Every Spider-Man fan knows Peter Parker's origin story, knows about his clashes with the Green Goblin, and is eager to see actor Tom Holland don the red and blue suit on the big screen. But do you know the genesis of Venom or the Sinister Six? Have you ever tried Aunt May's famous wheatcakes? 100 Things Spider-Man Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is the ultimate resource for true fans of the character. Whether you’re a die-hard comic book reader from the Silver Age or a new follower of the popular movies, these are the 100 things all fans need to know and do in their lifetime. Writer and podcaster Mark Ginocchio has collected every essential piece of Spider-Man knowledge and trivia, as well as must-do activities, and ranks them all from 1 to 100, providing an entertaining and easy-to-follow checklist as you progress on your way to fan superstardom!
About the Author
Mark Ginocchio is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, corporate publications, and websites such as CBR, ComicBook.com, WhatCulture, and Sequart. He is the founder of the Chasing Amazing blog, which documents his quest to collect every issue of Amazing Spider-Man comics, and is a co-host of the Amazing Spider-Talk podcast. He lives in Brooklyn. A former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics with over 50 books currently in print, Tom DeFalco has written comic books, graphic novels, short stories, prose novels and books like Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide and Comic Creators on Fantastic Four. DeFalco is also known for writing characters like Spider-Man, Thor, Fantastic Four, Spider-Girl, Superboy, Hawkman and Archie. Aside from recently writing single issue stories for Justice League of America and Flash for DC Comics, he wrote a brand new Reggie & Me series for Archie Comics.
Read an Excerpt
100 Things Spider-Man Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die
By Mark Ginocchio
Triumph Books LLCCopyright © 2017 Mark Ginocchio
All rights reserved.
In the world of comic books, there are origin stories, and then there's Amazing Fantasy #15, arguably the most famous and expertly crafted superhero introduction the medium has ever produced. Even the most casual of fans knows Spider-Man's origin — high school bookworm gets super powers from a spider bite; dons a red-and-blue costume and mask — and Uncle Ben is probably second only to Bruce Wayne/Batman's parents when listing the most famous dead characters from the world of comics.
But beyond everyone's familiarity with the story, and the pop culture phenomenon that Spider-Man would become, Amazing Fantasy #15 still warrants celebration more than 50 years after it was first published in August 1962. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man's co-creators, needed just 11 pages to introduce Spider-Man to the world. That means the Spider-Man story (one of four tales to appear in the issue) is so tightly plotted and scripted, in the span of a mere 11 pages — half a comic by today's standards — the reader gets nearly every critical element of the Spider-Man mythos.
We are introduced to Peter Parker, an orphan who lives with his doting Aunt May and Uncle Ben. We learn that Peter is smart, but disliked by his classmates and socially aloof, aka "Midtown High's only professional wallflower!" We witness the now iconic radioactive spider-bite that gives Peter his fantastic powers that include leaping high in the air, clinging to walls, and immense strength. We see Peter initially use these powers for personal financial gain, first as a masked wrestler and later as a recurring act on the Ed Sullivan Show. The comic also demonstrates Peter's ingenuity. He engineers his own mechanical web shooters to mimic the act of a spider spinning its web. He also designs his own costume, and a name, Spiderman (the hyphen is added later).
Things are going great for Peter until there's a twist straight out of an O. Henry story. After performing on television, Spider-Man witnesses a petty thief being pursued by a cop. The cop begs Spider-Man to stop the crook, but he stands idly by, snidely telling the officer "That's your job! ... From now on I just look out for number one — that means me!"
Peter's selfishness would come back to haunt him. He comes home one night and sees a police cruiser in front of his aunt and uncle's house. He's told that his Uncle Ben has been murdered by a burglar. Peter dons his costume and seeks revenge on the criminal. He captures him and, as he descends upon the burglar, recognizes his face — it's the same small-time crook he let run by him at the television studio. The comic ends with Peter realizing the error of his ways, absorbing a lesson that would haunt him forever: "With great power, there must also come — great responsibility!"
Amazingly, despite its iconic status today, Amazing Fantasy #15 almost never came to be. As Lee loves to tell it, fresh off creating the Fantastic Four and the Hulk, he pitched the idea of a teenaged hero named Spider-Man to Martin Goodman, publisher of the company that would later be known as Marvel Comics. Goodman dismissed it, claiming that teenagers could only be sidekicks in comics. Plus, he thought the idea of a superhero based on a spider — one that could stick to walls and climb up them — was "grotesque."
