From the beginning of his comic book career in "Amazing Fantasy" #15, Peter "Spider-Man" Parker's Aunt May has played a huge role in his life. When her husband (his uncle) Ben died, Peter had to step up to take care of the woman who had raised him ever since his parents had died. For years, "Amazing Spider-Man" had stories where Peter had to raise money to help keep Aunt May from being evicted or pay for Aunt May's medicine. May's frailty was a key plot point in many issues.
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Due to that closeness, Peter and May could not help but get caught up in the occasional awkward moment together, especially considering the difficulties of hiding a secret identity from someone you spend that much time with! Here, then, are the 15 most awkward moments between Spider-Man and his Aunt May.
15 May Finds Peter's Costume
Pretty much any teenage boy would tell you that they would not be thrilled with the idea of their mother or legal guardian looking through their room, especially in hiding places like behind bookshelves. Heck, we imagine that most mothers and/or legal guardians probably wouldn't like to find what they sometimes find when they do those types of searches. However, when you're hiding a secret identity as a superhero, you probably should have a better hiding spot for your costume!
In "Amazing Spider-Man" #25, though, that's just what happened to Peter as he came home to find that Aunt May had found his spare Spider-Man costume. Since he had just abandoned his main costume in a fight earlier in the issue, Peter was now without a costume entirely! He ended up having to buy a store-bought costume the next issue! Early Steve Ditko/Stan Lee issues really worked the whole "real life" superhero problems well.
14 "Peter" Chastises May
In a storyline that ended in "Amazing Spider-Man" #700, Otto Octavius, the longtime Spider-Man foe better known as Doctor Octopus, switched bodies with Peter Parker and Peter seemingly died while in Otto's body. However, Otto still had Peter's memories, so he was compelled to become a hero; only he decided he was going to be a superior Spider-Man to Peter.
Otto also decided to improve Peter Parker's lot, getting him the scientific acclaim that Peter never got in his real life. Along the way, he began dating a fellow scientist, Anna-Maria Marconi, who was a little person. When he had Aunt May and her husband, J. Jonah Jameson Sr. over for dinner, May made an oddly rude remark where she questioned the future of "Peter" and Anna-Maria's relationship due to Anna-Maria's height. "Peter" then berated Aunt May in "Superior Spider-Man" #24 (by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba) over her comments, and then freaked out further when she forbade him from working with Spider-Man anymore (Peter had come up with the excuse that he was working for Spider-Man, supplying his technology for him). It was quite an awkward little scene.
13 May Discovers Peter is Spider-Man
J. Michael Straczynski's first storyline as the regular writer on "Amazing Spider-Man" opened with a bombshell revelation that Peter Parker might not have gotten his powers from a spider that was irradiated, but rather that he got his powers from a magical spider that transferred its power before it died from the radiation. This was seemingly borne out when a villain named Morlun showed up -- a villain who feasted on so-called "Spider Totems" like Peter.
In the end, though, Peter realized that whether it was the cause of his power or not, the spider was irradiated, so Spider-Man had some radioactive aspects to his power and Morlun recoiled from that aspect of Spider-Man. For their final battle in "Amazing Spider-Man" (Vol.2) #35 (by J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna), Spider-Man pumped himself up with more radiation and in the end, he defeated Morlun, but was also badly injured himself. He went home in his tattered costume and just passed out. The problem was that he was still passed out when Aunt May walked in and discovered him in his costume, learning that Peter was Spider-Man!
12 Peter is Too Late... Again
In Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones' brilliant (if short-lived) series, "Howard the Duck," Aunt May became a supporting character, helping Howard out at his detective agency. She first met Howard in "Howard the Duck" #3, where she assaulted Howard while under the hypnotic commands of the evil Ringmaster. Three days later, Howard ran into her while she was coming home from the grocery store and he accosted her, causing her to drop her packages and her phone (she was on the phone with Peter, asking if he was in a "Fight Club" because of all the bruises he was always getting). She agreed to help him track down the guy who did this, and they headed off, but they forgot her phone and her groceries.
Peter raced to the park as Spider-man, only to find her gone and her phone and packages on the ground. He then hilariously began to blame himself for her seeming abduction, noting to himself that he's so bad at this (since he still blames himself for the death of his Uncle Ben).
11 May's Gynecological Aids
After discovering Peter's secret identity, May decided that she was going to do her best to help her nephew in his life as Spider-Man (in a hilarious sequence in "Amazing Spider-Man" (Vol.2) #37, she right away cancels her subscription to the Daily Bugle for all the mean things they've said about Spider-Man over the years). In "Amazing Spider-Man" (Vol.2) #43 (by J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna), that assistance came in a very awkward fashion.
