Peter Parker might be the Spectacular Spider-Man, but that doesn’t mean he’s exempt from humiliation. Throughout his long and simultaneously hilarious and tragic career as a superhero, Spider-Man has endured just as much, if not more, tests of endurance and fortitude as any other man or woman to don spandex. While plenty of battles and relationships have gone his way, what makes Spider-Man so charming is that there’s a lot of things in life that don’t work out for him. He is the everyman and as such, he’s prone to getting into inopportune and uncomfortable situations.
We’re not just talking about Spidey fighting guys dressed up in rhino costumes or wearing fish bowls on their head, though those moments do lead the wall-crawler to occasionally question why he tolerates such craziness, but it’s the little things that really add up and make his life extra miserable. Often referred to as the "Parker Luck", Spider-Man just can’t seem to escape winding up in trouble and/or to blame for whatever chaos he’s stopped. Life just seems to enjoy toying with him; much in the same way a cat takes delight in toying with a helpless mouse. Today at CBR we’re looking at 15 shameful images of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
15 BEACH BODS AND VENOM
It’s not every day you see Spider-Man strip to his undies as an offensive tactic. Yet that’s exactly what he did in Amazing Spider-Man #317. In the issue, Spider-Man and Venom decide to meet and battle it out to determine whom lives and who dies. As the fight ensues, it looks like Spider-Man’s spun his last web. Realizing he’s out of options, Spider-Man strips. It’s a bold strategy and funnily enough, it works.
Venom’s expression says more than his words ever could. Baring your beach bod for your nemesis to see isn’t exactly the kind of thing they teach at superhero school. At this point, Peter invites the alien symbiote to rejoin him. Unfortunately the psychic backlash of trying to be with Eddie Brock and Peter is too much and the symbiote splatters over both of them, knocking them out.
14 GIVING BIRTH TO HIMSELF
And so there was that one time Spider-Man gave birth to himself. It was gross. To this day, even though the event took place years ago, readers still go back to the story when looking for weird or horrible things that have happened to the wall-crawler. Long story short, during the story arc "Changes", writer Paul Jenkins introduced the concept of mysticism into Spidey canon.
Acknowledging that his abilities were based on totemic powers, there was also an insect-themed villainess called the Queen. She had the rather bland power to control insect genes. She then proceeded to infect Peter with her Queen-ness. As a result, Peter turns into a giant pregnant spider. He dies, only to promptly give birth to himself. Do yourself a favor and forget it ever happened.
13 THE FIRST BAGMAN
After Mary Jane walks out on him for lying about the fact that he’s Spider-Man, Peter’s day grows steadily worse. Later that evening he has nightmares and suspects his black and white suit might somehow be responsible. Swinging over to the headquarters of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man consults Mr. Fantastic about the nature of the costume he acquired on the Beyonder’s world during "Secret Wars". After a few tests, Reed Richards confirms that the costume is alive and trying to permanently bond to Spider-Man.
The heroes quickly separate the symbiote from Spider-Man, but now Peter is without a costume. The Human Torch, in his infinite wisdom, grabs a spare outfit and a paper bag for Spider-Man to put over his head to maintain his secret identity. It’s silly and a little humiliating, but it gets the job done until Spidey can get his hands on his original outfit.
12 A PARTNER IN TOAD
Marvel Comics is chock full of weird and bizarre characters and one that sticks out is the mutant villain known as Toad. Though he generally spent his early years fighting the X-Men, Mortimer later fell on hard times and became extremely depressed. One day he decided to jump off a building, but Spider-Man happened to be swinging by and saved Toad from ending up as a splat on the pavement. Spider-Man tries to further lift Toad’s spirits by saying that they are now friends and he feels responsible for Toad, since he saved his life.
Inspired by Spider-Man kindness, Morty chooses to dedicate himself to honoring Spider-Man friendship. When Spidey is stopping a robbery, the Toad jumps in to help out. Explaining himself to Spider-Man, Mortimer suggests they ought to be crime-fighting partners. The wall-crawler sadly realizes he might be in over his head with his over-obsessed fan.
