SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley's Amazing Spider-Man #4, on sale now.
Spider-Man has always adhered to a singular mantra, which is that with great power comes great responsibility. This mantra, gleaned through tragedy, has guided Peter Parker when the going gets tough, compelling him to stand up, take responsibility and try to make things right, even when the problem at hand doesn't affect him personally. The saying, repeated for years in the pages of Spider-Man comics and popularized in the mainstream by Sam Raimi's 2002 film Spider-Man, is attributed to Peter Parker's uncle, Ben Parker. To say that Uncle Ben had a profound effect on the life of Peter Parker would be a gross understatement. If anything, the paternal figure is directly responsible for the superhero Spider-Man. So, what happens when Spider-Man forgets him?
Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley's Amazing Spider-Man series is currently in the process of revisiting some familiar thematic territory in terms of the dueling personalities of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, though the course the creative team has plotted is refreshingly strange. The series sees Peter Parker split into two separate people when a science experiment is interrupted. From the ashes of the commotion, two people emerge: Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
Now, Spider-Man doubles are nothing new for longtime series readers. There are more clones and alternate-reality versions of Spider-Man out there than you can shake a stick at. But in separating the Wall-Crawler from the beleaguered scientist, Amazing Spider-Man has offered ample opportunity to examine the history of the character's warring personas.
The best place to start is with what the split versions of Peter Parker and Spider-Man lack. Split Peter Parker, for example, has no super powers. He cannot simply don a pair of skintight underoos and leap into the fray again. If he tries to climb a wall like a spider, he falls. If he tries to dodge a blow using a Spider Sense, he likely takes a punch. If he tries to crush a pipe like it's paper, he gets a nasty cramp just like the rest of us.
On the other side of the equation, split Spider-Man is on 24/7. He's Spider-Man all the time, saving folks every hour of the day and free to start up his own version of Uber for superhero ridesharing. Where he's lacking, though, is in his morals. In his scuffle with the Tri-Sentinel, it was hinted that this Spider-Man doesn't have the same impeccable moral compass readers have come to expect from the hero. Amazing Spider-Man #4 confirms this, revealing that the split Spider-Man doesn't remember Uncle Ben and, therefore, doesn't have the "with great power comes great responsibility" mantra burned into his brain.
A story like this would often be relegated to an alternate-reality one-shot, but Amazing Spider-Man takes place on Earth-616, the prime Earth in Marvel Universe continuity. This makes the story decision all the more interesting because it means we can delve into Peter Parker's backstory from a canonical perspective rather than a purely theoretical one. This is great news for us, but terrible news for Peter Parker. That's because, canonically, prior to the death of Uncle Ben and the advent of the "great responsibility" mantra, Peter Parker was kind of a spoiler, conceited nerd-brat -- and that's who's running around under the Spider-Man mask right now.