"With great power must also come great responsibility." <p>It's one of the most iconic mantras in comics, right along with "Truth, justice, and the American way," and "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" But what does it really mean? It's a lesson learned the hardest way by Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man. Through personal tragedy, Peter has learned time and time again that you can't save everyone, but you had better try. <p><b>SPOILER ALERT for recent Films, Comics - You get it. SPOILERS, seriously.</b> <p>As re-itterated in the recent <b>Amazing Spider-Man 2</b>, the cinematic Spidey once again learned a lesson in power and responsibility. But what about those times tragedy struck in the comics? Here are ten people - friends, foes, and innocent bystanders - who Spider-Man just couldn't save. We'll likely have to update this list after <i>Spider-Verse</i> concludes...
One of Spider-Man's oldest foes, Kraven the Hunter became obsessed with killing the most dangerous prey he could find, eventually fixating on Spider-Man as the ultimate target. After years of unsuccessfully hunting the wall-crawler, Kraven finally snapped, hatching a lunatic scheme to break Spider-Man. <p>Shooting Spider-Man and burying him alive, Kraven took up the mantle of his arch-foe to prove that he was in fact better than Spider-Man at all things. When Spider-Man finally revived, he tracked the villain to a place where Kraven had captured Vermin, one of Spider-Man's enemies. In their final face off, much to Spider-Man's horror, Kraven committed suicide, finally having, in his mind, proven himself superior to Spider-Man.
A gifted scientist, Marla Madison first met J. Jonah Jameson while helping create a new generation of Spider Slayers. The pair hit it off immediately, becoming engaged and marrying. Along with her marriage to Jameson, Marla also got an invitation into Jameson's life of deranged super-villains, harebrained anti-Spider-Man scheming, and, oh yeah, hypertension and heart disease. <p>When Jameson was hospitalized during a heart attack, Marla used her power of attorney to sell his longstanding shares in <I>The Daily Bugle</I>, setting off a chain of events that would lead to Jameson becoming mayor of New York. When Alistair Smythe, creator of the original Spider Slayers, returned to take vengeance on both Jameson and Spider-Man, Marla took the hit - quite literally - as she dove in front of her husband, saving his life, and dying at Smythe's hand. Mere moments from saving her life, Spider-Man vowed that, from that moment on, no one would die on his watch, a promise that had, at best, middling effectiveness.
When it became clear that years of physical confrontations with superheroes had left his altogether mortal body racked and dying, Dr. Octopus hatched an unconscionable scheme: he would swap bodies with his age old foe Spider-Man, stealing his arch-enemy's life and identity for his own nefarious purposes. <p>Of course his scheme worked, and Doc Ock took over Peter's body, but not before Peter used their psychic connection to pile on the knowledge gained from years of tragedy and triumph as Spider-Man. Under the weight of all Peter had suffered, Dr. Octopus suddenly realized he had no want of Spider-Man's life, but what was done was done, and Ock was left to Peter's life. <p>With some psychic remnants of Peter's consciousness left in Ock's mind, Peter did his best to positively influence Ock's career as Spider-Man, but in the end, Ock's villainous hubris could not be quashed. Pride goeth before a fall, and Doc Ock's "superior" career as Spider-Man came to end in ruin when his carefully run spider-empire crumbled around him, and he gave way to Peter's consciousness, returning his ill-gotten body back to its original owner. In the end, the only way to save Dr. Octopus was to let him go, proving that despite his best intentions, Peter really can't fix everyone.
Years ago, the deranged scientist Miles Warren became fascinated with Spider-Man, and used his cloning abilities to make several ill-fated copies of the hero. Years later, one of the clones resurfaced, claiming he was the <i>true</i> Peter Parker, and then one readers had known for years was actually a clone. <p>However this clone, calling himself Ben Reilly, was not the only surviving copy. Also still alive was Kaine, a tortured clone with genetic defects that sent him on a murderous rampage, stalking Reilly, and framing him for the killings. Eventually, Peter was arrested, as all three shared the same fingerprints, but Reilly took his place. When Peter, driven mad by his belief that he was a clone, joined Miles Warren - now the Jackal - Kaine refused to allow Peter to become evil, eventually giving his life to help defeat the many clone enemies created by the Jackal. <p>Recently, Kaine returned, proving you just can't keep a good clone down, and has become the heroic Scarlet Spider, so maybe you can chalk this one up to a win for Peter after all - but only by default.
