Spider-Man is one of the most beloved superheroes in comics thanks to his unique power set, his endearing personality and of course, his family-friendly sensibility. He's one of those superheroes who tries not to kill if he can help it, and is known for stopping powerful villains without just murdering them. Then again, that's not always a hard and fast rule. There have been plenty of times Spider-Man has killed, and CBR will be running down 16 of them.
Here, we won't be counting alternate reality versions of Spider-Man or when Doc Ock possessed his body as Superior Spider-Man. This will be about the times when the Peter Parker we know and love was forced to kill. We'll also look at the moments when Spider-Man killed a character that returned later, because death is never absolute in the comics.
Even by accident, Spider-Man can be lethal. In 1987's "Spider-Man vs. Wolverine," it was revealed that Wolverine had a partner and former lover, codenamed Charlemagne. During their service together as spies, they ticked off a lot of bad guys, but Charlemagne had continued as a mercenary working for the KGB. Spider-Man discovered she had been taking out KGB agents and wanted Wolverine to kill her to keep from falling into their hands. Spider-Man didn't believe in assisted suicide, though, and in the end, tried to stop him.
During their fight, Spider-Man was caught by surprise, turned and punched who he thought was Wolverine as hard as he could. It turned out to be Charlemagne. She wanted to die, though, so Spider-Man kind of did her a favor, and Wolverine didn't seem to hold a grudge. Still, Spider-Man was haunted by the moment for a long time. Sometimes, Peter just doesn't know his own strength.
In 2003, Spider-Man fought the Frankensteinian monster "Digger," who was a collection of 13 mobsters murdered and buried in the Nevada desert, all fused together by a nuclear explosion. Digger couldn't be stopped by bullets or Spider-Man's webbing, because he was extremely strong and the gamma radiation allowed him to heal quickly. In "The Amazing Spider-Man" #54, Spider-Man figured out how to stop Digger by wearing out his energy reserves. Spidey fought Digger all the way down to the sewer, knowing the exertion would cause his foe to burn out, which it did. The Mafia monster collapsed, his radiation exhausted.
In this case, Digger was a radioactive zombie, so Spider-Man made the argument that he was already dead. Then again, Digger was conscious enough to talk and seek out the murderer of the 13 mobsters he was made of, so he must have been conscious enough to count as being alive.
In 2005's "The Amazing Spider-Man" #525, one of Spider-Man's strangest murders occurred... sort of. He was suffering from spider-like dreams and dizzy spells while fighting a bank robber known only as the Tracer. In a shocking moment, Peter discovered the Tracer had visited Aunt May, and attacked him. In a rage, Spider-Man strangled Tracer and loved every minute, relishing the chance to commit murder. In the end, the villain's skin melted away, revealing he was only a robot.
Afterwards, it turned out that the Tracer was a Westworld-type robot. That should give Spider-Man a pass, right? You know, because he didn't kill a real person, just a robot? Well, we're adding Tracer to the list because there was no distinction in Spider-Man's mind. When he put his hands around Tracer's throat and squeezed until Tracer stopped moving, he genuinely thought the villain was real, and that means he willfully committed murder. The robot twist doesn't change that.
13 Latverian Liberation Front
In "Amazing Spider-Man" #50 (2003), Spider-Man was at an airport where Doctor Doom had arrived for a diplomatic meeting. A group of terrorists called the Latverian Liberation Front detonated a suicide bomb, knocking out Doom and trapping him and Spider-Man in the airport. Spider-Man and Captain America teamed up to fight the Front as it sent a team of armored soldiers to finish the job. The Front had serious firepower, including missiles, which they didn't mind using. At one point during the battle, Spider-Man redirected a missile through a hole in the ceiling, not knowing that two members of the Front were flying in, and the missile blew them up.
Did Spider-Man intend to kill the members of the Liberation Front? No, of course not. He might not even have known it happened. The fact is, though, that he did indeed kill them. An accidental death is still a death, and Spider-Man caused two of them here.
In 2006, "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" #3 introduced the grisliest and goriest death Spider-Man ever committed on this list. During a storyline called "The Other," the vampiric supervillain Morlun tried to devour Spider-Man, even ripping out and eating one of the hero's eyeballs. Spider-Man got his revenge in the hospital where he was recovering from the attack, when Morlun came to finish him off. As Mary Jane Watson tried to stop Morlun, he smacked her away, which enraged Spider-Man enough to make the Spider come out of him. Spider-Man actually bit into Morlun's head, killing him.
Spider-Man was under the influence of the spider side of his mutation, driven by a cosmic spider force, so you cold definitely argue that he wasn't entirely himself. He was also driven into a rage beyond his control, sparked by Morlun smacking Mary Jane around. However, it was still a horrible and gruesome death delivered by the Web-Head.