May and Peter were traveling to Los Angeles to visit Peter's estranged wife, Mary Jane. However, this being right after 9/11, it was particularly difficult for Peter to get his webshooters through security. Aunt May then stepped in to explain to the security agents that they were special geriatric gynecological aids and the embarrassed agents quickly let them through, although not before they chastised Peter for trying to bring a small nail clipper through security.
10 May Returns
Aunt May seemingly died in "Amazing Spider-Man" #400, so Peter and Mary Jane went on with their lives, which included Mary Jane getting pregnant with their first child. However, the baby girl, who they planned on naming May in honor of Aunt May, was stillborn. Right after the baby's tragic delivery, it seemed as though perhaps an agent of Norman Osborn had actually kidnapped the baby.
After some time had passed and he had received some hints that perhaps his baby had not died after all, Peter discovered that Osborn did have "May" in his custody, so Peter quickly rushed to go save his baby. He fought through a series of obstacles before finally getting to the room where "May" was being held in "Peter Parker: Spider-Man" #97 (by Howard Mackie, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna) and discovered that the May being held was not his daughter (who actually was stillborn) but Aunt May! She added injury to insult by then hitting Spider-Man over the head with a vase!
9 May Blames Rap Music
After recovering from the vase to the head, Peter then learned that not only was Aunt May alive, but that she was now about to die from a capsule in her brain that, if removed, would detonate a genetic bomb that would reduce everyone to their basic genes. This was all part of an elaborate (and ludicrous) plan of Norman Osborn, wherein he decided to torment Peter by making him think that his aunt died by hiring an actress, genetically modifying her to look like May, kidnapping May and replacing her with the actress, having the actress tell Peter that she knew that he was Spider-Man all along, killing the actress, having Peter discover May was really alive but then the whole bomb thing would happen. That's one crazy, crazy plan.
How, then, though, would Aunt May respond to this? Why would Green Goblin do all of this? Well, in "Amazing Spider-Man" (Vol.1) #1 (by Howard Mackie, John Byrne and Scott Hanna), she came up with her most reasonable guess... it was because of rap music.
8 May Almost Marries Doctor Octopus
In "Amazing Spider-Man" #131 (by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, Frank Giacoia and Dave Hunt), Aunt May almost had to introduce Peter to his new Uncle... Otto! Yes, May nearly married Otto Octavius, who she had taken in as a boarder years earlier and who had employed her as a maid more recently. Octavius would challenge Norman Osborn's previous plan (with faking May's death) in terms of ridiculousness, as he had discovered that May had inherited an abandoned nuclear plant on an island in Canada and really wanted to use that plant. Ergo, he decided to marry her so that he would get in on that sweet inheritance.
Dr. Octopus, though, was in the middle of a gang war with Hammerhead at the time, so Hammerhead's agents interrupted the wedding and, after the battle, moved to the island when Otto escaped there (with May in tow). The whole island was obliterated in a nuclear blast, with Spider-Man (who hitched a ride with Hammerhead's goons) and Aunt May only barely escaping on a stolen plane.
7 May Knocks Peter Out
Spider-Man's Spider-Sense is one of the more confusing powers out there, as it doesn't always seem to work the way that you would expect. Gerry Conway, for instance, suggested during his run on "Amazing Spider-Man" that Spider-Sense does not go off if the person threatening Peter is someone that he normally would not think is a threat. So, in other words, the danger warning of the Spider-Sense only kicks in if the danger comes from someone unknown to Spidey.
That was revealed very dramatically in "Amazing Spider-Man" #114 (by Conway and Johm Romita), when Spider-Man went to go find the seemingly kidnapped Aunt May at Doctor Octopus' home and found himself knocked out by Aunt May via a vase (the bit from "Peter Parker: Spider-Man" #97 was an homage to this scene). By the rule of Transitive Property of Equality, this means that Aunt May can beat up Firelord.
6 May Shoots Peter
In the issue following the vase attack, Peter realized that May was not kidnapped by Doctor Octopus, but rather was working for him as a maid. She had gone off to get a job of her own after Gwen Stacy verbally reamed her for being too involved in Peter's life. Therefore, instead of Spider-Man being there to rescue her, May saw this as an attacking Spider-Man, trying to pick on her poor, misunderstood employer, who, as it turned out, really had taken her in out of the goodness of his heart due to his fond memories of when she took him in as a boarder. It wasn't until she was already working for him that Octavius discovered that May had inherited the aforementioned nuclear facility.
