Spiderman first appeared in Marvel Comics Amazing Fantasy issue 15, which was released in August 1962. The Amazing Fantasy series was on its way out; this would be its last issue. Way back then, the comic sold for 12 cents. Today, well-preserved originals bring $5,000 or more. Not a bad return on investment for the forward-thinking collector.
Spiderman is one of the most popular super-heroes of all time, and his is likely the most recognizable name in the Marvel Universe. He is the hero of books, movies, video games, lunchboxes, t-shirts, and on and on. But where did he come from, and was there really a radioactive spider involved?
Origin Story A: From the Mind of Legend Stan Lee . Among Others
His is the mind behind such entertainment staples as the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk (or just “the Hulk” now, it seems; perhaps his super-strength and rage issues are more credible after 50 years of world-wide exposure), Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, the X-Men, and, of course, Spiderman. There can be no doubt that Stan Lee is a creative Juggernaut (X-Men reference).
But he has not been working alone. With regard to Spiderman especially, the creative process was a team effort. Indeed, he has been quoted crediting at least one of his collaborators, Steve Ditko, for significant contribution to Spiderman’s development: “If Steve wants to be called co-creator,” said Stan Lee during a 2007 interview, “I think he deserves [it).”
The other mind behind Spiderman was Jack Kirby, who has gone largely unrecognized as a creator, but who has been credited with such developments as the suit, mask, and web-shooters. So Spiderman’s development was a team effort, but most agree the original idea was Lee’s. He was trying to come up with a superhero for teenagers and was inspired to create Spiderman when he saw a spider crawling up a nearby wall.
Origin Story B: Mild-Mannered Teenager Bitten by Radioactive Spider
In the comic book origin story, Peter Benjamin Parker was just a normal teenager who loved science, which is as good a thing as any for a teenager to love. He was an orphan, but lived a largely normal – if a bit nerdy – life in the care of his Aunt May and his Uncle Ben. He attended Midtown High and excelled academically. He seemed certain to earn a scholarship to college.
But then, while attending a demonstration on the subject of radiation, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider. He found that he had developed super abilities only moments later when he instinctually leapt through the air to avoid being hit by a car. His unbelievable leap carried him to the side of a large building nearby and he clung, spider-like, to the wall.
Thus did Spiderman realize his powers. Initially, though, he ignored the great responsibility that, he would learn, comes with great power. Tragically, he flaunted his abilities, selfishly using them to win wrestling matches instead of using them to help others. Very early on, he let a street criminal get away rather than intervening on another’s behalf. And short while later, his beloved Uncle Ben was murdered by that very same street criminal.
Crushed by guilt, Peter Parker devoted his life to cleaning up the streets.
Spiderman’s Various Associations
Over the course of 50 years and hundreds of thousands of stories, Spiderman has faced-off against some of the best villains in the Marvel Universe. His greatest nemesis has always been the Green Goblin, of course, a Halloween-themed villain whose items look like bats, ghosts, and jack-o-lanterns. The character has been adapted in dozens of different ways, most notably in the first of the recent Spiderman blockbuster films.
Among his other foes was Dr. Octopus, a mad scientist who is equipped with four large mechanical appendages. He moves around with his four mechanical arms like something of a man-spider to Peter Parker’s Spiderman. In 2009, “Doc Ock” was ranked the 28th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time by IGN.
Peter Parker as Spiderman has faced hundreds of different villains over the course of his guilt-powered crime-fighting career, and he’s beaten them all. He’s also helped out his fellow heroes, making guest appearances to lend a hand to the following all-stars, at least:
– The Avengers, including:
– – Captain America
– – Captain Britain
– – Iron Man
– – Thor
– – Wasp
– – Noh-Varr
– – Hawkeye
– The X-Men, including:
– – Wolverine
– – Cyclops’
– – Storm
– – Gambit
– The Fantastic Four
Across all media, Spiderman has worked with nearly every hero in the Marvel Universe, and has been associated with heroes and villains from DC Comics to Disney. Indeed, Disney now owns most of the rights to Spiderman, having purchased Marvel Comics, Inc. for $4 billion just a few months ago. (Note, though, that the movie rights are currently held by Sony and a few other limited riqhts are spread out to a few other entities.) In any event, Disney got a discount on the Marvel crown, and Spiderman is the largest gem therein.
King of the Marvel Universe
From humble beginnings in the last issue of a discontinued series, the Spiderman franchise has grown to become one of the largest entertainment brand names in the world.
The hero is represented across all media, from live action theater to tie-dye t-shirts. On Broadway, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” set the all-time sinale-week cross revenue record when it took in more than $2.9 million in a single week in January 2012. Meanwhile, the Spiderman movie franchise – on the strength of four of the highest-grossing films of all time – has built an estimated value of $2.5 billion worldwide. (Each of 2002’s “Spider-Man,” 2004’s “Spider-Man 2,” 2007’s “Spider-Man 3,” and 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” grossed at least $750 million in worldwide box office; all four films are among the top 50 highest-grossing films of all-time as of this writing.)
Peter Parker and company have championed no less than six different animated television series, and the franchise has sold millions and millions of comic books, directly and through dozens of popular spin-offs. Look around on Halloween. Spiderman is everywhere. Indeed, with television commercials and promotions on cereal boxes, Peter Parker’s alter ego likely appears nearly daily in most of our lives.
… And, of course, Spiderman Video Games
Spiderman is the hero at the center of some of the most popular video games ever made. The character offers balanced game-play because he’s just super enough and just limited enough. He can’t fly, but he can swing on webs shot from his wrist-mounted “web-shooter.” He can’t see through walls, but he has a “spidy-sense” that tingles when something is wrong. The hero’s limitations make the games better.
Some of the best Spiderman video games are playable online, right here at this website. Check the menu for the selection of Spiderman games available. And watch out for radioactive spiders!