Spider-Man’s ability to adapt and improvise in, dare we say, sticky situations might be what we love most about him. This is especially true when it comes to adapting his webbing to fit the needs of whatever crime-fighting pickle he finds himself in.
But for every well-placed web line or criminal-catching net he’s used, there have been plenty of weird and seemingly single-use web adaptations over the years. Some are even downright dangerous if misused or stumbled upon by bystanders.
We're aware that we’ll never know what it’s like to be a superhero so we can’t completely judge Spidey’s actions. However, we do know what it’s like to nonsensically throw shade at weird things we love in comics so... welcome to this article. We present to you an irreverence-filled roundup of some of the weirdest and creative uses Peter Parker has found for his webs...
These are the 15 Most WTF Things Spider-Man Has Ever Done With His Webs.
If you’re anything like us, the thought of cement-like webbing seems genius. Spider-Man’s adventures often cause collateral damage so why not have something on-hand to fix the occasional broken building facade, gargoyle or pumpkin-bombed pothole?
In recent years, Spidey’s gone and updated his webbing in a number of ways including a webbing that dries “instantly” on contact with “any” surface. To us, this seems like it's got to be more trouble than it’s worth. Normal cement is highly alkaline and fairly exothermic as it sets, which is enough to burn skin if you’re not careful with it. Spidey’s Web-Cement has got to be exponentially more dangerous if it’s able to set instantly and we’re guessing might even ruin his web-shooters with each use.
We’re well aware we’re over-analyzing impossible comic book things here (it’s kind of what we do) but then there’s no fun in just letting everything be explained by “because comics.”
This is another great idea at face value. From time to time, Spider-Man has to deal with fire or those with fire-based powers, and what better way to do it than with ice webbing, right?
Well, back in 1963’s Strange Tales Annual #2, Peter thought the same thing and designed his ice webbing specifically to combat the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch. But was Spider-Man really using that big brain of his? Fire extinguishers were a thing that existed in the 1960s and his super strength could carry dozens if need be. Not to mention the fact that battling in New York City gave him access to just about the best system of fire-hydrants there was at the time.
It seems to us that luring Johnny into a subway, where he could have a hose waiting, is a whole lot smarter than spending time developing the “ice cold silicone crystal” infused webbing that Spidey ultimately gave up using. As it turns out, his normal formula did the same fire-extinguishing job to begin with.
Sometimes there’s an alternate version of Spider-Man and sometimes that alternate version has got to adapt to the world he’s in. In some cases - specifically Earth-8351 - that means becoming an assassin and modifying his web-shooters to fire actual bullets. The occasional gritty What if comic book storyline is enjoyable, but considering Peter’s history with gun-related uncle death, using actual ammunition goes against the core of his character. It's such a drastic change-- it’s hard to accept any iteration of Spidey that would do this (even with alternate backstories).
Not to mention that, again, Peter had to have spent a great deal of time needlessly modifying his equipment when a good portion of his crime-fighting consists of literally pulling guns away from bad guys. It's an example of an unnecessary modification that could've been easily replaced by a backpack carrying an existing object, with the added bonus of thematic dissonance.
No, "Micro-Coiled Z-Metal" isn’t the the name of a Saturday morning kid’s show in the early '90s (although it totally could have been). It actually refers to a special type of webbing Spider-Man has recently put to use in the comics as part of the advancements from Parker Industries.
Affectionately referred to as his “bug zappers”, this new webbing can act as a taser to incapacitate Spider-Man's foes by delivering a substantial shock. It differs from other web modifications in that these Micro-Coiled Z-Metal webs appear as thinly coiled ribbons of metal (go figure) and exit his web shooters with a distinct new sound.
That change in web-slinging noise is likely the biggest deviation from all of Spider-Man’s web adaptations on this list. The iconic “Thwipp” we all know, love, and imitate has been replaced with a more appropriate and heavy-duty metallic “thwikkk.” These webs have served their creator well in recent comic events, but we simply can’t love anything that tries to replace our beloved “Thwipp.”
