In the years since his debut, Peter Parker, aka the Amazing Spider-Man, has battled and triumphed over villains more powerful than himself time and time again. In order to save the day — and sometimes, the world itself — Parker has also combined his efforts with superhumans that read like a roster of the most powerful and well-known heroes in the Marvel Universe, and he’s done so on battlegrounds from one end of the cosmos to the other. There’s never been a shortage of Spider-Man team-up comics over the years, but he hasn’t always joined forces with the sort of folks you’d call “good guys.”
In addition to teaming up with a who’s who of Marvel superheroes throughout his career, over the years, Spidey’s been forced to ally himself with some of his most fearsome enemies, as well as a few villains that have plagued New York, America, and society at large. Read on to learn about some of Spider-Man’s most unlikely alliances, and see why these are the top 14 Times Spider-Man Had To Team Up With Supervillains.
In Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #361-363, Death is stalking the metropolitan New York area and all signs are pointing to Peter Parker’s worst nightmare: the symbiotic horror known alternately as Eddie Brock…and the monstrous Venom. People are being torn apart, with the death toll rising by the day, and a friend of Peter’s in on the list of victims. When our hero hears the details of the murders, he suspects Brock has returned from the remote island that he’d managed to confine him to months earlier. But the truth is so much worse.
A portion of the alien symbiote Spider-Man brought back from the events of the original Secret Wars has found a new host. The offspring of the Venom symbiote has attached itself to a psychotic serial killer named Cletus Kasady and created a new enemy called Carnage, one who revels in the act of spilling blood. The only way to stop him is to revisit the only being that understands just what this new monster is.
To bring an end to Carnage’s reign of terror, Spidey has to work with Venom, and together, the archrival web-slingers manage to stop the psychopathic killing machine. The normally altruistic Spider-Man then reneges on his promise to allow Venom his freedom, and works with the Fantastic Four to contain the schizophrenic Eddie Brock again.
After a long talk with Ben Grimm and having suffered numerous defeats at the hands of the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man himself, Flint Marko, aka the Sandman, decides to make concrete changes in his life. In Marvel Team-Up v1 #138, Marko finds a job and a place to live, and it appears the villain’s truly turning a corner in his life. Meanwhile, a spider-sense-less Peter Parker struggles to defeat, and is ultimately taken down by, a newly reformed incarnation of the Enforcers. Marko is drawn into the battle against them when the people he’s renting an apartment from are victims of extortion from the villainous team, who themselves are being directed by the Kingpin’s lackey, the Arranger.
When Marko finds the Enforcers, he sees them pummeling a captive Spider-Man while debating whether or not to kill him and be done with it. The former baddie decides to enter the fray, giving Spidey time to free himself, and together, they make short work of Sandman’s old partners in crime.
Once the fighting is done, Spider-Man is conflicted, unsure as to whether he should allow such a prominent member of his vaunted rogues gallery to remain free, even if he’s just done him a solid. The decision is taken out of his hands when the Arranger tosses a grenade at the two. Marko takes the brunt of the explosion and is disintegrated while Spidey apprehends the Arranger and swings away. Later, the Sandman reconstructs his body and recommits to turning his life around. Don’t you just love a happy ending?
12. Rocket Racer
As Peter Parker works to perfect the chemical makeup of his webbing in Web of Spider-Man v1 #56, the atmosphere at Empire State University is seething with hate. Neo-Nazi skinheads are burning a cross in the middle of campus, and the situation is threatening to boil over. Among the people the Nazis target is the young sister of new student Robert Farrell, formerly the Rocket Racer. When Farrell intervenes, the white supremacists beat him brutally in front of his mother and sister. Spider-Man is forced to stop Farrell as he dons his gear and prepares to get some payback. Thanks to the web-head’s intervention, Farrell isn’t arrested when the police bust up the hate rally moments later.
