The Amazing Spider-Man made millions of dollars opening weekend. But what about Peter Parker’s parents? The movie didn’t offer a lot of answers. If you want to know, as I did, what the origins of Spider-Man’s parents are in the original comics, never fear, True Believer! I have researched this topic and discovered… the truth.
Well, I didn’t do a lot of research. I didn’t have to because someone already did it for me. Thank you, Comic Book Resources.
This well-written and researched CBR article is about “two characters who have never headlined a title of their own, have made fewer than twenty-five (canonical) appearances, have no super powers and yet may be two of the most significant characters in the Spider-Man mythology: Mary and Richard Parker, the late parents of Spider-Man.”
I take issue with the “most significant” part of that sentence. Admittedly, growing up sans parents can do a number on a fictional character; oftentimes in fiction it is the father who is missing creating Daddy Issues galore. But Peter Parker doesn’t get his drive to be a hero from his father. He gets it from his Uncle Ben. That’s who tells him, “With great power there must also come great responsibility.” Uncle Ben is the one who gets killed by a guy Peter could have stopped but selfishly chose not to.
Peter’s parents are not a major factor in the comics, and according to CBR weren’t even given any page time until six years after Spidey’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962). Ma and Pa Parker popped up in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 (1968), sayeth CBR. They were spies, double and possibly triple agents, and the story had something to do with The Red Skull.
Peter Parker’s parents, Richard and Mary Parker, returned a few more times over the years. One storyline made the list of ToplessRobot’s The 12 Dumbest Spider-Man Stories Ever (Besides the Clone Saga). The panel below is from a storyline called “Lifetheft”, which TR describes as “Peter Parker’s Parents Are Actually Evil Robots Programmed to Kill Spider-man.” Which sounds pretty lame even to a Geek Gold Card member like myself.
Comics readers were later told that Richard and Mary Parker were Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a comic-book universe government organization that is now well-known thanks to the Avengers movie. (Aside: the first match on Google when you search “shield” is the Wikipedia page for S.H.I.E.L.D. This is proof that the geeks have inherited the Earth, or at least the Interwebs.)
Bottom line? The parents of the boy who eventually becomes Spider-Man don’t have a long and storied history in comic book form. Whether or not they will be rescued from this fate by the new movie franchise remains to be seen.