11 Anti-Mutant Bigot
In "Ultimate Marvel Team-Up" #1 (2001), Spider-Man met up with Ultimate Wolverine, who was under attack from Weapon X. Weapon X sent Sabretooth to attack Wolverine, causing a fight that started in a train station and spilled into Times Square. The moment we're concerned with comes when a woman calls Spider-Man a "mutant freak." Spider-Man shoots a gob of webbing onto her face and climbs away, leaving her struggling to take it off.
It's important to note here that Spider-Man's webbing is extremely strong, strong enough to stop a bus or a train, and support his weight while he swings through the city. Usually, the only way to get rid of the webbing is to wait for it to dissolve, which usually takes about an hour. Spider-Man just covered this woman's face, including her eyes, nose and mouth with webbing. There's no way she could breathe with it on, and there's no way anyone would be able to pry it off soon enough for her to keep from suffocating. He just left her to die -- that's not very friendly, nor neighborly, if you ask us.
In 2002's "Amazing Spider-Man" #40, Spider-Man first met the Shade, who shouldn't be confused with DC's Shade: The Changing Man or Girl. Marvel's Shade was a former prisoner identified only as Jake, whose cellmate was performing a mystic ritual which Jake interrupted, leaving him trapped in the astral plane and unable to go back to Earth except as a ghostly form called the Shade. Shade would trap others on the astral plane, which allowed him to become solid on Earth again for 24 hours. Doctor Strange helped Spider-Man follow Shade into the astral plane in "Amazing Spider-Man" #42, where Spider-Man threw the otherworldly villain into the same prison that drained energy for himself, creating a feedback loop that caused it to explode.
After the explosion, Shade is gone, and Spider-Man moves on with having saved all the people Shade consumed. When asked what happened to Shade, Spider-Man says he's dead and mentions that death never seems to last, but he doesn't seem to sweat it too much. Shade hasn't returned, so we can also assume he's dead. Once again, Spider-Man seems awfully casual about murder.
In "Web of Spider-Man" #91 (1992), Spider-Man fought the third incarnation of the supervillain Whisper, who wore special bulletproof armor that could absorb all sound, including the human voice; hence, his chosen supervillain name. Whisper and his gun-toting partner Pulse hunted down Spider-Man at a restaurant and attacked the wall-crawler with a fury. At one point, Whisper grabbed Spider-Man from behind and was about to kill him with a sword. When Pulse fired, Spider-Man pulled Whisper into the path of the shot, killing him.
There's a little bit of ambiguity here, since Spider-Man wasn't the one who pulled the trigger to kill Whisper, but he clearly positioned Whisper to be killed. It was kind of like when Batman flew off in "Batman Begins" to leave Ra's Al Ghul in a crashing train to die. He didn't kill Ra's himself, but he did arrange things for him to die. If that's how Spider-Man sleeps at night then fine, but his fandom has debated the ethics of the decision for years.
In "Amazing Spider-Man" #104 (1972), Spider-Man ended up in the Savage Land, fighting the ruthless Kraven the Hunter. Kraven was in the Savage Land to hunt down the prehistoric warrior Ka-Zar. To help him in this endeavor, Kraven found and raised an enormous alien creature that he named Gog, which he used to kidnap Gwen Stacy. Spider-Man took out Kraven, but Gog was a different story. While fighting Gog, Spider-Man drove the creature into quicksand, where it quickly sank and drowned.
This is a monster kill, not a human kill, but it's a significant kill nonetheless. Gog wasn't just a mindless beast, he was at least somewhat intelligent. Spider-Man even speculates that Gog might have been the last of his race... and then he knowingly killed it. He even feels a little sick about causing Gog's death, considering the creature was manipulated by Kraven. Later, it turned out Gog was rescued by the Plunderer, who even later created a device so it could speak English. Once again, death is never the end in comics.
7 Mendel Stromm
The year 1982 brought us "Spectacular Spider-Man" #68, where Spider-Man went up against an old foe: the master of robotics, Mendel Stromm. Well... sort of. While visiting the grave of his Uncle Ben, Peter Parker stumbled across three federal agents fighting a giant robot created by Professor Stromm. It turned out that, before his death, Stromm created a Terminator-type robot which downloaded his memories into it. Spider-Man fought the robot duplicate, and smashed it to pieces.
This is another tricky one as far as kills go. Spider-Man clearly intended to destroy the robot, and the robot had copied the mind of Mendel Stromm, making him essentially a robotic version of the original villain. Then again, there's the fact that he destroyed a robot, not a real human being. What adds this to the "kill" column is that Spider-Man himself described it as killing Stromm, writing "dead again" on Stromm's grave with his webbing.
6 Drom the Backwards Man
In "Marvel Team-Up" #31 (1975), Spider-Man and Iron Fist fought a bizarre villain calling himself Drom the Backwards Man. Drom somehow began life in reverse, like an evil Benjamin Button, talking and aging backwards towards his own birth. Drom needed to drain "life energy" from people to slow down the de-aging process. While fighting him, Spider-Man and Iron Fist smash a mirror over Drom, which causes him to rapidly grow younger until he turned into a baby, then disappeared altogether.
