There Have Been Plenty of People Who Wore the Spider-Man Costume, but Only One Can Be the Best!
As the Spider-Verse opened up before us, we got to see a web (haha) of connected people who all had one thing in common — they took up the mantle of the Spider and saved their city from an onslaught of villains (and did it in spandex). We were introduced to so many Spider-Men in the Spider-Verse it was sometimes confusing to keep up, but darn it if we didn’t love most of them (we’re looking at you, Cowboy Spider-Man). Now with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse coming out in December, it seems like we’ll get to spend some more time with a few of our favorites.
For all the web-slinging action we’ve been loaded up with, we have to admit: not all Spider-Men make the cut. Certain spiders come out on top of others in this arachnid-themed pile. So which Spider-Man is the best Spider-Man? Did your favorite make the list? Before we go any further, this list contains some spoilers for our chosen Spiders, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to read their books. Alright, let’s get to it.
The Ghost Spider has a bit of history to him that is important in understanding why he’s on this list. He is Peter Parker from Earth-11638, an earth that only has one significant difference from Earth-616 (the universe with the original Spider-Man)– Uncle Ben never died. Here, Peter (with Ben’s help) becomes rich and founds “Parker Technologies.” He adopts the name “The Amazing Spider” and decides to drop the “man” part from his name. Using his intellect, he develops a trans-dimensional portal machine — that he uses to pull other Spider-Men through and steal their powers. Which is, you know, kind of a dick move, but it’s a choice he made.
Sure, he has his dimension’s best interests at heart — he wants their power to help him better defend his people — but that doesn’t make what he’s doing right. When he finally captures The Amazing Spider-Man, aka the original Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider is convinced that perhaps he is doing wrong. He stops his machine from draining the prime Spider-Man (confused yet? We’re getting there) by sacrificing himself. He falls into a coma from the effort. This Peter is eventually given a new lot in life and is restored from the afterlife with the use of souls, making him the Ghost Spider. He uses his newly reborn life to repent. His whole arc is really compelling and shows how much can go wrong when one thing goes right. As sad as we are to admit it — perhaps it’s better that Uncle Ben dies.
Spider-Woman is one of those unusual cases of looking before you leap — but landing in a pile of pillows. Due to DC and Marvel’s rivalry, they often stole ideas from each other. Given that Marvel had created Spider-Man, they worried DC (or any other comic company) might create Spider-Woman and made their own quickly out of presumed necessity. They did their best to make her drastically different from Spider-Man, but unfortunately, fans always equated them. Yet, despite this rather strange start, she ended up being a fan favorite and even got her own solo comic.
Both in her original storyline and in her updated origin, Jessica Drew is taken in by HYDRA and eventually frees herself from their hold. She has powers similar to Spider-man, but always gained them in a very different way (either to save her life from radiation poisoning, or through a genetic ray accidentally mutating her in the womb). Jessica adopts the Spider-Woman name and finds work as a private eye, saving the city in and out of costume. She was the first of the female web-slingers and deserves respect for standing on her own against one of Marvel’s most significant characters.
Sometimes things don’t go well for heroes in the Marvel Universe. At the end of Dying Wish, Doc Otto Octavius has his mind implanted into the body of Peter Parker from Earth-616. He makes it his mission to be a better hero (and a better person) than Peter ever was. Sadly, his violent tendencies make that pretty much impossible. Where Peter would have captured his foes, the Superior Spider-Man often kills them or beats them beyond recognition. Despite Octavius’ best efforts to squash him like, well, a spider, Peter’s consciousness remains in the body, even if Doc Ock has control. The whole thing goes pear-shaped on Octavius when he realizes that perhaps Peter really was a better hero. His brutality is questioned time and time again by his “allies,” the Avengers, forcing him to come up with excuses for his change in methods.
Initially, we were pretty skeptical of this Freaky Friday Spider-Man bit, we actually came to really like this saga. The whole idea felt fresh in the Spider-Verse and brought something exciting and unknown to the table. This version of Spider-Man may be unorthodox, but he packed a hell of a punch.
Miguel O’Hara from Earth-928 is the first Hispanic Spider-Man — and the first Spider-Man of color. He comes from a somewhat dysfunctional household, but his brilliance gets him early admission into a school for gifted children. As he ages, he focuses on genetics and begins to try and create heroes with powers like the Spider-Man from the “Heroic Age” (which was almost 100 years before). An accident re-writes his own DNA, and he is gifted with powers akin to that of Spider-Man. He succeeds in his goals — albeit not quite how he envisioned.
Much like the original Spider-Man, it takes time for him to embrace his powers. Eventually, he sets out to take back control of the city from the oppressive corporations that control it (sounds dystopian, and yet…famillair). His heroism is a beacon of hope to the oppressed people. He is a symbol of freedom and a savior from corruption, making him a dominant force of good in his time.
When the radioactive spider bit the original Peter Parker, most people think it died. However, that little creepy crawly had one more trick up its sleeve. Yep, the spider bites one more person, Cindy Moon. Silk is Korean-American and one of the few people of color to wear the suit (the others being Spider-Man 2099 and Miles Morales). Cindy gets slightly different powers than Peter — she can actually produce silky spider webs. Unlike Peter though, she can’t control her newfound powers and is forced to withdraw from society.
