Happy Spider-Man Day, True Believers! What’s that? You’ve never heard of Spider-Man Day? That’s the day set aside to commemorate all things Peter Parker, aka the Amazing Spider-Man. Since his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 (cover-dated August, 1962) at the hands of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the character has achieved worldwide popularity and acclaim, becoming a star of comics, animation, toys, and film. Since we have the great power of the press, it is our great responsibility to celebrate him. Granted, editorial can’t decide if he’s a threat or a menace, so we’ll take the offbeat path and cover eight of the more unusual facts about your friendly neighborhood hero.
1. He Once Fought Crime with a Bag on His Head
In Amazing Spider-Man #258 (written by Tom DeFalco with art by Ron Frenz and Joe Rubenstein) from 1984, Spider-Man was contending with the growing menace of the alien costume he acquired during the Secret Wars event. With the help of the Fantastic Four, Spidey managed to get the costume off and under containment at the FF’s Baxter Building. Mr. Fantastic loaned Spidey a spare FF costume so he could get home, but Peter still needed to cover his face. Enter the Human Torch, who provided Spider-Man with a . . . paper bag with eye holes. This might have been fine in the short term, but Spider-Man ran across a shoot-out between police and criminals and dropped in to help out. Of course, there was press nearby and the super-hero swung away super-embarrassed.
2. His Costume Came to Life
Going back to that alien costume, it turned out that in Secret Wars #8, Spider-Man had accidentally set free an alien symbiote that had approximated the look of a black costume. He began to wear the outfit, but felt it influencing his actions. Though Spider-Man did free himself from the alien, it wasn’t done with him yet. Eventually, the symbiote would find and bond with Peter Parker’s photographer rival Eddie Brock. The lethal pairing would become the villain known as Venom. Over time, Venom has gone through many permutations and host bodies, sometimes acting heroically and sometimes acting as pure evil. Regardless, the character became wildly popular and will be featured in its own feature film, Venom, later this year.
Trailer for the Sony film Venom, 2018.
3. There’s a Spider-Man in Every Reality
Comic books LOVE the Multiverse Theory. That’s the concept that we live in but one of an infinite number of universes. In comics, the trend generally dictates that each universe contains different versions of our heroes; in some cases they’re villains, in some they’re radically different. The Spider-Verse event, primarily written by Dan Slott, pitted the Spider-Men (and Women) of a number realities against Spidey’s old nemesis Morlun and his family, The Inheritors, who wanted to hunt down and feed on the powers of the spider-heroes. Among the alternate Parkers that joined the fun were Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen (from a reality where Peter’s doomed girlfriend Gwen Stacy became a spider-hero), Spider-Man U.K., Cyborg Spider-Man, Spider-Punk (yes, a punk rock version of the web-slinger), and the much-loved anthropomorphic hero, Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.
4. He Thought He Was His Own Clone
What’s crazier than multiple Spider-Men? Multiple CLONE Spider-Men! In the mid-’70s, the Jackal (created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru) began a campaign of terror against Spider-Man because he blamed the hero for the death of Gwen Stacy. Part of his plan involved creating a clone. Many years later, in the ’90s, the clone re-emerged. The clone, now using the name Ben Reilly, and Peter became convinced that they’d switched places and that BEN was the real Peter while Peter was the clone. The Clone Saga became the source of huge fan controversy that was only (partially) resolved when Ben died in a battle with the Green Goblin and underwent clone degeneration, revealing that Peter had been the genuine article all along. However, we also found out that Ben wasn’t the only clone, and currently, two clones of Peter (Ben, using the alias Scarlet Spider, and Kaine) also operate in the Marvel Comics universe.
5. His Parents Were Secret Agents
Richard Parker and Mary Fitzpatrick met at work. Only their jobs were at the C.I.A. The two agents fell in love, married, and operated as a team. On one mission, they rescued a Canadian agent that would turn out to be the man named Logan (or Wolverine, if you prefer). When their son Peter was born, Richard and Mary would leave him with Richard’s older brother Ben and Ben’s wife May. One day, Richard and Mary went off to face the Red Skull, and they never returned. As such, Peter was raised by Uncle Ben and Aunt May; he wouldn’t discover the truth about them until years later, a story chronicled in Amazing Spider Man Annual #5 from 1968.
6. Doctor Octopus Took Over His Body
Doc Ock was dying! But like a lot of creatures, a dying Doc Ock is a dangerous Doc Ock. The evil genius figured out a way to switch minds with Spider-Man so that the hero was trapped in the dying body. However, Peter had the last laugh; while fighting an out-of-control Octobot, Doctor Octopus (as Spider-Man) is forced to relive Peter’s memories of loss and heroism. Realizing that he should be a better person, Doc Ock saves the day as Peter Parker dies in this body. Doctor Octopus, still upholding the ruse that he’s Spider-Man, vows to become a superior Spider-Man, a better man and hero than Peter could be. Eventually, it’s revealed that Peter’s mind is still alive inside his own body. During a crucial moment where his love Anna Marie is in danger, Doc Ock allows Spider-Man to retake control of his body to save her, admitting that Peter Parker was the superior Spider-Man all along.
7. An Automatic Camera Did His Job
No clones, possessed bodies, multiple Spider-people or alien costumes here. We just think it’s funny that Peter Parker made a living for years as a photographer by using an automatic camera to take pictures of himself in action for money. In a super-hero universe filled with billionaires like Tony Stark, scientists like Reed Richards, or even occasional taxi drivers (one of Moon Knight’s personalities; long story), making money off of a camera setting seems like a fairly hilarious occupation.
8. The Spider Bit Someone Else
We all know that Peter Parker got his powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Did you know that the spider lived long enough to bite someone else? That someone was Cindy Moon, another young student. Cindy was trained by sometime spider-character mentor Ezekiel, and he locked her in a bunker for safety when the threat of Morlun first appeared. Unfortunately, she was in there for years until Spider-Man found out the truth and freed her; at that point, she adopted the heroic identity of Silk. Even more unfortunately, her freedom is what attracted the attention of the Inheritors, kicking off the events of the Spider-Verse above. These days, Cindy is a trainee in S.H.I.E.L.D. academy and adventures alongside Peter and other heroes.
There you go, hero fans! Those are some of the strange tales that surround your favorite web-head. And we didn’t even mention the time that his wife traded their marriage to a demon to save Aunt May! As they say, there’s always next year.