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Spider-man's lack of Spider Powers

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Have you ever realised that Spider-man’s only real spider-like power (his webbing) comes from a gadget?

 

Strength: Not something Spiders are really known for. Even proportionally. Talk to an Ant.

Agility: Web spiders *really* don’t move that fast. Trapped prey doesn’t select for speed.

Toughness: Never had any trouble swatting one, unlike flies and cockroaches.

Wall Crawling: Yep. That checks, but it’s not particularly unique to spiders. Fly-man would also have it. AND be harder to hit and kill. And have flight.

Spider Sense: Seriously? How is this even spider-related? Cockroach Sense I could believe.

 

On the other hand, look at all the real spider powers he *didn’t* get:

 

Extra Limbs: Well… there was that one time. And the other time. But it never lasted.

Extra Eyes: I guess this *might* explain the Spider Sense. In Bizarro world.

Venom: Good enough for a villain or two, but not young Peter it seems.

Web Spinning: At least in the original comics. He did end up with it as a natural power in some of the movies (but not MCU) and the Ultimate version.

Freaky Weirdness: Largely gets back to not having too many limbs and eyes or an exceptionally hairy body. But Mr Parker is quite good looking and does pretty well with the ladies. At least until they get dropped off bridges.

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Eh. Ant-Man shrinks and controls ants. No other ant powers. But what he has fits enough thematically to justify the name. Same with Spidey.

 

Strength: I've seen spiders leap about ten times their body length. Looks good enough to me.

 

Agility: Plenty of spider species chase their prey, not trap them. And if you watch any spider or insect deliberately hustling, it moves really fast (compared to us).

 

Toughness: Even if you're wearing body armor (which is similar to an exo-skeleton), have something fall on you that's the proportionate size of an Abrams tank, see how well you hold up. And Spidey's never been known for shrugging off bullets or the like -- always dodging.

 

Spider-Sense: True, no known analogy to this in the animal kingdom. It's majorly cool, though, like Superman's X-Ray Vision; so I'm inclined to allow it just for that.

 

Extra Limbs and Eyes: Hard to keep a Secret Identity that way.

 

Venom: There's a reason it's confined to villains -- poison isn't a very heroic power.

 

But when you get down to it, the "radioactive spider bite" was just an enabling device for Spider-Man's origin, used to justify giving him powers loosely linked by the forgiving standards of Silver Age comic-book science.

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I think Spider-Sense was a replacement for the 8 eyes, giving 360 vision.  He can't see all around him, but he can sense things.  Spiders are awfully strong for their size (supposedly several times stronger than even ants; National Geographic claims a spider can lift 170 times its weight so for Peter Parker that's going to be around 14 tons) and pretty tough at their scale, so strong and tough works for me.  And Spiders do react very, very quickly, so the agility I can buy as well.

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Have you ever realised that Spider-man’s only real spider-like power (his webbing) comes from a gadget?

 

Strength: Not something Spiders are really known for. Even proportionally. Talk to an Ant.

Agility: Web spiders *really* don’t move that fast. Trapped prey doesn’t select for speed.

Toughness: Never had any trouble swatting one, unlike flies and cockroaches.

Wall Crawling: Yep. That checks, but it’s not particularly unique to spiders. Fly-man would also have it. AND be harder to hit and kill. And have flight.

Spider Sense: Seriously? How is this even spider-related?

 

 

Metaphorically.  It lets him feel "vibrations".  As for his strength when he started Spider-Man wasn't that strong.  He was strong for his size, but there were people with no powers at all who were even a bit stronger than he was.  He's become a car-tosser only with the accumulation of 55 years of experience points.  And because he's kind of generically spider-inspired his agility is inspired by jumping spiders not web spinners.  The idea that his powers are partially the product of having become a "spider-totem" has a point.  

 

Here's the odd thing.  By now because of Spider-Man, Marvel has literally hundreds of different spider-themed characters.  Isn't it strange that not a single one of them shrinks?  

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Metaphorically.  It lets him feel "vibrations".  As for his strength when he started Spider-Man wasn't that strong.  He was strong for his size, but there were people with no powers at all who were even a bit stronger than he was.  He's become a car-tosser only with the accumulation of 55 years of experience points.  And because he's kind of generically spider-inspired his agility is inspired by jumping spiders not web spinners.  The idea that his powers are partially the product of having become a "spider-totem" has a point.  

