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Quote1 Some people by nature are kind and charitable. You could say that some people, including at least one person at this table, are by their nature heroes. Ben always reminded me that we each contain all the nobler and meaner aspects of humanity, but some get a bigger dose than others of one thing or another. Some are pretty, and mean, and uncharitable. That's their nature. You can hope for better, even try to lead them to better, and you may even succeed. Quote2
-- Aunt May src
 

Early Life

Born May Reilly, she came from a poor family where her parents constantly argued over money. Her father eventually left her and her mother blamed her for the troubles. It was her lack of money that attracted her to a wealthy young rogue named Johnny Jerome. He took her dancing and bought expensive clothes for her. She loved him and refused to hear the warnings from Ben Parker, who worked at Coney Island as a barker. Ben proved to be correct about Johnny after he held up a jewelry store. Johnny threatened to kill Ben, but he had to run off after the police neared May's home. He was arrested as he tried to escape. May soon fell for the responsible Ben.[5]

Raising Peter

May and Ben took in their nephew Peter after the death of his parents and raised him. Ben immediately took to the role of the boy's father but May was at first reluctant. She still remembered her parents blaming her own birth for the destruction of their marriage, and she was afraid that Peter might signal the end of her own marriage. (Before Peter was born, May became pregnant but had a miscarriage.) In time, however, she warmed up to Peter, who unexpectedly strengthened the couple's marriage. After Ben's death, life became a struggle with money problems[6] and Peter did his best to help.

Marvel Graphic Novel Vol 1 46 001

Young Peter being left to May and Ben's care

Peter's secret life as Spider-Man endlessly complicated both his and his aunt's lives. Aunt May lived in constant fear for her "frail" (but now unaccountably secretive) nephew who insisted on a job as a freelance photographer.[7] Parker was determined to capture Spider-Man in action, frequently submitting pictures of him to the Daily Bugle; Spider-Man was a vigilante whom Aunt May feared because of her unquestioning acceptance of the Daily Bugle's smearing.

Doctor Octopus

Meanwhile, Peter feared for his aunt's well-being and the fatal shock that could result if she ever learned about his career as Spider-Man. Peter was often torn between dealing with a major crises while his aunt needed nearly constant care. This conflict took on a bizarre turn when Aunt May had his enemy, Doctor Otto Octavius (also known as Doctor Octopus), as an apparent sweetheart and even became ready to marry him;[8] Peter struggled to deal with his enemy's game while not hurting his aunt.

False Death

Aunt May has "died" several times. In her most recent "death", the "Aunt May" who died was discovered to be a "genetically-altered actress" who impersonated her while May was held captive by villains.

Secrets

May Reilly and Peter Parker (Earth-616) from Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2 37 0001

May finds Peter's costume

May finally learned about her nephew's secret life once and for all.[9] That resulted in a heartfelt discussion in which aunt and nephew confessed their darkest secrets and each learned that the other was far stronger than they imagined.

Civil War

After their house was destroyed, Peter, Aunt May, and Mary Jane Watson moved into Stark Towers (as Spider-Man had recently joined the New Avengers). Aunt May seemed to be developing a romantic relationship with the Avengers' butler, Jarvis. May was quite the strong-willed woman and even the hard-nosed Wolverine found it impossible to argue with her. During the superhuman Civil War, she and Mary Jane convinced Peter to reveal himself in front of a press conference, and May even made Peter a hand-stitched copy of his original costume.

Shot

After Peter joined the Anti-Registration forces, May was forced to leave Stark Towers. Soon, the Kingpin, one of Spider-Man's frequent enemies, ordered a "hit" on the now-public identity Peter Parker. At the motel the Parkers were staying in, a sniper kept watch to eliminate Peter. However, when the sniper fired, Peter dodged, grabbing MJ out of the way. Unfortunately, Aunt May was hit by the bullet -- the bullet intended for Peter.[10]

At the hospital she lapsed into a coma, with death likely. May received a radioactive blood transfusion from Peter, which he hoped would once again save her life due to his mutated healing factor.[11] Although the healing factor was in his blood, the radioactivity did nothing to her system. Peter believed she had built an immunity to his blood, considering this wasn't the first time he had given blood to her.

Shot

Shot

The demon Mephisto offered to restore Aunt May's health at great personal cost to Peter; his life, and his marriage to his wife, Mary Jane. Agreeing to the terms, Mary Jane and Peter had reality altered so that May could live. Spider-Man's identity was once again a secret from her. The cost of Mephisto's offer was the erasure of Peter and Mary Jane's marriage from all memories.

Love & Marriage

Since the altering of Peter Parker's life, May was doing volunteer work for a homeless shelter, ran by the seemingly benevolent entrepreneur, Martin Li, who was in fact the supervillain crime boss, Mr. Negative.[12] During her work at the shelter, she met John Jonah Jameson, Sr., the father of J. Jonah Jameson, and started a relationship with him.[13] Peter Parker later discovered this relationship when he caught the two of them in bed; however, he was supportive of it, as Jameson was a supporter of Spider-Man (having saved his life earlier), even if his son was not, and viewed Norman Osborn as the killer he was.[14]

One day, John walked with May in Central Park, and asked her to marry him, which May accepted. Despite Doctor Octopus' subconscious efforts to halt his former fiancée's wedding plans, May and John were wedded by New York Mayor J. Jonah Jameson.[15] After the wedding, May and John embarked on a round-the-world honeymoon.

It was later revealed that Aunt May has several blood relatives that are still alive. Aunt May has a sister named Jan. May's first cousins Sam and Julia are the children of her uncle Bill and his wife Claudia. Peter was attracted to Julia's daughter Alexa. The Reilly family is currently staying in Aunt May's house.

