1. PETER PARKER WAS THE SECOND “SPIDER-MAN”
Marvel’s chief thought the original concept for Spider-Man was absurd since people hate spiders, teenagers are only good as sidekicks, and superheroes should be anything but awkward. So Stan Lee and Steve Ditko did what any good employees would do and ignored their boss by sneaking the character into the final issue of the recently cancelled Amazing Fantasy. After fans asked for more, Goodman demanded Lee get his act together and give Marvel’s newest hero his own series already. Thus in 1963 the world got The Amazing Spider-Man #1.
Peter Parker’s debut wasn’t Marvel’s first spider-themed character. During the 1950s, monster and sci-fi comics were all the rage. So it was little surprise that Journey Into Mystery #73 featured a household spider transformed by radioactive rays into a walking, talking Man-Spider. Tragically, he was killed by issue’s end, kindly paving the way for a more enduring webbed progeny. Since then, there have been as many as 13 people other than Peter who’ve been Spider-Man, including Gwen Stacy and Deadpool. Of course there’s also the time he turned into an actual spider. Which sounds weird, but not so much when you recall his stint as a pig known as Spider-Ham.
2. SPIDERMAN HAS DIED 3 TIMES
Like all good superheroes worth their weight in web, Spider-Man has died. A few times, in fact– though never for long. The first came during 2005’s The Other story arc when he was beaten senseless by the villain Morlun, who at one point rips out Spidey’s eye and eats it. When Morlun seeks to finish the job later on, Peter uses all his strength to defeat his foe but fatally succumbs to his injuries. No worries, though: two issues later he pops up out of a cocoon, alive and well.
In the alternate world of 2011’s Ultimate Spider-Man #160 Peter Parker gets killed by Green Goblin and replaced by Miles Morales. But since you can’t keep a good spider down, Pete resurfaced a few years later in a random laboratory before driving off into the sunset with Mary Jane.
And proving that the New Millennium has been a particularly deadly time for Spidey, 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man #700 features him dying in battle with Doc Ock only for the villain to possess the web-slinger’s body and take over the mantle for over a year in an attempt to prove he is a superior Spider-Man. It didn’t work. Most fans were none too pleased and Marvel brought Peter back to life in a whole new series as if nothing had ever happened.
3. SPIDERMAN IS A CLONE
The ’90s were a weird time for comic book fans, dark and often convoluted, yet it happened and we try to move past it. In the ‘Clone Saga’ (a plot thread from the ’70s) Spider-Man discovered that he wasn’t actually the ‘real’ Peter Parker, but a clone and the original Peter had been living his life elsewhere as Ben Reilly. The storyline got even stranger when a pregnant Mary Jane surfaces, and it ultimately it’s discovered that Ben was the actual clone.
4. SPIDERMAN’S POWERS ARE MYSTICAL NOT RADIOACTIVE
Everyone knows how Peter Parker got his powers. It was a random accidental spider-bite, right? Well, actually, there’s a mystical element to it that makes Peter more of a “Chosen One” type.
Back in the early aughts, it was revealed that the spider that bit Peter didn’t give him powers because it was radioactive. It was actually the vessel for an ancient, mystical force which had chosen Peter as a Spider-Totem, avatars that protect the multiverse from other animalistic totems (hence why so many of Spidey’s foes are animal-based). Each Spider-Totem is connected to the Web of Life And Destiny, which is basically a physical model of the entire multiverse. It’s this that gives Spider-Man and his fellow Totems their Spider-Sense.
You might be surprised to find out that this concept is still totally part of canon. In fact, the idea was key to 2014’s Spider-Verse storyline, when Morlun and his family, the Inheritors, sought to wipe out the various Spider-Totems across the multiverse.
5. PETER PARKER WAS NOT THE FIRST SPIDERMAN
By the 1950s, super-heroes had fallen out of vogue with their comic book audience. The larger-than-life costumed adventurers that had made comics such a success in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s were slowly giving way to monster titles and science fiction stories. And while the revitalization of heroes like The Flash and Green Lantern over at DC Comics was beginning to jumpstart the Silver Age of the comic book industry, Marvel wouldn’t catch up to their main competitor until the release of ‘The Fantastic Four’ #1 in November of 1961.
A month before writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby would spring their dysfunctional family foursome onto the reading populace, one of the last gasps of the monster movement came in the form of ‘Journey Into Mystery’ #73 in an odd little yarn entitled “Where will you be, when… The Spider Strikes!” In it, a common household spider was doused with radioactive rays. But instead of biting an unsuspecting high school student named Peter Parker, the spider instead began to develop the intelligence of a human being and grow to massive proportions. Able to speak and even shoot his own web fluid, this man-spider of sorts was killed by the story’s end, just in time for the so-called “Marvel Age of Comics” to begin.