10 Saddest Losses In Spider-Man Comics

Split Image Superior Spider-Man and Spider-Man mourning the death of Gwen Stacy

Spider-Man is one of the most tragic characters in Marvel Comics, having suffered loss after loss in his over 60-year publication history. Although the web-slinging superhero keeps up appearances with his constant quips and one-liners, readers know that there are some losses he has never truly gotten over.

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In his long superhero career, Spider-Man has sustained heavy losses while battling supervillains, watched people’s lives destroyed by his failures, and even watched as his loved ones died in his arms. Peter Parker has never been able to fully move on from the pain of these losses, and likely never will.



10 Death Of Jean DeWolff

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Captain Jean DeWolff is an often-forgotten ally of Spider-Man who worked closely with the superhero during his early career. However, she was tragically killed off in the seminal storyline “The Death of Jean DeWolff,” forcing Spider-Man and Daredevil to investigate her murder at the hands of the mysterious Sin-Eater.

Captain DeWolff’s death hit Spider-Man hard, leading him to nearly beat the Sin-Eater to death after finally catching him. The memory of being unable to save his fallen friend continued to haunt Spider-Man for years to come, leading him to be even more protective over his loved ones than ever before.

9 Doctor Octopus (Superior Spider-Man)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The Superior Spider-Man enters from his multiverse in The Amazing Spider-Man

Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus have one of the longest-running rivalries in Marvel Comics, though the former almost always emerges victorious. However, Doctor Octopus once dealt Spider-Man his greatest defeat of all time, switching bodies with his mortal enemy and living the next several months as Peter Parker, the Superior Spider-Man.

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Although Peter Parker was eventually returned to his rightful body, the haunting revelation of what Otto Octavius had done never dissipated. Otto may have done terrible things as the Superior Spider-Man but had also made Peter’s life better in certain ways. As a result, Peter was left with a renewed sense of imposter syndrome, wondering if Otto’s methods had been right all along.

8 Hobgoblin

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Roderick Kingsley as the Hobgoblin in Marvel Comics

The original Hobgoblin still stands as one of Marvel’s best goblins, wreaking utter havoc on the life of Spider-Man and those closest to him. This version of Hobgoblin, secretly the billionaire Roderick Kingsley, managed to frame not one but two of Spider-Man’s friends, Flash Thompson and Ned Leeds, leading the latter dead.

Kingsley’s actions continuously haunted Spider-Man, especially after the long-awaited revelation that Ned had never truly been the Hobgoblin after all. Nevertheless, the damage was done, with Ned’s reputation utterly tarnished, his widow Betty Brant completely heartbroken, and Peter left to pick up the pieces, knowing he had been unable to stop any of it.

7 George Stacy’s Death

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Spider-Man holds Captain George Stacy as he dies

Captain George Stacy was Gwen Stacy’s father and a close ally to Spider-Man in the early days of his superhero career. However, Captain Stacy was caught in the destruction caused by one of Spider-Man’s many battles with Doctor Octopus, with a falling piece of rubble mortally wounding him.

Stacy survives long enough to reveal to Spider-Man that he knew his secret identity and begs him to be good to his daughter. Spider-Man was defined by this tragedy, going out of his way to honor Captain Stacy’s legacy, only to fail once more when Gwen was killed by the Green Goblin. Having failed in his promise to the dying George Stacy, Spider-Man never truly forgave himself.

6 Spider-Man Made A Vow

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Spider-Man holding his mask during the

Marla Madison was the wife of the then-mayor of New York City, J. Jonah Jameson. She was killed by Alistair Smythe and his Spider-Slayers, who wanted revenge on Jameson for his long history with Spencer Smythe, the inventor of the original Spider-Slayers. Though Spider-Man tried to save Marla, she dies right in front of her husband, sending him spiraling into anger and despair.

The death of Marla Madison affected Spider-Man profoundly, leading him to make a vow that, when he’s around, “no one dies.” Madison’s untimely demise was truly the last straw for Spider-Man, who went to great lengths to make good on his vow, though even he couldn’t save everyone in the end.

5 Ben Reilly’s Death

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Ben Reilly swings in his classic Scarlet Spider costume from Marvel Comics

Ben Reilly was Peter Parker’s clone, created by the villainous Jackal. Although the two didn’t get along at first, they eventually formed a brotherly bond that was cruelly broken by the Green Goblin, who killed Reilly right in front of Peter, leaving his fabricated body to rapidly decay into nothing but dust and ashes.

Ben Reilly understood Peter in a way that no one else ever could, making his death all the more tragic. Peter had once again failed to save someone he loved from Norman Osborn, and Ben’s loss would always weigh on him in the months and years that followed.

4 Harry Osborn’s Death

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Spider-Man - Harry Osborn death scene in Amazing Spider-Man comics

Harry Osborn was Peter Parker’s best friend but unfortunately succumbed to the same weaknesses as his father, becoming the Green Goblin. Harry’s own maniacal schemes proved to be his undoing, mortally injuring himself in order to save his family from a fire he himself had caused. Harry lives just long enough to share a final goodbye with his best friend.

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Harry’s death haunted Peter, who felt responsible for letting him slip into the madness that had consumed Norman Osborn. For months, the Green Goblin’s contingency schemes continued to literally haunt Spider-Man – though the memory of his fallen best friend would haunt him for far longer.

3 Aunt May’s Death

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Peter Parker holds Aunt May after her gun shot wound in Marvel comics

Aunt May has been killed off on multiple occasions in Marvel Comics, and it nearly broke Peter Parker each time. The most notable of these comes at the end of Civil War when she is shot by an assassin aiming for Peter, who had recently revealed his identity as Spider-Man. Her wounds are severe, leading the doctors to warn Peter to prepare for the worst.

The idea of losing May weighs so heavily on Peter that he seeks help from unsavory places, eventually making a deal with the demon Mephisto to bring her back to life. In exchange, Peter gives up his marriage to Mary Jane Watson, allowing Mephisto to completely rewrite reality in order to restore his aunt to good health.

2 The Night Gwen Stacy Died

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Spider-Man mourning Gwen Stacy in Marvel Comics.

Gwen Stacy was kidnapped by the villainous Green Goblin after he discovered the truth about Spider-Man’s secret identity. The Goblin hurls Gwen off the George Washington Bridge, leading the superhero to try and save her with a web line – a decision that Spider-Man still regrets to this day, as the sudden whiplash snaps Gwen’s neck.

The death of Gwen Stacy was the greatest loss Spider-Man had suffered since his Uncle Ben’s murder. It was a tragedy that he never truly got over, always thinking back to what he could have done differently to save Gwen’s life. Even decades after this story’s release, Spider-Man still often thinks back in guilt-riddled shame, feeling responsible for the death of his first love.

1 Amazing Fantasy #15

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Spider-Man realizes the burglar he let go is the same man who killed Uncle Ben

Uncle Ben was the closest thing that Peter Parker ever had to a father, making it all the more tragic when he was shot and killed by a burglar. Matters only get worse when Spider-Man tracks down the burglar to discover that he had let the man escape during a robbery only a few hours earlier.

The death of Uncle Ben changed Peter Parker’s life, turning him from a selfish teenager into one of the greatest superheroes to ever life. From that point on, everything Peter did as Spider-Man was penance for failing his uncle. Moreover, this tragedy taught him the invaluable lesson that with great power must also come great responsibility – which he carries with him to this very day.

NEXT: 10 Spider-Man Comic Covers Better Than Their Stories


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