Spider-Man is a fictional character, a comic book superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko, he first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 (cover-dated Aug. 1962). Lee and Ditko conceived the character as an orphan being raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and as a teenager, having to deal with the normal struggles of adolescence in addition to those of a costumed crimefighter. Spider-Man's creators gave him super strength and agility, the ability to cling to most surfaces, shoot spider-webs using wrist-mounted devices of his own invention (which he called "web-shooters"), and react to danger quickly with his "spider-sense", enabling him to combat his foes.
When Spider-Man first appeared in the early 1960s, teenagers in superhero comic books were usually relegated to the role of sidekick to the protagonist. The Spider-Man series broke ground by featuring Peter Parker, a teenage high school student and person behind Spider-Man's secret identity to whose "self-obsessions with rejection, inadequacy, and loneliness" young readers could relate. Unlike previous teen heroes such as Bucky(Captain America's sidekick) and Robin(Batman's sidekick), Spider-Man did not benefit from being the protégé of any adult superhero mentors like Captain America and Batman, and thus had to learn for himself that "with great power there must also come great responsibility"—a line included in a text box in the final panel of the first Spider-Man story, but later retroactively attributed to his guardian, the late Uncle Ben.
Marvel has featured Spider-Man in several comic book series, the first and longest-lasting of which is titled The Amazing Spider-Man. Over the years, the Peter Parker character has developed from shy, nerdy high school student to troubled but outgoing college student, to married high school teacher to, in the late 2000s, a single freelance photographer, his most typical adult role. In the 2010s, he joins the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, Marvel's flagship superhero teams. In recent storylines, Peter Parker dies while his mind is in the body of his enemy Doctor Octopus. Doctor Octopus then lives on inside of Parker's body, taking the role of Spider-Man in The Superior Spider-Man (2013–present). However, on January 11, 2014, it was officially confirmed that the character will return in April 2014. Separately, Marvel also introduced a new Spider-Man, the mixed race teenager Miles Morales, in stories set in its Ultimate Comics-branded alternative universe.
Spider-Man placed 3rd on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time in 2011.
In 1962, with the success of the Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics editor and head writer Stan Lee was casting about for a new superhero idea. He said the idea for Spider-Man arose from a surge in teenage demand for comic books, and the desire to create a character with whom teens could identify. In his autobiography, Lee cites the non-superhuman pulp magazine crime fighter the Spider (see also The Spider's Web and The Spider Returns) as a great influence, and in a multitude of print and video interviews, Lee stated he was further inspired by seeing a spider climb up a wall—adding in his autobiography that he has told that story so often he has become unsure of whether or not this is true. Looking back on the creation of Spider-Man, 1990s Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco stated he did not believe that Spider-Man would have been given a chance in today's comics world, where new characters are vetted with test audiences and marketers. At that time, however, Lee had to get only the consent of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman for the character's approval. In a 1986 interview, Lee described in detail his arguments to overcome Goodman's objections. Goodman eventually agreed to a Spider-Man tryout in what Lee in numerous interviews recalled as what would be the final issue of the science-fiction and supernatural anthology series Amazing Adult Fantasy, which was renamed Amazing Fantasy for that single issue, #15 (cover-dated August 1962, on sale June 5, 1962). While this was indeed the final issue, its editorial page anticipated the comic continuing and that "The Spiderman [sic] ... will appear every month in Amazing."
Regardless, Lee received Goodman's approval for the name Spider-Man and the "ordinary teen" concept, and approached artist Jack Kirby. As comics historian Greg Theakston recounts, Kirby told Lee about an unpublished character on which he had collaborated with Joe Simon in the 1950s, in which an orphaned boy living with an old couple finds a magic ring that granted him superhuman powers. Lee and Kirby "immediately sat down for a story conference", Theakston writes, and Lee afterward directed Kirby to flesh out the character and draw some pages. Steve Ditko would be the inker. When Kirby showed Lee the first six pages, Lee recalled, "I hated the way he was doing it! Not that he did it badly—it just wasn't the character I wanted; it was too heroic". Lee turned to Ditko, who developed a visual style Lee found satisfactory.
A few months after Spider-Man's introduction, publisher Goodman reviewed the sales figures for that issue and was shocked to find it to have been one of the nascent Marvel's highest-selling comics. A solo ongoing series followed, beginning with The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (cover-dated March 1963). The title eventually became Marvel's top-selling series with the character swiftly becoming a cultural icon; a 1965 Esquire poll of college campuses found that college students ranked Spider-Man and fellow Marvel hero the Hulk alongside Bob Dylan and Che Guevara as their favorite revolutionary icons. One interviewee selected Spider-Man because he was "beset by woes, money problems, and the question of existence. In short, he is one of us". Following Ditko's departure after issue #38 (July 1966), John Romita, Sr. replaced him as penciler and would draw the series for the next several years. In 1968, Romita would also draw the character's extra-length stories in the comics magazine The Spectacular Spider-Man, a proto-graphic novel designed to appeal to older readers. It only lasted for two issues, but it represented the first Spider-Man spin-off publication, aside from the original series' summer annuals that began in 1964.
The story of Spider-Man began in Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, high school student Peter Parker is a science-whiz orphan living with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. As depicted in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962), he is bitten by a radioactive spider (erroneously classified as an insect in the panel) at a science exhibit and "acquires the agility and proportionate strength of an arachnid." Along with super strength, he gains the ability to adhere to walls and ceilings. Through his native knack for science, he develops a gadget that lets him fire adhesive webbing of his own design through small, wrist-mounted barrels. Initially seeking to capitalize on his new abilities, he dons a costume and, as "Spider-Man", becomes a novelty television star. However, "He blithely ignores the chance to stop a fleeing thief, [and] his indifference ironically catches up with him when the same criminal later robs and kills his Uncle Ben." Spider-Man tracks and subdues the killer and learns, in the story's next-to-last caption, "With great power there must also come—great responsibility!"
A bite from a radioactive spider on a school field trip causes a variety of changes in the body of Peter Parker and gives him superpowers. In the original Lee-Ditko stories, Spider-Man has the ability to cling to walls, superhuman strength, a sixth sense ("spider-sense") that alerts him to danger, perfect balance and equilibrium, as well as superhuman speed and agility. Some of his comic series have him shooting webs from his wrists. Academically brilliant, Parker has expertise in the fields of applied science, chemistry, physics, biology, engineering,mathematics, and mechanics. With his talents, he sews his own costume to conceal his identity, and constructs many devices that complement his powers, most notably mechanical web-shooters. This mechanism ejects an advanced adhesive, releasing web-fluid in a variety of configurations, including a single rope-like strand to swing from, a net to bind enemies, and a simple glob to foul machinery or blind an opponent. He can also weave the web material into simple forms like a shield, a spherical protection or hemispherical barrier, a club, or a hang-glider wing. Other equipment include spider-tracers (spider-shaped adhesive homing beacons keyed to his own spider-sense), a light beacon which can either be used as a flashlight or project a "Spider-Signal" design, and a specially modified camera that can take pictures automatically.