Rocket Racer and Spidey are both on hand later as the group of Nazis blows up E.S.U’s Afro-American Studies building. When the pair corners the leader of the hate group in Parker’s lab, an accident leads to the fascist being doused in Parker’s failed webbing experiment. The supremacist leader becomes a creature of monstrous, corrosive flesh that consumes the bodies of his fellow skinheads, and soon threatens the life of his own father. Spider-Man allies with the Rocket Racer, and the two manage to stop the rampaging monster while keeping Robert Farrell from getting himself in trouble. Once defeated, they discover that the leader of the hate group, who is now as grotesque outside as he always was inside, is of Jewish descent.
11. The Punisher
Some think of him as a hero, others consider him a villain, while most believe him to be somewhere in between. Whatever you think of him, Frank Castle is certainly not the sort of superhero you’d hope your kids grow up to be.
In Avenging Spider-Man #6, Peter Parker is asked by Reed Richards to intercede in a delicate situation regarding Matt Murdock, well known to the public as Daredevil, and a perpetual storage device called the Omega Drive. Made from the molecularly unstable fabric the Fantastic Four use for thier uniforms, the drive holds an immense amount of information on HYDRA, A.I.M., the Hand, the Maggia, and a host of underworld cartels and organizations. As a consequence, Matt Murdock is now being hunted by pretty much everyone.
To make matters worse, the Punisher has now come for the Omega Drive with tombstones in his one good eye. The web-slinger intercedes, bringing about a dozen Hand ninjas with him and a few dozen more behind. Between Spider-Man, Daredevil, the Punisher, and his grim, beautiful protégé Rachel Cole, they make short work of the Hand. Spider-Man is intimidated by the dark and violent Frank Castle, and believes him to be a deranged killer. Parker and Murdock formulate a plan to destroy the drive in front of the cartels, and they also force Castle to accept a no-kill parameter, if he wants a shot at the mega crime syndicates at all. The four of them engage the syndicates, and promptly take them down.
Spidey, Daredevil and Castle himself are soon betrayed by Cole, who steals the drive for herself with the intention of using it against the crime lords. Ultimately, Daredevil talks her into giving up the drive, saving her in a way he failed to do with Frank Castle.
10. Doctor Octopus
Otto Octavius is dead, having fallen victim to the ravages of radiation and years of battle damage. In death, however, Octavius also enjoys his greatest victory. Using his mastery of technology, Doctor Octopus swaps his mind with Peter Parker’s, forcing the consciousness of the wall-crawler into his old, decaying body, while Octavius takes over the body and the awesome strength of Spider-Man.
Doctor Octopus then sets out to be a better Spider-Man than Parker ever was. The only snag in Octavius’ plan is that Parker, shrouded in the deepest recesses of Doc Ock’s mind, refuses to die. He’s constantly struggling not only to reclaim his body, but he’s also doing his best to not let Octavius kill.
The most unusual team-up ever begins in Superior Spider-Man #1, where Parker insinuates himself into Octavius’ consciousness, subtly forcing Doc Ock to act as the superhero he’s pretending to be. A disembodied Peter Parker is actually able to prevent Octavius from striking a killing blow on Boomerang after Octavius uses his new spider powers to decimate a reformed Sinister Six.
9. The Outlaws
Former criminals Sandman, Rocket Racer, and the Prowler, along with billionaire assassin Thomas Fireheart, aka the Puma, have been summoned by the one person they all have in common – Spider-Man. In the past, Spidey has beaten all of them, but now he needs their help. In the pages of Spectacular Spider-Man v1 #169, the wall-crawler tells them that the Avengers have been compromised by some strange force that he and She-Hulk uncovered in the basement of a tenement owned by Wilson Fisk, The Kingpin. Later, Spidey encounters the horrific dark force as it feeds on the animals in a local zoo, leaving only bones behind in its wake.
Meanwhile, the Avengers maintain that She-Hulk was with them at the time Spider-Man claims she was with him. Convinced they’re all lying, Spidey dismisses Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, believing them to be under someone’s control. After breaking up a fight between Sandman and Rocket Racer, both of whom believe they were ambushed by the other, Spider-Man realizes he’s being played and approaches the Avengers. Thanks to the Puma, the Space Phantom is discovered to be the culprit and is promptly contained. Soon, the Avengers and the Spidey-led Outlaws take on and defeat the dark force, which turns out to be a swarm of carnivorous microscopic insects. As per usual.
