How old was Spider-Man when he was bitten by a radioactive spider?

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Today we look at the ever-changing age of Peter Parker when he was bitten by this radioactive spider.

This is “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking”, a feature highlighting notable examples of retcons that don’t fit within the scope of Abandoned an’ Forsaked, which is specifically about stories that outright “overturn” more stories. old. There are many examples of “retroactive continuity” that do not actively abandon works from the past (especially cases where the overall continuity has been restarted). Some of them are minor, some of them are major, all are interesting enough to me that I think they are worth writing.


As I’ve written many times over the years, the original creators of the Marvel Universe didn’t spend much time on some of the finer character details. It’s a far cry from the idea that they weren’t thinking that much. This is often suggested for both Silver Age AND Golden Age comic creators and hey, I won’t lie, it was definitely true for a lot of them, but d Generally speaking, these creators put a lot of thought into their work, that thinking just wasn’t about things like continuity or anything like that. The idea at the time was that there was a cycle and no one reading comics in, say, 1962, was still going to read comics in 1966. Stan Lee quickly realized that even while that might have been true for previous Marvel comics, it didn’t seem to be the same with the new superhero stories that Marvel was telling and everything was adjusting accordingly. However, when Spider-Man was introduced 60 years ago by Lee and Steve Ditko, neither of them bothered to really come up with a definitive age for Peter Parker. He was just a teenager…



What amuses me, however, is that (like my buddy Joshua Lapin-Bertane pointed out to me many times over the years), is that very early on Lee and Ditko obviously had a difficult age in mind for Spider-Man and he was probably older than expected. You see, the problem started with amazing spider man #4, where Peter Parker first met J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary, Miss Betty Brant…


I love that THE VERY NEXT ISSUE, Betty is in the opening spread as a cast member…


Peter and Betty quickly bonded and she was his first romantic interest, as seen in this standout Ditko/Lee ​​streak in Amazing Spdier-Man #7 (one of the things that always amuses me about those early stories is that Lee was SO impressed with Ditko’s storylines that he couldn’t help but brag about it while he wrote the comics. Lots of “Wow, sure that’s another story here, huh, folks? Wow!”



The problem is that readers were a little weird that a working woman was interested in dating a teenager, so Lee felt he had to explain in the pages of letters from amazing spider man #12 that, all logic be damned, Betty Brant was somehow YOUNGER than Peter Parker, although that fact would make absolutely no sense…


It sure seemed like Lee was saying that Peter was around 18 at the time, didn’t it? Sixteen issues later, Peter has graduated from high school…


As I’ve noted a few times over the years, there’s pretty much NO way Lee and Ditko would ever have Peter graduated from high school so quickly if they knew the show would go on pretty much for always.


RELATED: Why Did DC Forget Catwoman Knew Batman’s Secret Identity?

WAS SPIDER-MAN 15 WHEN HE WAS BITTEN BY A RADIOACTIVE SPIDER?

However, since a number of DID issues have moved from amazing fantasy #15 to amazing spider man #28, no one knows for sure how old Peter was when he was bitten. The most popular answer, however, is also, I believe, the first in print.

In the 1989 graphic novel, Spider-Man: Parallel Lives (by Gerry Conway, Alex Saviuk and Andy Mushynsky, Peter notes that he was 15 when he was bitten by the spider…


WAS SPIDER-MAN 16 WHEN HE WAS BITTEN BY A RADIOACTIVE SPIDER?

Four years later, however, in unlimited spiderman #1, there was a backup story by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham where Peter, in a daze from a fight with Scorpio, suddenly sees himself as a 16-year-old, just before the spider bites it…



He realizes that he is not actually in the past and returns in time to defeat the Scorpion.

RELATED: When Did Batman & Catwoman Really Fall In Love?

WAS SPIDER-MAN 17 WHEN HE WAS BITTEN BY A RADIOACTIVE SPIDER?

A decade later, in amazing spider man #500 (by J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna) we see Spidey caught up in a very clever and complex time travel storyline and part of that involves him going back to the age of 17 years old and he was bitten by the radioactive spider…


WAS SPIDER-MAN 18 WHEN HE WAS BITTEN BY A RADIOACTIVE SPIDER?

Exactly one year later, in Marvel Knights Spider-Man #7 (by Mark Millar, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson), Peter attends his high school reunion and probably thinking about it, he notes that he first became Spider-Man when he was 18…


The funny thing about Millar and Straczysnki both being responsible for Peter being 17 and 18 respectively is that almost exactly a year later it was Millar who pretty much solidified Spider-Man as having 15 when he was bitten by the spider by Peter’s press. conference revealing his secret identity in Civil war #2 (by Mark Millar, Steven McNiven, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell)…


then Straczynski must have made the same revelation in amazing spider man #533 (by Straczynski, Ron Garney, Bill Reinhold and Matt Milla)…


So it seems like 15 is the longest-lived, but it’s funny how many different ages he’s had over the years.

Thanks for the suggestion, Ramon! Alright, folks, feel free to suggest more examples of this stuff! Obscures, famous, whatever! Send your suggestions to [email protected]!

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