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Interior artwork from Amazing Spider-Man Annual vol. 1, 1 (October, 1964 Marvel Comics)
Art by Steve Ditko
|First appearance||Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)|
Flint Marko (Spider-Man 3 only)
|Notable aliases||Spike (in the video game based on the film in 2002)|
The Burglar is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was 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 remains unrevealed 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, and the introduction of his estranged daughter Jessica, 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. In addition, the Burglar happens to have a nephew named Jimmy Costas, in which Jimmy wears hand-me-downs from his uncle, and even said that his "Uncle" may have run into Spider-Man once or twice, which shocked Spider-Man when he found out.
The name Dennis Carradine has been used in a variety of media over the years. His last name has 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. In the first Spider-Man film, the burglar character is referred to only as a Carjacker. In the film Spider-Man 3, he reappears in a flashback scene of Uncle Ben's death. 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 where he is named Cash Register Thief. The origin story takes inspiration from 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 reappears in the non-canonical The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game.
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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 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
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 an elderly gangster named 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 as Peter Parker's Uncle Ben and Aunt May since have accidentally discovered, the possession had since been devoured by silverfish).
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 Peter's uncle Ben Parker when he surprised the Burglar. Fleeing the scene, the Burglar is chased by police to an abandoned warehouse. A police officer outside Peter Parker's house told Peter Parker what happened and that his Aunt May is with a neighbor next door. Upon being told where the Burglar is, Spider-Man heads to the abandoned warehouse. Wanting to avenge the death of his Uncle Ben, Spider-Man 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 upon realizing that 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.
Years later, the Burglar has served his time and is released from prison despite being deemed mentally unstable by psychiatrists. Still searching for Mallone's treasure, the Burglar rents the old Parker home. 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.
The Burglar had a daughter named Jessica Carradine, a photographer who has a brief relationship with Spider-Man's clone Ben Reilly. 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 from 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. Having witnessed Ben risk his life to save innocent people in a burning skyscraper, Jessica decides against it and gives him the photograph. She later visits Ben Parker's grave to apologize for her previous poor perception of him.
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; 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.
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 issue saw Betty Brant (here Spider-Girl after she was bitten by the radioactive spider) failing to stop the burglar, retiring from her career and allowing Peter to synthetically duplicate her powers.
- In an issue where Peter Parker is paralyzed 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 issue features Spider-Man actually stopping the burglar simply for the publicity. In this case, Spidey destroyed the life of J. Jonah Jameson by linking Frederick Foswell back to him unaware that J. Jonah Jameson had no idea of Frederick Foswell's double-life as Big Man.
- One issue features Peter throwing the burglar out of a window and killing him after the burglar kills May instead. Ben takes the blame for the crime to spare his nephew.
- One issue features Peter fighting the Burglar where he is accidentally killed by Spider-Man. After failing to resuscitate him, Spider-Man flees.
During the Spider-Verse, a six-armed Spider-Man and Spider-Man Noir visit a world where Peter had an allergic reaction to the spider-bite and was left in a coma. Because of this, the Burglar never killed anyone as he broke into the Parker house while Ben and May were visiting Peter in hospital.
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 only to be instead punched and thrown in jail.
In other media
The Burglar has appeared in almost every animated Spider-Man media adaption there is, mostly in flashbacks.
- The Burglar appears in the 1967 Spider-Man series, in the episode "The Origin of Spider-Man". In this version, upon confronting the Burglar, Spider-Man knocks him out and leaves him for the police.
- The Burglar appeared in a flashback in the 1981 Spider-Man episode "Arsenic and Aunt May". It is also shown that he has a cousin who was recently apprehended by Spider-Man and ended up a cellmate of Chameleon.
- The Burglar reappeared in the sequel to the 1981 Spider-Man series, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. In the episode "Along Came Spidey", he appears in a flashback scene of Spider-Man's origin story where him robbing the TV studio remains intact. After the Burglar had shot Uncle Ben upon being surprised by him, Spider-Man trailed him to the abandoned warehouse where he planned to sneak by the police when it is dark out. When Spider-Man defeated the Burglar, he saw in the light that he was the man who robbed the TV studio and left him webbed up by the police.
