Spider-Man Character Biography

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See Spider-Man Marvel Comics


Early years

Peter Benjamin Parker is the son of Richard and Mary Parker, who worked as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and were killed on a mission involving an impersonator of the Red Skull. The infant Peter Parker is left in the care of his Uncle Ben Parker and Aunt May Parker, who live in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York. The aging couple love Peter, but he grows to be unpopular among his peers. Between an uncle who is too old to join him in physical activities and an aunt over-protective of the orphaned child, Peter gravitates to more non-physical hobbies such as photography and home chemistry, encouraged in these endeavors by his guardians. He grows to be a lonely, timid but exceptionally bright teenager who shows more interest in his studies (especially science, for which he has an uncanny affinity that is nothing short of genius) than in social life. He is often the target of jokes by more popular students like Flash Thompson, the high school's star athlete.

The 12-page lead story of Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko give Spider-Man's origin story. Peter Parker attends a science exhibition where he is bitten by a radioactive spider. Peter later discovers the spider bite has given him an array of spider-like powers, including wall-crawling, superhuman strength, speed and agility, and an extrasensory "spider-sense". Peter initially sets out to find fame and fortune, winning a match in a makeshift disguise against professional wrestler Crusher Hogan. He attempts to interest a television network in the idea of featuring him as a costumed hero (with the advantage that he can actually do the things his character can), and creates the Spider-Man name, costume, and web-shooters. After quickly becoming a minor celebrity, Peter appears on a television special, but afterward allows a thief to escape the TV station, asserting that it isn't his problem. He comes to regret his inaction when he finds out that the same burglar subsequently killed his Uncle Ben.

Realizing that he could have prevented his uncle's death, the guilt-ridden Peter commits to a life of crimefighting and lifesaving, driven by his uncle's words, "With great power there must also come great responsibility" (the phrase is often shortened to: "With great power comes great responsibility"). This disarming mix of selfless obligation and self-recrimination brought about by his uncle's death arguably makes up Spider-Man's moral core.

In the earliest Spider-Man stories, Peter Parker attends Midtown High School. After his uncle's death, he and his aunt become desperate for money, so he gets a job as a photographer at the Daily Bugle selling photos to J. Jonah Jameson. Peter dates co-worker Betty Brant and clashes with his high school rival Flash Thompson (whose girlfriend, Liz Allen, he informally tutors. Liz also later develops a crush on the unpopular 'Petey' which further serves to infuriate Flash). He encounters many of his most famous enemies for the first time during this period.

With the numerous enemies Spider-Man made he also made a great number of allies, a recurring theme in the comics. For all of Spider-Man's solo adventures, he amassed a great deal of allies as well including the likes of the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four (of which he was a part of a replacement team for when the original team went missing. The other members were the Grey Hulk, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider).

College life

Peter graduates from high school and enrolls at Empire State University, where he meets Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy. His aunt introduces him to Mary Jane Watson, whom he dates for a short time, but Peter soon falls in love with Gwen. Meanwhile, Harry becomes Peter's roommate and best friend, but starts using illegal drugs. Peter's relationship with Flash also changes, and they slowly become close friends over time.

Harry's father, Norman Osborn, is revealed to be the Green Goblin and discovers Spider-Man's secret identity. After Gwen's father, Police Captain George Stacy is killed in a battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus, Gwen's relationship with Peter is put on hold when she travels to England. Harry suffers a drug overdose shortly after she returns.

The Six Arms Saga

In The Amazing Spider-Man #100-102, Spidey creates a chemical cocktail which is intended to eliminate his spider powers. However the potion increased his spider powers, rather than eliminating them, which gives him six arms. Dr. Curt Connors uses the blood of new villain Morbius to create an antidote that turns Spider-Man back to "normal".

Death of Gwen Stacy

Spider-Man 122 Death of Gwen Stacy
Spider-Man 122 Death of Gwen Stacy

In The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122 (June-July 1973), while Harry is ill, the Green Goblin throws Gwen Stacy from a tower of the Brooklyn Bridge; either from shock or physical trauma during Spider-Man's rescue attempt, she dies before hitting the water. The Goblin appears to be killed himself in the ensuing battle with Spider-Man. Grieving Gwen's death, Parker withdraws from his social circle, only to find support from Mary Jane, who eventually starts dating him. Harry later discovers the truth about his father and becomes the second Green Goblin. Gwen's death has another unforeseen consequence: one of her professors, Miles Warren, clones Gwen and Peter from tissue samples that he'd taken in class some months back. Both clones disappear, but Peter's clone - presumed dead in an explosion - returns years later as Ben Reilly. Later still, Mary Jane and Peter break up, as she is not ready for a committed relationship.

