Seems that everybody in Geekdom is pretty excited about the Marvel/Sony deal that will bring Spider-Man into the MCU fold, in whatever form that takes. The biggest cheers have been heard with regards to Spider-Man appearing in/alongside/as a member of the Avengers. And while this seems fairly commonplace now, it has really only been over the last ten of Spidey’s 50 years that he’s been a full fledged, card carrying Avenger.
Spider-Man and the Avengers have fought together side by side for years as necessitated by Infinity Gauntlets, Secret Wars, Secret Wars 2s, etc, but Spider-Man was always viewed as a street level loner who would never work well in a team.
In the early days of the Marvel Universe, the Avengers did look to recruit Spider-Man in the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3 (1966).
After having studied him from afar for long enough, the Avengers must decide if they are going to offer membership to Spider-Man. But first he must be “carefully tested”. (And the Wasp straight up vetoes his nomination because, naturally, she hates spiders.) But first, they study him more from afar by interviewing Daredevil to learn more about Spider-Man as he has had several team-ups with him. (And Wasp hopes that “dreamy” DD is a “slow talker” so that he stick around for her to oogle because, naturally, she loves devils.) DD gives Spidey a glowing recommendation and Cap decides (again) that it is time to test him. Thor tracks down the wallcrawler and informs him of their desire to test him…he’s not sure he wants it.
Spidey spends a few pages being Spider-Man and worrying about Aunt May, but finally agrees and meets the Avengers at Stark Mansion. As Spider-Man is introduced to the current Avengers, as often happens in these situations, they come to blows. And I wouldn’t blame Spider-Man one bit. We’re this far in and the Avengers still have to have a chat about what his test should even entail. Don’t you guys talk at all off panel?
Once cooler heads prevail, Iron Man has come up with the test Spider-Man is to perform. He has to track down the Hulk and bring him to the Avengers. That’s all? Spider-Man agrees. Cue many pages of Spider-Man verses Hulk action! Spider-Man manages to subdue the Hulk, but learns his origin along the way and is confused why the Avengers would send him after the Hulk who’s not really a bad guy. Spider-Man decides to let the Hulk go because “I couldn’t stomach myself if I kept hounding that poor tortured soul!” (Every sentence in comics has to end with a question or exclamation mark!) He then returns to the Avengers to let them know, nevermind, he’s not interested in being an Avenger anyway.
Another page of “tortured” Peter Parker follows and he confesses that though he wanted to be an Avenger so bad he could taste it, maybe fate has decided he should be a loner.
And a loner he would remain. In the 1980’s when the Avengers roster was going through a shake up, Spider-Man was once again offered membership, but the Avengers government liaison denied admission because of security concerns. (So, Spider-Man has been falsely wanted for murder a few times. No big deal.) During the 90’s, Spider-Man would finally become an Avenger, but only of the reserve variety. (Which meant he could fight Thanos with them, but not get the 20% discount at the food court in Avengers Mansion.) It wasn’t until 2005 when Brian Michael Bendis said enough was enough and made Spider-Man a core member of the New Avengers. He’s been an Avenger ever since. Even completing his about face from loner to team player by also joining the Fantastic Four in his spare time.
(Editor’s note: Jimmy, isn’t this series about Spider-Man cameos in other Marvel comics?) Why yes! It is! And after the longest intro in Gabbing Geek history, let’s get to them. And keeping with the theme of the intro, I wanted to share some cameos over Spider-Man’s early years that occurred in the Avengers after his failed recruitment.
Avengers 58 (November 1968) – In a story that parallels the one we just looked at above, Vision has shown up at the Avengers Mansion and is looking to become an Avenger. And you know what that means? Fight! I’m glad job interviews in real life don’t require me to try to kick anyone’s ass. When the fighting is done, and the time to vote is near, Thor gives a speech and we get this splash page of heroes who are/have been/or were recruited to be Avengers.
Avengers 59 (December 1968) – The next month, Spidey would appear again. The appearance really has nothing to do with the Avengers and only exists so that Spider-Man can tease J Jonah Jameson. And so that Yellowjacket can, in an around about way, remind us that Spider-Man is spelled with a hyphen. (Suck it Watson.)
Avengers 60 (January 1969) – Back to back to back jacks! Three months in a row…are we sure Spidey isn’t an Avenger? Anyway, Spidey just shows up at the Wasp and Yellowjacket’s wedding to watch the Avengers, Fantastic Four and X-Men drink non-alcoholic punch.
Avengers 85 (February 1971) – For this one we’ll jump ahead a bit into the future as Spider-Man shows up to help Captain America, Black Panther and Thor give out Toys for Tots.