strong as the Incredible Hulk were to try to pull Spider-Man off a slab of granite, he might accidentally rip off the web-spinnerís arms before the rock would splinter. Of course, there is an easy way to separate Spider-Man from an object. All a villain has to do is find a way to knock him out. Once Spidey has lost consciousness, his body will automatically go limp and detach itself from anything it is holding.

Though Spider-Man tends to focus on his hands and his feet whenever he is climbing up a wall, every part of his body has the same clinging ability. His back and head can stick to surfaces as easily as his fingers and toes. All he has to do is lean against something and he will stick to it until he decides to free himself.

Strength and Agility

Shortly after he was bitten by the radioactive spider that gave him his amazing powers, Peter Parker accidentally crushed a steel pipe as if it were made of paper. He was astonished to discover that he now possessed superhuman strength. Since then, Spider-Man has often told people that he has the proportional strength of a spider; but heís actually a lot more powerful. While not as strong as the Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor, or The Thing, our friendly neighborhood web-slinger is able to lift almost 10 tons. He can bend a solid iron bar with his bare hands and shatter a concrete wall with a single punch. And in one, spider-powered spring, he has leapt the height of three stories, or the width of a highway.

Even more impressive than his spiderlike strength is Spider-Manís amazing speed and agility. When it comes to quick thinking, death-defying, lightning swift, acrobatic stunts, the wall crawling wonder is truly without equal. Spider-Man moves with a fluid and casual grace that canít even be equaled by trained superathletes such as Captain America or Daredevil. He leaps from rooftops, summersaults over flagpoles, tumbles off water towers, and balances on top of light poles as he routinely travels across the city in his own unique manner.

Average people have been known to lift cars in times of stress. Spider-Man can raise a couple of Cadillacs on a normal day. Add in the excitement of one of his typical battles, and his power level can shoot into uncharted territory. Over the years the web-slinger has been seen holding up multistory buildings, freeing himself from beneath tons of debris, and flattening cosmically powered aliens.

Spider-Man's reflexes operate up to forty times faster than those of a normal person, and he uses them to dazzle much stronger foes. Faced by the Rhino or even the Hulk, Spider-Man kicks into high gear ricocheting off the walls, ceiling, and ground to barrage his opponent with blow after blow. THe victim, dazed by the wall-crawler's speed, is left punching thin air.


Every Spider needs a web, and Spider-Man is no exception. Shortley after he gained his amazing powers, Peter Parker set out to create a web of his own. Peter used his high school's science laboritory after hours and, having studied multipolimer compounds for a few years, he produced an adhesive fluid capable of imitating a spider's silk webbing. TO complete the mechanism, Peter then designed and built a pair of web-shooters that snapped on his wrists.

Peter has improved upon his initial design. He now switches between different forms of webbing by the way he taps his trigger. With a short second tap he releases a thin cable like strand that is perfect for web-swinging. A longer second tap increases the strand's thickness for additional support. If Spiey prolongs the pressure on the fluid, web fluid squirts out in the form of an adhesive liquid which can paste a foe against a wall. A series of brisk taps discharges many thin strands that form a fine spray of webbing, perfect for blinding an opponent.

Peter designed his web-shooters so that he wouldn't accidentally fire them every time he made a fist. Resting in the palm of his hand, the trigger works just like a computer's mouse. He must tap twice in rapid succession to release his webbing. The web fluid is almost solid in its natural state. The spinneret {mechanism in the web shooters} cuts the solid fluid into thin strands. Each web shooter has one web-fluid cartridge locked in, plus nine spares.

Though Peter Parker built the original pair of web-shooters, he now splits up the designs for the various parts and sends them to a number of different machine shops in the New York area. To maintain a degree of secrecy, Peter later assembles all of the pieces himself. Peter has also designed a special utility belt to carry his spare cartridges of web fluid. {The belt can carry 30 cartridges of web-fluid.} The buckle of the belt contains a spider signal which can be projected onto his opponents. Sometimes Peter equips te buckle with a miniature camera.

The pressure in Spider-Man's web-cartridges is enough to propel a single strand of webbing up to 50 yards, but thicker strands and more complex web patterns can't reach nearly as far. Each of his web-shooters has ten cartridges, and each cartridge contains approximately 1,000 yards of single-strand webbing. [The] web begins to harden the instant it is exposed to air. Given enough time and sufficient thickness, one strand could even bind the incredible Hulk and hold him prisoner - although it's hard to imagine the Hulk standing still while Spidey applies the necessary webbing!

Spidey's normal webbing can easily withstand temperaturs of 1,000 degrees Farenheit. It melts, but it has never caught on fire. If the wall-crawler is preparing to fight someone like the Human TOrch, he can pack a webbing which resists temperatures of up to 10,000 degrees Farenheit. This type can only be released in strands that are as thick as a clothesline. Its special cartridge can only hold 10 yards of the webbing at a time.


