Spider-Man and His Amazing Frenemies
by Phil Perich for the Capes and Lunatics Blog
Sometimes it seems to me that the character of Spider-Man aka Peter Parker doesn’t get the respect he deserves. I’m not even talking about from the other characters in the stories Spider-Man appears in, but the real life fans and public. Not only has Spider-Man battled everything from common muggers to cosmic level threats with just about every hero from the Marvel Universe, but I believe he also has the greatest number of enemies who have reformed and become heroes (or anti-heroes anyway).
The following is a list of characters who began as enemies of Spider-Man and became heroes or at least took several steps in that direction.
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #3 (July 1963)
Aliases: Doctor Octopus, Master Planner, Superior Spider-Man, Superior Octopus
From the moment he was caught in a laboratory accident that grafted four powerful metal arms to his body and nervous system, Otto Octavius would go on to become one of Spider-Man’s most deadly enemies. After years of constant conflict, Otto would eventually come to terms with his enemy, learn his secret identity, and even save his life after he was poisoned. Otto was then killed by the then mysterious figure of Kaine. Upon his return to life, Otto lost all memories of Spider-Man’s identity and his respect for the man under the mask.
Years later when he himself was about to die, Otto transferred his mind into the body of Peter Parker himself. Believing Parker to have died in his original body, Otto went on to attempt a heroic career as the Superior Spider-Man. Even though he was more brutal and violent than Parker ever was, Otto seemingly sacrifices himself to give Parker his body back so the true Spider-Man could rescue the woman Otto had fallen in love with.
Months later its was revealed Otto’s mind had survived and was eventually transplanted into a clone body that was a combination of Peter Parker and Otto Octavius DNA. Now living under the identity of Doctor Eilliot Tolliver, Otto is set to get his own comic book series in October 2018 as the Superior Octopus. Will Otto be a hero, anti-hero, or is this another route towards world domination for the former villain?
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #4 (September 1963)
Aliases: Sandman, Flint Marko, Sylvester Mann
When escaped prisoner William Baker going by the alias Flint Marko attempted to escape Police by hiding on a deserted beach, he was exposed to irradiated sand affected by an experimental reactor. Able to turn his body into sand and alter the density of his body, William went on a one man crime spree until he was defeated by Spider-Man. He would continue his super villain career for years either on his own or as part of villainous groups such as the Sinister Six or Frightful Four.
After another accident merges William with his criminal rival Hydro-Man, William begins to reexamine his life after he is freed from the monstrous form the two had become. For years William attempted to set up a normal life and then to work with various hero groups like Silver Sable’s Wild Pack and even as a reserve member of the Avengers. But after his former ally in the Frightful Four the Wizard alters his brain in one of his devices, William goes back to his super villain ways. So did the Wizard alter William’s brain or simple restore it to it’s natural form?
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #31 (December 1965)
Aliases: Green Goblin, American Son, Harry Lyman
Starting off as a college student and son of the famous rich industrialist Norman Osborn, Harry has had quite the rocky road in life. After a battle with drug addiction, Harry discovers his father was the original Green Goblin upon Norman’s death. In a deranged state, Harry becomes the second Green Goblin and tries to kill Spider-Man believing the hero is responsible for his father’s death. After recovering and falling in love with Liz Allen, Harry puts the Green Goblin identity and the bad memories of his father away until his family is threatened by the second Hobgoblin, Jason Macendale. Attempting to use the Green Goblin for good, Harry uses his father’s old equipment to defeat Macendale and protect his wife and son.
Months later Harry attempts to be a full time superhero until he is talked out of it by Spider-Man. After another mental break caused by using his father’s goblin formula, Harry appears to die. He returns years later and almost becomes a pawn of his father who attempts to make him a super hero in the guise of the armored American Son. Fleeing his father, Harry goes into witness protection as Harry Lyman, only returning once again months later to help his old college roommate run his new company, Parker Industries.
Hobart “Hobie” Brown
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #78 (November 1969)
Aliases: The Prowler, Spider-Man
When window washer Hobie Brown is fired from his job, he decides to use his engineering skills to create the “villainous” identity of the Prowler who would steal various things and then return to them later as the “heroic” Hobie Brown. After an initial battle with Spider-Man, Hobie gives up his criminal ways and aids Spider-Man on numerous occasions, either as a heroic ally in his Prowler identity or even impersonating Spider-Man several times when asked to.