Corrupted

Upon her return from her honeymoon, May stopped by the FEAST offices, only to accidentally walk in on Martin Li, along with Hammerhead torturing one of Mr. Negative's Inner Demons. Trying to escape, Li touched her with his corrupting touch. She then returned to meet her husband and Peter. When John suggested going somewhere nice for dinner, Aunt May sarcastically proceeded to insult Peter over his fluctuating jobs and his dependence on them, culminating with calling her nephew "One damn big disappointment." A heartbroken Peter ran off. Peter returned, after a physically and mentally exhausting battle against the Lizard, tried talking to Aunt May, looking for someone to help give him hope after seeing the death of Curt Connors' humanity. She still continued to act like a bad-tempered teenager and, at first, rebuffed him. However, after seeing Peter clearly suffering mentally, she felt guilty and underwent an intense mind battle, breaking the corruption, and was shown simply sitting next to Peter.

Leaving New York

Prior to the events of Spider-Island, after Martin Li's secret identity was exposed to the public, May and John formally announce their intention to leave New York for good, for their own safety, and move to Boston. John explained this was the result of all the recent major incidents towards them and their friends and family. They put May's old house up for sale and left once the moving van was packed. After spending their last night in New York at John's apartment, the following day she and John headed to an airport in New Jersey with Peter and Carlie Cooperand they bid farewell before flying off.

Alpha

After a visit to New York on their private jet, May and Jay returned to Boston. Their aircraft was one of the many shut down as a consequence of a stray energy blast from a battle between Terminus and the young irresponsible superhero Alpha. While the Avengers rescued the other planes, Spider-Man focused on helping out the Jamesons'. As a consequence of the plane's rough landing, May lost full use of one of her legs due to a hip injury.[16]

Superior Spider-Man

May and John eventually moved back to New York, not long before Doc Ock switched minds with Peter and usurped his life. During the Goblin Nation attack, Mary Jane got the couple to safety. After Peter regained control of his body and defeated the Goblin Nation, he apologized for "his" behavior and decided to check May's hip prosthesis (made by Doc Ock) and promised to severe all his and Parker Industries' (also made by Octavius) ties with Spider-Man.[17]

Uncle Ben Foundation

When Peter's company was propelled to success and became a mega-corporation, May and Jay became part of the Uncle Ben Foundation, a charity focused on providing help for the less fortunate and raise the quality of life wherever it could be possible.[18] Unfortunately, Jay soon fell victim to illness due to old age and die, leaving May a widow once again.[19]

When the Shanghai branch of Parker Industries was under attack by the Superior Octopus and Hydra, she came to the building, attempting to do something that just stand around. She encountered Chunhua Tang, who refused to leave the site despite being injured due to the fact that her niece, Lian Tang was fighting the Superior Octopus. May was present when Peter ultimately destroyed Parker Industries to keep it out of Octavius' hands and, when the dust settled, she gave Spider-Man one last job while some sort of Parker Industries was still standing - go save the world; if he can handing Octavius, he can handle anything. [20]


Strength level

May Parker possesses the normal human strength for a female her age, height, and build who engages in minimal regular exercise.



  • The character maintained a subtle undertone of inner strength until the departure from the title by co-creator Steve Ditko, after which her characterization leaned closer to stereotypical senility. This has been changed back in forth as other writers have handled the character.
  • A "prototype version" of Aunt May appears in Strange Tales #97, published some months before Amazing Fantasy #15
  • Over the years she dated numerous different men including Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius), Nathan Lubensky, and Willie Lumpkin. May Parker almost married Doctor Octopus.
  • Aunt May was originally going to die instead of Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man #121.[21]
  • A curious note is that Mephisto's magic that alternate Spider-Man's life in Brand New Day appears to have altered Spider-Man's history with the New Avengers, and has shattered the connection between Jarvis and May. Even more of interest is that later events reveal Jarvis was some time in the past replaced by a Skrull (and a later confirmation it was indeed the Jarvis Skrull who had feelings for May), coupled with Mephisto's magic altering history, complicates matters. Added to this was Jarvis mentioning that he once courted May.[22] Furthermore, in a What If alternate reality, without Mephisto's intervention, May claimed Jarvis was "shot," implying that she saw him die before her eyes, evidently not reverting back to Skrull form, which is even more confusing.

Discover and Discuss

Footnotes

  1. Avengers: The Initiative #7
  2. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 4 #2 official corrections
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook #1
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Amazing Spider-Man Annual #36
  5. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #4
  6. Amazing Spider-Man #1
  7. Amazing Spider-Man #4
  8. paradoxically, they met when Dr. Octopus kidnapped her and Betty Brant during Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1
  9. Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2 #35
  10. Amazing Spider-Man #538
  11. Amazing Spider-Man #541
  12. Amazing Spider-Man #552
  13. Amazing Spider-Man #591
  14. Amazing Spider-Man #592
  15. Amazing Spider-Man #600
  16. Amazing Spider-Man #694
  17. Superior Spider-Man #31
  18. Amazing Spider-Man Vol 4 #4
  19. Amazing Spider-Man Vol 4 #19
  20. Amazing Spider-Man Vol 4 #31
  21. Dueben, Alex (25 February 2015). John Romita Sr. Reflects on His Spider-Man Legacy, Gwen Stacy's Death and Stan Lee. Comic Book Resources. Retrieved on 25 February 2015.
  22. Amazing Spider-Man Vol 4 #14
  23. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #8



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References