Richard and Mary Parker

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Richard and Mary Parker
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 (flashback); Untold Tales of Spider-Man #-1 (full)
Created by Stan Lee
Larry Lieber
In-story information
Full name Richard Laurence Parker
Mary Teresa Parker (née Fitzpatrick)
Team affiliations C.I.A., Oscorp
Supporting character of Spider-Man

Richard and Mary Parker are fictional characters of Marvel Comics. They were the parents of Peter Parker, the boy who one day would become Spider-Man. They appear in the 2012 reboot of the Spider-Man film franchise. Richard Parker was also briefly mentioned by Uncle Ben in the 2002 film Spider-Man. In The Amazing Spider-Man, however, a newspaper article reported that they had already died.

Publication history[edit]

Prior to The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 (published in 1968), there had been no explanation of why Peter Parker was an orphan and was raised by his aunt and uncle. That issue finally answered the question. Richard and Mary Parker only appeared in brief flashbacks in the story.

For many more years, the characters appeared only in flashbacks and photographs. However, in The Amazing Spider-Man #365 (August 1992), Spider-Man's 30th anniversary, they reappeared. Two years later, in #388 (April 1994) they were revealed to be robots created by the Chameleon and were destroyed.

In the novel Mary Jane, it is said that they died in a plane accident while they were going to Switzerland to turn in some important discovery that Richard made. Peter tries to figure out what the discovery was but fails as he cannot figure out the things Richard has written on his board.

In July 1997, Untold Tales of Spider-Man #-1, part of Marvel Comics' "Flashback Month" event, written by Roger Stern and drawn by John Romita, Sr., expanded the characters' origins. Since then, they have rarely been mentioned except in passing.

Fictional character biographies[edit]

Captain Richard Parker, a decorated soldier of the United States Army Special Forces, was recruited by Nick Fury to the C.I.A. His much older brother, Ben Parker, was married to May Reilly Parker.

Mary Fitzpatrick was the daughter of O.S.S. agent "Wild Will" Fitzpatrick. She attended the best schools and eventually followed in her father's footsteps, becoming a C.I.A. translator and data analyst.

Richard and Mary met on the job, fell in love, and married. Originally they eloped, then later had a more elaborate service, fooling many. Mary became a field agent like Richard, giving them both an easy cover as a married couple. They were assigned to investigate Baroness Adelicia Von Krupp, who had captured an agent of a "friendly power" (who turned out to be Logan, aka Wolverine, then a Canadian operative called Agent Ten). They rescued Logan from the Baroness and Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. After that mission, they discovered that Mary was pregnant; Logan was actually the first person to congratulate the Parkers, commenting later that he never saw an agent as tough as Richard Parker go that white that fast.[volume & issue needed]

Their son Peter Benjamin Parker was born some months later. However, Richard and Mary were frequently away from him on missions. While they were away, he was left in the care of Richard's older brother Ben and his wife May.[volume & issue needed]

While on a mission to investigate Albert Malik, the third Red Skull, they posed as traitors and double agents to infiltrate his criminal organization in Algeria. Unfortunately they were discovered. Malik framed them and brought in an assassin called the Finisher to kill the two. Finisher sabotaged their airplane and caused it to crash. They were subsequently declared missing in action/presumed dead,[1] as two burnt bodies were found in the remains.[volume & issue needed]

After death[edit]

Richard and Mary's son Peter grew up to become the Amazing Spider-Man. Although he has only vague memories of his parents and no memory of their militaristic history, his aunt and uncle share photographs and happy memories with him, but not their belief that they had been traitors to their country. When Peter discovers this, he travels to Algeria. He finds Malik, who sends the Finisher to kill Spider-Man. Spider-Man turns the Finisher's missile against him, and the Finisher dies, but not before revealing that Richard and Mary were in fact innocent. Spider-Man returns to America with evidence and clears his parents' names.[2]

Life Model Decoys[edit]

Years later, the Chameleon, working for Harry Osborn, created Life Model Decoys of Richard and Mary. These LMDs were near-perfect robotic replicas of Peter's dead parents, and managed to convince him that they had in fact been held captive overseas for most of his life.[3] Aunt May retained some suspicions, as there were some things they did not know, such as Richard and Mary's elopement. When Peter discovers that they were fake,[4] he suffers a nervous breakdown. However, when the Decoys were ordered to attack Parker, the Mary duplicate - sharing the original's love for her son - saves him instead. Neither LMD survives the incident. After battling the Chameleon, Spider-Man discovers that Harry Osborn was behind the whole thing, as an effort to avenge his (supposedly) dead father, Norman Osborn.[5] Spider-Man then becomes mentally unhinged over time, until he has a near-death experience.[volume & issue needed]

May Parker eventually learns the truth about the Life Model Decoys, via learning the truth about Spider-Man. May draws strength by talking to the graves of Mary, Richard and Ben about Peter's life.