Still, Lee would get his opportunity to produce Spider-Man. The story was earmarked for the recently rebranded Amazing Adult Fantasy, which had changed its name to simply Amazing Fantasy and was on the verge of cancellation. Lee first turned to his Fantastic Four collaborator, Jack Kirby, to develop the art for a Spider-Man story. Kirby produced a five-page sample about a teenager with a magic ring that transformed him into an adult hero named Spiderman (sans hyphen). Lee immediately realized Kirby wasn't the right guy for the job. He wanted Spiderman to be vastly different in terms of look and physique than Marvel's other heroes. So Lee turned to Ditko.
Rejecting Kirby's magic ring idea outright, Lee provided Ditko with a short synopsis of a teenage bookworm who develops spider-like powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Ditko took Lee's direction of making this hero "different" to heart. In fact, Lee was initially worried that the Comics Code Authority — the entity that oversaw decency in comics — might misinterpret Ditko's illustrations and ban the story for showing a non-human spider-creature. Fortunately, Ditko pushed back, giving birth to Spider-Man's unique physicality, which continues to define the character to this day.
With Lee's Shakespeare-esque narrative and Ditko's idiosyncratic interior artwork, the last piece to the puzzle was a dynamic cover. Ditko's cover design was rejected for something more traditional developed by Kirby — the instantly iconic image of Spider-Man swinging over the New York City landscape, telling the world it would soon "marvel at the awesome might of Spider-Man!" The rest, of course, is history. A comic so iconic, pages of Ditko's original artwork were donated to the Library of Congress in 2008. A comic so desired, in 2011 a nearly flawless copy sold for a stunning $1.1 million, making it the most expensive Silver Age comic (published between the late 1950s and 1970) to ever be auctioned off.
With so much time and money invested in this one comic, is it any surprise that almost the entire story — the spider-bite, the burglar, Uncle Ben's murder — has been recreated countless times over? We've seen variations of it in two blockbuster films, scores of cartoons, and even in the comics themselves. And in all of these iterations, changes to Lee and Ditko's masterwork have traditionally been very minor, for good reason. "Everything that takes place in that Spider-Man origin story resonates today," said Brian Michael Bendis, who scripted an updated version of Spider-Man's origin for Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man series in 2000. "Every single theme, every single family thing, it's all human truths."CHAPTER 2
Peter Parker might not know a cha-cha from a waltz, but that doesn't change the fact that he's secretly the masked hero known across the globe as the "Amazing" Spider-Man. Don't let the cross-city web-slinging and the snazzy costume fool you, what has long set Spidey apart from most other superheroes is the fact that, at its core, Spider-Man is as much of a story about the human under the mask as it is a tale of a costumed vigilante.
"What really made Spidey unique wasn't so much his powers or his costume, sure those were cool things, but what really made him unique was that it was about the guy inside the costume and the soap opera that was his life," said Joe Quesada, Marvel's chief creative officer and a longtime Marvel editor-in-chief. "Peter could have had a whole different set of powers and it still would have been a ground-breaking comic because in the end, that's not what made Spider-Man stories different."
Peter's co-creator, Stan Lee, wanted the character to be unique from the beginning. When describing Peter to nonfans, he would often say Spider-Man is an average teenager who "gets sinus attacks, he gets acne and allergy attacks while he's fighting." While this rather glib description of Peter does touch upon his everyman status and relatability, there's far more to Peter Parker than just sinus attacks and acne.
Naturally, Peter was introduced in the same story where Spider-Man was — 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15. The opening splash page of the comic, which depicts a sad-looking Peter standing alone while his classmates at Midtown High School mock and scorn him, cuts to the heart of one of the teenager's defining characteristics: his aloof personality. Some have mistakenly cast Peter as a geek or a nerd, but that's not exactly true. Yes, he's good at school and appreciates science, but he's more of a social outcast and a loner, instead of a nerd.
Amazing Fantasy #15's first few pages establish all of the pertinent information about Peter: he's 15, orphaned, and lives in Queens, New York, with his elderly aunt and uncle, May and Ben. The three of them have a loving relationship filled with smiles and May's trademark wheatcakes. Ben is a father figure to Peter, rustling his hair and joking about no longer being able to out-wrestle his nephew. While attending a science exhibition, Peter is bitten by a radioactive spider, making him feel ill. But as he's walking home, Peter discovers that the bite has given him strange powers: the ability to leap incredible heights, scale walls, and crush objects in his bare hands.
