The Real Reason Spider-Man Revealed His Secret Identity In Civil War

The Real Reason Spider-Man Revealed His Secret Identity In Civil War
Peter Parker, revealed to the world as <em>Spider-Man</em> in Civil War #2. (Image: Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines, and Morry Hollowell, Marvel Comics)

A hero’s secret identity is one of the most enduring tropes of superheroic fiction — but there are perhaps few today for who it matters the most than Peter Parker, a character who’s duality has become one of his defining traits. So for him to reveal that in Civil War was a major deal… but a new book reveals that actually, that might not be the case.

Coming this fall from Insight Comics, Spider-Man: From Amazing to Spectacular: The Definitive Comic Art Collection lifts the lid on nearly sixty years of Spidey’s history as one of the most beloved superheroes ever made.

Penned by ScreenCrush editor-in-chief Matt Singer, the book gathers not just iconic art from some of Spider-Man’s most influential artists — from Sara Pichelli to Mark Bagley, from Steve Ditko to both John Romita Sr. and his son, John Romita Jr. — but features new interviews with the creative teams that have come to shape Peter’s amazing, spectacular, sensational, and ultimate career.

We’re excited to reveal a juicy tidbit from one of those interviews in a set of new spreads from inside From Amazing to Spectacular.

ImageThe full cover for From Amazing to Spectacular. (Image: Andrew Robinson, Insight Comics)

The spreads focus on two major comic book events that impacted on Peter as a character: 2006’s messy, dramatic epic Civil War, which saw the dire ramifications of Peter Parker revealing his secret identity to the world, and 2014’s Spider-Verse, a much happier, nostalgia laden crossover of spider-characters that championed the enduring relatablity of Spider-Man, and laid the inspirational background for the Oscar-award winning triumph that is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Check out the spread for Spider-Verse first below, which also features some pretty amazing variant covers from over the years that take inspiration from the iconic final page of Amazing Spider-Man #50, a storyline better known as “Spider-Man No More!”

ImageImage: Insight Comics

The more interesting reveal comes from Singer’s interview with Civil War scribe Mark Millar in the spread below, who reveals a much more controversial reason as to why the event exposed Peter’s tightly-kept secret on a scale never seen before in his history:

ImageImage: Insight Comics

Here’s the quote from Millar:

I don’t think this has ever been made public. I remember [Marvel editor] Tom Brevoort suggesting Spidey [reveal his identity] for the simple reason that his continuity was about to get a magical reboot a year later with One More Day, and so we could kind of do whatever we liked. It’s pretty funny because it seemed enormously bold, but of course Marvel had the cosmic reset button a year later planned, so it was every much a calculated risk.

Yes — one of the most dramatic moments in Peter Parker’s history only came about because Marvel knew it was about to hit a reset button a year and a half later. That would come in the form of the still-controversial One More Day storyline, which saw Peter sacrifice his marriage to Mary Jane to not only put his identity back into the realm of shadows but save the life of his beloved Aunt May.

He did it by literally making a deal with the devil, in a plotline that, even if these days has slowly but surely been chipped away at, is still one of the most controversial plot beats in the character’s history.

These days, Peter’s identity is still mostly a secret in the comics — although recently some dramatically emotional reveals of it to certain characters have made the case for ways to handle Spider-Man’s greatest secret in ways that don’t need a future reset button in the form of Actual Satan.

Considering Far From Home planned a similar life-changing event for the movie Peter Parker before… well, that whole imbroglio happened, it goes to show what just a vital storytelling tool Peter’s secret identity can be. Even if sometimes it’s just done because there’s an easy way out!

Spider-Man: From Amazing to Spectacular: The Definitive Comic Art Collection hits shelves October 15, and is available for pre-order now.


  • And here I thought that they actually planned to change the status quo forever for once instead of soft rebooting characters every few years. seems like very few major changes ever stick.

  • Nothing new here then really. Most long-term Spider-Man fans knew that everything in Civil War with Spider-Man was done because of the events of One More Day coming. From the beginning of Spider-Man becoming an official Avenger and May & Mary Jane moving into the mansion, the whole book was being created to destroy everything traditional about the series. Everyone knows that Joe Quesada had a problem with Spider-Man evolving into an actual adult, thus he made it his mission to do everything to tank the books before rebooting them, setting off a chain of events where writers were allowed to do whatever they wanted because the book would be rebooted again 20 issues down the track.

    Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 lasted for 441 issues
    Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 lasted for 226 issues (including several .1 issues)
    Superior Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2.5) lasted 35 issues
    Amazing Spider-Man Volume 3 lasted for 32 issues
    Amazing Spider-Man Volume 4 lasted for 58 issues
    Amazing Spider-Man Volume 5 is currently at 33 issues

    Since the end of the Volume 2 clusterfuck, which after Civil War had some of the WORST storylines and ideas in comic history, the series on average goes more than 35 issues before a reboot happens. The only books rebooted more lately are the X-Men books.

    • All the major comic sites that I was part of at the time were blindsided by ‘One More Day’ and they’d made no noise about any reboot, soft or otherwise, on the horizon. Hindsight, of course, is a completely different thing.

      • Comic sites were blindsided, so were consumers. But management knew (as stated in the article) long before the reboot happened. That information about management knowing became common knowledge over the next few years, especially since Quesada happily touted in every interview how much he hated “adult Peter” and wanting to remove everything from the marriage to Mary Jane to current and replace it with the “Parker I knew” from the1960s/1970s.

        • This is the first article I’d read that publicly stated from the creators that the chicken came before the egg, which is fascinating since even recently I’d been seeing people say it was the egg, defending OMD as being a way to make up for Spidey’s Civil War choice. I guess you could say that conversation is now dead, buried and cremated. 😀

          Quesada’s views and agenda are definitely well known.

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