The father of Peter's best friend Harry, wealthy industrialist Norman Osborn was also secretly Spider-Man's greatest nemesis, the mysterious and menacing Green Goblin. Though neither initially knew the other's identity, their rivalry came to a lethal head when, having uncovered Peter's secret, Osborn kidnapped Peter's paramour, Gwen Stacy. <p>In the final moments of their confrontation, Peter, enraged at Osborn's actions, fought the villain to a standstill. Bruised, broken, and defeated, Osborn unleashed the last of his tricks, a remote control goblin glider meant to impale Spider-Man. However, at the last moment, Spider-Man's spider sense warned him of the approaching glider, and he dove out of the way, leaving the Goblin dead by his own hand. <p>Of course, Osborn returned from the dead, and continues to menace Parker both under his own name, and as a newly reborn Green Goblin. Still, for a moment, he was emblematic of many of Peter's tragic failings - an inability to save his loved ones, or even to save himself without hurting others.
Jean DeWolff was a tough-as-nails police captain who entered the force following in her father's footsteps. Despite her own best efforts, DeWolff had a knack for getting into crazy trouble, like when her father manipulated her brother into becoming the costumed criminal known as the Wraith. Through all of this, her close relationship with Spider-Man and her own fighting spirit kept her going for years where many cops would've walked away or buckled under the pressure. <p>Unfortunately, DeWolff's run came to an end when she became the first victim of the Sin Eater, a costumed murderer whose rampage would indirectly lead to the creation of Venom, and to the appearance of a new Wraith, this time an ally to Spider-Man, who masqueraded as the ghost of Jean DeWolff.
George Stacy was Gwen Stacy's father, and one of the few people in Peter's life who supported not only his daughter's relationship with him, but his alter ego Spider-Man as well. When the retired police captain was called out of retirement to help retrieve a device stolen by Dr. Octopus, he became directly involved in the ongoing struggle between Spider-Man and his arch-rival. <p>When Captain Stacy took a more hands-on approach, getting between Doc Ock and Spider-Man, he was rewarded by being crushed to death by debris sent flying by Ock's tentacles. In his final moments, Stacy revealed to Peter that he had known all along that he was Spider-Man, and that he knew he was a hero. In the wake of Captain Stacy's death, despite her father's unwavering support of Spider-Man, Gwen began to hate Spider-Man, blaming him for what happened, a state which lead Peter to nearly give up on being a hero entirely to preserve their relationship.
Like father, like son. After witnessing the battle that killed his father, Norman Osborn, Harry, addled by drugs and desperate, covered up his father's identity as the Green Goblin and swore vengeance on Spider-Man. When he discovered his best friend Peter Parker was actually his hated nemesis, Harry snapped and took up the mantle of the Green Goblin. <p>After receiving extensive psychiatric counseling, Harry was broken of his Goblin persona, leading a normal life with his wife Liz Allan, and their son Normie. But when outside circumstances reactivated his Goblin identity, Osborn set a trap to kill Spider-Man, luring him into a house laden with explosives and leaving him to die in the blast. <p>In the last moment, Osborn realized that his own son and Peter's wife Mary Jane would also be caught in the blast, snapping him back to reality, and causing him to rescue all three of his potential victims before succumbing to the lethal effects of an experimental Goblin serum. <p>Of course, when history was rewritten by Mephisto, Harry returned from the dead, and wound up almost breaking with reality again before finally moving on from Peter's life, and leaving his secret identity behind forever.
Poor, sweet, long-suffering Gwen Stacy. After years of ups and downs, Gwen and Peter Parker's relationship was finally hitting its stride. Peter had finally found the balance between his life as Spider-Man and his love for Gwen, who blamed Spider-Man for her father's death. Despite it all, the two were finding a way to build a life together when tragedy struck in the form of the Green Goblin. <p>Dragging Gwen to the height of the George Washington Bridge, the Goblin taunted Spider-Man, who rushed to Gwen's aid. Making his escape, the Goblin flung Gwen toward the water below, sending Spider-Man after her in a desperate attempt to rescue her. Catching her with his webline, Peter failed to use his extensive knowledge of physics and the laws of motion, ceasing Gwen mid-fall, but causing her neck to snap at the sudden stop. Try as he might, in attempting to save his longtime girlfriend, Peter Parker actually caused her death.
The death of Peter's Uncle Ben may be the greatest tragedy of all. Everyone knows the details; a scheming promoter stiffs Peter out of some money. Peter, as Spider-Man, refuses to help when the same promoter is robbed. After explaining that he only looks out for himself, Peter returns home to find that his Uncle Ben has been killed. Flying into a rage, Peter tracks Ben's killer to a warehouse where he is hiding from police. Confronting Ben's murderer, Peter is horrified to learn that he is the same thief who robbed the promoter, who Peter himself could have stopped, saving Uncle Ben's life, if only he hadn't been so selfish. <p>Ben Parker's death is the most tragic of the losses Peter has faced, because he actually <i>could</i> have saved Ben, if not for his own refusal to help those in need. In death, Ben taught Peter his most valuable lesson - that with great power must also come great responsibility to use that power selflessly, and for the good of all people. How tragic that it is in pursuit of that ideal that so many people Peter loves have died.