Spider-Man is inarguably the heart and soul of the Marvel Universe, perfectly representing the relatable nature of its heroes. Young, empathetic, and full of energy, Spidey has remained one of the most popular superheroes of all time. With all this success, it’s somewhat surprising that Marvel’s biggest rival doesn’t have a 1:1 parallel to the hero.
There are several DC Comics characters who have blatant similarities to Spider-Man. Some of them sport down to Earth powers and relatable personalities. For others, their overall designs or core themes echo Peter Parker’s classic traits. Even then, these are some key differences, making it hard to determine which DC character perfectly fills the role of DC’s version of Marvel’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
The Second and Third Blue Beetle Have Several Similarities to Spider-Man
Given the name and similar bug theme, it’s not surprising that Blue Beetle and Spider-Man have quite a few crossover traits. The Silver Age Ted Kord Blue Beetle was created by artist/writer Steve Ditko, who also co-created Spider-Man with Stan Lee. Like Peter Parker, Ted is a genius who possessed a great degree of athleticism as a superhero. Even though he was an industrialist, Ted still had a relatable Everyman quality to him that resembled Peter Parker’s struggles and triumphs. This even showed up in the Justice League International comic book, wherein Ted worked to lose some weight and become more fit. Add in the somewhat Ayn Rand-inspired early adventures common to Ted and Peter, and the latter could essentially be seen as an adult version of the former.
Among the various characters to don the Blue Beetle mantle, the third Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes shares even more similarities with Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. Jaime’s even more of an everyday young man with a world of relatable problems. Ever since he debuted in DC’s Infinite Crisis crossover, he’s been compared to Spider-Man. The body horror nature of his Scarab could also be seen as analogous to both Spider-Man’s black suit and the alien Venom symbiote in general. Of course, the cosmic nature fueling many of Jaime’s stories takes him away from Spidey’s more street-level scope. Additionally, given Ted Kord’s lack of powers, the Blue Beetle mantle isn’t DC’s best Spider-Man equivalent.
The Best Flash Is Just as Relatable As Spider-Man
Many fans consider Wally West to be the best version of The Flash. This is due to his having more development and growth than any other prominent DC hero. Starting out as the sidekick Kid Flash for the Barry Allen version of The Flash, Wally would replace his mentor as the Fastest Man Alive following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Starting off as something of a showboat after previously wanting to walk away from superheroics, Wally would grow into a more refined (yet still fun-loving) hero. Part of the equation was the romance between Wally West and Linda Park, which would blossom into a marriage with multiple children.
Though his powers are nothing like Spider-Man’s, Wally West could be seen as similar to Peter Parker due to how relatable he is. His replacing Barry Allen could be seen as a metaphor for growing up and becoming part of a family business. Wally’s had many ups and downs throughout the years, but these struggles have made him even more endearing. Likewise, he’s done something that Spider-Man has sadly been unable to do for long: get married and have a family. Wally’s version of The Flash, while relatable to fans of all ages, isn’t stuck in the same place that he’s been for decades. This makes it easy to root for him and for readers from various walks of life to find themselves within his stories.
Nightwing’s Latest Book Makes Him Even More Like Spider-Man
Like Wally West, Dick Grayson went from a sidekick in the shadow of his mentor to a hero in his own right. The original Robin has long since been known as Nightwing, moving to the city Bl?dhaven and developing his own rogues’ gallery of villains. Given that he combines his acrobatics with a smile no matter who he’s facing, it’s easy to see how Spider-Man and Nightwing are alike. However, a big difference comes in the tone of their stories. Though Dick Grayson himself is far more fun-loving than the dour Batman, his stories are usually of a similarly gritty, street-level variety. By contrast, while the Webslinger is also a more grounded, street-level hero, his stories are usually more colorful.
This would mean that Nightwing might have more in common with the gritty Marvel hero Daredevil, if it weren’t for his most recent run. The current Nightwing comic book from Tom Taylor emphasizes the happiness in Dick Grayson’s life. Far from the spiral of tragedy that both Batman and Spider-Man constantly deal with, Nightwing’s life seems to be full of joy for him and his allies. This makes him far closer to Spidey than ever before, and much like the Jeremy Adams run on The Flash gives Nightwing a book that’s doing things that The Amazing Spider-Man should try exploring.
Sideways Is a Literal (and Intentional) Ripoff of Spider-Man
Created by Dan DiDio, Justin Jordan, and Kenneth Rocafort, Sideways was literally meant to be DC’s version of Spider-Man. He was prominent during the “New Age of DC Heroes” line, which introduced several DC characters who were blatant parallels for certain Marvel heroes. For instance, Mr. Terrific’s team, The Terrifcs, was meant to be a stand-in for Marvel’s Fantastic Four. Sideways stood in for Spider-Man, even wearing a costume that evoked both the Marvel hero and, ironically, Ted Kord’s sense of style. A relatable young character in the early Spider-Man vein, Sideways updated classic concepts synonymous with Marvel’s friendly neighborhood hero. For instance, instead of trying to be a wrestler, Sideways initially used his powers (which include super strength and teleportation) to gain popularity as a Twitch streamer.
Sideways has the most potential to be DC’s Spider-Man, though said potential was sadly cut short due to how truncated his comic book series was. He did play a part in the Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, but it’s been his biggest point of prominence in a while. Thus, despite literally being intended for the role, it’s hard to truly see Sideways as DC’s Spider-Man when he so quickly became obscure.
All in all, the best stand-in for Spider-Man at DC Comics is Static. Well known for the Static Shock cartoon, Static (Virgil Hawkins) is theoretically not a part of the DC Universe proper. Though various continuities have combined the stable of heroes, Static is mainly a part of the Milestone Universe. Milestone Entertainment is published by DC Comics, though it’s still something of a separate entity. Like most shared comic book universes created in the ’90s, the Milestone Universe had many expies of classic superheroes. For instance, Icon played the role of Superman, Hardware was analogous to Iron Man, and Static was essentially Spider-Man. However, Static’s sported powers and a costume inspired by DC’s Black Lightning.
Like Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, Static was a put-upon geek with a bit of a smart mouth. Throughout his heroic adventures, Static frequently bantered and flustered his villains. Many of Virgil Hawkins’ enemies represented relatable obstacles such as bullies, gang members, and those seeking to stir up racial grievances in the city of Dakota. These stories and Virgil’s own characterization make him very much a Peter Parker for a new age, and he’s actually far more interesting and relatable than Marvel’s Miles Morales version of Spider-Man. These elements are enough to make Static DC’s version of the Wall-Crawler, but there’s also the fact that he doesn’t have ties to another hero or mantle. Unlike some of the other heroes who bear resemblance to Spider-Man, Static is truly his own man in the same way that Spider-Man was when Stan Lee created him. Additionally, Static’s got a lot more longevity than someone like Sideways. Representing Milestone in the same way that Spider-Man does Marvel, Static is easily the best analog to the character to emerge from any company.
Spider-Man is Marvel’s premiere hero, and though DC has several similar characters, only one superhero is a nearly 1:1 stand-in for the Webslinger. Read More