How Punisher Used Spider-Man’s Best Power Against Him
Spider-Man may have won the superpower lottery when he was bitten by this radioactive spider. While Peter Parker may not be the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe, his abilities have kept him alive and ahead of some of the most dangerous villains of all time.
However, What if…? presents a reality where Spider-Man’s powers are a blessing and a curse. The Punisher of All People was able to figure out how to turn the Wall-Crawler’s most useful and consistent superpower into a fatal weakness.
What if…? #58 (by Chuck Dixon, Gordon Purcell, Andrew Pepoy, Bob Sharen, and Janice Chiang) visits the world of Earth-58942. Like Earth-616, the Punisher was tricked into targeting Spider-Man by the villainous Jackal – the villain who would go on to become the chief creator of Spider-Man’s many clones. Led to believe he was a murderer, the Punisher set out to hunt down the hero and attempted to kill him. But while the Earth-616 Punisher went on the offensive quickly to learn the truth of Spider-Man’s heroism and turned on the Jackal, this variant tried something else.
Taking a more tactical approach, he began to realize the full potential of Spider-Man’s apparent sixth sense of danger without seeing it up close and personal. This allowed Castle to design a trap that played on this ability. He created a (sometimes heroic) Doctor Octopus decoy and lured him into a face-to-face “showdown”. When Peter took the bait, he approached the “bad guy”, only to realize that was not what his spider-sense wasn’t alerting him to.. From a distance, Castle watched him arrive at the scene and simply detonated the bombs he had hidden in the building. Catching the Wall-Crawler by surprise, the explosion completely overwhelmed him – making his spider-sense part of his demise.
Spider-sense might not be Spider-Man’s most obvious power compared to his immense strength or incredible agility. But that’s probably his most important, as he’s been crucial in keeping the Wall-Crawler alive in all sorts of situations. Insinuated to be the result of his connection to the multiversal web of life and fate, the spider-sense gives him a brief precognitive warning before danger befalls him. He trusts it almost too much sometimes. When he briefly lost it following a confrontation with the Spider-Slayers, he had to be completely retrained in combat, learning to function as a hero without it. But this variant of Punisher proves just how dangerous his overreliance can be.
Using one of his greatest strengths, Punisher was able to catch him off guard with a decoy. Being able to overwhelm Spider-Man like this might be one of the only ways to defeat the hero, as he’s durable enough to survive truly colossal levels of pain otherwise. It also shows how important it is to plan ahead when it comes to defeating Peter. Many of his greatest defeats were at the hands of Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus with their long-running schemes. The Punisher shows how with a little time and strategy, it is possible to defeat Spider-Man.