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Identity Crisis

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Spider-Man-Identity Crisis

"Identity Crisis" is an eight-part storyline printed in Marvel Comics' Spider-Man family of books in May - June 1998.

Storyline summary

Spider-Man was framed by Norman Osborn and the Trapster for murder of a small-time crook named Joey Z using "web fluid" to fill his lungs. Norman Osborn also "provoked" Spider-Man into attacking him on tape, leaving Spider-Man with a five-million-dollar reward posted for his capture and unable to even go out on patrols without the police or even normal people attempting to shoot him. Instead of his normal costumed identity, Peter Parker adopted four other costumes with different crime-fighting personae in order to stay under the radar, reasoning that the emergence of one new superhero with spider-like powers immediately after Spider-Man's disappearance would be too suspicious, but that the appearance of a few different superheroes would allow him fallback options if any one of the identities were exposed. With two identities- the Hornet and Prodigy- posing as heroes while the other two- Dusk and Ricochet- pretended to be criminals, Peter was not only able to do good, but also gain a unique chance at getting in with the criminal underworld of the time. The Dusk identity was able to provide evidence that Spider-Man hadn't killed the criminal by befriending the Trapster and convincing him to confess as a means of getting back at Osborn. Parker used the Prodigy identity to produce faked evidence to suggest that it was a fake Spider-Man (most likely Jack O'Lantern or Conundrum, whose latest plot Prodigy had recently thwarted) who attacked Osborn. The Ricochet identity was used to discover further information about new foe the Black Tarantula while the Hornet was exposed as Spider-Man during a battle with the Vulture. With the bounty removed, Peter returned to his life as Spider-Man, acknowledging that, no matter how popular his other identities were, Spider-Man was who he really was. This arc planted the seeds for a spin-off book titled Slingers, following the adventures of four teenagers who had been inspired by Spider-Man's new costumes and code names.

Reading order

  • Part 1: Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 1) #434 - #435: The Ricochet identity was a fast-talking criminal-for-hire who uses Spider-Man's agility to pose as a streetsmart athletic crook-for-hire with above-average strength and remarkable agility; battled Roughouse and Bloodscream in this identity, and fought side-by-side with Delilah to gain further information about new foe the Black Tarantula.
  • Part 2: The Sensational Spider-Man #27 - #28: The Hornet identity, used a specially designed jet-pack, designed by Hobie Brown, and the Scarlet Spider's old sedative stingers, coupled with Spider-Man's typical strength; confronted the Looter and the Vulture in this costume, with the Vulture deducing his real identity as Spider-Man; was briefly confronted by the Human Torch, who warned him not to go after Spider-Man.
  • Part 3: Peter Parker: Spider-Man #91 - #92: The Dusk identity was a dark, mysterious individual, using a costume from another dimension to blend in and out of shadows, as well as to glide; also uses Spider-Man's superhuman strength and spider-sense; battled the Shocker and formed a certain friendship with the Trapster using this persona, which enabled him to convince the criminal to admit to framing Spider-Man for a murder as a means of getting back at Norman Osborn.
  • Part 4: The Spectacular Spider-Man #257 - #258: The Prodigy identity had superhuman strength and speed, able to leap from rooftop to rooftop, and using a bulletproof vest to appear even stronger; also included a fake nose and make-ups to increase the difference between him and Peter due to part of his face being exposed, battled Jack O'Lantern and Conundrum using this disguise, and provided faked evidence that the Spider-Man who attacked Norman Osborn was an impostor to clear his name of assault).

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