11 CLEANING UP YOUR MESS
In The Amazing Spider-Man #264, it becomes clear that the superhero has finally met his match in retirement home attendees. However, that’s precisely what happens when he accidentally crashes into an old folks home. When Spider-Man encounters the young miscreant known as Red 9, Spidey is able to see that while he’s annoying and relatively harmless, the kid will likely hurt someone if only accidentally.
Figuring it best to take him down, they inadvertently go flying into the retirement home, busting the window, and alerting a lot of old people to their presence. Pops, one of the oldest of the bunch and the head honcho, demands Spider-Man cleans up the mess he made. Spidey is flabbergasted; he’s faced down villains like the Green Goblin and Doctor Doom, but none of them have so utterly talked down to him and forced him into servitude.
10 MARY JANE AND BLACK CAT
Mary Jane Watson and Felicia Hardy have been two important women in the life of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Though Mary Jane loves Peter and accepts his superhero alter ego, Black Cat really only digs his spandex-laden persona. Regardless, there was a time when Peter’s secret identity hadn’t leaked out into his civilian life. That changed in The Amazing Spider-Man #258.
In just the previous issue, Spider-Man’s enemy, the Puma, comes bursting through his apartment window while Peter is in his civilian clothes and accompanied by Mary Jane. He manages to get her to safety and after the mess with the Puma is done, she confronts Peter. Mary Jane then admits she’s always known he’s Spider-Man and the Puma only confirmed it. Peter tries to spin an elaborate lie, but is interrupted by the Black Cat’s arrival. Caught in a fib, Peter’s day goes from bad to worse.
9 THE SPIDER-MOBILE
Forever falling prey to that nasty "Parker Luck", getting outfitted with a car didn’t improve his life. The Spider-Mobile, given to him by Corona Motors to promote their new non-polluting engine, could do anything a spider could. The car would drive up and down walls and shoot webbing from a couple nozzles up in front. It’s a pretty awful-looking beast of a vehicle. Spider-Man didn’t use it much, but the times he did, it was mainly to web people up in. The car just wasn’t practical for the web-slinging superhero.
Despite trying to make the best out of a bad situation, Spider-Man realized no good would come from owning such a car and he got rid of it. It doesn’t help that he looked like a massive goofball while driving the horribly designed beast.
8 A SIZE TOO SMALL
Wardrobe malfunctions happen to Spider-Man probably more than any other superhero. The guy just has the worst of luck. In The Amazing Spider-Man #25, Spider was forced to ditch his costume to escape a Spider-Slayer. Unfortunately, Aunt May discovered his back-up costume, and thinking that it was for a prank, threw it away. Now without a costume, Peter ran around the city until he found a costume shop to sell him a Spider-Man outfit. The only problem was that it was far too small for him.
With little choice, Spider-Man wore the new, highly dysfunctional, costume. Hilariously, it started to unravel during the middle of fights, making Spidey web his outfit to his person so that it didn’t come undone at a critical moment. At last though, as seen above, Spider-Man’s had enough and can barely remove the bargain basement Spider-Man costume he glued to himself in the first place.
7 FRISKY HANDS
Spider-Man is a character who has no business hanging out in the suburbs; metropolitan areas are more his speed. After all, there’s no high buildings to swing from outside of the city and as Spider-Man’s acknowledged more than once, suburbia is a little weird for him. In The Amazing Spider-Man #267 Spider-Man encounters a small-time thief who’s able to outwit the web-slinger and get away from him. Luckily, Spider-Man was able to get a spider tracer on him. Following the signal, Spidey finds himself in the suburbs.
In trying to swing from a tree, Spider-Man’s weight accidentally breaks the tree, drawing the attention of a member of the neighborhood watch and his wife. They put Spider-Man up against their car and frisk him. The wife tries her hand at it and is a little too frisky, resulting in the couple getting webbed to the roof of their car.
6 DAREDEVIL STEALS BLACK CAT
Daredevil and Spider-Man have a legendary bromance that’s known far and wide by comic book readers. That said, even friendship finds itself pushed to the limit when one superhero starts falling for another certain superhero’s ex-girlfriend. Spider-Man and Black Cat were once an item for a hot minute until everything went to shambles in classic comic book fashion. Such is the way of superhero romances.