The cynical mindset of Harry Osborn and the Chameleon was present in the LMDs, particularly during Maximum Carnage:[6] When Aunt May advises Peter to "listen to your heart", (the pseudo) "Richard" tells a very different lesson:[7]

Strip away the veneer of society and civilization and you'll find a devil inside all men. ... That prison was overrun with devils, Peter. Sadistic evil men who'd do anything—no matter how twisted, how immoral—to break a man down. Destroy his soul ... Oh, sure there are good men in the world. Your uncle Ben was one of them. And look where it got him. Dead. Shot down like a dog. And knowing my brother, he was probably looking up at the scum who did it—trying to understand why. But when it comes to the devils, Peter—there is no why. No rhyme or reason. ... Use whatever means possible to stop the madness—before it swallows you up. ...

—Richard Parker

When Shriek uses her psychic powers to turn the whole town against Spider-Man and the other super-heroes, "Richard" remarks that the "moral", "orderly" world he remembered while in prison "was just an illusion! The evil was here—all along—festering beneath the surface!"—inviting a sharp rebuke from Peter's wife, Mary Jane.[8] (After his "parents" are exposed as frauds, some of this cynicism rubs off for a while on the "son"—with Spider-Man becoming unusually brutal against his enemies and developing a "Spider" alternate personality.)

Ambiguities in Marvel documentation[edit]

The nature and timing of Richard and Mary Parker's fate are somewhat ambiguous in Spider-Man documentation. For one thing, the very fact that Harry Osborn and the Chameleon were able to fool the State Department, Peter, and (for a time) Aunt May into thinking Richard and Mary had "returned" after 20 years implies that the government was never able to solidly confirm the bodies found in the original plane crash to be theirs.[9] This uncertainty was exploited by Harry Osborn and the Chameleon: When explaining how he and Mary "survived", the false Richard Parker asserts that the bodies found were of Russian spies who stayed on the plane while they themselves were forced to jump out.[3] According to Spider-Man: Unmasked, "young Peter was orphaned at an early age when his parents were declared missing in action"—once again implying that they were not "officially" considered dead by the authorities—although they were presumed so, at least until the Life Model Decoys appeared on the scene.

It is also ambiguous how old Peter was when his parents were lost: Some accounts have it happening in his infancy;[10] others say he was as old as six years[11]—particularly, The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Spider-Man, 2004. The latter view is supported by Spider-Man's musing, during The Child Within,[12] that he remembers his parents, yet "they were practically strangers to me", as he prepares to fight Harry Osborn/The Green Goblin and Vermin.[13] During the fight, Harry drugs Peter and subsequently discovers that Peter blames himself for his parents' death;[14] Harry conceives the LMD scam to "avenge" his own father shortly after.[5] Another, more comprehensive book on the Marvel Universe (also released in 2004) asserts that Peter's only clear memory of his (real) parents was of the moment they were boarding the fateful plane and he promised them he would be a "good boy" for Aunt May and Uncle Ben.[volume & issue needed] Most Spider-Man stories in the main continuity are vague about Peter's exact age when he was effectively orphaned.

Other versions[edit]

1602[edit]

In Marvel 1602, Peter Parker's parents are briefly mentioned as having worked with Sir Nicholas Fury, Queen Elizabeth's chief of security.[volume & issue needed]

Bullet Points[edit]

In the alternate timeline of Bullet Points, Ben is killed a few months into his relationship with May Parker. Richard and Mary promise to "always be there for her," a vow which was later broken.[15]

House of M[edit]

In the alternate reality created by the Scarlet Witch during the House of M storyline, Peter and Gwen Stacy name their son Richard. Generally, Peter's sons in alternate realities are named after his Uncle Ben, but in House of M, Ben had lived, and so Peter did not pay tribute to him.[volume & issue needed]

Marvel Mangaverse[edit]

Although Richard has not appeared in the Marvel Mangaverse continuity nor has he been mentioned, Mary had made her appearance instead. In this version, Mary is Aunt May's sister instead of Uncle Ben being Richard's brother, and is both the leader of the Spider Clan and is a Spider demon, who is known as the Spider Queen. She's been plotting to make her son, Peter Parker, the new leader of the Clan and sends the Elementals to kill her sister, May Parker, so that it would lead Peter to her. When the two are confronted, Mary revealed she wanted Peter to become the new leader of the Spider Clan, but Peter figured out and was shocked and disgusted that she would send the Elementals to kill her own sister which causes him to reject the offer and begin to attack her. However Mary teleported him back to New York where she had sent the Elementals to fight him. Disappointed by his rejection, Mary instead passes leadership of the Spider Clan to her pupil, Venom. Because of this, Peter has decided to quit his identity as Spider-Man.[volume & issue needed]