Eventually, she is “rescued” by Ezekiel, who later imprisons her to protect her. She finds her freedom, and with the training he provides, begins her life as a hero. Silk has anxiety and struggles with it while she fights crime across the city. We think her struggles make her more human — even heroes can’t be perfect all the time.
Ben is a perfect clone of Peter Parker — and the first stable clone of the web-slinger ever to be produced. He — like many clones — was given memories from Peter Parker. When Ben first meets the real Peter, he thinks that he is the real one. In a high stakes fight, Ben is forced to acknowledge he is, in fact, a clone. He takes the name Ben Reilly to honor his uncle Ben Parker and his aunt (her maiden name was May Reilly).
He is assumed dead at the end of the arc, but returns many years later as an anti-hero. Ben struggles to redeem himself for a creation he had no part in, and works hard to be the hero he was modeled after. We love Ben for his impressive take on the Spidey suit and his focus on becoming a better man. The Scarlet Spider remains a fan favorite, and we hope he sticks around for a long time.
Okay, so the Iron-Spider could refer to a few characters. Mostly it relates to the Spider-Suit made by Iron Man for Peter Parker. The suit has been donned by Peter, Mary Jane Watson, and the Scarlet Spiders (though theirs are all duplicates), making it a pretty clever costume. The costume was built as a more advanced way for Spider-Man to help his city and to aid the Avengers. It gave him new powers and was so popular, it even featured in the most recent Marvel movie, Avengers: Infinity War.
The suit gives the wearer a vast range of powers, from gliding to providing a limited bulletproof shielding. The Iron Spider also has four iconic spider-like legs which can be used to view around corners (handy dandy cameras in the tips), and to manipulate objects. It also allows the wearer to breathe underwater and provides heightened senses via computer aid. The final thing the Iron Spider gives to its wearer is cloaking, which is about the most significant asset Spider-Man could gain.
We have two reasons for adding the Iron Spider to the list. For one, the design is incredible and the iconic look is a great addition to the Spider Suit lineup, and secondly, it shows the Avengers working together for the betterment of the team. We love team-ups, (why do you think Infinity War did so well?), so a Spidey suit by Iron Man really adds something to the world as a whole.
Spider-Gwen is from one of the alternate universes explored during the Spider-Verse, and dang is she cool. On Earth-616 Gwen dies, but on Earth-65 she is bitten by the radioactive spider instead of Peter. In her world, Peter’s bullying never gets better as he doesn’t ever gain the powers to defend himself and creates a serum to solve his problems. The serum turns him into a lizard person and Gwen Stacy accidentally kills him, thinking he is a monster.
Spider-Gwen is an interesting counter-balance to the original Spider-Man. It’s always neat to see what a change will do to an entire universe. Spider-Gwen became such a fan favorite that she spun off into her own series after Spider-Verse concluded — and fans can’t get enough. Her costume, despite adhering to the “heroes in spandex” trope, is vastly different in design from Spidey, and makes her stand out from the spider crowd. It holds the spider theme, but it suits Gwen perfectly. We love her personality and her desire to do good. We feel she is one of the best things to come from the Spider-Verse.
Miles Morales is another alternate universe Spider-Man. He is from the Ultimate Marvel series which helped to reimagine characters in the Marvel comic universe for modern audiences. He was bitten by a stolen Oscorp radioactive spider (a radioactive spider is pretty much always going to play a part). Miles takes the mantle of Spider-Man when Peter Parker dies in “The Death of Spider-Man.” Miles is one of the few people of color to wear the Spider-Suit — he is half African-American and half Hispanic. His creators have admitted Miles is inspired (in part) by President Obama and the actor Donald Glover. He is technically from Earth-1610 (it’s hard to keep all the Earths straight at this point), but he eventually finds his way to the prime Earth.
He makes the jump to Earth-616 and out of the Ultimate Marvel universe due in part to his popularity. Miles is now squarely in the main canon of the Marvel Universe, and we couldn’t be happier. The Ultimate Spider-Man now has original Peter as a mentor and is slowly learning to control all of his abilities — which have a few itsy-bitsy differences from Peter. For one, he can camouflage himself and his clothing from sight without the use of a specialized suit. And two, he has a venom strike which can knock enemies unconscious. These two powers make him different enough from Peter to not feel like a copy/paste clone and make his growth interesting.
Our number one Spider-Man? The OG Spider-Man of course (duh, you saw this coming). Peter Parker from Earth-616 is the first man to wear the Spider Suit. While many great heroes have followed, there is no one quite like Peter. Peter Parker was a hero who was reluctant to take up his duties during a time when all heroes were valiant and dashed after destiny with abandon. His hesitancy and fear makes him relatable to everyone who picks up the comic and makes us root for him. Spider-Man is the underdog of the Marvel universe. Peter has no money, he is bullied, and he never wanted superpowers. He feels like an average kid swept into things way bigger than him. When uncle Ben dies, he realizes he can’t ignore this gift so he sets out to be a hero.
Without the original Spider-Man, we would have no Spider-Verse to celebrate. To this day he is the highest selling Marvel character, and his debut comic can sell for over 1 million dollars! This friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is THWIP-ing awesome, and we will never get sick of his quick-witted humor or his loving attempts to do good.