Spider-Man is one of the greatest superheroes of all time. Marvel’s everyman, Peter Parker has faced and triumphed over the worst of what the world can throw at him, in both his civilian and costumed identities. He’s shown the depth of his heroism time and time again, constantly putting his life on the line to save others and protect the helpless. But the thing about being an everyman is that although Peter’s undoubtedly a good person and a hero, when it comes down to it, he’s just a man, as fallible as anyone else. For every time that he’s saved the world or risked his safety, there’s another where his actions have been less noble, with Peter’s supporting cast often bearing the brunt of his actions.
One of the great strengths of Spider-Man comics has been the focus on both the civilian and costumed sides of Peter Parker’s life, with both being instrumental to the character’s success. From J. Jonah Jameson to Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker has one of the greatest supporting casts in superhero comics. These characters have been through a lot, with many of their problems caused by Spider-Man himself. We’ve collected together 15 of the worst things that Spider-Man has done to his friends over the years.
15. ATE AUNT MAY AND MARY JANE
The “Marvel Zombies” franchise featured a Marvel universe that had been exposed to a deadly virus, resulting in the majority of the superpowered population being turned into ravenous zombies. In the 2005 miniseries, Marvel Zombies, by Sean Phillips and a pre–Walking Dead Robert Kirkman, Spider-Man was one of the many heroes to be infected. In this series, eating human flesh gave the zombies a temporary moment of clarity. In Peter’s case, it reminded him that one of the first things he did after being infected was to eat Mary Jane and Aunt May.
This scene was presented in all its grisly detail in Marvel Zombies: Dead Days, a 2007 one-shot that depicted the early days of the zombie outbreak. In this, Peter Parker returns home after being bitten, wanting to check on his family’s safety. Unfortunately, his ravenous hunger kicks in and he ends up eating a lot more than wheatcakes.
14. FAILED TO SUPPORT HARRY OSBORN THROUGH DRUG ADDICTION
Peter Parker is generally a nice guy, but he’s also a pretty terrible friend at times. Just ask Harry Osborn, who was presented as his closest male friend in the ’60s. The two socialized, studied and lived together, but it was only Harry that put the effort into their friendship. Even when the two lived together they were virtual strangers, with Harry growing tired of being a messenger boy for a Peter Parker who was rarely around.
When Harry turned to drugs, his friends rallied around him, horrified at what had happened. Or to be more precise, most of them did. In Amazing Spider-Man #122, with Harry recovering from a bad acid trip and unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality, Peter abandons him in order to get revenge on the Green Goblin for the murder of Gwen Stacy. As Peter thinks, “So long. Harry. I’ve got more important things to do than hold your hand.”
13. REPEATEDLY PRANKED THE HUMAN TORCH
Since they first met back in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #1, Spider-Man and the Human Torch have been the very best of frenemies. They’ve had a friendly rivalry, each at times jealous of the other, and have carried out numerous pranks over this time. A fabulous illustration of their relationship is in the 2005 miniseries, Spider-Man/Human Torch: I’m With Stupid, by Dan Slott and Ty Templeton. Set at various points in Spidey history, this perfectly captures the rivalry between the two.
While the Torch has given as good as he’s got (most famously when he “helped” Spider-Man by giving him the persona of the bombastic Bag-Man), the crowning moment in their rivalry has to be the time when Spidey “accidentally” chiseled off Johnny’s hair while attempting to free him from a block of ice.
12. ALMOST ABANDONED FLASH THOMPSON TO DOCTOR DOOM
The Peter Parker portrayed in the early Stan Lee/Steve Ditko issues of Amazing Spider-Man was a complex character. Often bitter at his circumstances and his treatment by his peers, and angry at the unfairness of the world, this was magnified by Ditko’s artwork. Hero or not, there are times when this Peter looks downright creepy.
A good illustration of this Peter, and his struggle between his heroic nature and his desire for revenge on his tormentors, came in Amazing Spider-Man #5. In this issue, Flash Thompson dresses up as Spider-Man to play a trick on Peter, only to be captured by Doctor Doom. Peter’s response when he hears the news that “Spider-Man” has been captured? It’s satisfaction that Flash will never bother him again. This doesn’t last, of course, but the fact that it crossed Peter’s mind shows that he can be as fallible as the rest of us.
