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Who is Spider-Man?

Updated on May 10, 2015

When Spider-Man first appeared in the 1962 issue of Amazing Fantasy #15, Marvel would find themselves with one of the most popular superheroes of all time. He has proven his success in comics, film, television, video games, toys and even Broadway. Most people know Spider-Man’s secret identity as Peter Parker. However, long time readers and fans of the comics know that Peter has not been the only person to don the mask of the famous wall crawler.

Peter Parker

Peter Parker is Spider-Man. One of the things that has made Spider-Man such a popular character is that his secret identity of Peter Parker is relatable to readers. Fans have not only been following the superhero but also the man behind the mask. Readers have watched a dorky teenager try to fit in during high school, a college student turn into an adult and a young man attempting to balance his life. There are not many superheroes who have had an ongoing series with their name in the title. Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man ran for 133 issues, before Marvel simply shortened it to The Spectacular Spider-Man.

Peter Parker reveals he is Spider-Man
Peter Parker reveals he is Spider-Man | Source

Sergei Kravinoff

In the 1987 Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline, the role of Spider-Man was briefly taken on by Kraven The Hunter. Kravinoff was coming to the realization that he was no longer in the prime of his life and would soon be deteriorating as a hunter. Spider-Man had been the one prey he had the need to conquer before moving on. He successfully defeated Spider-Man, by using a tranquilizer gun and burying Peter Parker. Kraven still needing to prove himself superior to his adversary, so he dressed up as Spider-Man and became the new web head. Kraven was more violent in his crime fighting tactics and had killed some of his opponents. When Peter Parker finally dug himself out of the grave two weeks later, he tracked down Kraven and pummeled him. The one true Spider-Man was back, but Kraven had felt he proved himself the superior creature. Kraven would commit suicide, to end at the pinnacle of his existence.

Sergei Kravinoff as Spider-Man
Sergei Kravinoff as Spider-Man | Source

Ben Reilly

In the 1975 issue of Amazing Spider-Man #149, the Jackal had cloned Peter Parker. Spider-Man fought his clone to the death and swung away victorious. However, years later we discovered that the clone had survived and was living under the name Ben Reilly. Marvel reintroduced Spider-Man’s clone in 1993 and began the Clone Saga. At first, Ben was fighting crime as the Scarlet Spider. When it was revealed that Ben was the real Peter Parker, he took up the mantle of Spider-Man once again and the Peter everybody thought was the original went off to live a normal life with his wife Mary Jane. Of course this is the comic book world, so Ben turned out to be the clone and the real Peter Parker was back in his suit after a long hiatus.

Ben Riley as Spider-Man
Ben Riley as Spider-Man

Mattie Franklin

Peter Parker retired from his crime fighting identity, but the city was not without a Spider-”Man” for very long. Mattie Franklin had been a huge fan of Spider-Man. When she took her father’s place in the Gathering of Five ritual, she was granted the gift of power. Mattie now had the ability to fly and possessed super strength. Using her powers for good, she took it upon herself to fill in for Spider-Man. Peter Parker eventually came out of retirement and Mattie changed her name to Spider-Woman.

Mattie Franklin as Spider-Man
Mattie Franklin as Spider-Man

New York

Okay, Technically not everyone in New York City took on the role of Spider-Man. However, the Jackal did manage to infect most of New York City with a virus that caused them to mutate and gain Spider-Man’s powers. The problem is that they continued to mutate until they turned into huge spider like monsters.

Spider Island
Spider Island | Source

Otto Octavius

Doctor Octopus had managed to switch minds with Peter Parker. Octavius was now in Spider-Man’s body and Peter was trapped in Doc Ocks dying body. Before dying, Peter was able to imbue his sense of morality into Octavius. This caused Octavius to understand the motto “With great power, come great responsibility.” Otto Octavius was now Spider-Man and Peter Parker. This new Peter Parker was much more arrogant and was known as Superior Spider-Man. A few years later, Peter Parker was able to regain consciousness of his body and take his rightful place as the one and only Spider-Man.

Otto Octavius as Superior Spider-Man
Otto Octavius as Superior Spider-Man

Alternate Universe

Comic books love to create alternate realities and timelines. It allows them to come up with stories that are not bound by continuity. It gives writers the opportunity to imagine a different circumstance and envision what would happen.

Miguel O'Hara
Miguel O'Hara

Miguel O'Hara

their universe. The Marvel 2099 line of comics had updated characters like Doom and Punisher, as well as brand new characters like Ravage. The line suffered from poor sales and was ultimately canceled. However, Spider-Man 2099 still enjoys a lot of success in the Marvel Universe.