Not only is "plain, simple, sticky glue" just about the worst combination of seemingly innocent words that anyone could put together, they’re also one of the figurehead functions of Spidey’s signature webs from way back when. Now, we’re not arguing that the adhesive quality of the webbing is at all unnecessary. In fact, it’s downright needed for almost everything Spidey does with his webbing. But the way it was described early on is kind of creepy and gross, and makes us question how this phrase got past the brainstorming stage.
Let us imagine a meeting where someone suggested “sticky glue” and other people weighed in that they needed to specificy that the glue wasn't fancy? “How about ‘plain’ sticky glue?” asked one writer. “No, you idiots! Plain sticky glue is too ambiguous. We have to make sure people know it’s also simple,” replied another. And that, dear readers, is how we assume redundant and gross history was made.
Let's file this particular webbing under the “completely irresponsible” category. It's frankly surprising the web-swinging hero has ever used it. Developed with the sole purpose of dissolving the individual granules of Sandman’s body in Amazing Spider-Man #615, the acid webbing was weaponized from the get-go. It proved fairly effective in dealing with the granular villain but what's shocking is that Spidey went through with it on a hunch of “I don’t think it will kill you” despite his knowledge of chemistry. The acid webbing’s active ingredient was hydrofluoric acid which, after some googling, most will discover can be used to dissolve silicates and oxides. Like, you know, sand.
So, Spidey makes the one thing that probably could kill Sandman, uses it on him, and walks away quipping that he thinks it won’t. Spider-Man’s used it a few times since his possible Sandmanslaughter attempt but don’t worry - he made the acid webbing cartridges green so he doesn’t mix them up.
This one doesn’t have to do with specialized webbing but it’s certainly one of the awesomest WTF things that Spider-Man has ever done with his powers. It takes a brave man to stand up for his beliefs. It takes a whole other level of bravery to stand up for those beliefs against a man like Wolverine.
While the two heroes have teamed up a lot in the past, they don't necessarily always see eye to eye. It’s in situations like the one in Marvel Team-Up Vol 3 #2 where Spidey is damn lucky he’s got something as incapacitating as his webs. Webbing Wolverine up with his knuckles facing his temples is an especially daring way for the web-slinger to leave him, since Peter knows he’ll get free and want to settle the score in some way. In the panels that followed the one shown above, Wolverine pushes his claws out against his skull in order to break free and sets out to track Spider-Man down.
Another new-ish addition to Spidey’s webbing arsenal - thanks to the Parker Industries innovations - is his expanding web foam. We can’t help but admit that this one actually makes more sense than the other web flavors. Having Spidey carry a cartridge or two of expanding web foam is pretty practical considering the daily hassles of his particular brand of crime fighting. He often drops in unexpectedly on high-speed chases or has to deal with the occasional crashed helicopter - so having a emergency foam option seems like a good idea.
Plus, it's probably more economical to bind up thugs with foam than the regular all-purpose webbing. Lay down a blob of this stuff instead of the ol' (ugh, we’re gonna have to type it again) “plain, simple sticky glue” and it’d likely be more effective with your more (literally) pedestrian criminals. Although we wonder what happens if he’s left with only these cartridges.
To the average person, a parachute may seem like the most logical thing to make when falling from a great height, but we also know that Spider-Man is much smarter than the average person. We’d like to think there are other, more inventive options when falling from a great height-- and the scarcity of Spidey-chutes in recent years is probably an indication that Spider-Man has figured them all out by now. That, or the writers know web-parachutes just don’t make much sense.
Stepping into the logic of Spidey’s occasional high-flying situations, he probably wouldn’t be able to keep his chute-weaving work nearby while approaching terminal velocity. And honestly, why haven't all the flying villains teamed up and each taken their turn dragging Spider-Man straight up into the air? They all seem to try it once and then either fail or give up. If they did it a few times together, Spider-Man would likely panic eventually and try weaving some parachutes. Lather, rinse, repeat, until he runs out of webbing and then all they'd have to do is drop him. This got kind of dark... carrying on!
Do we even need to go over the long list of downsides to this sort of specialized “webbing”? Sure, it was designed to take down symbiotes and worked quite well. But it didn't actually need to work, as the symbiote in question was Venom and he was (at the time) working on the side of good with Flash Thompson (Superior Spider-Man #23).