8. Molten Man/Green Goblin
In Web of Spider-Man v1 #66, Mark Raxton, formerly the Molten Man, is trying to get his life together and go straight. Harry Osborn, who has inherited all of his father’s wealth and his industrial empire, has offered the ex-con a job so he can do just that. When albino hardcase Tombstone threatens to frame Raxton unless he helps him break into the Osborn plant where he works to steal chemicals needed for drug processing, Raxton turns to the only person who might be able to help him, the Amazing Spider-Man.
Spidey agrees to provide a surprise for Tombstone and his thugs, and when Raxton leads them in, the two proceed to make short work of the criminals. Their assault becomes a complete rout when the Green Goblin appears, and fights alongside his archrival web-head and the Molten Man to protect the property that the Goblin, as Harry Osborn, owns and operates.
Dr. Elias Wertham is a famous doctor and wealthy philanthropist, but he’s also the brutal vigilante known at Cardiac, and he’s not the least bit squeamish about killing his criminal targets. Considering his status as a criminal himself, the not-so-good doctor has tried to steer clear of Spider-Man, even though their paths have crossed several times over the years.
In Amazing Spider-Man v1 #377, Cardiac has set his sights on Styx and Stone, and does not care at all that in his own way, Mr. Styx is also a victim of the very condition that makes him need to steal human life energy to survive. Cardiac is on the verge of putting a permanent end to Mr. Styx when Spider-Man talks him out of murdering the helpless contract killer. Soon, Styx and Stone are posing a menace to every living thing around them again, and it’s the combined strength of the web-slinger and Cardiac that stops the two murderers.
Spider-Man, Black Widow, and Silver Sable are left reeling as they watch a small town on the Romanian/Symkarian border burn to ashes from a satellite attack directed by Doctor Octopus. It soon becomes evident however, that they are being played, and that the culprit behind it all is Mysterio. Doc Ock is dying, and he wants to leave a legacy for the ages; or, barring that, a smoking crater where the Earth used to be.
The villain has successfully extorted the governments of the world to pay him not to use his satellite network to destroy the ozone layer and leave the planet buried under a heap of smoking rubble. Octavius has paid his henchmen, including Mysterio, two billion dollars apiece to help him make it all happen. Spider-Man then reminds Mysterio that if Doc Ock manages to complete his network, the dome-helmeted villain may be left with two billion dollars in smoldering ashes.
Amazing Spider-Man v1 #686 shows the intrepid team as they face an Octavius-controlled Avengers, and in the end, it is Mysterio’s EMP wave that neutralizes Octavius’ control-bots and turns the tide for the good guys.
In the final part of the “Origin of the Species” story arc, Amazing Spider-Man v1 #646 tells the story of Norman Osborn’s infant child, believed to have been born with pure Goblin blood coursing through its tiny veins and being pursued by Doctor Octopus, who is trying desperately to stave off a rapidly approaching demise. He has sent an army of metahumans against an exhausted, ill-equipped Spider-Man. The child ends up in the hands of the Chameleon, who takes the baby, then convinces Spidey that the child is dead.
The wall-crawler is incensed and tears a path across the city, beating any supervillain unfortunate enough to cross his path into a bloody pulp. Eventually, Spider-Man finds the weeping, broken Chameleon, beaten nearly to death by Doctor Octopus. The shapeshifter haltingly tells Spidey that the child has been taken; ripped out of his arms by the slavering, savage Lizard.
After smacking Octavius around along the way (our hero really gets his hands dirty in this one), Spider-Man faces off with the Lizard, who not only doesn’t want to hurt the web-slinger, but actually helps in his own way. The Lizard is surprising gentle with the boy, and after having tested the infant’s blood, happily hands it over to his superhero foe. As it turns out, the boy is of no use to the Lizard, because it’s actually not Norman Osborn’s child. Doctor Octopus and the Lizard then proceed to tear each other apart as Spider-Man escapes to Avengers Mansion with the child.
