The Many Faces of Spider-Man is a feature, posted the second Monday of every month, that explores the Marvel Multiverse and the many Spider-Men/Peter Parkers who dwell within.
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
An appropriate opening line to introduce this segment’s Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider of Earth-11638! The story of this Spider is told in the 2011 “Identity Wars” story arc and collected in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #38, Deadpool Annual #1, and The Incredible Hulks Annual #1 written by John Layman with art by Lee Garbett, Juan Doe, and Al Barrionuevo.
When an accident at Horizon Labs flings Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, and Deadpool haphazardly into an alternate universe that seems almost perfect. Bruce finds himself unable to transform into the monstrous Hulk, the Amazing Spider is a hero beloved by all (none more so than newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson), and this universe’s Deadpool is… wearing a green costume.
In the aftermath of the tumultuous transition from world to world, 616’s Peter Parker finds his counterpart badly injured and is forced to take up his responsibilities while he recovers and discovers more about his perfect life. This Spider has his own spider-car and batcave-esque lair called the Web, where he keeps his equipment, extra costumes, and trophies from his victories (including Mysterio’s dome, turned into an actual fishbowl). Patrolling the streets is also remarkably easy as the supervillains he faces are quick to simply give up, believing themselves to be completely out of their league.
And with good reason, this universe’s Peter Parker had taken down Thanos, Annihilus, Galactus, and a host of other cosmic level threats single-handedly. When 616 Peter asks his counterpart why none of the other heroes helped, he’s told that there are none. The Amazing Spider is all New York has ever needed.
As Peter things are also going well. Gwen Stacy is alive and dating Peter, although he also seems to be dating Mary Jane Watson as well. Horizon Industries has become Parker Industries, a successful corporation with Peter as its owner and director. While researching Parker Industries technology in an attempt to return to his home universe, Peter finds that in this universe he was the preeminent interdimensional expert. What’s more, the Peter of Earth-11638 seems to have files on a number of Spider-Men from all across the dimensions, including himself. But before he can explore any further, Peter discovers his Uncle Ben is alive in this world and rushes off to see him.
This Uncle Ben survived the bullet that killed his 616 version and after recovering made it his life’s work to guide Peter to make the most out of new-found powers. As the two talk, Peter quickly realizes that this Ben Parker is not the same as the one from his world. This Ben is angry and bitter and willing to do anything it takes to make his Peter powerful. Even his old adage is warped: “With great power comes a responsibility to stay powerful.”
Ben puts this saying into practice when he drugs Peter and drags him to the Web. He and his Peter had been luring Peter Parkers from other dimensions and draining them to absorb their power, which might sound familiar to all of you following the currently ongoing “Spider-Verse” event. The Amazing Spider, having recovered explains that because he’s alone all the responsibility for the world fell on him and he needed the power to take it all on.
Peter escapes and tries to fight, but finds himself completely outmatched. He pleads to his dimensional doppelgänger to reconsider if it’s worth the killing, if it’s worth the never-ending search for more and more power and ultimately, if he still feels heroic. This stops the Amazing Spider in his tracks but fails to persuade Uncle Ben who attacks, trying desperately to sap Peter’s life. The Amazing Spider pushes Peter out of the way and is killed, dying in his uncle’s arms.
Ordinarily this would be the end of his story, at least for a little while, but he has one more appearance before Spider-Man and the other heroes make their way back to their own universe. He fixes the dimensional gateway and apologizes to Spider-Man and tells him he was saved from Hell and brought back to life to redeem himself and punish the guilty… as Ghost Spider. Peter then returns to his home dimension, leaving Earth-11638 in more heroic hands than he found it.