MC2[edit]

In the alternate reality of MC2, Peter names his son Benjamin Richard Parker, with his second name being in honor of his father.[volume & issue needed]

Trouble[edit]

The 2003 Epic Comics limited series Trouble was marketed as the "true origin" of Spider-Man. In that story, characters named Richard and Mary met while on summer vacation, and Mary's friend May rather than Mary herself was Peter's mother. None of the characters' last names were revealed. The story was later ignored due to negative fan reception.[volume & issue needed]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

In the Ultimate Marvel continuity, Richard "Ray" Parker was a biologist instead of a spy. He and Mary supposedly died in an airplane accident when Peter was six, and Peter still has vague memories of his parents. Before the crash, Richard was working on a cure for cancer, in the form of a biological suit that could repair its host body. He recorded a series of tapes addressed to Peter, in which he revealed that he was worried that the suit would be used as a weapon instead of a cure. A tape recorded just before the crash revealed that his project had been taken away from him. His project became the basis of Venom. His name and work were known by scientists (including Dr. Curt Conners and the Ultimates Wasp and Giant Man) involved in re-creating the super-soldier formula that created Captain America.[volume & issue needed]

In Ultimate Spider-Man #100, Richard Parker seemingly reappeared. He recounted that Bolivar Trask, the man responsible for shutting down the cancer cure project, brought the research staff back together. Richard had second thoughts about working on the project, now knowing the suit he developed would be used as a weapon, and chose not to get on the plane. Mary, however, felt that Richard was a fool for turning down this opportunity, and appeared willing to leave her husband for this reason. (This contradicts her earlier sentiments, that Richard was getting in way over his head). After the crash, Richard was approached by government agent Henry Gyrich, for the purposes of launching his own research project in case S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury was ever to go rogue. Gyrich showed Richard a surveillance video proving his son, Peter, was Spider-Man. Afterwards, he revealed himself to May Parker. May, shocked by the possibility that Richard was alive all this time, told him to go away. Richard then preceded to go to Peter's high school, but Gyrich prevented him from doing so. After Peter found a revived Gwen Stacy (last seen killed by a creature named Carnage), however, Richard finally went to May's house to try to explain everything. However, after telling of what happened to him, Nick Fury's men and Spider-Slayers surrounded the house. Gwen becomes nervous and immediately transforms into another version of Carnage.[volume & issue needed]

Later, in issue #103, Dr. Otto Octavius (who created multiple clones of Spider-Man) reveals that "Richard Parker" was a clone. This is confirmed when Susan Storm of the Fantastic Four runs a test on a sample of Richard's DNA and finds it identical to Peter Parker's. Apparently, the cloning process severely aged Richard. Though his memories were false, Richard still deeply loves Peter like a son. Before he dies, Richard asks Sue Storm and the rest of the Four to look after Peter.[volume & issue needed]

In the final FMV of the Ultimate Spider-Man video game, it is implied that Eddie Brock Sr. and the Venom suit are responsible for the plane crash that killed Peter's parents.[volume & issue needed]

However, in issue #4 of Ultimate Origins, which takes place 15 years before the current Ultimate timeline, Richard is shown to have been hired by the U.S. government and Nick Fury as part of a project to recreate the Super Soldier Serum. At a covert lab in Dover, New Jersey, Richard worked alongside fellow scientists, a young Hank Pym, Franklin Storm, father of Sue and Johnny Storm, and Bruce Banner.[16]

One day, while Pym and Banner are inside the lab testing a possible match to the serum that was discovered by Banner, Richard is just outside the lab being visited by his wife and recently born son, Peter. Unfortunately, Banner, having just tested his serum on himself, transforms into the Hulk for the first time and goes on a rampage, destroying the complex. Richard and Mary and both caught in an explosion of debris, and are severely injured.[volume & issue needed]

The sight of the infant Peter lying next to his mother's body is enough to shock Hulk back to Banner, in time for Fury and his men to arrive and subdue him. As his men haul Banner into custody, Fury picks the infant off the ground and carries him away from the site, stating that Peter is at least lucky enough to be too young to remember any of what has happened later on.[17]

Artist Mark Bagley based the likeness of the Ultimate version of Richard Parker on that of Peter Parker as drawn by John Romita, Sr. and Gil Kane in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He felt he had not adequately captured Peter's appearance during his earlier run on The Amazing Spider-Man in the 1990s.[18]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man they never appear nor are named, but Peter and Eddie Brock's fathers are mentioned as having been scientists that worked together. Both sets of parents died in a plane crash, much like their Ultimate counterparts.

