Spider-Man has hung up his webs many times over the years, but how did Peter Parker first abandon his wall-climbing identity?
Over the years, being Spider-Man has taken its toll on Peter Parker. The wall-crawler has posted his web shooters on more than one occasion. However, Peter quit his job as Spider-Man much earlier in his career than some would suspect.
One could argue that Peter first stopped using cobwebs all the way in The amazing Spider Man # 3, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, after suffering their first defeat by Doctor Octopus. While this battle forced Peter to question his identity as Spider-Man, he never officially left him. Rather, the cobweb boss spent most of the trouble brooding over his defeat until the Human Torch inspired him to get back into the game. The first time Peter was about to truly give up was in The amazing Spider Man # 17 by Lee and Ditko. At this point, Peter was still in high school, fighting as a hero and as a student. Flash Thompson constantly harassed Peter, his relationship with Betty Brant had its ups and downs, and J. Jonah Jameson kept tainting Spider-Man’s name in the Daily Bugle.
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For a moment, the situation with the wall-crawler improved when Flash announced the opening of the “Spider-Man Fan Club.” The club desperately wanted Spider-Man to appear at their first meeting. Eager for good publicity, Peter disguised himself to play the role of the cobweb-throwing wonder. During the performance, however, Green Goblin appeared, attempting to kill Spider-Man. A huge fight broke out, prompting the Human Torch to intervene. As the heroes fought the Goblin, Peter heard a phone call addressed to him. A doctor was on the other line, saying that Aunt May had suffered a heart attack. Immediately, Peter ran away from the fight, desperate to find his aunt.
After seeing Spider-Man run away, everyone labeled the cobweb thrower a coward. Jameson had a field day with this event, taking the opportunity to publicly embarrass Spider-Man. Despite this bad press, Peter was more concerned about Aunt May than anything else. The young wall-crawler felt guilty that he was not taking better care of his sick aunt. In an attempt to pay Aunt May’s hospital bills, Peter attempted to sell his nets to scientists and market his Spider-Man identity on trading cards. Unfortunately, no one was willing to buy the web head tricks.
When Peter saw a robbery nearby, he almost intervened to stop the criminals. However, with Aunt May to worry about, she couldn’t put herself in danger. Then Peter did the unexpected: he called the police. In fact, Peter had cared so much about Aunt May that he could no longer afford to endanger her life. Spider-Man recalled his recent fight with the Sinister Six, thinking about how close he came to death. Villains like Electro or Mysterio could have finished him off at any time.
The anxiety of these thoughts washed over them, especially later, when he encountered the Sandman. Flint Marko tried to fight Spider-Man, but the wall-crawler escaped again, scared to leave Aunt May alone. Although everyone labeled Spider-Man a coward, Flash Thompson couldn’t believe it. In an attempt to clear his idol’s name, Flash disguised himself as Spider-Man and took on a gang of thieves. Beaten senselessly, Flash was only saved by the timely arrival of the police. With people suffering, his name tarnished, and Aunt May dangerously ill, Peter was willing to give up his life as Spider-Man. Right after Peter threw away his costume, however, Aunt May inspired him. When telling Peter not to worry about her, Aunt May insisted that the Parkers were tougher than they looked. May’s will to live led Peter to face his fears and revert to Spider-Man.
With his nets once again, Spider-Man returned with a vengeance. The cobweb thrower approached criminals with new vigor as he handled his personal life as Peter Parker with a more positive attitude. After the Enforcers captured the Human Torch, Spider-Man went on the hunt for his fellow teenage hero. Finding the Torch in an old warehouse, the wall-crawler entered, attacking the Sandman, the Enforcers, and a host of criminals. During the fight, Spider-Man released the Torch and they defeated the entire gang together. While the Sandman almost escaped, the heroes tired him so much that the police easily caught him. From this point on, Spider-Man was back, unafraid of risking his life for others. If it weren’t for Aunt May’s strength and wisdom, Peter would have hung up his nets forever.
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