This article is part of the Forgotten Origins Of Comic Book Characters series.
The history of any given comic book character is subject to change. Writers are constantly reworking superhero origins to fit current story arcs, to ditch the trappings of an older era, or just for the chance to work another sweet Stephen Colbert cameo into their book.
Sometimes history is rewritten for no good reason at all. I'm pretty sure the DC universe has imploded and started over once a year since the 70s. The first time gave them a chance to change The Flash's outfit, and the following 30+ reboots were out of habit.
With so much of the past being swept under the rug, the true origins of many characters have been forgotten. You may think you know how your favorite hero or villain came into being, but more often than not you'd be wrong.
Peter Parker, a brilliant but shy high school student, went on a field trip to the New York Bug Hospital. As the empathetic youth reached out to comfort a spider that was recovering from a round of chemotherapy, the weary arachnid bit Parker's finger.
In that fateful moment, Peter Parker became the Sickly Spider-Man. He found himself able to lay in bed and nap with the strength of a hundred napping men. His newly developed Spider Sense triggered a sneeze every time a germ drifted nearby. He was able to catch colds and flus with the nimbleness of a spider.
With great sickness, however, came great responsibility. In order to protect his loved ones, Peter donned a costume, keeping his illness contained.
Amazingly Sickly Spider-Man #3
Sickly Spider-Man falls out of bed and writhes around on the floor for hours, then realizes it was only a fever dream.
Web Of Sickly Spider-Man Annual #1
First appearance of Doctor Octopus, The Regular Doctor With A Funny Name.
Sickly Spider-Ham #7
Crossover comedy event in which Sickly Spider-Man and Sickly Spider-Ham find themselves hospital roommates when both heroes contract Parkinson's disease.
Aqua Fish was a fish... that lived underwater. He was able to communicate with other fish and gather oxygen with his gills. He came from a fish egg.
Aqua Fish #31
When an invading fleet of alien ships attacks the world's capitals, Aqua Fish swims into action, doing circle eights and nibbling at floating specks of algae.
Super Friends #2
After a mysterious foe pins the team to the ocean floor, time begins to run out for our heroes. Quick-thinking Aqua Fish blinks his glassy eyes and darts away from Visible Superman's kicking feet as the hero convulses in oxygen-starved agony.
Wolverine (Without Claws)
Deep in the Canadian wilds, a surly man with a mysterious past wandered into a top secret facility. Captured and experimented upon, this diminutive wanderer was forged into a human weapon.
Before he could be trained, however, his rage-fueled instincts took over and he made his escape upon a wave of destruction.
Leaving behind his old identity, he embraces the primal nature that has risen to the surface, naming himself "Wolverine (Without Claws)".
Wolverine (Without Claws) #12
Attacked by a sasquatch, Wolverine (Without Claws) sustains serious injuries and is partially eaten, but eventually recovers thanks to his latent healing powers. First appearance of his trademark chomping of a cigar and of the catchphrase "If I had claws, bub..." followed by a wistful look.
Uncanny X-Men #4
Wolverine (Without Claws) acts like a dick, telling the X-Men that he's a loner and he doesn't need them. He storms off, rides his motorcycle away, and is captured by ninjas. When the X-Men save him, he criticizes their performance and explains how much better he would have fared if he had claws.
While conducting a highly illegal meeting of criminals in a warehouse, master criminal fell into a vat of acid. As a result, his features became twisted into a horrific smile and his skin's pigmentation was shocked, turning pure white. Also, he died.
Dead Joker went on to become Bad At Math Batman's arch-nemesis, constantly throwing a wrench into the caped crusader's plans.
Detective Comics #82
Bad At Math Batman chases a criminal across a graveyard, tripping on the slightly elevated patch of dirt covering Dead Joker's grave.
Autistic Batman #11
During a heated battle with Racist Catwoman, Bad At Math Batman stubs his toe on the Dead Joker's gravestone.
Superman & Batman Vs. Alien & Predator
Bad At Math Batman chokes to death while eating Dead Joker's hair.
[sauntering up to joss whedon giving magazine interview] Hey are these guys bothering you
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Comic book history is constantly being rewritten. Your favorite characters have gone through countless iterations, their true origins long forgotten. Until now.