Burglar (comics)

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Spider-Man burglar.png
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)
Created by Stan Lee
Steve Ditko
In-story information
Full name Unknown, possibly Carradine
(Dennis Carradine in the film continuity)


Flint Marko/Sandman in the third movie
Notable aliases

"Dennis Carradine" in the first movie

Spike/Dennis Carradine in the video game based on the movie
Abilities None

The Burglar is a fictional character in Marvel Comics, left unnamed in most of his appearances. He is best known as the first criminal faced by Spider-Man, and as the killer of the hero's uncle and surrogate father figure, Ben Parker. The Burglar first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962), making him directly responsible for Ben Parker's death and Spider-Man's turn to superheroics.

The Burglar's name was never revealed in the comics. He was completely unnamed in Amazing Fantasy #15, and it was only in 1996, 15 years after his second and final appearance in the comics,[1] and the introduction of his estranged daughter Jessica,[2] that the possibility arose that he might share her last name of Carradine. However, it remains unconfirmed whether this is the Burglar's surname, as his daughter may be using her mother's maiden name, or that of her adoptive parents.

The name Carradine also appeared on a list of known cat burglars in Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man series, but not been formally connected to the Burglar character in the Ultimate Marvel continuity.[3] In the first Spider-Man film, the burglar character is replaced by a carjacker, referred to only as Carjacker in the film's credits. In the film Spider-Man 3, Captain Stacy revealed that the carjacker's full name was Dennis Carradine, though this does not necessarily make this full name canonical in the comic's continuity. In the Spider-Man video game based on the first film, Dennis Carradine is the leader of a gang called the "Skulls" and calls himself" Spike". He also appears in the reboot of the film franchise The Amazing Spider-Man but the comic origin is actually based on the Ultimate comics where he robs a convenience store, and the clerk tells Peter to help stop him, but Peter refuses, which results in Uncle Ben's death. He is later named Dennis Carridine in the Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game.

Publication history[edit]

The Burglar first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962).

Following the Burglar's first one-off appearance, there have been multiple successors to the Burglar identity. In Marvel Comics Presents #49-50 (May 1990), Spider-Man battles a man who is explicitly described as having the same attire as the burglar who shot his Uncle Ben. At one point the man cryptically states, "I owe [Spider-Man] for what he did to my brother." In Spider-Man #26 (September 1992), Spider-Man encounters another man in the Burglar's attire, minus the pistol. It is heavily implied that this Burglar's maternal uncle was the original Burglar.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Little of the Burglar's early history is known, but it is mentioned that even in his younger years he was a criminal. Caught at some point in his life, the Burglar became the cellmate of elderly gangster Dutch Mallone. The Burglar learned from Dutch, who talked in his sleep, about a large possession of money the aged gangster had hidden in a suburban home, which the Burglar planned and schemed to get (ironically, the possession had since been devoured by silverfish).[1]

Wanting to find out the location of the home where Mallone's possession was, the Burglar successfully robs a television station for information. Peter Parker, who has become a minor celebrity as Spider-Man, did not bother to stop him despite having the opportunity to do so. Learning that the house where Mallone's money had been hidden was the Parker house, the Burglar breaks into it searching for the money, killing Ben Parker (Peter's uncle) when he tries to interfere. Fleeing the scene, the Burglar is chased by police to a warehouse where Spider-Man, wanting to avenge the death of his Uncle Ben, attacks and knocks out the Burglar. It is then that Spider-Man realizes that the man is the thief he had encountered earlier at the television station. The Burglar was later left to be captured by the authorities by Spider-Man, who, realizing he could have prevented Ben's death by simple humanitarian behavior in the earlier encounter, decided to use his powers more responsibly, never again ignoring a crime if he could help it.[4]

Years later, the Burglar, having served his time in prison, is released, despite being deemed mentally unstable by psychiatrists.[5] Still searching for Mallone's treasure, the Burglar rents the old Parker home, and after tearing it apart and finding nothing, instead decides to interrogate Ben Parker's widow, May Parker, who now resides in a nursing home. The Burglar partners with the nursing home's owner and head doctor Ludwig Rinehart, who is actually the supervillain Mysterio. The two take May captive and fake her death. The partnership later sours and the two criminals turn on each other, with Rinehart revealing his true nature before beating and imprisoning the Burglar. Escaping Mysterio, the Burglar retreats to the warehouse where he was first captured by Spider-Man—and where he has been holding May Parker captive. Spider-Man soon tracks and confronts the Burglar, to whom he reveals his true identity as Ben Parker's nephew. Believing that Spider-Man is about to kill him as revenge for murdering Ben, the Burglar suffers a fear-induced heart attack and dies.[1]