11. CAUSED J. JONAH JAMESON TO HAVE A HEART ATTACK
Who is Spider-Man’s greatest foe? There i no shortage of choices, including the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus and Venom. However, one person that has been there from the start, first appearing way back in Amazing Spider-Man #1, is that fearless crusader for truth and justice… J Jonah Jameson. As publisher of the Daily Bugle, Jameson has long been an outspoken critic of Spider-Man, slandering him in editorials and inadvertently creating several supervillains in his quest to bring the web slinger to justice.
But let’s be honest: Spidey’s not entirely without blame. Peter has taken great pleasure over the years in tormenting and pranking Jonah, at one time tricking him out of a multi-million dollar reward. The crowning glory, though, was the occasion where Peter blew his top at Jonah in Amazing Spider-Man #546, causing ol’ flattop to have a (thankfully non-lethal) heart attack.
10. WORLD’S WORST ROOMMATE
Why would anyone want to share a flat with Peter Parker? He keeps odd hours, is always behind with the rent and is always making excuses about why you really don’t want to enter his room. He’s definitely not the most appealing of prospects. Whether it’s Harry Osborn, Flash Thomson, Randy Robertson, Vin Gonzales or some other poor unfortunate soul, no-one has managed to live with Peter without escaping mind control, kidnapping, a blown up apartment or worse.
There’s also the fact that Peter’s sense of humor can also be a little bit of an acquired taste, something that poor Randy Robertson found out to his cost. When the two were roommates Peter had the idea of naming the lonely piece of cheese in their fridge, christening the fragrant dairy product “Kevin.” Peter thought it was hilarious. As he found out when he asked to move back in with Randy some time later, Randy didn’t agree.
9. TERRIBLE AT RELATIONSHIPS
It’s often been noted that despite Peter’s occasional “woe is me” demeanor, his life is normally not as bad as it might first seem. In relationships, for example, he may constantly decry “the Parker luck,” but the truth is that over the years he’s dated a succession of talented and gorgeous women. Not all of these have been long-lasting. Some have been mutual breakups, some have been erased from existence, and others are the result of Peter being… well, a bit of a putz.
The “Brand New Day” era of the Spidey books, post-dissolution of the Spider marriage, provided many examples of this. Of particular note was Peter’s relationship with Michelle Gonzales, who he slept with and made the fallout ten-times worse by acting like a huge man-child. His relationship with Carlie Cooper was also close to ending before it began, due to Peter taking Carlie for granted.
8. LIED TO GWEN STACY
Peter and Gwen are often presented as star-crossed lovers, their relationship being viewed through rose-tinted glasses due to her untimely death at the hands of Norman Osborn. Yet, although the two loved each other deeply, it would be wrong to say that it was all clear sailing. It took months of deliberation before the two got together and even then Peter’s double life caused their relationship to hit numerous bumps in the road. One of the biggest was the death of Gwen’s father, Captain George Stacy.
Captain Stacy was killed while saving a little girl, and in his final moments, told Peter that he trusted him to look after Gwen. This could have been the time for Peter to finally open up to Gwen about his double-life, while also providing her some closure by relating her father’s final words. Instead, he kept up the pretense. Gwen went to her grave without learning his secret.
7. SLEPT WITH BETTY BRANT
Spider-Man has often been labelled as a threat or a menace, but a homewrecker? Who would have thought that our friendly neighborhood webslinger would sleep with a married woman? The lady in question was Betty Brant, Peter’s first girlfriend, who in Amazing Spider-Man #156 married fellow Daily Bugle staffer Ned Leeds. Their married life began with Ned working as a foreign correspondent for the Bugle, his absences often leaving Betty home alone. Betty’s growing loneliness within the marriage, coupled with Peter’s recent breakup with Mary Jane, meant that when Betty made the first move, a surprised Peter was ultimately receptive to her advances.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Peter if he didn’t feel guilty about his moral transgressions, and the following issues featured a myriad of patented Parker angst. Ultimately, an angry Ned Leeds confronted Peter and Betty, with Peter rudely dismissing Betty in an attempt to make her return to her husband.
6. ABANDONED FLASH TO NORMAN OSBORN
The ’90s were a rough time for Flash Thompson. With his glory days as a High School Jock being a distant memory, he struggled to hold down a career, fought a lengthy battle with alcoholism, and had a checkered love life. Ironically, when Norman Osborn returned from the dead in Spider-Man #75 and turned Peter’s life upside down, Flash was one of the beneficiaries. Norman offered Flash a job as his personal aide, a role that Flash took to with enthusiasm, much to Peter’s distress.
