Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Marvel’s Spider-Man. On August 15th, 1962 Amazing Fantasy #15 hit the newsstands, and the world was introduced to Peter Parker and Spider-Man for the first time. Fifty years, and hundreds of comic issues later, Spidey is one of the most popular superheroes in the world. Over these first fifty years, there have been some pretty huge events that shaped our favorite wall-crawler, so here are the top five:
The Death of Gwen Stacy
Even more than the bite of the spider and the death of Uncle Ben, no event defined Spider-Man (and changed comics forever) than the death of Gwen Stacy. Amazing Spider-Man #121 completely defined Spidey where he finally learned that with great power comes great responsibility, while also changing comics forever. The issue is considered to be the end of the Silver Age of comics, as prior to that point the heroes in the stories never really failed in such a way to cause their true love die by their own hand. The two issue arc of #121 and #122 are required reading for any comic fan.
The Black Suit/Venom
While Spidey found the Black Suit during the toy-driven Secret Wars event in the 80s, it wasn’t until Todd McFarlane came on board and breathed new life into the books that it took on a life of its own. With a small cameo at the end of Amazing #299, Venom made his first appearance in Amazing #300 and has gone on to become one of Marvel’s most popular characters. Sadly, people in recent years have forgotten what made Venom so deadly as people continue to show Spidey’s Spider Sense detecting Venom. The point of Venom is that he’s immune to Spidey Sense, which is why he could always sneak up on Parker.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man
In 2002, after more than a decade of development hell through multiple directors and scripts, Sam Raimi finally brought Spider-Man to the big screen with box office-shattering results. The first Spider-Man set records that stood for several years, and laid the groundwork for Spider-Man 2, which is still one of the best comic book movies ever made. The trilogy that followed may now feel a bit too corny with too many changes to the character (mechanical webshooters, and a wimpy Peter who cried at every chance), but its impact on Spider-Man cannot be ignored.
Did you know that Peter Parker isn’t the only Spider-Man? I’m not talking about the Scarlet Spider or Spider-Man 2099 (or even Peter Porker), but rather the Ultimate Spider-Man. After Parker was killed in the Ultimate universe, 13-year-old Miles Morales took up the mantle of Spider-Man complete with a really cool costume that was given to him by Nick Fury. Miles has breathed new life into the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, and if you haven’t checked him out yet; Marvel has a limited series titled Spider-Men where Peter Parker meets Miles Morales, and it may just make you a fan of the younger Spidey.
Civil War/Brand New Day
The Civil War crossover was an event that impacted Marvel comics, in both good and bad ways, for years following its conclusion. What it did to Spider-Man still infuriates fans. Marvels Joe Quesada said, when he took charge, that the one thing he wanted to change was the Spidey marriage. And having Spider-Man reveal his secret identity during Civil War gave him the plot point to pin removing the Peter-MJ marriage from continuity. In the years following that, writer Dan Slott has managed to win back many readers but the scar still remains.