He had a daughter named Jessica Carradine, a photographer who has a brief relationship with Spider-Man's clone, Ben Reilly.[6] She believes the murder her father committed was an accident— that the gun Ben Parker was shot with was his own, which went off by accident during a fight— and that Spider-Man had murdered him to stop him revealing the truth about his 'innocence'. After learning that Ben Reilly is Spider-Man, she first threatens to expose him with a photograph she took of him unmasked, but, having witnessed Ben risk his life to save innocent people in a burning skyscraper, decides against it, and gives him the photograph, later visiting Ben Parker's grave to apologize for her previous poor perception of him.

Other versions[edit]

Ultimate Burglar[edit]

In Ultimate Spider-Man, a reimagining of the Spider-Man mythos, the origin story from Amazing Fantasy #15 is reinterpreted over the course of seven issues. Ben Parker's death at the hands of the Burglar does not occur until Ultimate Spider-Man #4. The name "Carradine" appears on a list of "known cat burglars," but nothing else is said about it;[3] it is unclear whether Carradine is actually the burglar who killed Uncle Ben in this universe or is simply another criminal. Spider-Man has a copy of the Burglar's driver license but the name is always hidden when viewed by the readers. This was done intentionally by the artists.

The man named Carradine is also believed in Ultimate Spider-Man #8 to be a part of the Enforcers, a group working work for the Kingpin.

What If...?[edit]

Various alternate versions of the Burglar appear throughout the What If...? comic line, most often in stories dealing with Spider-Man's origin being reimagined.

  • One storyline saw Betty Brant - here Spider-Girl after she was bitten by the spider - failing to stop the burglar, retiring from her career and allowing Peter to synthetically duplicate her powers.[7]
  • One storyline features Spider-Man actually stopping the burglar simply for the publicity. In this case, Spidey destroyed the life of J.Jonah Jameson.
  • In a storyline where Peter Parker is paralysed by the spider-bite, he acquires the powers of Nova and returns home to visit Ben Parker just as the burglar arrives. The burglar's attempt to shoot Peter results in the bullet ricocheting off his chest and killing the burglar, prompting Peter to abandon his costume out of guilt at his role in the death, even if it is acknowledged as an accident.
  • One storyline features Peter throwing the burglar out of a window and killing him after the burglar kills May instead, Ben taking the blame for the crime to spare his nephew.

Chapter One[edit]

In this version, the burglar saw Peter leaving his house wearing his costume for the first time and thought that Spider-Man was a fellow burglar after the Parker treasure as well. Confronting him, he offers a partnership with the web-spinner but is instead punched and thrown in jail.

In other media[edit]


The Burglar has appeared in almost every animated Spider-Man media adaption there is, in which most of the time he is in flashbacks.

  • The Burglar appeared in the 1967 Spider-Man series, in the episode "The Origin of Spider-Man". The animation means that his appearance seems to change.
  • The Burglar appeared in a flashback in the 1981 Spider-Man episode "Arsenic and Aunt May". It is also shown that his cousin was recently apprehended by Spider-Man and ended up a cellmate of the Chameleon.
  • The Burglar appears in the opening sequence of Spider-Man Unlimited where the intro shows Spider-Man letting him escape and then shows Spider-Man catching the criminal.
  • The Burglar appeared in a flashback in The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Intervention" with his grunts done by Jim Cummings in the first appearance and voiced by James Remar in the second appearance. This version is an amalgam of Walter Hardy and the burglar that shot Uncle Ben. In a flashback accessed by the symbiote, he is shown robbing Sullivan Edwards. Instead of stopping him, Spider-Man lets him escape in the elevator (like he did in the movie and Amazing Fantasy #15) as revenge on Sullivan Edwards for not paying him. After Peter was told by Aunt May that Uncle Ben has been shot, Spider-Man finds out that the one who did this was chased to an abandoned warehouse. Though the burglar falls out of the window like he did in the movie, Spider-Man saves him and leaves him for the police. In "Opening Night", his identity as the father of the Black Cat was revealed to Spider-Man. Black Cat came to bust him out of the Vault as Spider-Man volunteered to test a maximum security cell. During the climax of the episode he explains to Felicia (and Spider-Man) his pride in never hurting anyone one during his robberies, never even carrying a gun which eventually altered as he got older and slower and more fearful. Hardy recognizes his error when he took Ben Parker's life and believes he had to pay for it. Staying behind as the others escaped, Hardy activated the prison's knockout gas to recontain himself and the escaped inmates in the Vault.
  • The Burglar appears in flashbacks in the Ultimate Spider-Man episodes "Great Power" and "Kraven the Hunter". In this version, Spider-Man corners him in a street after Uncle Ben's death. However he does not finish him and, like all previous versions, he webs him up and leaves him for the police.


