One of Marvel Comics’ premiere superheroes, there isn’t another character quite like Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man. Bitten by a radioactive spider when he was only a teenager, the irradiated arachnid bestowed him with a wide range of abilities. Boasting the proportionate speed, strength, and agility of a spider, Spider-Man, at least in the early days of Marvel, was one of the strongest characters around. Even today, in a world of Inhumans, mutants, Hulks, and cosmic beings, Spider-Man can usually hold his own against most opponents he comes across.
Of course one of his powers that aids in his ability to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Fantastic Four or Wolverine, is his uncanny warning sense, known famously as his “Spider-Sense”. Capable of warning him of impending danger, Peter’s Spider-Sense is capable of much more than simply alerting him and allowing him to duck and weave in between monstrous attacks, coming out the other side unscathed. Despite not being included in the new Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense has usually been depicted in one fashion or the other in most other forms of media. Here at CBR we’re going to look at 15 things you might not have known about Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense.
15. IT PROTECTS HIS SECRET IDENTITY
Like any superhero, Spider-Man has to change from his civilian clothes to his brightly-colored spandex and back again. Unfortunately for Spider-Man, he’s usually forced to change on a moment’s notice. Ducking behind whatever dumpster he can, Peter dons his Spider-Man gear. All the while however, his Spider-Sense is constantly on the alert, acting as radar if you will, letting Peter know when it’s safe to change so as to avoid prying eyes and things like security cameras.
Even villains tasked with following Peter, bent on discovering the connection between Parker and Spider-Man, are out of luck as his spider-sense lets him know when someone is following him. It also helps him enter his home much easier, as his Spider-Sense will give him the all-clear, letting him know it’s safe to enter through a skylight without arousing suspicion.
14. IT DOESN’T WORK ON EVERYONE
Spider-Man spent the majority of his career relying on his Spider-Sense to warn him of danger. It worked out for a fair number of years, until it was revealed that his Spider-Sense didn’t alert him to everyone. When Venom first appeared, one of the biggest threats was his ability to appear out of nowhere and catch Spidey off-guard. With no way to counter, Spider-Man was a nervous wreck whenever he discovered Venom was on the prowl.
Yet it isn’t just Venom and symbiotes, but clones of Peter. Sporting the same DNA, they cannot detect each other. Even fellow superheroes like Iron Man have found ways to negate or throw off his Spider-Sense, a trick also used by folks like Mysterio and the Green Goblin.
13. IT WORKS IN HIS SLEEP
Sneaking up on Spider-Man is an incredibly daunting task. There’s just no easy or foolproof way to do it. It’s even true when the web-slinger is fast asleep. Spider-Man doesn’t need to be awake in order for his Spider-Sense to alert him to danger. In fact, it pretty much works at all hours of the day…except for that time Ultron took over the world and Spidey slept through it.
While few villains have tried attacking Spider-Man while he lay in bed, any threat whatsoever would immediately trigger his Spider-Sense, springing him almost involuntarily, into action. It’s important Spider-Man get his daily rest so he can go and fight crime the next day. Aside from bad guys like Venom or Carnage, villains who don’t activate his Spider-Sense, Spider-Man has nothing to worry about.
12. IT CAN TRACK RADIO WAVES
Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense works on a special wavelength, a frequency specific to him and home alone. Like any wavelength, it can be tapped into or even locate other specific wavelengths. His Spider-Sense is particularly sensitive and can be overloaded with too much frequency-related interference. Yet, Peter Parker found an extremely clever use for his Spider-Sense when he developed his Spider-Tracers.
Occasionally an enemy would flee from the scene of battle and Spider-Man wouldn’t be able to pursue said miscreant. When that happened, he’d usually lob a Spider-Tracer on them, a tracking mechanism, so he could find them later. Peter went on to discover that he could lock on to the frequency of his Spider-Tracers via his Spider-Sense; the closer he was to his enemy, the greater his Spider-Sense buzzed until he was led directly to them.
11. IT HELPS HIM NAVIGATE WHILE BLIND
Peter’s Spider-Sense doesn’t just help him dodge bullets and sense when he’s been watched, it can be used to navigate him through danger even if he’s been blinded. Eyesight is of course important in knowing who to hit and how far away an enemy is, but what happens if you’re caught in smoke cloud or have actually been physically blinded?