 

Here's the odd thing.  By now because of Spider-Man, Marvel has literally hundreds of different spider-themed characters.  Isn't it strange that not a single one of them shrinks?  

 

In the very first issue, Spidey accidentally crumples a steel pipe in his hand.  He was way stronger than "just strong for his size".  He had legit super-strength.

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And the Spider-sense feels vibrations/is a product of heightened senses is a relatively new approach to the power - like him having organic webshooters for a bit in the early 2000s it's because that's how they made it make sense in the movies.

 

There are dozens of instances where its let him know someone was disguised, spying on him from 10 stories up, about to pull the wrong wire to defuse a bomb, about to go down a trapped corridor ....

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And the Spider-sense feels vibrations/is a product of heightened senses is a relatively new approach to the power -

 

 

Metaphorically.  Spider-Man senses psychic vibrations, not physical ones but that's the connection (along with it letting him act like he's got global vision even though he doesn't).  And yes he has super-strength but he was at the very bottom of the scale of super-strong characters.  The Ox and Kingpin were in his class.  

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Bird-man is not noted for STR :)

 

Here's my take on what a REAL transfer of powers from a typical web spinning spider would confer:

 

Clinging. Yep. No issues there.

Webbing. The ability to construct static traps, only taking an hour or two to construct.

Patience. Able to lay in wait for as long as it takes for the bad guy to randomly wander by. Random innocents will also get trapped, but this is a hero, so he cuts those loose and rebuilds the web.

Venom. Paralyze them when they're immobilised in the web.

Spider vision. Replace your excellent human binocular colour Targeting vision with monochrome Sense Light.

Extra limbs. Sure. Why not.

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Here's the odd thing.  By now because of Spider-Man, Marvel has literally hundreds of different spider-themed characters.  Isn't it strange that not a single one of them shrinks

marvel probably wanted to save shrinking for Ant-man and the Wasp

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Metaphorically.  It lets him feel "vibrations".  As for his strength when he started Spider-Man wasn't that strong.  He was strong for his size, but there were people with no powers at all who were even a bit stronger than he was.  He's become a car-tosser only with the accumulation of 55 years of experience points.  And because he's kind of generically spider-inspired his agility is inspired by jumping spiders not web spinners.  The idea that his powers are partially the product of having become a "spider-totem" has a point.  

 

Here's the odd thing.  By now because of Spider-Man, Marvel has literally hundreds of different spider-themed characters.  Isn't it strange that not a single one of them shrinks?  

And not one of them shoots webbing out of their butt.  

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It also occurs to me that as hominids we're pretty damn agile animals anyway. Proportional agility of a spider would likely be a downgrade.

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Regarding Spider-Man's strength--here's a panel from the early years of the Marvel Universe--

 

3057231-spidey.png

 

 

And here's some strength comparisons from the early Eighties--

 

strength1a.jpg

strength2a.jpg

strength3a.jpg

 

Personally, I think Captain America should be ranked stronger, but they didn't ask me when they made this thing.

 

Hope that helps.

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Patience. Able to lay in wait for as long as it takes for the bad guy to randomly wander by. Random innocents will also get trapped, but this is a hero, so he cuts those loose and rebuilds the web.

 

Someone say--Patience?

 

spiderman-nerd.jpg

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I have a theory --and it's just a theory, really out there, please don't yell at me. 

 

This radical theory --please don't yell at me for being so crazy-- is that Spider-Man's strength fluctuates from story to story for narrative convenience. In fact, some would argue that this applies to all characters, and especially to Silver Age ones. But it is pretty darn clear that he is meant to be super-strong. It's right there in the title card: "Proportional strength of a spider." Salvaging his fights with Ox and Kingpin is hard, but not impossible. 

 

For Captain America, I think things are a bit more confused. He starts out as a high-concept character. He's a "super soldier!" Defining the absolute extent of his powers is a great deal less important. Look: he's strong enough to knock out Nazis with a single punch, just like everyone else, with the possible exception of Aquaman, Sun Girl and the Red Bee. (And even Aquaman could probably do it if he'd just go do some weight training instead of depending on towing a hammerhead shark around after him in an aquarium on a wagon, leaving a thirteen-year-old girl and an apiarist in a poofy shirt in the "can't punch Nazis" tier of superhero strength rankings.)