Cosmic Spider-Man

While pursuing his graduate studies in biochemistry at Empire State University, Peter Parker was bathed in unknown energies when an experimental generator exploded. The explosion also caused nearby power lines to overload dangerously. Changing into Spider-Man, Peter spotted a live wire falling toward a young couple. He instinctively caught the wire and was surprised when he wasn't harmed by the massive surge of electricity, soon realising that his powers and senses had been significantly enhanced. Spider-Man's new powers had actually come from the Uni-Power, which comes from a mysterious extra-dimensional aspect of the Microverse known as the Enigma Force, and associated with the entity known as Captain Universe. The powers it bestowed upon Spider-Man seemed to be enhanced spider-like powers, super senses, vast power blasts, being able to form shapes from his web and manipulate them, and absolute invulnerability. These abilities allowed him to defeat a host of foes including Magneto, Graviton, the Grey Hulk, Goliath and a mystically infused super Sentinel called The Tri-Sentinel during the Acts of Vengeance crossover.

The Death of Jean DeWolff

In Spectacular Spider-Man #107 - #110, Peter Parker (Spider-Man) hunts down the person who murdered Jean DeWolff, one of his closest friends in the police department. When the murderer kills another person close to Daredevil, the two superheroes pair up to find the murderer. They later find out that the murderer was Dewolff's ex-lover Stan Carter, aka Sin-Eater. The Death of Jean DeWolff featured Spider-Man with his black symbiote costume.

Alien costume and Venom

The alien costume, also known as the Black Suit, first made its appearance in sketches found in a Marvel magazine titled Marvel Age #12. These early sketches had Spider-Man in a black costume with a red spider-symbol instead of the version with the white symbol that would later be used. The first comic book appearances of the suit occurred in May 1984 in Marvel Team-Up #141, Amazing Spider-Man #252, and Spectacular Spider-Man #90.

In these issues there was an abrupt time shift from the issues a month earlier. Spider-Man was now on Earth shortly after the events of the Secret Wars limited series had taken place even though the twelve issue Secret Wars series had just started that month. It would be months before the change to the new costume would be explained. In the Secret Wars limited series, Spider-Man is taken to an alien planet, where he participates in a battle between Earth's greatest heroes and villains. When his suit is destroyed in the fight, Peter sets out to make himself a new one after seeing the Hulk and Thor leave a room with their clothing repaired, and comes across a machine which conjures him a black suit that responds to his thoughts, greatly enhances his powers, provides him with its own supply of web-fluid, and can change its appearance at his command.

A few weeks after his return to Earth, however, Peter discovers that the costume is actually an alien symbiote bent on permanently bonding with its host. Peter eventually rejects and defeats the symbiote, going on to marry a now-returned Mary Jane Watson after breaking up with long-time girlfriend the Black Cat. However, the symbiote eventually returns, merging with reporter Eddie Brock to become the villain known as Venom. Brock is imprisoned and removed from his symbiote but then escapes from prison when the symbiote returns. His cell-mate, Cletus Kasady (a serial killer), merges with an infant symbiote that Venom left behind, thus becoming another villain, Carnage.

Marriage to Mary Jane Watson

Marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane - Amazing Spider-Man Annual 21
Marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane - Amazing Spider-Man Annual 21

In spite of Peter and Mary Jane's mutual worry that they were marrying too early, Peter's concern for MJ's safety, and Mary Jane's unwillingness to give up her "party girl" lifestyle, they married in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #21 (1987). She attached Peter's surname to her own, making her Mary Jane Watson-Parker. Spider-Man wore his black costume around this time, but after Mary Jane was frightened by a stalking Venom, she convinced him to change back to his old costume in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #300 (May 1988).

Mary Jane continued to model after her marriage, but was stalked by her wealthy landlord, Jonathan Caesar. When she rejected his advances, he had her blacklisted as a model. She got a role on the soap opera "Secret Hospital," but was unhappy with her character's air-headed and mean personality. Although she successfully petitioned her boss to adjust her character's personality, a deranged fan tried to kill Mary Jane out of hatred for the actions of her soap opera character. Mary Jane quit her job out of fear for her own safety.

