How the Spider-Man comics dealt with the secret-identity issue

Spider-Man’s secret identity is not much of a secret in the comics.


Sony Pictures

This is your warning for big Spider-Man: Far From Home spoilers ahead. 

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An ongoing concern for Spider-Man in both the comics and movies is keeping his secret identity, well, a secret. Unlike Iron Man or Captain America, he’s one of the few major Marvel superheroes who still cares about protecting his real name.

In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has to once again balance his two lives to protect the ones he loves. His classmate and love interest MJ (Zendaya) makes a wild guess that Parker is Spider-Man, and while he tries to talk his way out of it at first, he confirms her theory. 

Things get crazy in the Far From Home’s postcredits scene where J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) plays a video in which  Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) reveals Peter Parker’s secret identity. It’s a shocker and sets up the story for a possible next Spider-Man movie. 

In the comics, there have been more than a dozen times when Peter Parker’s secret is discovered, and frankly, it’s getting a little boring. Here are some of the most impactful instances of when Spider-Man secret was found.

To star, his most publicized identity reveal that surprised many readers came in the major crossover event, Civil War. 

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Captain America and Tony Stark’s different of opinion had more ramifications for Spider-Man in the comics.


Marvel

Civil War 

Like the film Captain America: Civil War, the Marvel Comics counterpart also featured the US government passing the Superhero Registration Act, which required heroes to register their identity. The law’s biggest supporter, Tony Stark, needed a hero to come forward with a splashy reveal to inspire others. In the second issue of Civil War, he recruits Spider-Man to show the world he’s Peter Parker.

This was a huge moment for comic readers when the comic released in 2006. Unfortunately, it led to one of the most ridiculous moments in comics. After Aunt May was hit with a bullet meant for Parker and was clinging to life in the hospital, Spider-Man had to made a deal with the devil himself, Mephisto, to save his favorite aunt. The result was an event called “One More Day,” where Parker gives up the love of his life, Mary Jane Watson, to have the world forget that he is  Spider-Man. 

Comic readers routinely pan this story. 

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There is more than one Spider-Man on Earth-616.


Sony Pictures Animation

Clone Saga

Before Spider-Man willingly unmasked himself, villains had to work hard to find out who he was, usually by besting him in a fight and taking off the mask. The Jackal, a mad scientist, went the easy route by simply cloning Spider-Man.

In Amazing Spider-Man #148, which debuted in 1975, the Jackal reveals himself as Parker’s professor, who was mad at Spider-Man for letting Gwen Stacy, a student he cared for, die. The villain cloned Gwen and Spider-Man, thus learning his own student was the famous web-slinger. 

Although Spidey bested his clone in the next issue and buried him in a factory chimney, that wasn’t the end. Almost 20 years later the clone returned under the name  Ben Reilly and began the Clone Saga with the real question being if Peter Parker was just a clone for all those years. 

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J Jonah Jameson has seen Spider-Man real face plenty of times. 


Sony Pictures

J. Jonah Jameson

Far From Home marks the first time J. Jonah Jameson, the longtime publisher of the Daily Bugle, learns of Spider-Man’s secret identity in the movies, but in the comics, it’s happened more than once. 

Doc Ock, another mad scientist and one of Spidey’s oldest rivals, removes a weakened Spider-Man’s mask in Amazing Spider-Man #12 back in 1964. The web-slinger had one of those occasions where his powers faded away and couldn’t put up a fight against the mad scientist. Later in the issue, Spider-Man returned to his old self and defeated Doc Ock, which convinced Jameson that Parker was playing dress up and was not the superhero menace. 

Then in issue #151, a photograph of Spider-Man and his unmasked clone makes his way to Jameson’s desk. Parker is able to talk his way out of the predicament by saying the picture is a fake. 

Jameson constantly trying to discover  Spider-Man‘s true identity is a mainstay of the comics, but that changed in 2015’s Spectacular Spider-Man #6. The superhero and the Daily Bugle publisher sit down and have dinner. Spider-Man needs some information while Jameson wants to learn more about this superhero he’s been writing about all this time. After exchanging verbal barbs about responsibility and loss, Parker becomes tired of hiding his identity and finally reveals himself to a man he considers to be family. 

Other reveals of Spider-Man’s identity in the comics had little to no ramifications for the superhero. That’s not the case with Far From Home’s reveal. Fans won’t know how he’ll deal with this obstacle until well into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4.

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