Created in 1962 by the artist Steve Ditko, Spider-Man made his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15. Since then, this superhero has gone on to great popularity spawning cartoons, movies (how many reboots are we at now?) and countless comics and toys. Does Spider-Man’s longevity stem from the fact that his iconic wraparound eyes on his mask are based on a prevalent image of an alien?

Spider-man Mask

Jeffrey J. Kripal, in his book Mutants & Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics and the Paranormal, posits that Spider-Man’s eyes may have been responsible for part of the alien abduction accounts from the mid-1960s all the way to the ’80s. He references the classic almond eyes of the gray aliens as being akin to Spider-Man’s mask. He calls Spider-Man “the humanoid insect par excellence” and says:

As the ufologist knows, the alien experience is suffused with an insectoid pattern that is in turn linked to an evolutionary schema. Hence the spaceships or the aliens themselves are often described as “buzzing” like bees or large flies, and they often appear to share a hivelike communal mind…Moreover, in countless cases, the aliens are described as either super-evolved humanoids or as insectoid, or, combining these two themes now, as humanlike insects.

Spider-Man Mask
Kripal goes on to state that even if the image of Spider-Man did not influence the narratives of alien abductees, he believes the influence certainly went the other way. He cites the art of Mark Bagley, illustrator or Ultimate Spider-Man, as one artistic rendition that made Spider-Man look more alien by enlarging his head and elongating his limbs. He references the “lithe, thin, huge-eyed, ‘subtle body’ of the classic alien Grey.”

Grey Alien

Spider-Man’s infamous black suit appeared in 1984 in Secret Wars #8 and is seen by Kripal as further evidence as an alien connection.  He writes:

Not only does this black suit appear at the height of the abduction narratives, and not only does it make the wall-crawler look even more like an alien, but we quickly learn that the black suit is an alien, that is, a sentient alien symbiote that can take on and exaggerate, inevitably in violent and aggressive ways, the personality features of anyone with whom it bonds [read: abducts].

Grey Alien
Whitley Strieber, author of the seminal abduction book Communion, described his “visitors” as looking like insect-like, painstakingly working with an artist to make the cover like the image above. In one scene, Strieber describes an alien as looking “like some huge, predatory spider.”

Grey Alien
The world is awakening to the fact that we are not alone.  Alien disclosure is a current hot topic among former congressmen and other political and military leaders.  Science fiction and superhero comics have always had a connection to the “other,” whether supernatural or extraterrestrial. Spider-Man is a world renowned face of pop-culture. Is that popularity in part due to his alien origins?