It is the year 2099 and Miguel O’Hara is a geneticist living in New York City. He is experimenting on ways to endow people with the original Spider-Man’s powers. An accident causes half of his DNA to be altered with a spider’s genetic code. Miguel became the new Spider-Man and the first Latino to take on the role.

Spider-Man 2099
Spider-Man 2099

Miles Morales

Earth 1610 is one of the infinite alternate universes within Marvel Comics. It is more commonly referred to as Ultimate Marvel. This was Marvel’s way of re-imagining and updating some of their most popular character. They hoped to bring these classic characters more in line with modern times. Ultimate Spider-Man put Peter back in high school and got back to his awkward teenager roots. After a very long run, Marvel made the decision to kill Peter Parker in a heroic battle against the Green Goblin. Miles Morales had seen Spider-Man die and was filled with shame. Miles had also been bitten by a genetically-altered spider, but rather than using his powers to fight for justice, he attempted to live a normal life. Miles had his lesson in “with great power, comes great responsibility.” He could not help but think that Peter would still be alive, if he had embraced his powers as well. Marvel wanted to diversify their characters and had Miles be a 13 year old boy of mixed African and Hispanic descent.

Miles Morales as Spider-Man
Miles Morales as Spider-Man | Source


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    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with other readers. I have found people feel very strongly about the Superior Spider-Man saga. Glad it is over and the real Peter is back.

    • trusouldj profile image

      trusouldj 3 years ago from Indiana

      It bothers me when they shake up Peter's life as much as they did with the whole Superior Spdierman saga. That's why I search out older stories to read.

    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 4 years ago

      I think the clone saga confused everybody and even Marvel was not sure what they wanted to do.

    • nuffsaidstan profile image

      nuffsaidstan 4 years ago

      Great hub mate you have done a super job of explaining the continuity of Spider-Man, to be honest the clone saga confused me enough so i just stick to Amazing Spider-man.

    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 4 years ago

      Great history recap. Kain impersonated Spider-Man during the resurrection of Kraven storyline.

    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 4 years ago

      Thanks for keeping me up to date. I stopped reading Spider-Man when Dr. Octopus became Superior Spider-Man. I am excited that the real Peter Parker is returning. I knew he would, but could not get into the storyline they tried to create.

    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 4 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      The Prowler is a reformed criminal that Spider-man has often asked to do impersonations for him. This was back when Captain Stacy was suspicious of Peter Parker's secret identity. While he has no powers, he uses his natural gift for climbing and being a "second story man" along with other climbing devices (and battle inventions) whenever he goes into action.

      The other reference about The Chameleon and Flash Thompson come from Amazing Spider-man issue #1 and #5, respectively. The Chameleon impersonated Spider-man and framed Spider-man for it. Flash Thompson was tired of hearing Peter Parker bash Spidey in front of all his Midtown High friends, so he dressed up as Spider-man and planned on scaring Parker. Unfortunately for him, Doctor Doom spotted Flash and took him for being the read deal and kidnapped him.

    • nathalia27 profile image

      Nancy 4 years ago

      I'm not aware of spider man impersonator. It was only now that I know.

    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 4 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      Lastly, it's still under debate whether the Miguel O'Hara Spider-man 2099 is an alternate universe. With the latest plot line of The Superior Spider, the merging of Liz Allan's "Allan Chemical" with Max Modell's Horizon labs to become Allchemax, the very corporation that O'Hara works for when he becomes Spider-man.

      The way things are going, O'Hara may prove to be part of the main continuity.

    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 4 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      True. Because in all of those impersonators, you'd have to include Flash Thompson as well.

    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 4 years ago

      I was including the Prowler and then realized he too was an impersonator. With over 50 years, this list would get out of control with Impersonators.

      Flash, Kain, and so many more have put on the mask to fool people into thinking they were Spider-Man, rather than taking his place.

    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 4 years ago

      I completely forgot about the Prowler. Thank you for reminding me, I will have to add him in.

      I did not include Chameleon, because his "power" is to impersonate people. But thanks for giving the shout out for future readers of the hub.

    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 4 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      Nicely done! That was quite thorough. Although (and you knew this was coming), you may wish to include The Prowler as an honorable mention - he's had to substitute for Spider-man back in the John Romita, Sr. days - if only to protect his secret identity.

      You could also include the Chameleon from Spider-man #1. I know, I know. This draws the line from actually being Spider-man and impersonating the real deal.

      Still, awesome job.


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