 

Subsequently, Captain America has had to up his game to fight plausible enemies. In mainstream comics, that usually hasn't been such a big deal, since his enemies have tended to be masterminds with endless armies of mooks, and punching mooks is like punching Nazis, only less satisfying. On the other hand, Ultimates 1 had the Hulk for an enemy. Millar decided not to have Captain America standing around the sidelines wringing his shield, and the effects of the super-soldier formula (and the Vita-Ray; don't forget the Vita-Ray!) were upgraded. On the other hand again, if you have him fight, say, Daredevil, it either isn't much of a fight if Cap is just "peak human potential," because Daredevil is all that plus magic senses. Have Cap hold his own by out-jumping around and out-martial arting Daredevil, and you're violating that character's concept. So Frank Miller had Cap be twice as strong as Daredevil. That is, superhuman.

 

And on top of that, there are other story-telling beats that superheroes have to hit, sometimes. For example, the homoerotic one. 

 

For those purposes, Captain America is often portrayed as being very, very strong. The archived Reddit post that I'm referencing here, notes Capt lifting a 1200lb weight while carrying on a casual conversation. I know that this kind of, "Oh, it's just comics" thing isn't very helpful; but if I were building him for a Champions game, I'd be perfectly happy buying his strength up to 35 or so. 

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There appears to be a line between "peak human" and "really peak human".  Daredevil is conventional peak human.  He's as strong as any normal athletic man who works out like a crazy person, with allowances for the martial arts genre.  Captain America, the Kingpin, guys like that are operating in the realm of urban legends (a 100 lb woman flipped over a car to save her trapped child) and full fledged action movies.  Whether it's Arnold in Commando, or Jaws in Moonraker, or Mongo in Blazing Saddles, these guys are all supposed to be "human", but they can do things that real humans clearly can't do.

 

That's early Cap.  In the Ultimates, and post-movie, Cap seems to have a 35-40 Str.

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Hmm... don't forget martial arts. Classic Comic Book or Boxing in Cap's case and Post-Miller Ninja stuff for Murdock.

 

I built my Golden Age Cap-oid character (Super Soldier, featuring Perky, the Boy Marvel!) simply by buying up all his stats to the maximum of normal characteristic maxima, added Boxing, and that was more than fine for one-punching Nazis and Fifth columnists. STR 20 and a Boxing Hook for an 8d6 whallop is good enough for Government work!

 

He had some levels too, so under current rules could pimp that up to 9d6 or 10d6 if needs be. It's quite easy to tune your Martial Arts to hit the campaign damage limit in any case (and always was).

 

Also worth pointing out that STR 20 IS pretty strong - four times that of a normal fit adult and a deadlift rating of 400kg/880 pounds - and that strength feats that clearly take a lot of effort are likely falling into pushing territory. With an EGO roll of 13- (14- using his overall level), Super Soldier should be able to deadlift over a tonne, especially if the circumstances were appropriately Patriotic and desperate.

 

I'd rate Daredevil at a slim 15 STR myself. He's an acrobat, not a bruiser. Plus, he uses a HA for a bit of bonus damage (billy club). And Cap has his shield.

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I figured Cap at 23 STR, that's above normal human maxima, but its around where humanity peaks in reality.  If you follow that through for all his stats then he's very, very capable but not incredibly superhuman.  For example, 5 speed: theoretically possible for a human at peak ability, but technically above NCM again. So I went with slightly above NCM on all stats, and you get a 255 point character even before his training, perks, costume, and shield!

 

I agree, though.  I never saw Daredevil as being a hulking weightlifter, just stronger than a normal person and very athletic.  Both Cap and DD use a focus to increase hit damage, so you can get pretty powerful blows from both.

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It's probably worth mentioning that Super Soldier didn't use a shield - that's why I called him a Cap-oid rather than a Cap Tribute. And that my Golden Age standard damage level is 8d6.

 

I got no issues with a Stronger Cap, mind you. 23 is definitely fine, as you say.

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