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What happened to Spider-Man’s real parents in the Marvel Universe?

In “The Amazing Spider-Man Annual” #5 (by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Mike Esposito, and Artie Simek), Peter Parker first learns the truth of his parents past.

In the issue, Peter helps his Aunt May move a trunk filled with important documents. However, the container slips out of his hands and Peter accidentally breaks it open with his super strength. As he collects the items that fell out, he picks up a newspaper clipping and is shocked to see his parents labeled as traitors to the United States, as they were suspected to be spies by the public at the time. He confronts Aunt May about the article, demanding the truth. She explains that Richard Parker was a decorated war hero, and that he and Mary left the United States before their deaths.

Dismayed over the possibility that his biological parents could have been traitors, Spider-Man learns that they died at the hands of the Red Skull. However, Richard and Mary didn’t work in tandem with the Nazi supervillain and betray their country; instead, they served as double agents who were murdered after their real allegiances were discovered. The issue ends with Peter clearing his parents’ names and solidifying his decision to be a hero with a secret identity. Spider-Man’s parents might have been painted as evildoers, but the story shows that like him, they were heroes, too.

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