Peter immediately thinks to use these new powers for financial gain. He enters himself into a wrestling competition against a brute named Crusher Hogan. But in a moment of self-doubt that would play a key part in Peter always wanting to keep his identity as Spider-Man a secret from the public, he puts a mask on in case he lost. The mask would later evolve into Spider-Man's trademark red and blue costume. And in a demonstration of his scientific ingenuity, Peter also develops a pair of mechanical "web shooters" that shoot a strand of fluid that mimics the properties of a spider's web. From there, the Spider-Man persona was officially born.
The success of Spider-Man immediately goes to Peter's head, leading to the character's defining moment: one day while standing backstage at a television studio, Peter witnesses a police officer chasing down a burglar. Rather than stop him, Peter shrugs it off as not being his problem. That decision would soon haunt him when he comes home one night and learns that a burglar had shot and killed his Uncle Ben. A distraught Peter dons his Spider-Man costume and chases down the criminal to an abandoned warehouse. After defeating the burglar, Peter gets a good look at the man's face and realizes it is the same crook he let run by him at the television studio. Peter bemoans the fact that if he had only stopped him at the studio, his uncle would still be alive, teaching him that with "great power, must also come — great responsibility."
Lee and Ditko continued to develop both Spider-Man and Peter as he became the titular character in his own series, Amazing Spider-Man. In the book's first issue, the reader is introduced to Spider-Man's most persistent antagonist, the loud-mouthed Daily Bugle publisher and editor, J. Jonah Jameson. Jameson is unique in that he has a relationship with both Spider-Man (he uses the power of the press to turn New Yorkers against the hero) and Peter (he would later hire the teenager as a freelance photographer to take photos of — who else? — Spider-Man).
The series also establishes another long-running theme that is unique to Peter and Spider-Man: his often tragically comical bad luck (also known as the "Parker Luck"). As Spidey, Peter would save the day and still find a nasty headline written about him in the Daily Bugle, or overhear his Aunt May talk disparagingly about that "awful" Spider-Man. As a result, Peter may very well be the first superhero whose life got substantially worse and more complicated after he received powers.
As other creators followed Lee and Ditko on the book, the complications of Peter's life, including his uncanny sense of responsibility to atone for his one major lapse of judgement, continued to be front and center. His social life was always in disarray as he futilely tried to balance being Peter and Spider-Man. And even when things seemed to be going right in Peter's life, a tragedy — usually caused by his secret double life as Spider-Man — was just around the corner. There's the time police captain George Stacy (father of his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy) was killed by falling debris during a battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus, or when the Green Goblin — who knew Peter's secret identity — kidnapped Gwen and murdered her, despite Peter's failed attempt to save her.
Like all well-crafted comic book characters, the only constant in Peter's life has been change. He's quit as Spider-Man (only to pick up the webs again an issue or two later), married (to the red-headed supermodel, Mary Jane Watson, though that marriage was later mystically undone as part of 2007's "One More Day" storyline), watched other loved ones die (though in the case of Aunt May, he also witnessed her unlikely resurrection), and has even "died" himself. But in all these cases, Peter's core characteristics — his unyielding sense of responsibility, his scientific ingenuity, his social awkwardness, and his feelings of self-doubt and guilt — have remained constant.
Perhaps what makes Peter so special and so unique is best emblemized in 2011's "Spider-Island" storyline by Dan Slott. In it, Peter has to cope with the fact that everyone in New York has Spider-Man's powers (but none of his responsibilities). Still, he uses his intellect and perseverance to concoct a plan to cure the city from an infestation that threatens to take over the entire country. In the story's final chapter, Peter jokes with Mary Jane that the whole city "walked a mile in my shoes." However, he's only partly right.
"No, just the wall-crawling parts," Peter's ex-wife tells him. "Everything that really matters is still right here, Tiger."
Blink and you'll miss it, but on the second page of the "Spider-Man vs. the Chameleon" story found in Amazing Spider-Man #1, there lies one of Stan Lee's biggest editorial gaffes ever. After referring to Peter by his proper last name, Parker, multiple times earlier in the issue, the narrative box on the page's first panel refers to the Amazing Spider-Man's main character as "Peter Palmer." Three panels later, there's another reference to this mysterious gentleman named "Peter Palmer." Did Lee and Steve Ditko change gears and install a new hero in their comic without telling anyone? No, just a stilly typo that has shockingly found its way into the mainstream thanks to the fact that it hasn't been corrected in any reprints (including the digital version one can find in the Marvel Unlimited app).