The Shocker has amplified his power to the point where he can’t control it, and has doomed himself to a very messy demise once his molecules shake themselves apart in Web of Spider-Man #109. To make matters worse, when the Shocker goes, the vibrations will take whatever city he’s in along with him. After attacking one of the Night Thrasher’s holdings looking for a harness that will buy him some time, the Shocker is soundly defeated by both the Night Thrasher and Spider-Man. Once he relates his story, Spidey immediately resolves to help the supervillain.
Spider-Man and Night Thrasher work with the Shocker, and manage to create a massive tuning fork make of webbing and amps from the latter hero’s factory. Used in tandem, they find a counter frequency to the Shocker’s vibrations, which bleed off the excess vibrations and return his physiology to normal. Exhausted, the Shocker passes out immediately, after which Spider-Man hands him over the supervillain detention center known as the Vault, where he can hopefully get the help he needs.
3. The Gibbon
Spider-Man’s unique blend of formidable powers, empathy, and refusal to take a life inspires some of the criminals he initially sets out to stop. This is the case with Martin Blank, the original Gibbon, whose skillset includes a bestial strength and a lumbering, primate-like agility. Martin suffers from extreme feelings of worthlessness and lack of self esteem that drive him to attack the wall-crawler in a misguided effort to prove he’s just as good as the superhero. When Spider-Man saves his life moments after having soundly defeated him, Gibbon realizes he’s got some work to do, and is moved to emulate Spidey’s heroics. Unfortunately, the amateurish Gibbon tries to chip in against the Beetle and almost gets the web-slinger killed.
Later, a bruised and battered Peter Parker has to suit up and go free the now-captured Gibbon in Spectacular Spider-Man v1 #60. Having been suitably humbled, Gibbon tries to make amends for putting the fairly punched out web-head back in danger by needing to be rescued. Seeing his hero about to drop from exhaustion, Gibbon puts a haymaker into the face of a similarly gassed out Beetle. While basically useless, the effort is just enough for the media to get ahold of, and soon, Gibbon is a news media sweetheart. Spider-Man, on the other hand, is painted as a loser who can’t finish his own fights.
2. Doctor Octopus Redux
A Ponzi scheme running conman has duped Otto Octavius, stolen his technology, and left him to die, and is now using his technology to perpetrate bank heists in Los Angeles. Doctor Octopus is decidedly unhappy about this. The first meeting between Doc Ock and the thief leaves Spider-Man needing Doctor Octopus’ help to empty a luxury hotel before it crumbles from the impact of the battle. Octavius helps Spidey empty the building, but leaves his archrival behind to die.
The conman, now armed with a tentacle suit of his own, storms the set of a studio where (the recently separated from Peter) Mary Jane is working — and where May Parker happens to be visiting. When the thief attempts to kill hostage poor old Aunt May as a sign of how serious he is in Amazing Spider-Man v2 #45, Doctor Octopus bursts in and battles the thief. The villainous showdown is then interrupted by a battered Spider-Man, who must work with Doc Ock in front of Mary Jane and Aunt May to defeat the thief and save the studio full of potential victims.
Morwen, the First Sorceress of Chaos, has risen again as a result of a spell cast by Doctor Strange that has gone awry. The incredibly powerful baddie credits Spider-Man with her release from the ancient bonds that have contained her for millennia. Literally offering him the world as a reward, she refuses to let the web-slinger decline, and gives him a day to accept her gratitude or watch as her power burns his world to ashes. While Pete considers his options, the Asgardian trickster god/Thor’s archenemy/brother Loki approaches Spidey and offers his help in finding Morwen’s mortal host.
In Amazing Spider-Man v1 #504, part two of the “Chasing a Dark Shadow” storyline, Loki approaches Morwen and reveals that the host body she’s living in is Tess Black, Loki’s half-Asgardian daughter. Spidey tackles Morwen as Loki appeals directly to Tess’ essence and bids her to fight against the force that has taken over her body. Tess helps her father expunge Morwen from herself as Loki magically banishes Morwen for the time being. Loki then gives Spider-Man the task of looking over Tess, who has been wiped of all knowledge of her ancestry. In return…Loki owes him a favor.
When else has the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man been forced to team up with the bad guys? Let us know in the comments.