<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/lucassiegel>Lucas Siegel, Newsarama Site Editor</a></i> <p>Since the character's debut in the early days of the silver age of comics, Spider-Man has permeated pop culture as the star of TV, Movies, Video Games, Novels, a reference in songs, and Spider-Man, plus his alter-ego Peter Parker, has become a true household name, right up there with icons like Superman and Batman. <p>Now, <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/spider-man-700-superior-spider-man-spoilers-revealed.html>an era ends</a> [SPOILERS at that link!] with the 700th and final issue of <b>Amazing Spider-Man</b>, released on December 26, 2012. Written by Dan Slott, the series finale also sees a major change in the title character's future. <p>To celebrate the 50th anniversary and <b>ASM</b>'s finale, we take a look at those who have worn the mantle of Spider-Man (and a couple of variations) in the character's history, and look at the newest member of that exclusive club. <p>Please note, entry #1 is a major <b>SPOILER</b> for <b>Amazing Spider-Man #700</b> and <b>Superior Spider-Man #1</b>. So stop at #2 if you haven't read it and you don't want to be spoiled. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i>
He's the man that started it all. Debuting in <b>Amazing Fantasy #15</b>, Peter Parker became the Amazing Spider-Man after being bitten by a radioactive spider, which gave him the reflexes, proportional strength, and sense of impending danger of a spider. <p>Of course that's not what it took to make young Parker a <i>hero</i>, however. It was the tragic death of his Uncle Ben, who had raised Peter as his own son, at the hands of a burglar the boy had a chance to stop that made Peter turn the corner from powered-but-selfish into burgeoning superhero. <p>That special lesson, that with great power must also come great responsibility, didn't just influence Peter, but also all the other folks on this list.
Believe it or not, the most prominent clone of Peter Parker didn't debut in the 90s, or even the late 80s. He showed up for the first time in <b>Amazing Spider-Man #149</b> way back in October of 1975. <p>Of course, people don't remember Ben for that brief first run with the Jackal. No, instead they remember him from the massive Clone Saga storyline that saw Ben, Peter, Kaine, and others entangled in a web (sorry) of mystery that got increasingly complicated and went on for<i>ever</i>. <p>Ben, for a time, thought he was the real Peter parker, and took over entirely as Spider-Man. He also debuted the identity of Scarlet Spider, now in use by fellow clone Kaine, and even once bonded with the Carnage symbiote, the "son" of Venom. <p>Reilly died to close out the cone saga, disappearing in a puff of dust, but his vocal fan contingent hasn't given up on a resurrection.
In almost every universe, one thing remains true: Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson are simply meant to be. The two have been romantic in multiple Marvel universes, video games, TV shows, movies, comic strips and any other medium you can think of. <p>But as the world-hopping Exiles found out, there is one Mary Jane that stands out, as <i>she</i> was the one with Spider-Powers. Appearing first in <b>Exiles #23</b>, in her reality, she had the powers (and responsibility) of the Spider-identity. She also had a relationship with that world's Sunfire, a woman with a familiar name to Marvel fans herself, Mariko Yashida (Wolverine's lost love in the main Marvel Universe). <p>Mary Jane wasn't the only alternate-spider seen in <b>Exiles</b>, of course. "The Spider" was a darker Peter Parker seen on the competing world-hopping team of Weapon X, and a few other Spideys were seen from world to world. Of course, one other famous Spider-Man joined the main team, too, but he started out on his own...
Marvel's first major foray into an alternate universe was actually a look into the future, all the way to the year 2099. Created in 1992 by Peter David and Rick Leonardi to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of Spider-Man, Miguel O'Hara lived in the dystopian 2099 future and was not just the first true legacy character of Spider-Man, but also by far the most popular 2099 character. <p>Inspired by Peter Parker's 20th Century hero of Spider-Man, Miguel, working for Alchemax, sought to create a new Spider-Hero, but quit the company when he disagreed with their testing methods. Of course that just meant he would become the new test subject, leading to his development of super agility, strength, plus speedy healing and enhanced senses that let him perceive the world around him as if in slow-mo. His webbing was organic, and he clung to walls via tiny talons in his fingers and toes. <p>Miguel lasted beyond his own series, appearing in a few mini-series, joining the Exiles, and showing up in multiple video games.
