Spider-Man has entertained audiences for decades with his brightly colored costume, high-flying adventures, and mile-a-minute jokes. It’s arguably this take on the superhero that propelled him to the megastar status he enjoys today. That doesn’t mean all Spider-Man’s stories are fun and lighthearted. Spider-Man has been put through the wringer, and he has gone to some dark places.
Spider-Man began in tragedy with the death of Uncle Ben. It prompted Peter to use his powers responsibly, and his misfortune didn’t end there. Struggling to lead a dual life that constantly puts his loved ones in danger, Spider-Man’s career has been filled with intense violence, death, and characters slipping into insanity. Marvel hasn’t shied away from publishing some truly edgy Spider-Man comics.
10 Maximum Carnage
Venom was created to be a dark reflection of Spider-Man, and things turned up the heat with Carnage. The Venom symbiote spawned and bonded with serial killer Cletus Kasady, creating an even deadlier monster.
the Maximum Carnage event gave Carnage the highest body count of any Spider-Man villain. With the major heroes busy outside of New York, Spider-Man put together a ragtag band of heroes to fight Carnage. They did a horrible job in Maximum Carnage, taking 14 issues to stop the swath of destruction Carnage was cutting through the city.
9 Harry Osborn Gets Addicted To Drugs
Drug abuse was and still is a tricky subject to tackle. That didn’t keep Stan Lee from writing about it in Amazing Spider-Man #96, where Spider-Man saved an intoxicated man who fell off a building. Then things hit home.
Harry Osborn was concerned about the stability of his father and in a rocky relationship with Mary Jane. He turned to taking pills to even himself out. Peter watched helplessly as the drugs made Harry increasingly paranoid and agitated. These issues were notably unapproved by the Comics Code.
One of Spider-Man’s edgiest villains is Morlun, a vampiric being who consumes people with spider-powers. Spider-Man barely survives encounters with Morlun, and things got much worse when his family, the Inheritors, were introduced.
The Superior Spider-Man #33 brought in the Inheritors and showed they’re just as dangerous as Morlun. Acquiring inter-dimensional powers, the Inheritors hunted Spider-people through the multiverse to kill and eat them. Spider-Verse teamed up many alternate versions of Spider-Man and his friends. Because their enemies were so formidable, not everyone made it out alive.
7 Spider-Man: The Lost Years
Things are never easy for Spider-Man when clones are involved. The Clone Saga of the 1990s brought back Spider-Man’s clone, Ben Reilly, which called Spider-Man’s very identity into question. The darkest and edgiest aspect of this arc was told in Spider-Man: The Lost Years, which filled in the gaps of Ben’s life.
Spider-Man’s adventures are well documented, but Ben’s life took a much darker turn. With no identity and no purpose, Ben drifted through the country. Ben met face-to-face with another clone, Kaine, who was slowly suffering from cellular degeneration.
6 The Superior Spider-Man
As a superhero, Spider-Man must always walk a line. While technically a vigilante, Spider-Man’s powers make him stronger than many of the criminals he fights, so he keeps himself in check. Spider-Man stopped holding back when he stopped being Peter Parker.
Doctor Octopus switched minds with Peter Parker. As Peter died in Octavius’s body, Otto became a newly improved Spider-Man in The Superior Spider-Man. No longer held back by Peter’s morality, this new Spider-Man decided to be a better hero than Peter by fighting crime with a whatever-it-takes mentality.
5 The Night Gwen Stacy Died
Heroes could be injured and villains could be killed, but the death of the main character’s girlfriend wasn’t heard of in the 1960s. The Night Gwen Stacy Died pulled out all the stops in telling one of the most intense Spider-Man stories ever.
When Norman Osborn remembered that he’s the Green Goblin, he also remembered Spider-Man’s identity. I have proceeded to kidnap Gwen Stacy. Despite Spider-Man’s best efforts to save her, she died. Angrier than ever before, Spider-Man debated whether he would kill the Green Goblin in retaliation.
4 Spider-Man: The Other
Spider-Man is no stranger to body horror, having grown four additional arms and becoming a Man-Spider. He would undergo the most monstrous transformation during Spider-Man: The Other.
Facing the possibility that his powers are causing his premature death, a fight with Morlun left Spider-Man bloody and hospitalized. Rather than expire, his body went through a grotesque change just as his mind was being bombarded by disturbing thoughts and images. He was reborn as a newer, stronger Spider-Man. He also had to face the truth of having an animal lurking within him.
3 Spider-Man: Reign
A dystopian future with aging heroes is a staple of superhero comics. The X-Men did it, Batman did it, and in 2006, Spider-Man did it with the limited series Spider-Man: Reign.
An elderly Peter Parker lives in a New York City under strict governmental control. Peter, who has lost everyone he loves, spends his days battling the guilt that comes from talking to the ghosts of his memories. He is forced to bring Spider-Man out of retirement only to fight a group of his old foes intent on his death.
two Kraven’s Last Hunt
Villains are motivated by different things, and Kraven the Hunter may have one of the darkest motivations of any Spider-Man villain. Unlike most villains who steal, Kraven hunts down prey for sport. Kraven’s goals were taken to their logical extreme in Kraven’s Last Hunt.
The boldest and most ambitious Kraven story began with Spider-Man being buried alive and ended with Kraven taking his own life. Becoming his own version of Spider-Man, Kraven went through the city and grew increasingly unhinged. Kraven’s internal narration throughout Kraven’s Last Hunt serves to highlight his madness.
one The Infamous Sins Past
Sins Past was written by J. Michael Straczynsi and is perhaps the most infamous stories in Spider-Man history. Sins Past revisits the days leading up to Gwen Stacy’s death and makes them darker, shedding new light onto Gwen’s story. It explains that she had given birth to twins before her death.
Sins Past initially teased the idea that Peter might have children. Ultimately, it’s revealed that Norman Osborn was the father of Gwen’s kids. Deeply ashamed by her moment of weakness, Gwen sent the children away. They return to New York, fully grown and seeking revenge on Spider-Man.
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