Our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man


I remember growing up with many different superheroes and fictional characters, I was a huge fan of The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for example, like most other boys at the time. However, while every boy was gunning to be the red ranger in his group of friends, I was always perfectly fine being the blue one. You see, I’ve always seen myself as kind of a nerd, shocker, I know. I related more to Billy than Jason, as he preferred brains over brawn and was still somehow a badass. So when I learned about a certain nerdy high school character, who got his powers through a science experiment gone wrong, well let’s just say I was immediately drawn into his web.

Now I won’t bore you with yet another Peter Parker (Spider-Man) origin story, three different movie series over the past 20 years has already done enough of that. Instead I will give you the reasons as to why he’s the best hero, at least for me, and why he should be for you too. Growing up, my knowledge of Spider-Man was limited to the only reason I would ever wake up early in those days, Saturday morning cartoons. It was enough to pique my interest, for my love of the character to grow and eventually lead me to want to learn more about him.

Like most comic book superheroes, created by nerds for nerds, Spider-Man is a nerd himself. Because he boasts an intelligence that rivals those of the smartest Marvel fictional characters, both Hank Pym (Ant-Man, too smart for his own good) and Richard Reeds (Mr. Fantastic, the smartest of the smarts) have taken note of his genius. Peter even designed his own web formula and web shooters before finishing high school.

I know what you’re thinking, Iron Man did something better, he designed and created his own power suit that lets him shoot plasma and even fly! Well Tony Stark is a multibillionaire, one of the richest people in the Marvel universe, second to probably only T’Challa (Black Panther). He also has tons of resources thanks to his late father who was an inventor as well. Peter is an orphaned kid from Queens, who has trouble helping his Aunt May pay the rent. I think he did pretty well given his circumstances.

In addition to creating his own costume and tools, Spider-Man uses his intellect and wit most of all when he’s fighting, so much so that he’s actually an inspiration for the creation of the anti-hero Deadpool. To be fair, his often sarcastic zingers tend to get him into trouble more often than not, but because he isn’t afraid to throw a quick quip at his enemies or even break the fourth wall, Spider-Man is one of the funniest superheroes out there.

His smarts and one-liners, however, are not what makes him so special. It’s his ability to be so relatable, and his persistence, that just spurs you to want to root for him.

When Spider-Man was being created, which could be a story all by itself, the creators wanted a hero that everyone could relate to. In my honest opinion, they succeeded. For example, the reason his costume covers his entire body is so that anyone can picture themselves inside the suit. If we didn’t know better, Spider-Man could be literally anyone. Even though we do know who the web slinger is, however, we can still relate with the character, as we get to see the struggles Peter goes through with juggling his school life, social life, and superhero persona. Instead of being a hero that seems out of reach like Superman, we get to experience the fear, doubt and regret Spider-Man constantly experiences, but also the same hopes, dreams and aspirations.

Like many of us, Spider-Man has superheroes that he looks up to, which is rare in the hero universe, where everyone strives to be the role model. Like most of us that read his comics, Spidey is shown to be a fan of many of the heroes he meets, idolizing them and feeling honored when working alongside them, usually to the point of annoying them. Although it’s sometimes just outright embarrassing, Peter is only doing what many of us would be doing in the same situation, acting starstruck. He is even often depicted as becoming a huge fanboy when coming face to face with Captain America. He grew up reading the same comics we did, fantasizing about going on adventures like many of us still do. The only difference is he got his powers and decided to do what we could only dream of.

But with great power comes great responsibility.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Jokes aside, Peter’s life is gruesome to say the least. Uncle Ben’s death is only the beginning of the many hardships that he has had to experience. He’s lost most of his family and many friends along the way, yet it was the death of Gwen Stacy, his first love interest, that was probably the hardest and most impactful. In one of his many fights with the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn, arguably a father figure to Peter), Gwen gets kidnapped to draw Peter out, as the goblin knows his secret identity.

During the ensuing battle, Gwen gets hurled off the tower. Peter dives to get her, shooting a web that manages to catch her. The whiplash from the web that caught her, however, causes her neck to snap, instantly killing her.

It was the first time a superhero failed so miserably to save someone.

As Peter blamed himself for her death, this whole ordeal caused him to almost give up the spider mantle, yet he persevered. And although he was destined to face many, many more hardships, he never gave up. Although he’s lost almost everything, he still does what he can to save who he can, willing to risk everything to help those who don’t even ask.

He’s even taken a bullet for Captain America.

Now that’s a true hero.

But these are just characteristics. Spider-Man’s villains and stories are badass as well, and could be full stories on their own, so I’ll just give you the quick SparkNotes version.

There’s too many villains to name them all, but some of the more notable ones, Venom excluded, actually mentored Peter, in some way, in most iterations of the Spider-Man’s story arcs. This includes Otto Octavius (Doctor Octopus), Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) and Curt Connors (Lizard). These are extremely smart individuals, whom Peter looked up to, that for one reason or another ended up becoming villains. In parallel with Spider-Man, many of his villains’ alter-egos reference their animalistic instincts, such as Vulture, Rhino, and Scorpion.

You could say that most of them are a glimpse to the path Peter could have taken, perhaps in a parallel universe.

Funnily enough, Spider-Man is full of them. Dubbed the Spider Verse, there’s a Spider-Man, or Boy, Woman, Girl, Cyborg, Monkey, even Ham for everyone. And on top of all that, there are story arcs that include clones and alien symbiotes that I haven’t even touched on. Not to mention the countless crossovers with other Marvel universes such as Secret War and the more recent mainstream ones, Civil and Infinity War.

If I’ve been able to convince you, and you want to find out more about Spidey, check out The Amazing Spider-Man #31-33, also known as “If This Be My Destiny,” which is widely considered one of the best arcs. It introduces Harvey Osborn and Gwen Stacy, and is paid homage to in the recent MCU movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming. For many, this issue solidified our love for the web crawler. And if you want to talk more or even disagree with anything or everything I’ve said, shoot me an email at [email protected], and I’ll gladly hear you out or share more.

Just remember, even Captain America said he’d be the best of them.