We all love Spider-Man. After all, who wouldn’t. The story of an ordinary kid caught in an extraordinary situation desperately trying to catch a break is as old as adolescence itself. The story lines then, shouldn’t be all too hard. All the writers have to do is put themselves in Peter Parker‘s tights and offer a little variation for artistry’s sake. In spite of that, writers still manage to screw that up. Whether it be for the reason of needlessly upsetting the status quo or simply not trying for the sake of filling in a deadline, the Spider-Man mythos is riddled with terribly conceived story arcs. Here are our list of the worst Spider-Man story arcs we’d like to forget or at least see retconned.
Spider-Man Power Pack #1/1
Who’s Peter Parker’s greatest foe? If you say Uncle Ben’s Killer or the Green Goblin, then think again. The person responsible for the Wed Head’s greatest scars is no other than a simple high school student. In this issue, Marvel tried to tackle the issue of child molestation and the urgency of children to report such behavior. Here in these pages it’s revealed that Peter Parker was molested by a High School student at an early age. There’s a valuable theme to all this in which victims of child abuse shouldn’t feel ashamed of being victimized, but all that gets swept under the rug due to the focus that our favorite hero was manhandled in all the worst ways. No writer has ever referred to this past issue again, and as far as we’re concerned, it should have never happened.
Spider-Fans are going to hold our feet over the flames for selecting this one. Two of the only reasons as to why fans have a special place for this are because 1.) It’s a cross over, and 2.) It’s ultra violent. That’s great and all, but the former implies that X-Men 3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were fantastic movies because they crammed in as many characters as possible without care for substance or plot. The latter preference for ultra-violence is an indicator as to why 90s comics sucked so much. If you want ultra-violence, then read the Punisher, some heroes don’t need a goretastic steroid-enhanced makeover and Spider-Man is one of them. Let’s not forget that despite his fanbase, Carnage is not all that remarkable. Cletus Cassady is basically the Joker infused with Superman’s power levels. Some people may think this is awesome, but we say it’s unoriginal.
The Clone Saga
You all should have saw this coming. It’s the reason why former Spider-man die hards haven’t read comics since the 90s. Marvel tried remaining relevant in changing the status quo in reaction to DC temporarily crippling Batman and killing Superman. After Dolly the sheep, cloning was a serious topic of discussion at the time, so the editors decided to roll with that. Not only did the series last several years too many, but the decision to declare Ben Reilly the one and only Spider-Man met with unprecedented backlash. Rendering Peter Parker crazed and out of character in response to this revelation didn’t help either. Marvel has undergone serious hurdles to sweep this one under the rug, even if it meant not so much as acknowledging Peter’s “brother” Kane for the next 15 years as a result of it.
Spider-Man: Chapter One
The Webslinger’s origin story remains one of the most beloved in comic book archives. Instead of revising it with a modern twist, they decided to update it with distastefully contrived reboots with his other cast of villains. If ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. The best that came out of this whole mess was that it served as alternate archetype for Michael Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man series.
Spider-Man: Sins Past
Straczynski’s a good writer, but he tangled himself in a mess that not even the editors could revive him from. Making Gwen Stacy the father of the Green Goblin’s children and accelerating their age was too convoluted as far as even comics are concerned. Neither explanation was convincing for that matter.
Spider-Man: The Other
Here’s an idea, let’s make a character who has faced off against a rogues gallery of technologically infused villains and add a few magical ones instead. While we’re at it, why don’t we make the heroes powers steeped in the supernatural rather than the pseudo-scientific as it was in the past. Let’s splash in some pompous dialogue and unconvincingly fake his death in addition to tweaking his iconic powers and see how that pans out.
Oh, boy. We get that Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns was a classic, but does that mean that every super hero deserves the same treatment? Spider-Man was well known as the character who faced constant adversity, yet fought with a joy of life in spite of that. Let’s not forget that he was also known as the ever-youthful kid at heart, so why then would Marvel feel the need to depict him as a decrepit old man for the sake of sales? To make matters worse, Mary Jane’s death by radioactive semen was just gross.
Spider-Man: Back in Black
More like back in blah, ahmiright? To coincide with the ill-conceived Spider-Man 3 movie, the editors decided to have Parker don his black threads to reflect his newly adopted angsty view on life. With his Aunt May in the hospital from a botched assassination attempt, Spidey goes on a rampage searching for her killer. As a result, he acts violent and out of character without even the black symbiote to crutch against as an excuse.
Spider-Man: One More Day
We hate retcons, and this one takes the cake. In order to reverse both his marriage to Mary Jane, the impending death of Aunt May, and public knowledge of his identity, he literally has to form a pact with the devil. Literally, the entire retcon was simply a magic trick which rendered Superboy Prime’s “reality pound” intelligent by comparison.
Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimatum
This is on the list solely by association. The Ultimatum storyline literally had the Ultimate universe go out not with a bang, but a whimper. With deaths thrown left and right simply for the sake of shock value, there was scarcely little attraction into this entire endeavor concocted by Jeph Loeb.