Spider-Man’s Most Valuable Ability Has Nothing To Do With Raw Power

Summary

  • Spider-Man’s greatest asset is his Spider-Sense, which allows him to dodge fatal attacks and detect threats when he’s out of his costume.
  • Venom’s emergence proved the importance of Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense, as the villain was somehow immune to it.
  • Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense was rendered useless in certain situations, leaving him vulnerable. This forced Peter Parker to rely on his quick wits more than he normally had to.


Though he doesn’t boast as much raw power as Marvel Comics heavy hitters such as Thor and the Hulk, Spider-Man is known to pack a considerable punch. His proportionate strength of a spider allowed for numerous demonstrations of potential in the past, such as throwing a train or balancing a building upon his shoulders. Nonetheless, Spidey relied on far more than just raw strength. One of his key appeals was his exciting and varied power set. He can cling to walls, and his uncanny webbing allowed him to traverse the streets of New York easily. However, one of Spider-Man’s additional powers stood out above the rest.

The Wall-Crawler’s Spider-Sense has always been his greatest asset. Not only did it grant him the power to dodge potentially fatal blows in battle, but it proved invaluable in his civilian identity. Peter Parker’s Spider-Sense informed him of when it was safe to switch identities without being spotted. Furthermore, it alerted him of threats in his day-to-day life, sometimes revealing the true identity of a villain if Peter crossed paths with them on the street. Occasionally, Spidey lost the use of this invaluable power, demonstrating how much he relied and depended on it.

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The Emergence of Venom Proved How Important Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense Was

Relevant issues:

  • Web of Spider-Man Vol 1 #18 (1986) by David Michelinie, Marc Silvestri, Kyle Baker, Bob Sharen, and Rick Parker
  • The Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 #300 (1988) by David Michelinie, Todd McFarlane, Bob Sharen, and Rick Parker

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Venom has always been a near-indomitable foe. Besides boasting all of Spider-Man’s powers but now with additional strength, Eddie Brock utilized the Symbiote’s further abilities to devastating effect. Spider-Man has been stalked numerous times, notably by Harry Osborn’s iteration of the Green Goblin. However, the Web-Slinger’s Spider-Sense would always kick in, alerting him to the new Goblin’s inherent danger. All this changed with the emergence of Venom. Due to the Symbiote’s link to Spidey, the alien villain was the first canonical character to be immune to the Wall-Crawler’s spider-sense. This meant that Eddie could stalk an unaware Peter for months. The stalking culminated in a memorable scene where Brock pushed Parker in front of a speeding subway train.

Things ramped up once Eddie, now fully bonded with the Symbiote, appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 #300. He could follow Spider-Man across New York and ambush him, something no foe had ever been capable of before up until then. Reeling from losing his Spider-Sense, Spider-Man suffered a knockout punch and nearly died. The battle was ultimately won, but Spidey almost broke his arm in the process and had to rely on quick thinking rather than his Spider-Sense to save the day. This pattern recurred throughout Venom’s early appearances, leaving fans with no question that Parker’s Spider-Sense was his ultimate weapon.

Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense was Lethally Rendered Redundant During “New Ways to Die”

Relevant issue:

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 #571 (2008) by Dan Slott, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Dean White, and Cory Petit

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While Spider-Man didn’t lose his Spider-Sense in the arc New Ways to Die, Norman Osborn found a way to render it redundant, very nearly costing the Wall-Crawler his life. As the leader of the Thunderbolts, Osborn made a startling and dangerous discovery: a homing device in Spider-Man’s chest tracked his movements, allowing Peter to purportedly take his photographs. With some nifty reverse engineering, Osborn armed his troops with guided smart bullets, even offering such a weapon to the already lethal and always-accurate Bullseye. Spidey’s Spider-Sense would still tingle, but he was helpless in the face of such weaponry, getting severely lacerated and gravely injured. If anything, this was a worse situation than facing Venom. Spider-Man had to helplessly wait for the bullets to land while his Spider-Sense rang out uselessly.

