In 1962, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created one of the most iconic and beloved superhero characters of all time; The amazing Spider Man. Unlike most heroes of that time, Peter Parker was an unlucky and relatable teenager with normal problems that readers could relate to. Add to that an incredible list of unique villains for him to fight and it’s no wonder he endured to this day.
That said, with a web shooter career spanning nearly 60 years and under the direction of multiple different creative teams, there have been a few moments in Spider-Man history that haven’t exactly gone well with the fanbase.
8 Gwen Stacy’s death was a huge shock
It may seem strange to modern readers to consider how important Gwen Stacy was to Peter’s life in the 1960s and 1970s. Mary Jane may seem like the perfect match for Peter (depending on the story you’re reading, at least) but when Gwen was introduced in the comics, it was meant to be his only one. So for fans back then, it was an incredible shock when he was met with his sudden disappearance due to the Green Goblin.
Even Stan Lee was reportedly very upset with this decision even though he finally gave his blessing when it was suggested to him. The impact of the story was so massive that its effects are still being felt today, and it’s almost impossible to imagine the world of Spider-Man without it.
7 Peter’s parents came back … as robots?
In the 90s, robots were a big deal in comics. That being said, it is highly unlikely that any reader has seen it coming. Peter Parker, an orphan since childhood, was stunned when he was reunited with his parents, no less than ex-spies, after so many years. However, the happiness would not last long.
In an effort to learn more about Peter’s Spider-Man, the Chameleon created Richard and Mary Parker’s life model decoys to work as his spies. When discovered, Richard LMD attempted to kill Peter, who was saved by Mary LMD, who actually had love for her ‘son’. This story has been more or less completely forgotten in the years since.
6 ‘The Other’ put Peter through some strange changes
The 2005-2006 story ‘The Other’ met with a mixed reaction at best when it debuted. In it, Peter begins to have blackouts and intense dreams that initiate a personality change before knowing that he is actually dying. During a confrontation with a low-level villain, Peter manages to nearly kill him in his confused state.
Soon after, Peter meets the mortal Morlun who brutally defeats Peter and even rips out and consumes his eye. In a later battle, Peter becomes more animalistic and apparently kills Morlun before dying himself. Of course, Peter would be revived soon after, emerging from a cocoon with a healed body and new abilities, including an organic web. These changes have since been wiped out by an even more controversial story to be addressed below.
5 Aunt May returns from the “dead”
It is a well known fact that in comics almost no one is left dead. So maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise when even Aunt May returned a few years after her (fake) death, but that didn’t mean fans were happy about it. In the infamous Clone Saga, Aunt May would reveal to Peter that she always knew he was Spider-Man. Later that night, he fell ill and passed away in his bed with his loved ones by his side. It was a beautifully written farewell to the greatest aunt in comic book history.
Except it wasn’t May who died, it was an actress who had been genetically altered to be identical to her, as arranged by Norman Osborn (who was believed to be dead at the time). Years later, when dealing with the resurgent Osborn, Peter would discover that the real Aunt May had been held captive the entire time. Fans weren’t unhappy that May was alive as such, but rather that her genuinely heartfelt ending was so unnecessarily thrown away.
4 ‘The Clone Saga’ went on and on and on and …
The Clone Saga began in 1994 and was intended to be a relatively short story that would see Peter’s clone Ben Reilly take his place as the new Spider-Man. This would allow the creative team to simplify the narrative and have a fresh start. Plans changed when the sales figures came in, and Marvel realized that the story was a huge success.
Rather than letting events conclude as expected, the Clone Saga dragged on until 1996, with countless twists and turns along the way to try and compete with big DC events like Batman: Knightfall. New clones like Kaine and Spidercide would be introduced, Ben would reveal himself as the original Peter and not a clone after all (which, of course, has been changed), and the series would eventually face a huge backlash despite the strong sales.
3 ‘Sins Past’ tried to ruin Gwen’s legacy
The Sins Past story would drop a huge bombshell that not only changed Peter’s life, but also infuriated fans over the creative movement. It was revealed that sometime before Gwen’s death, she had an affair with Norman Osborn. That fact alone was seen as a great betrayal of his character and legacy, but that was only the beginning of the problem. Both Peter and the readers would then discover that Gwen became pregnant and gave birth to twins.
Due to Osborn’s elf formula, the twins, Sarah and Gabriel, would grow up at a rapid rate and reach adulthood in a few years. By then, Gwen was long dead and Osborn taught his children that Peter was not only their father, but also the one who killed their mother. Like The Other, these events have hardly ever been mentioned since.
2 A writer received death threats for a bold new direction
Most of the entries on this list annoyed fans at the time and possibly since then, but that will never excuse anyone from sending threats to the creatives who worked on the projects. From 2013 to 2014, writer Dan Slott headlined The Superior Spider-Man, an event that saw Doctor Octopus swap bodies with Peter Parker before Ock’s body finally gave up, killing Peter with it.
The series would see Otto doing his best to prove that he was a better hero than Peter, but his ego would often get the better of him and eventually Peter’s mind would return and he would be restored as the true superior Spider-Man. The irony is that the series is now seen as a fantastic run and one of the best Spider-Man tales of recent years.
1 Decades of continuity were discarded
The events of Brand New Day and One More Day are still likely to elicit lament from some readers now. However, at the time, Marvel felt that Peter was too old and too difficult for younger fans to relate to. After all, he started out as an ordinary teenager, but by that time he had matured into a seasoned crime fighter and husband. Something had to be done to restore continuity and bring Peter back to his roots. The solution? A deal with the devil, of course.
After Aunt May is wounded by a sniper bullet, Peter and Mary Jane make the inexplicable decision to seek help from Mephisto, Marvel’s version of the devil himself. Mephisto agrees to help the tortured couple and save May’s life, as well as remove the knowledge of Spider-Man’s true identity from the world (after the events of the Civil War). The price? The marriage of Peter and Mary Jane. They agree, and decades of Spider-Man history are either deleted or rewritten so they never get married. Many other changes were made to this massive rework as well, and not many were to the liking of many readers.
NEXT: Marvel: 10 Saddest Tragedies In Comics
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