But here is the ethically dubious question. Knowing what he did about Norman Osborn, was it justifiable to allow Flash to work with Norman? Knowing what Norman was capable of, surely Peter should have explained to Flash why he should keep his distance, even if it meant revealing his identity. As Norman would later leave Flash brain damaged and in a coma, his inaction over this period is hard to defend.
5. PETER HITS MARY JANE
The marriage of Peter and Mary Jane may have had its ups and downs but its undoubted nadir was in the pages of the Clone Saga, that much-derided story from the ’90s. This is a moment that was brushed under the carpet almost as soon as it occurred, with both Marvel and fans preferring to pretend that it never happened. After finding out that he was the clone, a horrified Peter Parker lashed out at Ben Reilly, desperate to prove that it was an elaborate hoax.
Mary Jane attempted to intervene but an enraged Peter backhanded her into a wall. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Mary Jane was pregnant at the time with their child. From a storytelling point of view, it’s plain to see that the creators wanted to show Peter’s horror and utter desperation, but the event left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth that made fans question the character of Peter Parker.
4. DROVE DEBRA WHITMAN INSANE
On the list of Peter Parker’s great loves, Debra Whitman will never rank highly, sandwiched between the fan-favorite pairings with Mary Jane and Black Cat. Yet her relationship with Peter is a classic example of how being romantically involved with a costumed adventurer can be bad for your mental health. Debra was a secretary at Empire State University who fell for Peter Parker, but found that dating him wasn’t all she’d imagined. Peter kept running off or missing their dates altogether, something that played on Debra’s fear of rejection.
This led to Debra convincing herself that Peter was Spider-Man, this notion affecting her fragile state and causing her to see a psychiatrist. Realizing the effect his actions had taken on Debra, Peter unmasked to her in Spectacular Spider-Man #74, the action helping to convince Debra that Peter’s secret was all in her mind.
3. A THOUGHTLESS NEPHEW
Peter loves his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, that much is undeniable. The memory of his Uncle is what drives him on, while the need to look after and provide for his Aunt May is what affected so many of his early adventures. Yet, looking at the situation objectively, it has to be said: Peter Parker is hardly prime nephew material. Over the years he’s forgotten pretty much every special occasion, has treated Aunt May’s home like a flophouse, and has made her health problems so much worse through his desire to protect his secret ID.
Much of this may come from a good place, and Peter’s belief that his Aunt could not cope with the truth about his double life. But in trying to “protect” her, he’s caused her multiple heart attacks, allowed her to be kidnapped by a string of supervillains and even drove her into the many-tentacled arms of Doctor Octopus.
2. A BIGOTED FATHER
The 1998 miniseries Earth X, by Jim Krueger, Alex Ross and John Paul Leon, offered a glimpse into a future Marvel universe where everything had gone wrong. A new Red Skull terrorized America, the terrigen mists were released into the atmosphere, and many of Earth’s greatest heroes simply lost the will to fight on. One such character was Peter Parker, who had lived through the death of Mary Jane. Their daughter, May, survived, but Peter wanted nothing to do with her. Why? Because May was the new host for the Venom symbiote.
It didn’t matter that May was in control of the symbiote, nor that she used it to fight on the side of good. Peter simply couldn’t see beyond the symbiote to the person underneath, an intolerant stance that almost cost him his daughter and any hope of a future relationship.
1. CUT BEN REILLY OFF FROM HIS FAMILY
When Ben Reilly, the clone of Peter Parker, returned to the Spider-books in 1994, Peter’s world was torn apart. Peter saw this unwelcome reminder from the past as a threat to his future happiness. It didn’t matter that Ben had also suffered and had endured five years away from everyone and everything that he loved. All that concerned Peter was that Ben wouldn’t be allowed to take over “his” life.
This meant that, wherever possible, Peter tried to shut Ben out. In the case of Aunt May, this led to one of the most heartbreaking moments in Spider-Man history. It was May’s illness that had brought Ben back to NYC, yet upon her revival from her coma, he never got to spend time with her. Even when the end came, when May died with her family at her bedside, Ben was reduced to watching from the roof of the house, alone with his grief.
Can you think of any other occasions where Spidey mistreated his friends and family? Let us know in the comments!
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!