If clothes make the man, a distinctive costume is a definite must for a budding young super-hero. Of course, Peter Parker didn't intend to be a crime fighter when he first gained his amazing powers - he wanted to go into show business, and he needed an exciting look to match his stage act. Peter learned thatMidtown High's dance class was throwing out some old bodysuits. Slipping into the school after dark, he found one that fit him, took it to the art room, and spent a few hours silkscreening a web pattern on the shirts. He also made a skin tight pair of gloves and boots, and with some one way mirrors he found in the drama class's old prop box, he now had a mask. His first spider-costume was finally ready.

Having the perfect costume is one thing, keeping it is another matter. Peter Parker and his trusty sewing needle have spent many hours repairing the numerous rips and tears his costume has received in battle. Aunt May also contributed to Pete's costume woes. She once found his costume behind the bookcase where he had hidden it. Though Peter claimed it was for a practical joke on his friends, she refused to return it. He was forced to buy a Spider-Man suit from a local costume shop. The imitation was so cheap that it began to shrink and come apart during one of his many conflicts.

Spider-Man's boots and gloves consist of a thin layer of material so that they do not inhibit his ability to stick to walls. Spidey can [also] see out through his white eyepieces, but no one can see in. Running from his elbows to his waist, Spidey's underarm webbing is made of a flexible nylon netting. Beneath his costume's shirt, Spider-Man wears a belt that contains his spider-signal, a miniature camera, and spare web artridges. He keeps meaning to add a change purse, but has never gotten around to it. The major disadvantage of a skintight costume is that there's no room for Peter's street clothes. He either webs them into a ball attached to his back or he leaves them behind.

The Alien Costume

[In the Secret-Wars] Spider-Man found himself on a satellite in a galexy far from Earth. Along with other super heroes, such as Captain America, and super villains, including Dr. Doom, Spidey was brought to the satellite by a near-omnipotent being called the Beyonder. The Beyonder wanted heroes and villains to fight a war on a planet called Battleworld. [There] Spider-Man fought many battles and his costume was left in tatters then he found a machine that could replace ruined clothing. SPider-Man triggered the clothing machine and a round black object sprang from it. It immediately started to spread up Spidey's arm, and didn't stop until it covered his entire body.

After defeating the villains and escaping the Beyonder, the heroes returned to Earth, and Spider-Man took his alien costume with him. The alien costume always seemed to know what Peter wanted, sometimes even before he did. He learned that his new supersuit was capable of generating a seemingly endless supply of webbing, and that it could also change its appearance at will. Peter and his alien costume were always in some kind of psychic contact, even when physically seperated. If the costume was in a different room, it came [slithered] at Peter's summons. [However] each night while Peter slept, the alien costume secretly slipped over him and took the unconscious Spider-Man wall-crawling at night. The web-swinger awoke each morning with no memory of his nocturnal adventures. All he knew was that he felt more exhausted before he had gone to bed.

As Peter's fatigue continued to grow he slept through the entire day and began to have terrible nightmares. So Spider-Man went to Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four) for help. After an exhaustive series of tests, Mr. Fantastic made a startling pronouncement. Instead of an amazing suit made of some unknown extraterrestrial fabric, Spidey's new costume was actually a living creature. It was a sentient symbiote who had formed a mental and physical bond with the Web-Slinger.

As soon as the symbiote's secret was revealed, it attempted to permanently graft itself to SPider-Man's body. Spider-Man did all he could to escape from the costume, but the symbiote tightened its grip on him, almost crushing Spidey in the process. Luckily ,Reed Richards had discovered that the symbiote was vulnerable to certain sound frequencies. Using theses sound waves, Richards managed to seperate Spidey from the costume. At last our hero was free and the alien was imprisoned.

Later, [during a power failure] the symbiote escaped from the laboratory and pounced on the unsuspecting Spider-Man. In desperation, SPider-Man lured the alien to the bell tower of Our Lady of Saints Church. He knew that the sound of the bells could free him from the symbiote. The alien, knowing that only one of them could survive the ordeal, sacrificed itself to save Peter. [Rid of the old costume Spider-Man went back to his old look.] The Black Cat, however, thought the black costume was sexier [so] she made a cloth version of it as a gift for Spidey. He used both costumes for many months and didn't get rid of his black one until Venom entered his life.

The Clone Saga

Shortly after Aunt May fell into her final coma, Mary Jane received a phone call from a young man who claimed to be an old friend of the family.

"Profile" and "Caught in the web" from - MARVEL Five Fabulous Decades Of The World's Greatet Comics, p. 94., Spider-Man Super Hero Profile. 1991 Marvel Entertainment Group. Published by Harry N. Abrams Inc. Times Mirror.

"Peter Parker - His Life and history" from -Spider-Man The Ultimate Guide by Tom DeFalco Published by DK Publishing, 2001 Inc. 375 Hudson characters.

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