Due to this stress, the recent death of Harry Osborn, and the seeming return of her husband's parents, Mary Jane began smoking (a habit she had quit in high school), only increasing the tension between her and Peter. Peter ultimately convinces her to stop smoking when he tricks her into visiting an old friend suffering heavily from lung cancer. When his parents were discovered to be fakes, Peter was unable to cope with the knowledge and disappeared for a time. Mary Jane visited her sister Gayle and her father for the first time in years, and finally reconciled with them. Meanwhile, Peter overcame his problems on his own. When she and Peter reunited, both were happier than they had been in a long time.

Maximum Carnage

Thanks to a temporary alliance between Spider-Man and Venom, Carnage was swiftly defeated and apparently destroyed. Kasady was subsequently jailed at Ravencroft Asylum for psychiatric evaluation. However, the alien had mutated his blood, and he could generate a copy of the symbiote (this was later retconned so that the alien had survived, and bonded to his blood). Kasady escaped, freeing other superhuman inmates and assembling a 'family' of killers around him. They set their sights on New York. During the murderous onslaught that followed, Carnage recruited Shriek, Doppelganger, Demogoblin, and Carrion to do his bidding as a kind of 'family', terrorizing New York City with their twisted "family values." Spider-Man and Venom were forced to join together once again to stop Carnage and his followers. They required the assistance of such disparate heroes as Captain America, Black Cat, Nightwatch, Cloak and Dagger, Iron Fist, Deathlok, Morbius and Firestar, although there was a great deal of conflict within this group, both sides polarised between Venom's desire to stop Carnage for good and Spider-Man's refusal to allow any more life to be lost. However, both infighting between the villains and a successful rout from the heroes contributed to Carnage's defeat. Venom pushed Carnage into an electrical generator and fled, leaving Carnage to be imprisoned.

Clone Saga

A controversial[3] 1990s storyline involves the Scarlet Spider, a clone of Peter Parker created in 1970s comics by insane scientist Miles "The Jackal" Warren. The clone had lived incognito as "Ben Reilly", but returns to New York City upon hearing of Aunt May's health taking a critical turn. Becoming the Scarlet Spider, he becomes allies with Parker. To the surprise of both, new tests indicate that "Reilly" is in fact the original and "Parker" the clone. Mary Jane becomes pregnant with "Parker"'s baby, and "Parker" retires as Spider-Man and passes the Spider-Man identity to "Reilly", who remains Spider-Man for several months until a resurrected Green Goblin admits to having switched the tests in an attempt to destroy Peter's life by making him believe himself to be the fake. After "Reilly" is impaled on the Goblin's Glider while saving "Parker", his body crumbles into dust, proving definitively that "Reilly" is the clone. While Parker battles Osborn, the pregnant Mary Jane is poisoned by one of Osborn's agents, causing premature labor and what seems to be a stillbirth.

Identity Crisis

Some time after these events, Spider-Man is framed by Norman Osborn and the Trapster for the murder of a small-time crook after he is provoked into attacking Osborn while under surveillance, leaving Spider-Man with a five-million-dollar reward posted for his capture. Instead of his normal costumed identity, Peter Parker adopts four other costumes with different crimefighting personas in order to stay under the radar — the Hornet and Prodigy posing as heroes, Dusk and Ricochet pretending to be criminals in order to infiltrate with the criminal underworld and gather information. Using his Dusk identity, he provides evidence that Spider-Man hadn't killed the criminal, while he uses the Prodigy identity to produce faked evidence to suggest that a Spider-Man impersonator attacked Osborn. With the bounty removed, Peter returned to his life as Spider-Man.

21st-century Spider-Man

During the late 1990s, in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #97, Peter learns that Aunt May was kidnapped by Osborn and that her death was a hoax. Peter rescues May, then, after thwarting Osborn's attempts to activate gene bombs that will reduce all life on Earth back to the level of primordial soup, temporarily retires as Spider-Man. However, he eventually becomes Spider-Man again to fight a new foe called Shadrac with the aid of Iceman, although he continues in the costume afterwards while simultaneously keeping it secret from Mary Jane. Shortly afterward, she was apparently murdered by a stalker in a plane accident.

In early 2001, Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski began writing The Amazing Spider-Man, illustrated by John Romita Jr. Straczynski and writer Paul Jenkins reunite Peter and Mary Jane- the stalker being revealed to be a mutant who sought to 'become' Peter only to be convinced that he could never achieve that goal due to him having killed-, but the couple temporarily separated. Peter subsequently became a teacher at his old high school, wanting to give some of the kids there the kind of teacher he never had when he was there.