Spider-Man has found himself in both situations, multiple times in fact. Once blinded by the Masked Marauder back in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, he was forced to rely on his Spider-Sense, and Daredevil, to get around and fight. It also helped him disarm a bomb he’d latched onto in midflight, his Spider-Sense guiding him in the deactivation process. Occasionally, when fighting foes like Mysterio who conjure up smoke screens, Spider-Man will close his eyes and let his Spider-Sense instruct him on when and where to strike.
10. IT DOESN’T REACT TO HIS FRIENDS OR FAMILY
Spider-Sense only works in relation to enemies and potential threats; people like Aunt May and Mary Jane Watson are neither. In turn, Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense is completely ineffectual against his close friends and family members. People whom Peter Parker’s trust won’t set off alarms; this means they can, and sometimes have, sneak up on him and surprise him.
Typically, this only involves Mary Jane playfully taking him by surprise. However Aunt May has, in more than one instance, conked Spider-Man over the head with some piece of furniture, knocking the web-slinger for a loop. It’s also acted as a detriment for Spidey as it allowed Mary Jane to learn his identity years earlier. Since Peter’s Spider-Sense didn’t register her as a threat, he entered his home in his superhero garbs while Mary Jane watched in astonishment from her home next door.
9. IT CAN BE TRAINED
Most abilities, even precognitive ones, can be trained and honed to greater effect. Yet Spider-Man, for reasons relatively unknown, hasn’t taken the time to focus his Spider-Sense. Unlike many superheroes, he takes his powers for granted, learning along the way about what he is and is not capable of, which sometimes leads him to being amazed by his own strength.
In What If? Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1, a divergent timeline following the original Spider-Man Versus Wolverine, Spider-Man remains in Russia with Wolverine after accidentally killing Charlie, a love-interest of Wolverine. While there, Spider-Man is trained by Nebo, the Rook, who teaches Peter to hone his Spider-Sense to the point where it becomes impossible for anyone to even think about harming him, lest it trigger his built-in warning system.
8. LET’S HIM FIGHT SUPERIOR FIGHTERS
Unlike heroes trained in martial arts like Batman or Captain America, for the longest time Spider-Man had no real combat training. He would typically enter a fight and hope for the best, relying on his abilities to pull him through. Against superior fighters, being able to punch hard is not enough. When Spider-Man is focused on the task at hand, working in tandem with his Spider-Sense, he’s able to take on even the most formidable hand-to-hand combatants like Spider-Woman and Shang-Chi.
His ability to predict where the danger is coming from and when to throw a punch allows him to square off against such opponents. Yet Spider-Man is easily distracted and doesn’t always pay attention to his Spider-Sense, causing him to take hits when he really shouldn’t.
7. DOESN’T WORK IF HE’S TOO TIRED
Just like an athlete whose body will give out if not given the proper rest, the same is true for Spider-Man and his Spider-Sense. Spider-Man needs sleep, just like the rest of us, to recover from a grueling day of fighting baddies. In fact, the need is even more imperative for him. His Spider-Sense oftentimes is directly linked to not only his frame of mind, but to the state of his body.
If the web-slinger has been pushing himself too rigorously or is too stressed out, then his Spider-Sense simply won’t work for him. When he’s tired, his brain loses its focus. When that happens, either Peter’s Spider-Sense starts malfunctioning, activating to even the tiniest of things, throwing him off completely or it might not warn him at all whenever danger is present.
6. HE OFTEN IGNORES IT
Despite having a warning sense, when it becomes unrelenting, the tingling sensation can get annoying. This is especially true if you’re trying to focus on saving citizens. Even though his Spider-Sense is a big advantage when it comes to fights and avoiding danger as a whole, there are many instances when Spider-Man decides to straight up ignore his Spider-Sense.
Usually these moments involve Spider-Man having to save someone from, say, a burning building. His Spider-Sense will blare like a five o’ clock alarm, telling him not to go into the fiery building, but Peter will do so regardless; he has to save whoever is there. Other times he has to take a hit to save someone else, despite his Spider-Sense and instincts screaming for him to get out of the way.
