As of August 2012, Marvel’s iconic character Spider-Man has turned 50 years old. He first appeared in issue 15 of Amazing Fantasy in August 1962. Since then he has become the most recognizable Marvel character, appearing in thousands of comics, over half a dozen television series, four movies, and nearly everywhere else from garbage cans to lunch boxes. The follow is a top ten list of Spider-Man’s greatest moments over the past 50 years.
10. Death of Uncle Ben – No list of great Spider-Man moments could be complete without this iconic moment. It was the catalyst that created Spider-Man and the inspiration for his famous quote: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Compared to modern comic storytelling techniques, the death of Uncle Ben is a little cliché, enough so that the recent “Amazing Spider-Man” movie changed it pretty significantly, but it is still critical to the existence of the character.
9. Spider-Man Cartoon Theme Song – There have been plenty of Spider-Man cartoons, but the original 1967 is still the most memorable, specifically because of the theme song. It is a piece of comic book legend that is recognizable beyond the culture. It is so iconic that it even appeared briefly in the 2002 movie. Odds are, if you know it, you are singing it in your head right now.
8. Miles Morales – The Ultimate Spider-Man comic book series threw a number of conventions during its run. The biggest change from the original Spider-Man series occurred when the Ultimate universe reset all its titles in 2011. Mile Morales, a half African American, half Latino boy, took up the mantle of Spider-Man. It was a huge departure from the Peter Parker. And if you are wondering what happened to Peter Parker…
7. The Death of Peter Parker – Technically Peter Parker has died in the original comic book series, but he came back. Not so in Ultimate Spider-Man. Shot by the Punisher, electrocuted by Electro, clobbered by the rest of the Sinister Six, Peter Parker finally met his end at the hands of Green Goblin. The ripples would be felt in every comic in the Ultimate universe and unlike many deaths in the Marvel universe, this one looks permanent.
6. Spider-Man No More – One of the most classic scenes in Spider-Man history occurs in Amazing Spider-Man #50. Frustrated with living the double life, Peter Parker gives up on being Spider-Man, symbolically leaving his signature costume in a garbage can. The scene is so historic it was shot almost frame for frame identically in “Spider-Man 2”.
5. The Black Costume – During the Secret Wars mini-series, Spider-Man obtains a black costume that adheres to him like a second skin. While the costume eventually proves to be a parasitic being that eventually bonds with Eddie Brock and seeks to kill him as Venom, the black and white sleek design quickly becomes iconic. Spider-Man has worn a similar, non-organic version of the costume at various points in his career and the black costume appeared, looking quite good, in “Spider-Man 3”.
4. “Face it Tiger, you just hit the Jackpot.” – This line, spoken by Mary Jane when Peter Parker meets her for the first time for a blind date, is the second most famous line from the comic book series. The scene, though, is what makes it truly classic. Absolutely certain that he has been set up on a blind date with a loser, Peter and the readers were stunned when this green-eyed, auburn haired beauty appears at the front door with a smile and a quip.
3. Spider-Man Movie – In 2002, “Spider-Man” was released in theaters. What made this so impressive was that the Spider-Man costume looked good, the Green Goblin costume looked good, and the swinging, climbing, jumping, and fighting all looked amazing. Sam Raimi deserves a warm round of applause.
2. Death of Gwen Stacy – Character death is often a climactic moment in comic books, but the death of Gwen Stacy rises above the rest. The reason Gwen was killed is because the Green Goblin, knowing that Peter Parker was Spider-Man, was trying to hurt Spider-Man by hurting his loved ones. To make it all the more horrifying, Spider-Man is partially responsible for her death. After the Green Goblin throws her off the bridge, Spider-Man shoots a single web line to catch her fall. The physics genius Parker apparently forgets everything he knows in that moment as the single point of contact causes the force of gravity to break her neck.
1. Spider-Man Unmasked – It is rare that a comic book plotline is reported in mainstream news, but this one was. During the events leading up to the Civil War, Peter Parker unmasked during a press conference and revealed his identity to the world. As one of the few heroes who had managed to maintain his secret identity for so long, the moment was nearly unbelievable. Events since have essentially erased that moment from comic book history, but it was, at the time, the greatest moment in the Spider-Man story.