It's clear Spider-Man didn't know that this would happen if he broke the mirror, because there was no indication before that moment that the mirror had any special significance. Honestly, it's not even clear why breaking the mirror caused Drom to de-age in the first place, other than some vague Dorian Gray-type stuff. Still, a kill is a kill, and Spider-Man did cause Drom's death with an assist from Iron Fist.
5 Modular Man
In 1980's "Marvel Team Up" #90, Spider-Man and Beast teamed up to fight Modular Man and Killer Shrike. The Modular Man was a scientist whose experiments caused him to drift apart unless he contained himself in a special exoskeleton. His motivation came from wanting to use a special device which would cure him and make him more powerful at the same time. While fighting Modular Man, Spider-Man used the electrical gauntlets of Killer Shrike to blow him up.
It seems like Spider-Man kills more in "team-up" comics than anything else. Maybe that's because these stories are kind of outside normal continuity. Either way, this story added another notch to Spider-Man's murder belt. In this one, he actually expresses regret for killing Modular Man, saying, "We may have destroyed a man, Beast! I know it was necessary and we didn't have a choice, but I don't have to like it!" It was a regrettable kill, but a kill nonetheless.
4 The Finisher
In "Amazing Spider-Man Annual" #5 (1968), Peter Parker discovered old news clippings in Aunt May's attic that his parents were accused of international espionage. He went overseas to set out to clear their name, and stumbled across an international spy ring led by the Red Skull, who sent an assassin called the Finisher to stop him. The Finisher used a variety of weapons to try and kill him, including guided missiles. With a missile after him, Spider-Man dove under the Finisher's car, which caused it to blow up, taking the Finisher with it.
This one is another "indirect kill," where Spider-Man didn't fire the weapon that killed his opponent, but clearly intended for the death to occur. Granted, he was fighting for his life, and the Finisher was trying to kill him, so it was self-defense. It seems like the writers try to get him to kill indirectly as a way around the squeamishness of Spider-Man killing someone, which is probably for the best.
In 1973's "Marvel Team-Up" #12, Spider-Man fighting the "Werewolf By Night," Jack Russell. In San Francisco, he's attacked by the Werewolf on the Golden Gate Bridge, and later in a diner. When Russell changes back to normal, he explained that everyone in the diner and the Werewolf himself were under the control of a powerful magician calling himself Moondark. Moondark travels with the mystical Mists of Passage around the city, mesmerizing people like Professor X. When they confront Moondark, Spider-Man kicked the magician into the Mists of Passage, transporting Moondark to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, where he falls to his certain death.
The worst part about this kill is that Spider-Man doesn't even care that he just murdered someone, making a joke about crying over "spilt magician." He's more concerned with the Werewolf he just met and what he's doing next than the man screaming and plunging through the air below him. Cold blooded, Spider-Man. Cold blooded.
2 Gwen Stacy
Spider-Man and the entire comic book world were shocked by a single word: "SNAP." It turned into the most controversial word in Spider-Man's history, because it turned an already horrible moment even worse.
Since she was introduced in 1965, Gwen Stacy has been Spider-Man's girlfriend. In 1973's "Amazing Spider-Man" #121, in a fight against his mortal enemy the Green Goblin, Gwen Stacy was knocked off the Brooklyn Bridge. As she fell, Spider-Man shot his webbing at her to try to catch her, and did so just before she hit the ground. The "snap" came right as he pulled her short, attempting in vain to save her. When he reached Gwen, Spider-Man discovered she was already dead.
The Green Goblin told Spider-Man the fall had killed her, but many readers have pointed to the infamous "snap" to say that Spider-Man had snapped her neck when his webbing caught her -- a moment immortalized on film in the dubious "Amazing Spider-Man 2." That makes Spider-Man her murderer, not the Green Goblin, even though the latter sent her death into motion.
1 Uncle Ben Parker
This is another big picture one, considering the circumstances. Parker was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben Parker. In Spider-Man's origin story in "Amazing Fantasy" #15 in 1962, once Peter Parker got his superpowers, he immediately set out to make money with them. He became a professional wrestler who used his newfound skills to dominate in the ring, and eventually became a TV star. Given the chance, he refused to even fight crime, allowing a burglar to run past him in the studio, saying it wasn't his job. When he returned home, Parker discovered that the burglar he let get away had killed Uncle Ben.
No, Spider-Man didn't physically kill his Uncle Ben, but the knowledge that he could have stopped the murder has always haunted him, and in an indirect way, he was responsible for his death. The guilt Spider-Man feels over his role in Uncle Ben's murder is as strong as if he'd pulled the trigger himself, which of course, is the reason he became the hero he is today in the first place.
What's the worst kill Spider-Man committed? Were you surprised there were so many kills? Let us know in the comments!