  • In the film Spider-Man, the Burglar is a minor antagonist who is portrayed by Michael Papajohn (credited as "Carjacker"). In this movie, Peter is cheated out of his money at the wrestling ring by a fight promoter. When Peter objects, he is told "I missed the part where that's my problem". Just as he leaves, the burglar enters and steals the promoter's money. Wanting to get even, Peter lets him go despite having the chance to stop him, repeating the promoter's words from a few minutes earlier. The burglar is suspected to have later killed Uncle Ben whilst attempting to steal his car. Overhearing a police radio saying he's heading to a warehouse, Peter chases the burglar and confronts him. As the burglar backs away, he trips and falls from a window to his death.
  • In Spider-Man 2, the Burglar was mentioned when May expresses that she feels she had caused Ben's death. However, this prompts Peter into telling her that he let the criminal escape causing Ben's death. Although Aunt May is shocked by this, she commends Peter on telling the truth.
  • In Spider-Man 3, it is revealed in a retcon that the "Carjacker" (now identified as "Dennis Carradine") is not responsible for Ben Parker's death as assumed. The true killer is Carradine's partner, Flint Marko (who later becomes the Sandman); there were two witnesses who saw the whole scene. Peter begins to feel sympathy for Carradine where he imagined a scene with Carradine attempting in vain to stop Marko from killing Ben. After the climax of the film, however, Marko confesses to Peter that he accidentally shot Ben when Carradine distracted him while trying to get into the car. Carradine (who was shocked at the killing) stole the car and left Marko behind to take the fall. Marko escaped, however, and so it was Carradine who died for the crime Marko committed. Marko also confesses to Peter that he only wanted the car in his desperation for the money he and Carradine stole to save his sickly daughter. Understanding the importance of forgiveness over revenge, Peter forgives Marko and allows him to leave.
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man, the Burglar (portrayed by Leif Gantvoort and credited as "Cash Register Thief") distracts a grocery store clerk after he refuses to let Peter buy himself a bottle of milk, and steals money from the till. He throws the milk to Peter on his way out, and when the clerk asks Peter for help, he turns him down allowing the thief to escape as a way of seeking revenge against the clerk. While running down the street, the thief trips in front of Ben (searching for his nephew) and a pistol falls out of his jacket. Ben attempts to grab it away, but a brief struggle results in Ben getting shot and the thief escaping (it is unclear as to which of the two men pulled the trigger). Peter rushes over to Ben's body and screams. After he obtains a police sketch and is told the thief had a tattoo of a star on his left wrist, Peter realizes that it was the thief he let go. Over the next few weeks, Peter designs and builds web-shooters and the Spider-Man suit. He then listens to crime reports and follows any that alludes to the Cash Register Thief, locating and apprehending many criminals who fit the description. However, none of them have a star tattoo on their wrist. By the end of the film, the wanted poster of him is seen on Peter's notice board; the thief remains at large and has yet to be found. No reference or referral of him specifically is made in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but it can be implied he got arrested before the events of the movie.

Video games[edit]

  • The Burglar (Dennis Carradine) calls himself "Spike" and is the first boss in the Spider-Man video game (based on the 2002 movie), wielding a sawed-off shotgun. He was also stated in a cutscene to be the leader of the "Skulls Gang." After Peter beats him, Spike trips and falls from a window to his death similar to the film.
  • The Burglar (Cash Register Thief) appears in the first chapter of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 voiced by Chris Edgerly. He was credited by Herman Schultz as a low level guy named Dennis Carradine (possibly inspired from Spider-Man 3) who has been selling advanced weaponry to gangs. After Spider-Man saves the civilian hostage during his chase on Carradine, he is killed by Cletus Kasady shortly before Spider-Man finds his dead body in an alley.


  1. ^ a b c The Amazing Spider-Man #200
  2. ^ Sensational Spider-Man #0
  3. ^ a b Ultimate Spider-Man #53 (2004)
  4. ^ Amazing Fantasy #15
  5. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #170
  6. ^ Sensational Spider-Man #4
  7. ^ What If? Vol. 1 #7