Spider-Man is Marvel’s original “mystery man.” While the general public knows the identity of heroes like the Fantastic Four or the Incredible Hulk, Peter Parker has worked hard to keep his identity a secret. This is true even in the MCU movies (at least until the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home). Unlike Tony Stark, Spidey can’t afford a state-of-the-art security system to keep his loved ones safe from his enemies, so it makes sense that he keeps his civilian identity hidden from as many people as possible.

So, it may come as a shock that Spider-Man once revealed his identity – simply because someone asked him to. Even more shocking, that someone wasn’t a mind-controlling villain or close family member, but just an ordinary boy. But before any comic book fans call Peter reckless, the reason Spider-Man chose to take this boy into his confidence turned out to be a far sadder story than anyone would have guessed.

“The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man”

The story took place in a back-up story that appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #248. In the comic, Spider-Man pays a visit to Timmy Harrison, a boy who’s been collecting Spider-Man memorabilia for years. Timmy was featured in a Daily Bugle story and Peter Parker decided to meet his young admirer. Timmy certainly is a devoted fan. In addition to multiple scrapbooks filled with Spider-Man stories (many illustrated by Peter Parker’s photographs), Timmy’s collected reels of Spider-Man’s old television act back when Peter Parker thought he could use his spider-powers to make money. Moreover, Timmy even dug out some of the bullets Spidey dodged in his fight to collect as unique keepsakes.

Impressed, Spider-Man begins answering many of Timmy’s questions. Most of them are things fans would probably ask the wall crawler – How did he get his powers? How do his web shooters work? Why did he decide to become a superhero? Spidey answers all of these questions (taking care to leave out things like his real name or the exact formula of his web fluid). He even gives Timmy a brief demonstration of his spider-powers, much to the boy’s delight. For a few pages, the story reads like an ordinary, “Secrets of Spider-Man” feature, disguised as a Spider-Man story. But then Timmy asks Spider-Man one final question: “Will you tell me who you really are?”

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