Ultimate Spider-Man 2 cover by Marco Checchetto
(Image Source: Marvel / Marco Checchetto)

Does Ultimate Spider-Man Have Spider-Sense?

Of all the abilities possessed by Marvel Comics’ spider heroes, Spider-Sense is undoubtedly the most unique. This precognitive power allows Spider-Man and other spider-themed heroes to see trouble coming and avoid ambushes. However, there is reason to believe the Peter Parker of Earth-6160 from Ultimate Spider-Man lacks this definitive spider power.

Ultimate Spider-Man #2 by Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto opens with this older incarnation of Peter Parker adjusting to his new powers. This was necessary because of the villainous Maker changing the Ultimate Universe timeline so that its heroes never existed. The new universe appears to be slowly getting back on track, but Peter faces a steep learning curve in mastering his newfound powers.

Spider-Man ambushed by Shocker in Ultimate Spider-Man 2
(Image Source: Marvel / Marco Checchetto)

Over the course of Ultimate Spider-Man #2, Peter is repeatedly surprised. He is ambushed by this world’s version of Shocker on two separate occasions. The first comes after Peter tries (and fails) to talk Shocker out a burglary. The second comes after Peter is distracted by Shocker’s defense that he needs money to pay for his wife’s medical bills. (Naturally, the sob story is completely false.)

May Parker discovers dad is Spider-Man in Ultimate Spider-Man 2
(Image Source: Marvel / Marco Checchetto)

This version of Peter Parker proves equally unaware in non-violent situations. Midway through the issue, his young daughter, May, walks in on him enjoying some ice cream while still in costume. Granting the original Spider-Man comics are inconsistent on what Spider-Sense registers as a threat, it still seems odd Peter would not seeing Shocker’s attacks coming.

Spider-Sense Was Spider-Man’s First Power

First use of Spider-Sense in Amazing Fantasy 15
(Image Source: Marvel / Steve Ditko)

The Ultimate Peter Parker’s apparent lack of Spider-Sense is even stranger when one considers the classic Spider-Man origin. Spider-Sense was the first superpower Peter Parker manifested in Amazing Fantasy #15 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Immediately after being bitten by a radioactive spider, the teenage Peter felt dazed and confused.

So strong was his reverie that he didn’t consciously register a car nearly hitting him. Thankfully, his Spider-Sense kicked in reflexively, causing him to jump out of the way. This incident also led to Peter Parker discovering his enhanced agility and the ability to wall-crawl.

The Limits of Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense

Aunt May Knocks Out Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man 114
(Image Source: Marvel / John Romita Sr.)

While Spider-Sense is a useful power, it is not infallible. The many times Peter Parker has been ambushed is proof of that. It is also of little use against speedsters like Quicksilver, whose powers allow them to move faster than even Spider-Man’s enhanced reflexes.

One of the odder limits of Spider-Sense is that it does not function against people Peter Parker does not see as a threat. This was made apparent in Amazing Spider-Man #114, when Peter was rendered unconscious by his own Aunt May. The issue’s closing narration explicitly stated that Spider-Sense only worked on hidden menaces.

However, this arbitrary limitation is inconsistent. Peter’s Spider-Sense has warned him of apparent friends plotting treachery before. The most notable example of this is Spider-Man’s many encounters with the shape-shifting Chameleon. The comics are also inconsistent on whether Spider-Sense merely alerts Peter as to approaching danger or gives him warning of specific threats.

Spider-Sense of Proprioception

Ultimate Spider-Man has trouble stopping
(Image Source: Marvel / Marco Checchetto)

A possible explanation for Ultimate Peter Parker’s apparent lack of Spider-Sense may lie in his apparent lack of enhanced proprioception. This is the technical term for the body’s awareness of itself and the space around it. At the start of Ultimate Spider-Man #2, Peter runs through all the powers he has developed, including enhanced strength, agility, and spatial awareness. He also notes that he has a problem with sticking the landing while flipping around and stopping while web-swinging. Fortunately, he also has enhanced endurance and recovers from damage faster than a normal human.

It seems likely that the new Ultimate Spider-Man may still be growing into his powers. It’s entirely possible that his Spider-Sense, which is meant to be equivalent to a spider’s enhanced proprioception, has yet to acclimate to the older Peter Parker’s physiology. However, it is also possible that Jonathan Hickman is running with the idea that Spider-Sense is not triggered by apparent friendlies. This would also explain why May Parker and Shocker did not trigger Peter’s Spider-Sense in Ultimate Spider-Man #2.

Ultimate Spider-Man #2 is now available in comic shops everywhere.


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