In a universe where the daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson wasn't still-born or kidnapped or wiped away by a deal with the devil or whatever, she instead grew up to take over the legacy of her father as the "MC2" Universe's "Spider-Girl. <p> May "Mayday" Parker was the realization of Peter's dream of having a family and a future beyond being Spider-Man, though he initially fought against her using the powers she'd inherited to fight crime. <p>Mayday is probably best known for having the little comic that could. Facing cancellation several times, the series continued thanks to massive fan campaigns that brought it back as <i>Amazing Spider-Girl</i>, <i>Spectacular Spider-Girl</i>, and saw Mayday have her own versions of many of Peter's greatest adventures - including her very own Clone Saga. While her series did eventually come to an end, the character remained viable just in case Marvel seeks to continue her story in the (alternate) future.
Spider-Man has reached children across the globe, and Marvel has truly embraced that. With multiple incarnations seeing various success in Japan, in 2004 Marvel teamed with Gotham Entertainment Group to bring a unique incarnation to India. <p>Pavitr Prabhakar was basically a simple Indian version of Peter, though his powers were granted to him by a yogi instead of a genetic/radioactive accident. His Uncle Bhim was killed, and he fights Nalin Oberoi (Norman Osborn) and an Indian version of Doctor Octopus in his story. There's even an Indian Mary Jane, named Meera Jain. <p>The series offered a unique look at Indian beliefs and mythology while also showing how Spider-Man fits the world around.
In the year 2000, Marvel Comics launched a new Universe for the 21st century reader, with updated versions of the characters and stories that had been made classic in the prior 4-5 decades. The flagship title of this Ultimate universe was <b>Ultimate Spider-Man</b>, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley. <p>Ultimate Peter Parker still became Spider-Man, but rather than rapidly aging the character, his adventures were set entirely with him as a young teenager in high school, dealing with the life of an average 21st Century teen. His job had him working online, he had love triangles, his powers were from genetic engineering (as were the powers of nearly every other Ultimate character for the first couple years), and he got to truly explore what it was like to be a kid living with very adult experiences and responsibilities. <p>Ultimate Peter made the Ultimate sacrifice while fighting his world's Green Goblin, but the legacy of Spider-Man lived on in that world.
Born of another of the genetically engineered spiders from the same experiment that changed Peter Parker's life, Miles Morales is a mild-mannered kid who, along with new powers, also became the first African American to become Spider-Man. <p>Morales's story is still unfolding in the pages of <b>Ultimate Comics Spider-Man</b> as he continues to discover his new powers (like his unique Venom Strike and Camouflage) and fights to prove himself as the new Ultimate universe Spider-Man. <p>Miles works with the Ultimates and Nick Fury, as well as getting some assistance from Peter Parker's friends, family, and allies in his quest to keep the legacy alive. With Peter actually dead in that world, Miles is the world's only hope of keeping the power and responsibility of Spider-Man alive. <p>His own legacy has already begun to spread, too, with the character/costume appearing in two video games after his 2011 debut.
Two villains have played the role of Spider-Man in recent years, both as versions of the character with a team of "Dark Avengers." <p>While not quite on the level of Norman Osborn or Otto Octavius, Mac Gargan has to be mentioned in the conversation of Spider-Man villains, especially for the multiple roles he has played. He was once the Scorpion, but when Eddie Brock lay dying and the Venom symbiote abandoned him, it came to Mac, making him the new Venom. Then, with Norman Osborn at the head, he posed as "Spider-Man" on the first incarnation of the Dark Avengers. He since has become a new, super-up version of Scorpion. <p>Meanwhile, the Dark Avengers have continued on, with the new dark Spidey being played by Ai Apaec, a vengeful Peruvian spider-god. While he initially relied on Osborn to transform into the six-armed Spider-Man, he has broken free and remains with the Dark Avengers currently.
In July 1963's <b>Amazing Spider-Man #3</b>, Otto Octavius became the fearsome Doctor Octopus. He has since been one of Spider-Man's greatest enemies (or, as argued by some including writer Dan Slott, his greatest of all), plaguing Peter Parker both alone and often as the leader of the Sinister Six. He's been engaged to May Parker, died and been resurrected, fought the Avengers, and nearly died again. <p>Now, thanks to his genius intellect and his slow-burn shame to swap minds with Peter Parker, Otto Octavius's consciousness resides in Peter's body. And with all of Peter's memories, as well as the knowledge of how it felt to live through his major moments, Otto plans to become a "Superior" Spider-Man. <p>Otto promised a dying Peter Parker that he would not be leaving the world, or the identity of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, to a villain, but we'll have to wait until 2013's <b>Superior Spider-Man</b> launch to see how his pledge plays out.