Film[edit]

  • Richard and Mary Parker appear in The Amazing Spider-Man with Richard played by Campbell Scott and Mary played by Embeth Davidtz.[19] Like in the comics, they are both killed in a plane crash. At the film's beginning, they say goodbye to a 4-year-old Peter as they drop him off at Uncle Ben and Aunt May's. When Peter asked why they were leaving, Richard answers that it was something they had to do. In this franchise, it is apparent that secrets involving them play a major role in the film's plot, including suggestions that Richard Parker was assisting Curt Connors with the research that would lead to him becoming the Lizard. It is said that Richard claimed that Dr. Conners may have been insane. During the credits, a shadowy man approaches an imprisoned Connors to ask him if he told Peter the truth about his father. Connors replies that he didn't, but demands the man to leave Peter alone.
  • Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz reprise their roles of Richard and Mary Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. They die in a plane crash at the beginning of the film. Later, May reveals that she and Ben were visited by government agents a few days after Richard and Mary disappeared and were told that Richard was planning to sell secret weapons to foreign powers. However, while going through his father's things, Peter discovers clues that lead him to a secret lab his father had established in a disused railway station, which includes a video Richard recorded before his death that reveals that he fled Oscorp to prevent his discoveries from being used for biological weapons. He also reveals that Oscorp's genetically-engineered spiders were created using his DNA, thus explaining why Peter is the only successful 'cross-species' to be created; the spiders were specifically encoded to the Parker bloodline and will not fully bond with anyone else. The mysterious man who confronted Connors at the conclusion of the first movie is revealed in the credits of this film to be Gustav Fiers, the Gentleman, who was involved in betraying Richard and Mary to their deaths in Adam-Troy Castro's spin-off Sinister Six novel trilogy, but more details have yet to be disclosed. An alternate ending revealed that Richard's alive and convinced Peter to resume his role as Spider-Man with the line "With great power comes great responsibility."[19]

Video games[edit]

  • Richard Parker was featured in the Ultimate Spider-Man video game voiced by Loren Lester. It reveals in a flashback that Richard Parker was killed when Eddie Brock Sr. put on the Venom suit mid flight. Mary Parker was one of the three survivors of the plane crash, but died in the ambulance before she could mention what happened.

Novels[edit]

  • In the "Sinister Six" novel trilogy by Adam-Troy Castro (Gathering of the Sinister Six, Revenge of the Sinister Six, and Secret of the Sinister Six), a man known only as the Gentleman - an internationally known criminal mastermind, currently in his late nineties and possessing a strong disdain for the rest of humanity, as well as being the brother of the Red Skull's assassin the Finisher - was revealed to have been partially responsible for Richard and Mary's deaths, having revealed their true identities to the Red Skull, only asking that Peter be spared so that he would be more of a challenge later on in life. The possibility was also raised that Spider-Man had an older sister: the Gentleman's ward, a young woman called Pity, who was capable of climbing walls, possessed a strength level approximately equal to Spider-Man, and could create a "darkness" that prevented anyone around her from seeing anything. At the conclusion of this trilogy, Peter Parker meets Logan, who reveals that he worked regularly with the Parkers on joint missions between the American and Canadian secret services; the discovery that Logan was the first person to congratulate Richard after they learned that Mary was pregnant with Peter prompted Peter to say "Wolverine's practically my Uncle."

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spider-Man: Unmasked
  2. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5
  3. ^ a b The Amazing Spider-Man #366
  4. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #388
  5. ^ a b The Amazing Spider-Man #389
  6. ^ Spider-Man Unlimited #1–2; Web of Spider-Man #101–103; The Amazing Spider-Man #378–380; Spider-Man #35–37; Spectacular Spider-Man #201–203
  7. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man #201
  8. ^ Spider-Man #37
  9. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #366. The entire Richard-and-Mary-Parker LMD storyline lasts from The Amazing Spider-Man #363 (last page) to The Amazing Spider-Man #389.
  10. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #364
  11. ^ The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Spider-Man, 2004
  12. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man #178–183
  13. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man #180
  14. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man #181
  15. ^ Bullet Points #1 (2006)
  16. ^ Ultimate Origins #3 (2008)
  17. ^ Ultimate Origins #4 (2008)
  18. ^ Interview with Mark Bagley and Brian Michael Bendis in Wizard: The Guide to Comics #180 (2006).
  19. ^ a b "The Official Trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man". LatinoReview.com. July 20, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2011.