First Debuting in Amazing Fantasy #15 along with both Peter and Ben, Aunt May is one of the most important characters within the Spider-Man mythos. This makes her first appearance issue, the most expensive and sought-after within the run. Aunt May kept Peter grounded in the real world and gave him a reason to wear the mask. After all, he had to protect her from all those he upset and locked away.
Honestly, there aren’t too many superheroes within the Marvel Universe that even bother to hide their identities. Everyone knows Tony Stark is Iron-man, that Steve Rogers is Captain America, and Thor… well Thor is a literal GOD.
LIFE BEFORE BEN
Born May Reilly, (a surname later adopted by the clone Ben Reilly, aka The Scarlet Spider), May came from a poor family where her parents argued constantly over money. It was her lack of money that attracted her to a wealthy young rogue named Johnny Jerome, who took her dancing and bought her expensive clothes.
Johnny was a criminal, but May was blind to his dark side. She loved him and refused to hear the warnings from her good friend, Ben Parker. As time went on, Ben proved to be right about Johnny, who held up a jewelry store at gunpoint. He was arrested as he tried to escape, leaving May, who soon fell for the more responsible Ben.May and Ben had an on-and-off relationship for many years after that, before eventually settling down and getting married. They attempted to start a family but May had a miscarriage and was prevented from having another child when they discovered a cardiac anomaly…
May and Ben took in Peter after the death of his parents. They raised him as if he were their own but never shied away from how much his real parents loved him.
Ben immediately took to being the young boy’s father but May was very reluctant, remembering that her parents blamed her own birth for the destruction of their marriage. She was afraid that Peter might signal the end of her and Ben.
In time, however, she warmed to Peter, who unexpectedly strengthened the couple’s marriage. After Ben’s death, when life became a struggle with money problems once more, Peter did his best to help.
Despite appearing in Amazing Fantasy #15 (the debut of Spider-man) Aunt May didn’t receive a cover appearance for quite some time, first appearing on the cover of ASM #32 (within a small window box) and in full on ASM #54. Both of these are Doctor Octopus Stories (More foreshadowing there!)
RELATIONSHIP WITH DOC OCK…
Over the years, Peter has had many run-ins with the villainous Doctor Octopus, However, this conflict took a bizarre turn when Aunt May started dating him! In fact, she was all set and ready to marry him! Peter really struggled to deal with this, as he didn’t want to hurt his aunt.
Obviously, this relationship didn’t last, but for some time it certainly seemed like it might stick.
And I love the call back in Sony’s animated Spider-verse Movie: “Oh Great it’s Liv” – Implying the pair have a history together:Relationship with Nathan Lebensky
After May underwent a coronary bypass operation, she met a man named Nathan Lebesnsky at the Restwell nursing home. Nathan seemed like a nice guy at first, but soon began to despise Peter. After he noticed how often he would ditch his friends and aunt (in order to go off and fight crime) Nathan was engaged to Aunt May within the comics for over ten years in real-life publication time, so he was certainly an important character within the series!
Nathan later became friends with Adrian Tooms (aka The Vulture), and passed away when his heart gave out after a confrontation with the Vulture on the streets of New York City. This is an event Toomes deeply regrets, as Nathan was genuinely his friend.
Willie Lumpkin was the Postman of the Fantastic Four. This character actually predates Marvel itself, appearing in a weekly comic strip Stan Lee wrote in the early 60s.
Though he and Aunt May dated for some time. The couple’s relationship appears to have ended off-panel, as he was not present at May’s supposed funeral (where Norman Osborn, staged a kidnapping – don’t get me started on this one!)
In the 1995 Spider-Man Holiday Special, we do, in fact, see Willie visit May’s grave. He meets a fellow griever and disappears into the night.
Spider-Man #400 – The Fake Death.
Aunt May has “died” several times throughout Spider-Man’s run. In her most famous “death”, the “Aunt May” who died was discovered to be a “genetically-altered actress” who impersonated her while May was held captive by Norman Osborn.
