Saturday, March 5, 2011

Best of "What If...?": #12

One-Shot (2005)
What if Aunt May had been killed instead of Uncle Ben?

CoverWritten by Ed Brubaker
Drawn by Andrea Di Vito

“A spider! It bit me. But why is it glowing that way?”

Spider-Man’s origin story is perhaps common knowledge. Bitten by a radioactive spider, high school student Peter Parker gains an array of arachnid super-powers; once a professional wallflower, he soon becomes a TV sensation. But when Peter chooses not to trip up a burglar who crosses his path, that thief goes on – in a freak coincidence – to murder Uncle Ben, the elderly man who raised Peter.

Peter’s beloved Aunt May is thereafter his only family and support. Without her late husband, May can barely make ends meet, and Peter must think of a way to pay their bills on his own. After rejecting the idea of becoming a super-villain, Peter settles on the idea of selling photos of himself fighting crime as Spider-Man to a wealthy newspaperman who obsesses over the wallcrawler.

The plan works. Peter never erases the guilt that he feels regarding Ben’s death, but it pains him a little less every time that he provides for May. Ultimately, Peter’s one moment of selfishness leads him to a lifetime of compassion.

But Peter could just as easily have lost both of his foster parents. And if that had happened, he would have seen no reason to use his great power responsibly…

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