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #172 (September 1977)
Alias: Rocket Racer
Robert Farrell turns to a life of crime when his mother dies and he finds he can’t support his six siblings on what he can earn legally. Creating the identity of Rocket Racer, Robert uses a cybernetically controller skateboard and rocket powered gloves that give him powereful punches and limited firepower. After several defeats and lectures from Spider-Man, Robert gives up crime and earns a scholarship to Empire State University.
Robert returns to the Rocket Racer identity several times, including helping prove Spider-Man’s innocence at one point and defeat the Space Phantom with the short lived Outlaws team. Robert as Rocket Racer was last seen as part of the Avengers Academy.
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #256 (September 1984)
Generations ago, a certain native american tribe began to prepare for a threat to all humanity that would eventually come. Through mystic rituals and selective breeding, the tribe eventually created a warrior and hero in the form of Thomas Firehart, aka the Puma. In his first appearance, Thomas is shown to be the head of his own company Firehart Enterprises. He also works on the side as Puma as a mercenary, killing for whoever can afford his price. In their first encounter, Puma is hired to kill Spider-Man and the two battle until Puma retreats and intends to return another day. Months later, Spider-Man aids Puma against the Beyonder, who Puma believes is the threat to humanity he was created to defeat.
Not wanting to be in Spider-Man’s debt, Puma spends the next few years attempting to aid Spider-Man including buying controlling interest in the Daily Bugle to turn around Sppider-Man’s damaged reputation. Eventually Puma would become a reluctant ally to Spider-Man on numerous occasions. He was last seen battling Hydra forces during the Secret Empire event.
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #299 (April 1988)
After bringing back an alien suit from the otherworldly Secret Wars event, Spider-Man attempted to destroy it after the alien almost bonded with him physically. Feeling scorned and rejected, the alien found a new partner in Eddie Brock, who blamed Spider-Man for his failed career as a reporter. Forming the super villain Venom, Eddie and the alien symbiote continuously attempted to kill Spider-Man for years until Spider-man helped save the life of Eddie’s ex-wife. Seeing that Spider-Man helps protect the innocent, Venom gave up his war on the hero and went on to protect the innocent himself in the form of an anti-heroic, “lethal protector”.
Venom would go through phases of aiding and attempting to kill Spider-Man. There were even times when the symbiote was used by others including Spider-Man villain Mac Gargan aka the Scorpion and as a hero partnered with Flash Thompson. After a short period of time bonded to criminal Lee Price, the symbiote is back with Eddie Brock as the pair return to their violent, “heroic” ways.
First Appearance: Web of Spider-Man #119 (December 1994)
Aliases: Kaine, Scarlet Spider
The man known as Kaine was “born” when the villainous Jackal cloned decided to clone Spider-Man. Kaine was the first attempt at such a clone. But cellular degeneration set in almost immediately. Abandoned by his creator, Kaine would go on to become a mysterious assassin. His powers included precognitive flashes and the “Mark of Kaine” which was his ability to burn people with just a touch of his hands. These were mutated versions of Spider-Man’s spider-sense and his ability to stick to walls. He spent years tormenting Ben Reilly so that Reilly would not return to New York and bother Peter Parker. Thanks to a plot by Norman Osborn, everyone at the time thought Ben Reilly was the original Peter Parker and the man calling himself Peter was another clone.
After years of pain and suffering, Kaine was finally cured of his degeneration and took the place of the deceased Ben Reilly as the new Scarlet Spider. After attacking Ben Reilly upon his resurrection, believing the original Scarlet Spider was now a deranged villain, the two surviving clones of Peter Parker have come to an understanding as the current local heroes of Las Vegas.
So which character do you think is the most successful recipient of the Spider-Man rehabilitation system? Is your favorite here or is it one of the others? WIll-O-The-Wisp? Does Ollie Osnick count or was he just a confused kid in his first appearance? Share YOUR thoughts with me and the world!
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