The enigmatic, wealthy CEO Ezekiel, who possesses powers similar to Peter's, suggests that the accident giving Peter his abilities might not have been a fluke, and that Peter might have a connection to a totemic spider spirit. The vampire-like Morlun, who feeds on the powers possessed by those connected to animal totems, comes to New York and severely beats Spider-Man. However, Peter injects himself with a radioactive material, making himself "impure" and weakening the villain, who is then killed by his lackey. After this, May discovers Peter is Spider-Man, leading to a new openness in their relationship; Peter is happy to be honest with his aunt at last, while May struggles to accept Peter's life as Spider-Man and give him her support. Soon, following a battle with the mystical spider wasp being, Shathra, Peter and Mary Jane reconcile during a fight at an airport where Peter and Captain America are forced to save Doctor Doom.

The companion series Peter Parker: Spider-Man was relaunched as The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2. Here Spider-Man battles Venom (Eddie Brock), who is revealed to be dying of cancer and only kept alive by the symbiote. An encounter with the Green Goblin leaves Peter's friend Flash Thompson comatose with severe brain damage and results in a truce that ends when Osborn resumes his murderous ways in the series The Pulse and Marvel Knights Spider-Man.

The New Avengers After The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #58, the series returned to its original numbering at #500 (December 2003). In a final meeting with Ezekial, who gives his life to save Peter's (Albeit saving Peter from a threat he released in the first place), Peter concludes that it doesn't matter whether his powers came from science or magic, and decides to leave the matter alone. He works as a science teacher at Midtown High School until 2004, when the character undergoes a major life change following the destruction of Peter's apartment and Aunt May's house by a deranged and super-powered former high-school classmate, Charlie Weiderman. Peter, by now a member of the Avengers, moves Aunt May, Mary Jane and himself into that superhero team's headquarters, Tony Stark's Stark Tower. Peter officially works as Stark's assistant (A story put out after a tabloid photographer saw Mary Jane leaving the building and assumed she was having an affair with Stark) while again freelancing for The Daily Bugle and continuing his work as a teacher at Midtown High School.

During the events of House of M, Peter sees his life as he has always dreamed it would be with Uncle Ben still being alive, having public approval, being married to Gwen Stacy and having a child with her. After the world is restored to normal Peter demands that Dr. Strange remove the memories of the alternate life and briefly becomes violent when Strange says that he can't [4], to the extent that he attacks and nearly kills Quicksilver.

The Other

In the 12-part 2005 story "The Other", which spans the three main Spider-Man titles, Spider-Man undergoes a transformation that evolves his powers (see Spider-Man#Powers and equipment), which further connect him to the spider totem and lays the foundation for further developments. In the story, Peter is dying of an unknown disease and his powers slowly fading. He spans the Globe and space seeking a cure, but there is none, culminating in a brutal battle with Morlun. In the hospital and trying to recover from the fight, Morlun then appears and attacks Mary Jane, who is in the room with Peter. Peter uses the last of his energy to save her, and then dies. He is then put in a web cocoon over the George Washington Bridge, where his first love, Gwen Stacy died, emerging from the cocoon after having fully embraced the spider and possessing new and enhanced powers. After his return, Tony Stark makes him a new costume to incorporate these new abilities.

Civil War

In the 2006 crossover Civil War, the Marvel heroes find themselves divided on the issue of whether to register with the U.S. government under the Superhuman Registration Act and reveal their secret identities and superhuman abilities. Tony Stark (Iron Man) drafts a conflicted Spider-Man into a task-force to compel the rebel superheroes to register. Following Stark's lead, he unmasks himself at a televised news conference at the U.S. Capitol. In the aftermath, J. Jonah Jameson files a lawsuit against Parker, demanding repayment of money for "fraudulent" Spider-Man photos Parker shot for the Daily Bugle. After developing a growing unease about the Registration Act, Stark's motives, and witnessing the death of Dr. Bill Foster, the Black Goliath, Spider-Man learns that the unregistered captives are being held indefinitely in a high-tech prison built in the Negative Zone by Fantastic Four Incorporated and Stark Enterprises under a US$2 billion no-bid contract. These circumstances prompt Parker to escape with Aunt May and Mary Jane and join the Anti-Registration forces after a confrontation with Iron Man, although he requires the aid of the Punisher to escape.

Following the end of the war, with Registration successfully established, Parker, May, and Mary Jane remain fugitives, and May is critically wounded by a sniper's bullet. A vengeful Parker retrieves his old black costume and brutally begins to track down the shooter.