This arc made it clear that Spider-Man would have died countless times over without his Spider-Sense. The Web-Slinger often fought armed foes, but his agility and Spider-Sense allowed him to acrobatically weather hails of bullets without a scratch. New Ways to Die highlighted just how vital his Spider-Sense was such situations. When he faced Osborn’s troops and Bullseye, it was clear his agility alone had never been enough to dodge such devastating and massive attacks. Once more, only Spider-Man’s smarts rescued him from certain death. Deducing Osborn’s scheme, he tore the spider insignia from his chest and attached it to Bullseye so the villain, rather than he, would face the Thunderbolts’ bullets. While his Spider-Sense is undoubtedly his most extraordinary power, this arc demonstrates that Peter’s mind comes in at a very close second.

Spider-Man Got Caught in a Blast Intended for Alistair Smythe, Robbing him of his Spider-Sense

Relevant issue:

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 #654 (2011) by Fred Van Lente, Stefano Caselli, Marte Gracia, and Joe Caramagna

As with many of Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery (specifically, the Scorpion), the Spider-Slayers were born due to the interference of J. Jonah Jameson. He initially hired the terminally ill Spencer Smythe to design and build the first Spider-Slayer. His son, Alistair, followed in his father’s footsteps after his demise. However, the villain proved to be as much an adversary to Spider-Man as Jameson, whom he blamed for his father’s death. This led to many schemes to destroy the esteemed but spiteful publisher, culminating in 2011’s Revenge of the Spider-Slayer. In a fresh angle, Alistair empowered himself and other villains with their own “Spider-Senses” to take down Jameson and the Wall-Crawler.

Like many times in the past, Peter’s fabulous mind proved the key to victory. Alongside Horizon Labs’ Max Modell, he designed and built a bioelectric magnetic pulse to render the villains’ newfound senses inactive. However, this came at a terrible price: Spider-Man was caught in the pulse’s blast, robbing him of his Spider-Sense as well. The results were disastrous, with Marla Jameson even losing her life in the ensuing battle. Once more, fans witnessed Spider-Man at his most vulnerable due to losing his Spider-Sense. The event had a poignant and profound effect on the hero, leading to the seminal and underrated No One Dies.

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It was evident just how invaluable Spidey’s Spider-Sense was when readers encountered what happened in its absence. Eddie was able to stalk Spider-Man and push him in front of a train. Furthermore, as Venom, he could knock the hero unconscious and nearly kill him. When the Wall-Crawler’s Spider-Sense was rendered useless, it nearly cost him his life. The stakes grew even higher when the loss of Parker’s Spider-Sense came at the cost of an innocent bystander’s life. Time and again, readers witnessed the disasters that occured when Spider-Man was robbed of his most important ability and literal survival instinct.

As Spider-Man, this priceless power made sure that no villain could exact the element of surprise against him. Furthermore, it reduced the risk of being hit by a fist or bullet exponentially, continually granting Spidey the upper hand. His Spider-Sense was arguably even more crucial during his everyday life as Peter. Not only did it let him change between and Spider-Man without fear of being caught or help out in day-to-day mundanities, but it alerted him to numerous present and future threats. When Spider-Man lost his Spider-Sense, it always ended in defeat and tragedy, underscoring the vital nature of this tremendous power.

Spider-Man wears his classic red and blue and black symbiote suits in Marvel Comics

Spider-Man

Since his first appearance in 1962, Spider-Man has almost always been Marvel Comics’ most popular character. Known for his sense of humor and bad luck as well as his selflessness and super-strength, Spider-Man has helmed countless titles over the years, Spider-Man’s most prominent comics include The Amazing Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, and Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man.

Peter Parker was the original Spider-Man but the Spider-Verse has become an important part of the character’s lore in recent years. Multiversal and future Spider-Men include Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, Miguel O’Hara and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham. This provided the premise for the popular Spider-Verse film trilogy, which makes Miles its primary hero.

Spider-Man is also the basis of several live-action film franchises and numerous animated television series. He is one of the most recognizable characters in the world. While he’s changed a lot over the decades, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee gave the world an unforgettable hero when they created Spider-Man.

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