There is a long history of badass superhero vehicles, including the Batmobile, the Fantasticar, and, of course, Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet. However, not included on that list - nor any list related to badassery - is Spider-Man’s Spider-Mobile. Those unfamiliar with the Spider-Mobile can be forgiven for asking questions like, “Why would Spider-Man even need a car?” and “Wouldn’t that just make it harder for him to get around?” After several decades of publishing history, the Spider-Mobile has yet to really justify its existence.
Most people who live in New York City don’t own a car, and they don’t have the benefit of web-slinging abilities. Still, Gerry Conway and Russ Andru created the wall-crawling roadster in 1974’s Amazing Spider-Man #130, amid more serious tales like The Death of Gwen Stacy. Conway and Andru can’t be entirely blamed, however, as there were some interesting real-world reasons behind the creation of the volatile vehicle.
The Spider-Mobile was a corporate invention, both in reality and within the Marvel continuity. In Amazing Spider-Man #130, written by Gerry Conway with art by Ross Andru, a company named Corona Motors hires an advertising firm to promote their new car engine, which claims to be free of pollution, by sponsoring a superhero’s vehicle.
The firm approaches Spider-Man, who mainly travels around by web-slinging and is generally considered to be a menace in New York City. In other words, this wasn’t a very good advertising firm. Even Spidey himself thought the idea was ridiculous and turned down the opportunity to collaborate with Corona Motors.
Financial difficulty was a constant theme of early Spider-Man stories, and that’s ultimately what led Peter Parker to make peace with the idea of driving a Spider-Mobile. Corona Motors offered to compensate Spidey for riding around in their four-wheeled advertisement, and the destitute wallcrawler couldn’t say no to an honest paycheck.
He was paid $1,000 for his troubles, which wasn’t really fair compensation for the embarrassment that came with the Spider-Mobile.
Spider-Man has had many allies during his lengthy career, but one of his closest friends has always been Johnny Storm, better known as the Human Torch. Not only is the Torch a founding member of the Fantastic Four, he’s also a vehicle aficionado known for his skills in the garage.
Spidey asks his fiery friend to help him construct the Spider-Mobile around the pollution-free engine from Corona Motors, and the two collaborate on something that can only be described as an arachnid-themed dunebuggy. Maybe Spidey should have asked the Human Torch to bring his brother-in-law along.
The Spider-Mobile had to have some superpowers of its own, lest it be hideous and useless. Like its driver, the Spider-Mobile could spray webs at enemies and stick to walls, and it also had a Spider-Signal spotlight.
The vehicle also fired gas bombs, which may have seemed in poor taste given Peter’s recent run-ins with the Green Goblin, but he doesn’t seem to notice. For safety features, the Spider-Mobile included web fluid airbags as well as ejection seats, a classic in any comic book vehicle of any kind. It was also tough enough to go head-to-head with Hammerhead.