5. HE’S LOST HIS SPIDER-SENSE MULTIPLE TIMES
Like many superheroes who’ve found themselves losing their powers at one time or another, the same is true for Spider-Man. The Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin have both nullified his Spider-Sense completely, leaving Peter helpless. There have also been bizarre happenstances, like Peter purposefully getting rid of his powers or even super villain devices going off in his face, robbing him of his abilities.
After Spider-Man unleashed a device that wiped out the insect-sense of Alistair Smythe and his insect army, his Spider-Sense got wiped out for a lengthy period. There was a learning curve, as he’d never been without his Spider-Sense for more than a couple days. In finding new ways to adjust, he acquired armor (something to be discussed later) and trained under Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu, to adopt a combative style that would compliment his remaining spider-powers and not render him helpless in battle.
4. IT CAN BE USED AGAINST HIM
While Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense makes it difficult for foes to catch him off guard, there are those who’ve been clever enough to find ways to turn the danger sense against the wall-crawler. During Marvel’s first Civil War, Iron Man was able to successfully counter Spidey’s Spider-Sense, having studied the ability and discovered a way to create a pheromone that would mislead it, leaving Spider-Man open as he looked in the wrong direction for a threat.
In What If? The Punisher Killed Spider-Man, the Punisher studies Spidey for weeks, before devising a plan that kills the hero. In the issue, the Punisher makes a decoy Doctor Octopus, and fills it with plastic explosives. Upon confronting the fake villain his Spider-Sense is blaring, but for all the wrong reasons; Spider-Man thinks he’s being warned about Doc Ock. He’s unable to escape the explosion and is killed.
3. SPIDER-MAN NEEDS SPECIAL ARMOR WITHOUT IT
When Spider-Man loses his Spider-Sense, he’s done everything from endure rigorous martial arts training to simply entering a fight and hoping for the best. On those occasions where he thinks ahead, realizing preparation might actually help, he’s designed specialized armor to make up for his lack of Spider-Sense.
Perhaps the greatest example of this is the Spider-Armor MK II, the second version of his Spider-Armor. Peter created it specifically to make up for his lack of Spider-Sense. He built the suit to fight Massacre, an insane gun-toting villain and overall maniac. Without his Spider-Sense, Peter realized he’d probably get shot when they fought, but the MK II armor was so durable it could take shots from everything from machine gun fire to grenade launchers. Thus, Spider-Man easily defeated Massacre.
2. IT CAN FIND HIDDEN DOORWAYS
Out of all the many ways Spider-Man has applied his trusty Spider-Sense, finding doors is certainly one of the more creative. You never know when you’re going to wind up in some villain’s lair and looking for a way out. Alas, most bad guys like to create elaborate exits that are neigh impossible to find. It acts similarly to when Spider-Man is blind and uses his Spider-Sense to get him around town or help him react accordingly during a fight.
In this case, Peter Parker’s Spider-Sense can be used to find hidden doorways and secret passageways. Alternatively, it’s especially crucial if Spider-Man can’t decide between multiple doorways. He’ll then let his Spider-Sense instruct him, telling him which entryway might be a trap and which one might lead to safe passage.
1. SCARLET SPIDER’S SPIDER-SENSE WORKS ON VENOM
Long ago, in the relatively early days of Spider-Man, the mad professor Miles Warren cloned Spider-Man. Out of that insane cloning process Ben Reilly was born. Essentially the perfect genetic twin of Peter Parker, it would be years before he surfaced again. When he did, it would mark the beginning of the infamous “Clone Saga”. For a while it was believed Ben was the real deal and Peter was the clone; Ben took up the mantle of Spider-Man.
As the new web-slinger, Ben proved to be a more effective superhero, taking down enemies like Venom easily, someone who Peter always struggled terribly against. Yet it wasn’t just Ben’s superior skills that won the day, but his Spider-Sense. Unlike Peter, it had no problem warning him against symbiotes. It was a far more effective warning system than Peter’s Spider-Sense since Ben was cloned before Peter’s interaction with the symbiote.
Know of any more fun facts about Spidey’s Spider-Sense? Let us know about them in the comments!
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