Excerpted from 100 Things Spider-Man Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Mark Ginocchio. Copyright © 2017 Mark Ginocchio. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsForeword by Tom DeFalco,
1. Introducing Spider-Man,
2. Peter Parker,
3. With Great Power Comes Great Misquotes,
4. Stan Lee: Excelsior!,
5. The Quiet One, Steve Ditko,
6. Ben and May Parker,
7. Spider-Man Becomes "Amazing",
9. J. Jonah Jameson,
10. The Parker Luck,
11. Extra! Extra! The "Daily Bugle",
12. Your Friendly Neighborhood Street-Fighting (Spider) Man,
13. Doctor Octopus/Otto Octavius,
14. Norman Osborn,
15. The Burglar,
16. Must Read: "The Master Planner Trilogy" (Amazing Spider-Man #31-33),
17. The Mystery of the Green Goblin,
18. John Romita Sr.: All That Jazz,
19. Mary Jane Watson,
20. Gwen Stacy,
21. Must Read: "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122),
22. Venom/Eddie Brock,
23. The Sinister Six,
24. Harry Osborn,
25. Eugene "Flash" Thompson,
26. Must Read: "Spider-Man No More" (Amazing Spider-Man #50),
27. Best Frenemies Forever: Spider-Man and Human Torch,
28. The Vulture,
29. The Lizard,
32. The Wedding,
33. Spider-Man's Little Black Suit,
34. Roger Stern: From the Kid to the Hobgoblin,
35. Must Read: "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut" (Amazing Spider-Man #229-230),
36. Kingpin/Wilson Fisk,
38. Kraven the Hunter,
39. Must Read: "Kraven's Last Hunt" (Web of Spider-Man #31-32, Amazing SpiderMan #293-294, Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132),
40. Spider-Man Beats the Comics Code,
41. Take the Spider-Man Tour of New York City,
42. "The September 11th Issue",
43. "Ultimate Spider-Man",
44. Brian Michael Bendis: The Ultimate Spider-Fan,
45. Spider-Man's Big-Screen Debut: The Sam Raimi "Spider-Man" Trilogy,
46. Sam Raimi: The Movie Magic Maker,
47. Tobey Maguire: Spider-Man Comes to Life,
48. Black Cat,
49. Gerry Conway: Prodigy Turned Villain,
50. Richard and Mary Parker,
51. "Marvel Team-Up",
52. The Punisher,
53. Tom DeFalco: All in the Spider-Family,
54. John Romita Jr: Junior,
55. George Stacy,
56. Betty Brant,
57. Joe Robertson,
58. "Spider-Man '67": The First Adaptation,
59. Spider-Man Goes "Spectacular",
60. Must Read: "The Death of Jean DeWolff" (Spectacular Spider-Man #107-111),
61. The Jackal,
62. The Clone Saga,
63. Todd McFarlane: The Phenom,
65. Dan Slott: The Mad Genius of Modern Spider-Man,
66. Mark Bagley: Contest Winner,
67. Spider-Man and the Avengers,
68. "Civil War",
69. Miles Morales,
70. Must Read: "Coming Home" (Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #30-35),
71. Webb of Spider-Man: "The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2",
72. Andrew Garfield: Dream Role,
73. Must Read: "Spider-Man: Blue",
74. Spider-Man Joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe,
75. Tom Holland (Third Spidey's a Charm),
76. Jon Watts: From "Cop Car to Homecoming",
77. "One More Day",
78. "Superior Spider-Man",
79. The Spider or the Man?,
81. Cloak and Dagger,
82. The Parker Clones,
83. J.M. DeMatteis: The Thinking-Man's Web-Head,
84. David Michelinie: Peak Spider-Man,
85. The Mystery of the Hobgoblin,
86. Spider-Man's "Brand New Day",
87. J. Michael Straczynski: Peaks and Valleys,
88. Spider-Man in Animation (Post-1970),
89. Electric Boogaloo: "Spidey Super Stories",
90. Listen to the "Amazing Spider-Talk" Podcast,
91. Miguel O'Hara: Spider-Man of the Future,
92. Spider-Girl and Spider-Man's "Spider-Verse",
93. The Tangled Web of Spider-Women,
94. The "Amazing Spider-Man" Newspaper Strip,
95. Rebooting Spider-Man,
96. The "Untold Tales of Spider-Man",
97. Go on Your Own Amazing Chase,
98. Must Read: "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man",
(Amazing Spider-Man #248),
99. Play with Spider-Man on the Go: Download,
100. Make Aunt May's Wheatcakes,