Therefore, after a big fight between Peter and Doc Ock, May pulled out a gun on Spider-Man and she totally pulled the trigger on him!! Luckily, police and firemen arrived at the house at just that right moment and the sirens distracted her and threw her aim off or else May would have murdered her own beloved nephew!
5 May Tells Peter Off
Following the events of "Brand New Day," where Peter had now never been married to Mary Jane and was now back to living with Aunt May (who did not know his secret identity anymore), Aunt May volunteered for a charity called F.E.A.S.T. (Food, Emergency Aid, Shelter and Training). What May did not know was that her kindhearted boss, Martin Li, was also secretly the crimelord known as Mister Negative.
One of Negative's powers was, when he touched people, he could turn them "negative," in that he could make good people bad, etc. When May accidentally walked in on Mister Negative killing a guy in Li's office in "Amazing Spider-Man" #618 (by San Slott and Marcos Martin), Negative turned his power on May. So, when she returned home with Peter and her new husband, Jay, she unleashed all the hidden things that she thought about Peter but would never say because she was too nice -- mostly this entailed Peter kept screwing his life up and that he was a major disappointment to her. She was too nice of a person to stay negative, however, and she broke free from his influence eventually, begging forgiveness. But the words hurt the most because Peter knew that they were pretty much true.
4 May Walks in on Peter in Bed
After Peter and Mary Jane got married, the writers of the various "Spider-Man" titles often put the newleyweds through the wringer. They dealt with stalkers and bad economic problems that eventually led to Peter and Mary Jane temporarily living with Aunt May at her home in Queens. At the same time, Mary Jane's young cousin, Kristy, was also staying with them.
Aunt May was not exactly used to having a young married couple living with her in her home, so she did not think about how she might want to knock before entering their bedroom; so, when she walked in on Peter and Mary Jane in "Web of Spider-Man" #50 (by Gerry Conway, Alex Saviuk and Keith Williams) to give them some hot cocoa to warm their bodies, Peter explained to her that they were already warming their bodies. Mary Jane added that, yeah, she might want to knock in the future.
3 What's This Sticky Stuff?
In "Amazing Spider-Man" #108, the tail end of Stan Lee and John Romita's run on the title, there was a plot line with Aunt May being overly meddlesome that led to the aforementioned Gwen Stacy freakout. Before we got to that point, however, May first barged into Peter's apartment that he shared with Harry Obsorn to look for Peter. What Peter didn't realize, while he was gone, was that some of his web fluid had fallen out and was oozing out of his doorway.
Now, obviously, Lee and Romita were not intending the scene to look like it does to modern readers, but intentional or not, it's still pretty darn hilarious. Peter luckily showed up just as May and Harry were about to go into his room to see what spilled (Harry nicely explained that it was probably some experiment that Peter was working on in school). Looking behind bookcases, scooping up sticky stuff outside of his bedroom, Aunt May doesn't seem like someone who raised a teenage boy for years!
2 Peter Walks in on May in Bed
As mentioned before, May re-married J. Jonah Jameson Sr., the father to Daily Bugle head J. Jonah Jameson. They got married in "Amazing Spider-Man" #600, but began dating earlier. This was revealed to Peter in explicit detail in "Amazing Spider-Man" #592 (by Mark Waid, Mike McKone and Andy Lanning), when Peter headed to Aunt May's house to change his costume after being stuck in it for days. After taking his costume off and preparing to launder it, he heard rumblings in May's bedroom. He opened the door (not learning the lesson he himself had taught Aunt May about always knocking) and saw May and Jay Jameson having sex.
He quickly ran to the bathroom and tried to wash the view out of his eyes (while bemoaning that he didn't even get a chance to clean his costume); but in the end, Peter was mature enough to give May his blessing with her new relationship.
1 Peter Remembers having Sex with May
As noted before, in the storyline ending with "Amazing Spider-Man" #700, Peter Parker and Otto Octavius switched bodies. However, their old memories remained in their bodies, so the brain that was now in the new body had access to the memories of its former owner. That's how, in "Amazing Spider-Man" #700, Peter was able to at least force Otto to experience all of Peter's memories. Upon doing so, Otto couldn't help but want to be an actual hero, because Peter's sense of responsibility from his memories was just THAT strong.
However, before Otto's body died, Peter also managed to experience Otto's memories in "Amazing Spider-Man" #699 (by Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba), and he got to better understand his old foe, seeing his childhood as an abused kid. He even got to see how Otto saw Spider-Man himself (as a bully, of course). However, he finally got to experience a memory he wished he rather had not experienced: the time that Octavius had had sex with Aunt May! After that, Peter likely welcomed getting brain-wiped!
What's your favorite Aunt May/Peter moment? Let us know in the Comments!