We can surely chalk this up to Peter being under the control of Otto Octavius’ mind during the run of Superior Spider-Man, so there was probably some scientific hubris in play. Flame throwers in any capacity are - and we’re using the technical term here - a cuckoo-bananas bad idea. The only place they seem to actually work is in the comic book world so we’ll let it slide a bit. However, god forbid Spidey loads up his cartridges before having his morning coffee and tries to make a net or goes to tie up a bank robber but ends up committing murder.
Webbing up Wolverine is one thing since he lives by some semblance of a code and won’t really come after you. But no man in their right mind would do the same thing to Iron Man knowing how vindictive and self-serving he can be. So it's probably a good thing that during the fantastic (and heartbreaking) One More Day storyline, Peter wasn’t anywhere in his right mind while desperately trying to save the life of Aunt May after she was shot.
This happened, of course, because Tony Stark convinced Peter to reveal his secret identity to the world during the events of the Marvel Civil War. Wanting to confront Tony only to be met with the full force of Iron Man, Peter eventually incapacitates the armor in a blind rage by unleashing all the webbing he has. Peter then rips off Tony's helmet to tell him he blames him for May’s condition. Iron Man eventually makes good on funding May's medical bills but it was probably only out of fear, knowing that Peter may show up again and not pull his punches this time.
Web balls show up in the old-school “What can Spider-Man do with his webs” panel (right next to the above-mentioned worst words ever) and we can only assume the writers were just trying to fill space on the page. Sure, there are some situations where a ball could come in handy for Spider-Man, but not enough warrant a mention and devote an artist’s time to drawing it.
Are we simply forgetting some situations where Spidery was too far away from buttons that needed pressing in old school Spider-Man books? Was it included to give a less creepy reason for a grown man approaching kids in a park to offer them the occasional comic book public service announcement? We may never know for sure, and so the web ball may continue to baffle fans for all of time. Then again, there was this moment in the early days of his cartoon.
At this point, how much more can be written about Spider-Man’s bizarre, often irrational webbing use? How does he even find time to fight criminal in between developing these weird uses for his webs? After all, Uncle Ben told him “With great power comes great responsibility”, not “With great power comes the ability to maybe make a sick raft, bro.” And this may be beating a dead horse by now, but the first issue of Spider-Man must have had an change in deadline or an unexpected blank page to fill before going to print-- check out that web raft.
To our knowledge, there’s never been a circumstance of web-slingery that’s required making a single person web raft where Spider-Man also (somehow) has an actual oar to use with it. Alright, at least that’s got to be the weirdest and most useless thing Spidey’s been able to do with his webs, right?
Oh, come on now! Skis?! In all of Spider-Man’s adventures surely he's never used skis for super-heroics...
Okay, maybe this one time when he used Superman as a sled dog. And alright, fine, maybe this other time too - but it seems like there must be way better options for him to get around. There’s absolutely no practical reason for Spider-Man to make skis in his day-to-day life. New York City isn’t exactly replete with mountains or hills and we’re pretty sure - with the exception of the cement mod - that webbing maintains a generally malleable state. We’re skeptical that a sticky substance like webbing would make good ski material or that Spider-Man would even have that as a go-to in mind while battling any sort of bad-guys during winter conditions.
Wait a second, has Spider-Man ever had an iconic ice-based villain? How’d he not get an ice guy like every other superhero in history? Now that calls for an entirely different WTF article.
Of all the incredibly crazy things Spider-Man has done with his webs, this one has to take the cake. Or, rather, the toast. Crossovers can be problematic when it comes to pitting Marvel vs. DC or any other serious canon, but the time Spider-Man visited Ren and Stimpy is 100% preposterous fun.
To give you some context, it’s that classic crossover tale where Spider-Man visits Ren & Stimpy for absolutely no reason. After a fart-based distress call in the pants he's borrowing (really), Spidey swings into action to stop Powdered Toast Man from running amok by spraying him with milk (really). As a reward for saving the day, Spidey gets sucker-punched through a wall (really) and then wins a B.O. contest (really).
More importantly, Spider-Man treats Ren and Stimpy to a delectable new web-based breakfast spread that the pair can’t get enough of. Come to think of it, it was probably jealousy that drove PTM to punch Spidey so hard.
Can you think of other bizarre ways Spider-Man's used his webs? Let us know in the comments!