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Spider-Man unmasked: The history of Spider-Man's identity

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

One of Spider-Man: Far From Home’s two post-credits scenes involves a key theme from Spidey’s comic book history playing out in a big way – with his longtime comic book rival J. Jonah Jameson (played for the first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by original big screen J. Jonah actor J.K. Simmons) revealing to the world that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, thanks to some blackmail material from Mysterio.

While the ramifications of this likely won’t play out directly for some time, as stated Peter Parker has a long comic book history with his identity going public, often to his chagrin.

While it would be difficult to catalog all the times a single person or a villain has sussed out Peter’s secret (that happened for the first time when the Living Brain cracked the case in '1964’s Amazing Spider-Man #8'), the history of Pete’s public or semi-public unmasking goes back just as far, and Jameson himself plays a key role in the saga of Peter’s secret identity. As such, we’re looking back at the times Peter Parker has been revealed as Spider-Man, and how Jameson factors in.

Amazing Spider-Man #12

(Image credit: Marvel)

The first time Peter Parker was publicly unmasked, it was at the hands of his arch-foe Doctor Octopus all the way back in 1964’s 'Amazing Spider-Man #12'. Dizzied and harried from the flu, Peter is somewhat depowered leading to a handy defeat at the hands of Doc Ock who subsequently unmasks Peter in front of a crowd of his friends.

Of course, because Peter was beset by illness, he didn’t put up much of a fight, leading the assembled public to believe Peter was simply impersonating Spider-Man.

Amazing Spider-Man #87

(Image credit: Marvel)

Peter’s next public unmasking came a few years later in 1970’s 'Amazing Spider-Man #87', in which Peter, again suffering from the loss of his powers due to a bout of the flu, believes he’s permanently lost his abilities.

As a result, Peter decides to give up his life as Spider-Man, dejectedly revealing his secret to his family and friends – just in time for him to kick the flu and get his powers back.

Ready to become Spider-Man again, Peter enlists his friend Hobie Brown – a.k.a. the Prowler – to appear alongside Peter as Spider-Man, convincing everyone once again that Peter’s secret identity is merely a hoax designed to protect the real Spider-Man.

Amazing Spider-Man #139

(Image credit: Marvel)

J. Jonah Jameson’s long quest for the truth of Spider-Man’s identity came to a close for the first time in 1974’s 'Amazing Spider-Man #139', in which Jameson obtained some photos of Peter Parker disposing of the body of his own clone. Jeez Louise.

Fortunately, Peter was prepared for Jameson to confront him with the photos and faked some of his own pictures that “proved” Jameson’s were fakes designed to fool him.

This wasn’t a full on public unmasking, but does give context to Jameson’s hunt for Spider-Man’s secret – and constituted what may have been Peter’s closest call to being truly and irrevocably outed as Spider-Man (until a few years later, of course).

Civil War #2

(Image credit: Marvel)

Peter’s biggest identity reveal happened in 2006’s 'Civil War', a story in which Tony Stark backed legislation that would force superheroes to reveal their identities and operate under government guidelines, leading Captain America to oppose his one-time ally and two groups of opposing heroes to form under the leadership of each Avenger.

If that sounds familiar, it formed the basis of Spider-Man’s MCU film debut, Captain America: Civil War, in which Peter Parker followed in his comic book footsteps to side with Tony Stark under Stark’s mentorship.

Unlike the film, however, in the comic book Civil War Peter Parker is an adult who sides with Stark when Tony offers him a job and security through Stark Industries. As a result of his support of the Super-Human Registration Act, Peter seals his association with Stark by publicly unmasking and revealing his identity as Spider-Man to the world, making him a publicly known hero like his mentor.

In the end, however, Peter would come to regret this decision. First switching sides to fight with Captain America after seeing the lengths to which Stark was willing to go to win, once the conflict ended with Cap’s surrender, Peter’s life tumbled out of control.

In 2007’s 'One More Day', after an attack on Aunt May left her near death, Peter made a deal with the demon Mephisto to save her life and to conceal Peter’s secret from the world once again in exchange for his marriage to Mary Jane.

Of course, in the continuity created by Mephisto’s power, Peter covered his identity by contacting his old ally, Doctor Strange (himself a current MCU fixture) to cast a powerful spell that would remove the knowledge of Peter’s secret identity from the whole world – including people Peter had individually told such as his friends and family.

And that spell has stood ever since – once it was cast, even Peter’s old allies such as Daredevil and Johnny Storm didn’t have the scoop on his identity (though they both found out again later).

Spectacular Spider-Man #6

(Image credit: Marvel)

But that wasn’t the last time Peter would make a key revelation about his identity. In 2018’s 'Spectacular Spider-Man #6', Peter revealed his identity to J. Jonah Jameson after a heartfelt and difficult conversation about the way their lives have intertwined and the tragedy that has followed them.

And from there, Jameson would up accidentally spilling the beans to Norman Osborn, at that time the Red Goblin, though Osborn never got to publicly capitalize on the revelation before being defeated.

Newsarama staff writer who learned to read from comic books and hasn’t shut up about them since.