Issue Number Four Hundred of The Amazing Spider-Man is one of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL pieces of storytelling ever told in the series. They ruin it by saying she was a “genetically-altered actress!”
Fortunately, the “revival” of May, leads us to one of the other GREAT Spider-Man storytelling moments: Secrets, where May finally learns about her nephew’s secret life as Spider-Man. This resulted in an extremely heartfelt discussion in which aunt and nephew confessed their darkest secrets to one another and each learned that the other was far stronger than they had ever imagined.
Relationship with Jarvis (And maybe a Skrull???)
After having her home burnt down, May (and MJ) move into Stark Towers with Peter where May gets into a relationship with the butler Jarvis. I’m still left wondering to this day, if that meant Aunt May was having relations with a Skrull?
(See the Secret Invasion story arc)
One more day… The deal to save May.
Hands down, this is the worst thing the creators at Marvel ever did, and we are still feeling the repercussions to this day.
After Peter joined the anti-registration forces, May was forced to leave the safety of Stark Towers. This soon lead The Kingpin to order a “hit” on the now publicly identified Peter Parker. However, when the sniper fired, Peter dodged the bullet, grabbing MJ, but not saving Aunt May, who was shot!
At the hospital, May lapsed into a coma and with death likely, Peter turned to the Devil himself: Mephisto. Mephisto offered to restore Aunt May’s health in return for Peter’s marriage to his wife, Mary Jane. Agreeing to the terms, Mary Jane and Peter had reality altered so that May could live. This reset Spider-Man’s secret identity once more. And all memories worldwide were wiped of their marriage.
Relationship with John Jameson Sr.
This relationship started while Peter was away with the Fantastic Four in the macro-verse. While spending just a few hours there, months went by back home. This meant that they had been dating for quite some time and the pair eventually tied the knot and got married, making Peter and J. Jonah cousins!
John later sadly died of an inherited disease, leaving May alone once more.
Dishonourable Mention: The Trouble Storyline
Trouble was a five-issue romance comic book series published in 2003 by Marvel Comics as a part of its Epic Comics imprint. Written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Terry and Rachel Dodson, the series dealt with teen pregnancy and tells the non-canonical origin of Peter Parker’s birth. The series was created in the hope that it would re-popularise romance comics (which were very popular in the 1950s, selling millions of copies), but it failed to connect with its target audience.
Honourable (Fun) Mentions
Aunt May was Once Herald of Galactus and Spider-Mam within the Spider-verse
Aunt May within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (The MCU)
Not wanting to upset or offend anyone, but the MCU has really failed me as a Spider-Man fan when it comes to its’ portrayal of Aunt May. This is nothing against Marisa Tomei. I think she has done a great job in the role with what they gave her. I am just disappointed that so many of the weighted scenes were simply played for laughs. For example, when Aunt May finds out that Peter is Spider-man.
Moving forward, I would like for Sony and the MCU to introduce Peter to both Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn as he attends his new college, all whilst introducing the character of Professor Miles Warren.This could then lead us to an adaption of The Clone Saga Story arc, but instead of cloning Gwen, Clone Aunt May and bring her back for Peter… This will throw Peter into turmoil once more and be all the more sad when Aunt May dies a second time in his arms. It is then you can have Mephisto turn up to offer to bring Aunt May back for real.
After all, Aunt May is needed in the story of Spider-Man!Spiderman (Peter) will give Mephisto something crucial in order to bring May back to life and this will add a heavy weight and tone to the series moving forward as Mephisto becomes more powerful, with Peter then being responsible for all that happens regarding the series. Will Marvel, (or most notably Disney) actually make a character out of The Devil? Will we ever actually see Mephisto on the big screen? I’m not convinced. I fear this particular character might do too much damage to their domestic and worldwide box office figures; thus, they might choose to shy away from him and any stories surrounding him. After all, he wasn’t in the Infinity Saga.
*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.
Calling One More Day the worst thing the creators at Marvel ever did is a bit of a stretch… It’s not even the worst thing J. Michael Straczynski on Amazing Spider-man. That would be Sin’s Past. (shudder).