In the seemingly eternal business war between Marvel and DC, the spearheads of their respective comic campaigns are their most lucrative intellectual properties: Spider-Man and Batman, respectively. The archetype of a coming of age superhero, Spider-Man appeals to core comic readers, while Batman's mainstream appeal as the quintessential anti-hero gives him a wider audience.
Surprisingly, while Batman is often considered the darker, more gritty of the two, Spider-Man has often gone to very disturbing places in his comics, which make the Dark Knight look like a teletubby. Sometimes an intentional choice to traumatize his character and occasionally the result of reckless writers, here are a few of Spider-Man's more graphic storylines.
4. Sins Past
The harrowing death of his first girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, has haunted Spider-Man since 1973. However, years later, Spider-Man is attacked by twin super villains who bear more than a passing resemblance to his deceased love. It is revealed over the course of the story that Gwen cheated on Spider-Man with his arch-nemesis, Green Goblin, and even had twin babies with him.
Apart from the general statutory nature of their relationship, it's implied that Goblin participated in Gwen's death because she threatened to leave him and take the kids.
3. Kraven's Last Hunt
Kraven the Hunter, one of Spider-Man's most iconic enemies, mistakenly believes he has killed the web-slinger and now feels obligated to take his place as a hero. He become so proficient at being a hero, that he can easily defeat some of Spider-Man's most dangerous foes. However, Kraven is mentally destabilized by his morality shift and, believing he has reached his personal peak, having nowhere else to go but down, he graphically kills himself.
2. Gauntlet: Shed
Curt Connors, a.k.a. the Spider-Man villain the Lizard, had more or less gotten control of his alter ego. But then a series of stress-inducing failures, both personal and professional, as well as failing to take his restrictive medication, caused the Lizard to emerge with a vengeance. In order to wipe out Connors permanently, the Lizard brutally ate his young son, killing off the human side of his personality with a flash of blood and teeth.
1. Dead No More
Ben Reilly was a clone of Spider-Man who actually took over as the web-slinger for a few years. However, after being killed by Green Goblin, he was brought back repeatedly in new clone bodies by his creator, the Jackal. The constant resurrections drove him mad, and he eventually killed his father. Under the Jackal moniker, he brought back virtually all the deceased people in New York as imperfect clones he could control.
He was eventually stopped by the real Spider-Man, which caused all the clones to abruptly decay and disintegrate in the arms of their traumatized loved ones, who had previously celebrated their return.