In a world where it sometimes seems like there are too many problems to overcome, a ray of hope in the form of a Queens teenager comes swinging into our hearts. His past is as storied as the rumors surrounding his true identity. So, to start with, is Spider-Man rooted in the Marvel or DC universe?
Since debuting onto the comic stage in 1962, Spider-Man has been a hopeful light in the culture. He came to us through the brilliant mind of Stan Lee and the artistic genius of Steve Ditko. Most comic fans on either side of the universe will automatically associate Stan Lee with Marvel. So, Spider-Man is obviously Marvel, right? Well, mostly yes and a little no.
Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man
When Spider-Man came out, it was a challenging time with an unknown future, but Peter Parker brought back a feeling of wholesome goodness. Your heart goes out to the boy whose parents were killed in a plane crash when he was just old enough to be in pre-k. Honestly, he’s been through a lot in general yet still finds the time to take out the bad guys. He wants no recognition, no reward. He is just compelled to do what’s right.
Those are the exact vibes that make him a great pick for a crossover. Yes, you heard that right. We’re not referring to other Marvel stories, either. Back in the mid-70s, Marvel and DC decided to do something that was just not done at the time: share a character. Not just any character, but your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. That means, if you wondered which universe Spider-Man calls home, you’re likely not alone. There’s a good reason that Spider-Man could be confused as a DC entity.
Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man: The Battle of the Century made its glorious debut in 1976 and was the first Marvel/DC crossover. The story sort of starts with Batman vs Superman, where they are not exactly friends and actually get into an altercation. As the comic goes on, the duo joins together against their ongoing nemeses, Lex Luthor and Doctor Octopus, respectively, to prevent a hostile world takeover. Although Superman and Spider-Man come together to do what is right and good with the world, their work was in vain because the story was not part of the canon for either character.
TV and Movies and Comics, Oh My!
So, if the Battle of the Century didn’t count for either character, what was the point of bringing them together? The simple answer is popularity. Comics were a legitimate business and the most well-known characters at the time were Superman and our topic of focus here, Spider-Man. Both the literary and motion picture execs were itching to take advantage of the hype that the small, thin-papered stories were bringing in. The push was to make a feature film with both superheroes that would cash in on all that excitement.
However, within the next couple of years, there would be a new iteration of Superman movies, starring Christopher Reeves, who was no relation to the original Superman of the 1950s, George Reeves. There would also be a new Spider-Man television series that just so happens to be live-action, as opposed to the one from the 60s that was animated. Ahead of both of these was the comic that brought together two worlds.
To be fair, this wasn’t the first time that Marvel and DC had come together. The first was titled, MGM’S Marvelous Wizard of Oz. This comic didn’t feature a superhero, but it did feature cultural phenomenons: Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and the Tin Man. A much talked about part two never emerged.
Are there any characters who are both Marvel and DC?
There is the one, the only, Axel Asher. A superhero named Access was introduced to both Marvel and DC 20 years after Spider-Man became the first to crossover. Ironically, his power is to be able to time travel as well as travel to different timelines. If he wants, he can take eight people with him. It sounds like it could be a bridge to future collaboration, comic or otherwise.
The creation of Access was during the comic book slump of the mid-90s as a way to boost sales. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to have made enough of an impact to keep him active and bouncing back between the two worlds. This unique superhero has appeared briefly in a few other storylines but hasn’t graced the pages of a comic book in 25 years. However, since Access is owned by both Marvel and DC, he could reappear at any time. The only rule is that neither universe can kill him off.
Does DC have a Spider-Man equivalent?
Well, now you know that despite Spider-Man dipping his toes into the DC sand, he is owned, operated, and beholding to Marvel. If you still have this burning feeling that you’ve seen him appear without Superman in DC before, you’re not entirely wrong. While it’s not the Spidey we know, there might be another arachnid character that fits the description and is, in fact, a DC superhero.
The Tarantula, John Law, crawled into existence the same year as the US entered into WWII, 1941. The similarities are easy to point out, but he is quite distinctive on his own. For starters, The Tarantula is a crime writer by day and a crime fighter by night. He does not have any particular supernatural abilities. Even his suit is only capable of letting him walk up walls because they come with suction cups. Like another DC favorite, Batman, The Tarantula is well trained for physical fighting. When he shot his web onto criminals, it came from a gun and would have more of a silly string consistency that hardened to create a trap.
Funny enough, The Tarantula was referred to as Spider Man in his first featured comic by another character. Eventually, a former female FBI agent named Catalina Flores became the new Tarantula in 2002 during Law’s retirement. However, after that character perished in 2009, the seat has been vacant.
In an even more mind-bending twist, Marvel has a Tarantula, too. Theirs came onto the scene in 1974 as a supervillain and enemy of Spider-Man. Like The Tarantula from DC, Tarantula’s latest inhabitant was a female. That’s where the similarities end though, since she possessed a passion and joy to kill her enemies.
The future of Marvel’s Spider-Man
Nearly twice as many actors have portrayed the crime-fighting teen in comparison to James Bond, a character known for trading out a new appearance every so many years. Several of the Spider-Man embodiments have had their careers launched due to playing the beloved character. If TV and movies weren’t enough, there have been over 700 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man comics by Marvel. Within that plethora of Peter Parker, there have been 14 versions of Spider-Man. That does not include Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham, who is Marvel’s spoof of their own character.
Whether you’re new to comic books or a seasoned pro, it’s not hard to understand the longevity of Spider-Man. The never-ending stories of a teenager with a moral inclination to use his accidental powers for good have stayed part of the cultural zeitgeist for decades. His daily plight of trying to fit in while doing what he feels is best is something that many of us can relate to. That attachment creates a character loyalty that is record-breaking.
The most money ever paid for a single comic book was $3.6 million. That just so happened to be a Spider-Man selection, Amazing Fantasy #15, and that was just in 2021. The former record holder of the most expensive comic was held by Spider-Man’s friend from DC, Superman. With action like that being taken by the fans, and the continuous opportunities to see him on the big screen, it seems pretty certain that Marvel will continue to keep Spider-Man swinging from buildings for years to come.
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