Back in Black

Aunt May is shot by an assassin and goes into a coma.[8] This provokes Spider-Man to return to his black costume, and to act in a fiercer way than he ever has before, brutally ripping information from his victims. He tracks down the sniper, who is murdered before Spider-Man can reach him. Nonetheless, he discovers that though incarcerated at Ryker's Island Prison, Wilson Fisk a.k.a. the Kingpin had hired the shooter. Spider-Man confronts the Kingpin in prison, beating and humiliating him, then threatening to kill him should Aunt May die. Spider-Man warns the onlooking prisoners to spread the message that the same fate awaits anyone who attempts to harm a member of the Parker family. Upon returning to May's hospital room, Spider-Man discovers that his desperate ploy to cure May with a transfusion of his unique blood has failed, and death is inevitable.

Meanwhile, Eddie Brock, the former and first Venom, is in the same hospital as Aunt May. Without the symbiote, Brock is a broken man with severe mental problems, haunted by an imaginary symbiote. His dark side persuades him to kill May. Wearing a fabric version of Spider-Man's black suit, he sets off to do so, but then successfully fights the Venom within him. Peter arrives, and Brock displays slashes in his arms where he "cut" Venom out of himself. He jumps out the window, but Peter rescues him. Brock later awakens in a hospital bed, still imagining Venom.

Spider-Man also remains a member of the New Avengers, now underground after the surrender of Captain America and provided with secure accommodation by Doctor Strange. The New Avengers are driven by two goals; to save people "the way [they] want to", and to investigate the reason why the world has been turned upside-down recently. After a confrontation with Elektra and the Hand to rescue Echo, the team discover that Elektra had been replaced with a Skrull some indeterminate time ago, but whether more prominent figures in the Marvel Universe have been replaced with Skrulls by this point is unclear.

In Avengers: The Initiative #7, it was revealed that the Scarlet Spiders, a type of covert ops team with powers similar to Spider-Man's and suit morphing abilities, helped restore Peter Parker's secret identity. The group asks Spider-Man for help in capturing a gang called the Vulturions. In return, in front of a public crowd, one of the Scarlet Spiders changes his appearance so he looked like Peter Parker. The Scarlet Spiders lied to the crowd and said that Peter Parker was a member of the group but was fired for bad behavior.

Betty Brant says it wouldn't be the first time that Peter Parker pretended to be Spider-Man in order to help the hero out and believes his self-outing during the Civil War was a similar act. Even J. Jonah Jameson isn't sure if Peter Parker is really Spider-Man, thus, Peter Parker has his secret identity back. However, Peter is not totally freed from his claims of being Spider-Man, but the Scarlet Spiders Red Team hopes that Peter will be given some room to redeem himself now that he no longer has to stay hidden.

One More Day

Just prior to the One More Day storyline, Peter publicly confronts the government's Scarlet Spiders who each wear redesigned "Iron Spider" armor; their appearance in battle against and alongside Peter raised public doubt over whether Parker is the original and/or only Spider-Man, despite his previous public reveal.

Peter's attempts to save Aunt May by contacting such diverse characters as Mister Fantastic or the High Evolutionary fail, prompting the demon Mephisto to appear to him with a bargain; he will save May's life, so long as Peter and Mary Jane agree to have all memory of their marriage wiped from all but a small part of their souls, thus allowing Mephisto to enjoy listening to that part scream for all eternity.

In Amazing Spider-Man #545, Peter and Mary Jane accept the deal, saving Aunt May's life at the cost of their marriage and the child they will never have together. Mephisto explains that theirs is a love that appears "but once every millennia, and denying it to He whom I hate most" is his real goal. Mary Jane offers Mephisto something, but this occurs in small text so the readers do not know the terms of this deal. Peter awakens the following morning at Aunt May's home and hurries off to a surprise party in honor of Harry Osborn's return from Europe (Harry is not dead in this reality). Mary Jane seems to know Peter and is angry with him but readers are not told why. She leaves the party as Peter and others raise a toast to a "Brand New Day" (the brand name for the 2008 Amazing Spider-Man relaunch)

Brand New Day

Following the events of One More Day, Spider-Man's world has been retconned. Harry Osborn is still alive (having been in Europe for years searching for new, talented engineers) and has a girlfriend, Lily Hollister. Mary Jane and Peter are said to have been in a long-term relationship, but things ended badly, and their relationship is now frosty at best. It is also strongly suggested that she is the new Registered superhero of New York, named Jackpot. May is still alive and volunteers in a homeless shelter. Peter no longer has organic webshooters and, most importantly, no one knows that Peter Parker is actually the Amazing Spider-Man.

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