Stan Lee missed a chance to develop Spider-Man’s closest ally

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Stan Lee helped create Spider-Man and his supporting cast – but an alternate account shows one character could have been a stronger ally.

Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr., and many other early Marvel creators established many defining aspects of Spider Man when they were working on The Amazing Spider-Man comic. Even today, writers and artists continue to use the dynamics of the original myth when telling new Spider-Man stories. However, there is one figure from Lee’s original Spider-Man stories who could have become a much stronger ally for Peter Parker. Sometimes reinvented for comics, cartoons and movies, Captain George Stacy – the father of Peter’s doomed lover, Gwen Stacy – was revealed as one of Spider-Man’s best supporting characters in an alternate continuity that didn’t follow Stan Lee’s original vision.

First introduced in The Incredible Spider-Man # 56, Captain George Stacy was once an important figure in the New York City Police Department and worked as a detective. Unlike many police officers who were suspicious of Spider-Man, Stacy openly supported the wall crawler. Unbeknownst to Spider-Man, Stacy had discovered the superhero’s secret identity after observing the web slinger and seeing similar patterns in her behavior with her daughter’s new boyfriend, Peter Parker. Although he feared that being with Spider-Man would put Gwen in danger, Stacy realized that her daughter was in love with Peter and decided to protect Spider-Man’s secret.

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Peter sometimes suspected that Captain Stacy knew more than he suggested, but the two never said they were honest. Their relationship ended tragically in The Amazing Spider-Man # 90 when Stacy saw Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus fight over a tall building. Spidey had covered Doc Ock’s mechanical arms with a special strap that made them act erratically, and the villain accidentally smashed a fireplace, causing rubble to fall towards a young boy. Stacy pushed the boy out of the way, but was crushed by the debris. As Spider-Man tried to get him to safety, Stacy called him “Peter” and asked him to please take care of Gwen seconds before she died.

Stacy’s death weighed heavily on Peter, and her guilt only worsened when Gwen was killed by the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man # 121. Years later, Stan Lee admitted that at times it seemed like Marvel had done it for the whole Stacy family. While tragedies proved to be defining moments in Spider-Man’s life, an alternate version of Spider-Man’s story reveals that things could have turned out very differently.

In Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, Writer Paul Tobin and artist Matteo Lolli have created an alternate world where Captain George Stacy discovers Peter’s secret identity after Spider-Man accidentally repeats something he said to Stacy as Peter Parker . Initially, Stacy tries to capitalize on this knowledge by sending Spider-Man after vigilantes Cloak & Dagger. However, he later regrets his actions and apologizes, telling Peter that he is not allowed to use Spider-Man. In gratitude, Peter offers to help Stacy as a friend and the two develop a father-son-type bond, even having regular lunches together where they discuss crime-fighting and family issues.

This gives Peter a healthier relationship with Captain George Stacy, who becomes a member of a support network that includes Peter’s mutant girlfriend, Cat, the X-Men’s Wolverine, and the Blonde Phantom. At one point, after learning that Peter’s Aunt May was in financial trouble, George offers the Parkers a financial reward for a “tip” that Peter gave him that led to several arrests. In turn, Spidey and his friends help Captain Stacy shut down a big New York criminal family for good. By the time Marvel Adventures Spider-Man was canceled, Stacy is still alive and remains an active supporter of Spider-Man.

Other movies and TV series, including The Amazing Spider-Man movies and The spectacular Spider-Man animated show, reintroduced Captain George Stacy and explored his relationship with Spider-Man. Marvel comic Spider-Gwen also introduced another alternate version of Captain Stacy who has an initially antagonistic relationship with her daughter Gwen’s superhero alter ego, Spider-Woman / Ghost Spider. However, few of these representations show the level of trust between Spider Man and Georges stacy of Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, suggesting that Stan Lee’s original version of Captain Stacy continues to limit how other creators use a character who could be Spidey’s greatest ally.

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