REAL NAME: Peter Benjamin Parker
AFFILIATION: The Avengers
FIRST APPEARANCE: Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)
After the death of his parents, Peter Parker was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben in Queens, New York. An intelligent but awkward child, Peter lived a lonely life as an outcast.
However, after attending a science demonstration, Peter’s life was forever changed, as a bite from a radioactive spider gifted him with amazing abilities. Now super-humanly strong, fast and agile, Peter realised he was able to do ‘whatever a spider’ could, such as cling to any surface and sense danger with his intuitive ‘spider-sense’.
Tired of being the underdog, Peter chose to use his powers for personal gain, and became a television personality, the ‘Spider-Man’. Using his great intelligence to craft technological web-shooters to enhance his spider-themed motif, Spider-Man became an overnight sensation.
However, the fame quickly went to his head, and after refusing to use his powers to stop a robber, Peter was faced with the defining moment of his life, as that very same robber would later murder his Uncle. Learning the truth behind his uncle’s words; that ‘With great power there must also come great responsibility’, Peter shed his life of fame and turned to a life of heroics, and begun juggling school, adventure and freelance photography work taking pictures of Spider-Man for J. Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle; a paper that continually branded the hero a ‘threat’ and ‘menace’.
POWERS & ABILITIES
As previously mentioned, the spider-bite that changed Peter’s life gave him greater strength, speed, agility and reflexes than a normal human being. Tiny hairs on his finger tips and toes allowed him to stick to surfaces like a spider, and in time, he would gain greater control of this power, allowing him to stick to any surface using any body part – for instance, he could stick his mask to his face, were he in danger of being unmasked.
As well as these, Peter also heals faster than a regular person, and has a special sixth sense – his ‘Spider-Sense’, which alerts him to danger. Although it mostly functions as a general alert, with focus, he can use this sense to seek out specific targets or threats.
At times, Spider-Man’s powers have increased, due to his relationship with magic forces. Linked to the ‘Great Web of Life’, Spider-Man has died and been reborn with ‘stingers’ that portrude from his wrists, and alongside these, briefly had the ability to develop his own, organic webbing.
Peter is still quite capable without these extra powers. A teen prodigy, Peter began developing equipment to help him fight crime from the age of fifteen, including his web-shooters, ‘Spider-Tracers’ keyed to his ‘Spider-Sense’ and in later years, an array of suits that gave him invulnerability, invisibility and other key abilities that may be needed for missions.
The most important person in Peter’s life is his Aunt May. After the death of his Uncle Ben, May and Peter were left to fend for themselves, but they always looked out for each other. Many of Peter’s jobs or money-related plans are to help care for his Aunt, and much of May’s social exploits revolve around looking after Peter and his friends, or trying to find Peter a date. In later years, she would remarry, becoming the wife of Jay Jameson, Sr., making Peter and his long-time critic J. Jonah Jameson step-sibling.
However, before May and Jay’s marriage, Peter and Jonah already had an interesting relationship outside of his costumed adventures. As a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle, Peter was often victim to Jonah’s rage-filled outbursts, and he pushed his staff to make the best paper in New York, and also, nurture younger members like Peter into greater journalists. One of Peter’s first relationships was with Jonah’s secretary, Betty Brant, and although they are no longer together, she remains one of his best friends. Likewise, seasoned reporter Ben Urich and editor Joe Robertson are important figures in Peter’s life, mentoring him as both Parker and Spider-Man.
While many may believe (perhaps correctly) that Gwen Stacy is truest love, his longest is Mary-Jane Watson. Initially seeming to be little more than a party girl, after her friend Gwen’s death, she and Peter became confidantes and lovers, eventually getting married. Despite her qualms about him being Spider-Man, Mary-Jane has almost always been there for him, and if Spider-Man were ever to have a partner, there would be few people more loyal to him than MJ. Although currently separated, the pair always seem to be on the edge of rekindling their relationship.
Many of Peter’s friends also come from his time at school and college. His best friend is Harry Osborn, son of Peter’s archenemy Norman Osborn. Although Harry previously struggled with drugs and following in the footsteps of his supervillain father, he eventually turned his life around, becoming a savvy businessman and responsible father. Other friends from Peter’s years in education include his former bully Flash Thompson and his first crush-turned-businesswoman Liz Allan. One of Peter’s other classmates, unknown to him, was the investigator/superhero Jessica Jones.
Norman Osborn is Spider-Man’s greatest enemy. Originally a businessman with designs on creating a super-soldier serum of sorts, Norman’s experiments drove him mad as they enhanced his body. Becoming obssessed with Spider-Man, Norman became the Green Goblin, a fate he has tried to push on others, including his son, Harry. Norman is particularly dangerous, as he is one of the few who knows Peter’s true identity, and his overly ambitious nature having taken him from killing Peter’s girlfriend Gwen to becoming a former-leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. (essentially)
Spider-Man’s second greatest foe is Doctor Octopus. Otto Octavius was caught in an accident whilst using his experiemental robotic tentacles, and as a result, they were fused to his body. He has fought Spider-Man many times, and often uses his genius intellect in new a creative ways. He had the ultimate victory over Spider-Man however, as his body started to grow weak and deteriorate – he swapped their minds, becoming the new Spider-Man and imprisoning Peter in his own, dying body. Eventually Peter would reclaim his body, but not until ‘Ock’ had spent several months messing with his life. He is also generally seen as the leader whenever many of Spider-Man’s rogues such as the (self-explanatory named) Sandman, Vulture, Kraven the Hunter, the electrokinetic Electro and master of illusions Mysterio come together to form the Sinister Six.
Spider-Man’s dark mirror, Venom is an alien symbiote that Spider-Man mistook for a costume while on an adventure in space with the Avengers, X-Men and other heroes. Returning the symbiote to Earth, Spider-Man discarded it after he realised it was corrupting his mind, and in turn, it attached itself to Eddie Brock, a fellow reporter that Peter and Spider-Man had previously humiliated. With all the powers of Spider-Man and more, this ferocious hybrid can use his former link with Peter to bypass his ‘Spider-Sense’. Although Venom has a weakness to sound and fire, Peter is generally outclassed when they face off, and is lucky in that Venom has since become more of an anti-hero than out-and-out villain. In turn, Venom has also spawned the even more deadly villain Carnage – a union of a serial killer named Cletus Kasady and the Venom symbiote’s offspring.
Not all of Spider-Man’s relationships with his villains are antagonistic however. One of his foes, Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat has occassionally served as Spider-Man’s partner and lover. A catburglar, Felicia always enjoyed the ‘game’ she and Spider-Man played, and in turn, Spider-Man would go easier on her than he would his other foes. And even if he hadn’t, her ‘bad luck’ powers would make her a difficult foe to catch even if Spider-Man were not enamoured with her.
CURRENTLY APPEARS IN: Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, Spider-Man/Deadpool