Still, Spidey holds a soft spot for Black Cat in his heart, so when she ends up getting arrested in Amazing Spider-Man #677, he recruits Daredevil to try to bail her out. It takes an issue or two, but the heroes are able to assist Black Cat with her problems. Once things have settled down, Daredevil steals a kiss, and later a bit more, from Black Cat, while a depressed Spider-man watches from afar.
5 PETER THE CLONE
There isn’t a soul out there who enjoyed the multi-year long "Clone Saga". Arguably the worst Spider-Man story ever written, it probably started as a gnarly concept, but the execution made shake their heads in one collective sigh. When it came to the "Clone Saga", fans didn’t know who the real Spider-Man was, but that was the least of their concerns. New characters and story arcs kept getting introduced without rhyme or reason.
The problem stemmed from Marvel’s editorial department, as they couldn’t break out of the prison they’d built around themselves. The result was a completely unorganized and chaotic story. As a result, the Clone Saga lasted a mind-blowing three years, marking a horrible era in comics. The bad news as seen above comes from Spectacular Spider-Man #226 when Ben Reilly tells Peter Parker that’s not the real Peter Parker, but a clone!
4 THE BOMBASTIC BAG-MAN
If there’s one thing his fellow superheroes like making fun of Spider-Man for, it’s his costume. It’s homemade, so unlike Fantastic Four outfits that are made from unstable molecules, or nearly any other hero who wears some kind of protection, Spidey goes into battle wearing only cloth he sewed together. It’s led to more than a few comical problems for the web-crawler over the years. This has forced the wall-crawler to improvise when his costume gets torn in unseemly places.
Quite possible the oddest makeshift costume happened in Spectacular Spider-Man #256, when Spider-Man rescued two wanna-be heroes from the White Rabbit. He didn’t have time to change into a costume, so he settled with stripping to the waist and putting a paper bag over his head, calling himself the “Bombastic Bag Man”!
3 SIX-ARMED SPIDEY
Spider-Man’s suffered a great many changes over the years, but one of the most notorious was when he grew four extra arms. It wasn’t a pretty sight. The Amazing Spider-Man #100 was Stan Lee’s “final” issue (for a time). Without any clue about how to wrap up the story, Stan left Spidey with six arms and writer Roy Thomas to figure out what to do with the mess of a cliffhanger Stan had left for him.
Thomas did his best to keep the ball rolling, and was largely successful. He introduced Morbius, the Living Vampire. The villain has remained a part of Spider-Man lore to this day, but over the years readers have seen less and less of the vampire villain. Regardless, Spider-Man sprouting extra appendages was a dark time for the web-head and nobody’s clamored for the additional limbs to return.
2 ATTACKED BY THE SPIDER-MOBILE
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Spider-Mobile didn’t work out for Spider-Man. In fact, the universe made it abundantly clear that Spidey should give up any hopes of driving a car, when the Spider-Mobile tried to kill him. Courtesy of the D-list villain known as the Tinkerer, the evil inventor used his mechanical prowess to turn the car evil and have it go all Christine on the wall-crawler. No matter where Spider-Man went the car followed.
It too could climb up walls and swing from one skyscraper to another. Eventually, unable to keep up with his vehicle’s prowess, Spider-Man ended up getting defeated by his own Spider-Mobile. The car uses its webbing to ensnare Spidey, then takes him back to the Tinkerer so the old baddie can gloat for a bit before Spider-Man broke free and beat his car and his elderly foe.
1 SANDMAN'S AWKWARD PUNCH
Flint Marko is probably one of Spider-Man’s most infamous and longest-running foes. He started his criminal career as one of Spider-Man’s very first villains. While Sandman was never as wicked as the Green Goblin or vicious as Venom, he demonstrated the ability to prove himself as a worthy adversary. Constantly joining up with the Sinister Six and the Frightful Four, the Sandman made it a habit of fighting Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.
In The Amazing Spider-Man #214 and #215, Spider-Man and the Sub-Mariner are fighting one another in a classic misunderstanding when suddenly they’re interrupted by the new Frightful Four, led by the Wizard. The Wizard zaps the heroes with a fancy ray gun, leaving them weakened. Unyielding, they try and attack their foes. That’s when Sandman lands an awkwardly placed blow, the likes of which has become infamous across the Internet.