- The Burglar appeared in flashback in the Spider-Man: The Animated Series episode "The Menace of Mysterio" and is recurring among any other episodes soon after. There, he is shown robbing the wrestling arena that Spider-Man was in before he began to fight crime. Spider-Man didn't want to stop him as he wasn't a cop. Sometime later, Peter Parker came home and found the police outside his house. When he goes in, Aunt May is being comforted as a police officer tells him that his house was being robbed and his Uncle Ben tried to stop him only to find out that the man was armed. Upon being told that the person responsible was chased to the abandoned warehouse, Spider-Man catches the culprit and unmasks him as the man who robbed the arena. Spider-Man left him webbed up for the police.
- 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 following Uncle Ben's death.
- 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 was voiced by James Remar in the second appearance. This version is an amalgam of Walter Hardy from the original comics and the Burglar that shot Uncle Ben from the comics. 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 as revenge on Sullivan Edwards for not paying him. Using his spider powers to help him get home, he then opened the door to a crying Aunt May. Peter ran over to comfort her and ask her what happened. She then tells him that Uncle Ben was murdered by a burglar who broke into their house in search of money and stole Ben's car. Peter is furious at this and seeks revenge, so he goes after the criminal as Spider-Man and confronts him in an old warehouse. Spider-Man unmasks the robber only to find it was the same man whom he let escape earlier. As the Burglar backs away, he falls out the window only for Spider-Man to save him with his webs as he leaves him for the police. In "Opening Night", his identity as the father of the Black Cat is revealed to Spider-Man. Black Cat comes to break him out of the Vault as Spider-Man volunteers 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 during his robberies, never even carrying a gun until he got older and slower and had less confidence in his own skills. Hardy recognizes his error in taking Ben Parker's life and believes he must pay for it. Staying behind as the others escape, Hardy activates the prison's knockout gas to subdue the escaped inmates (and himself) 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 on a street after Uncle Ben's death. However, he does not finish off the Burglar. Like all previous versions, Spider-Man webs him up and leaves him for the police. This moment is shown in a flashback played in "Kraven the Hunter", on which Spider-Man shared with White Tiger a part of his story when Ava was blinded over revenge on Kraven for murdering her father Hector.
- The Burglar appears in Spider-Man, voiced by Benjamin Diskin. He is seen as part of a series of shorts re-telling Spider-Man's origins. In this version rather than Peter selfishly refusing to stop the Burglar on the run, Peter hesitated because he was still trying to understand his powers prior to his fight with Bonesaw McGee. When Peter Parker as Spider-Man caught up to the Burglar at an abandoned warehouse, he attacked the Burglar and recognized. After breaking free from Spider-Man's grip, the Burglar ran out of the warehouse and surrendered to the police that were waiting outside.
- Sam Raimi trilogy
- In the film Spider-Man, the Burglar (credited as "Carjacker") is a minor antagonist portrayed by Michael Papajohn. Peter is cheated out of his money at a wrestling ring by a fight promoter. Just as Peter is leaving, the Carjacker enters and steals the promoter's money. Wanting to get even, Peter lets him go despite having the chance to stop him. Peter later chases the man suspected to have killed Uncle Ben while attempting to steal his car. Peter chases and confronts him, and quickly recognizes who he is, after which the Carjacker dies when he trips and falls from a window.
- In Spider-Man 2, the Carjacker 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, despite being capable of stopping him. 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, imagining 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 what had happened was that he shot Ben by accident, when Carradine distracted him while trying to get into the car. Carradine, who paid no attention to 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") is a minor character. In this movie he has no speaking lines. He distracts a deli clerk after he refuses to let Peter buy himself a bottle of chocolate milk and steals money from the till. The burglar throws the milk to Peter on his way out and Peter lets him escape despite having the chance to stop him. While running down the street, the thief trips in front of Ben (who was 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 killed and the thief escaping. Peter rushes over to Ben's body and screams. After he obtains a police sketch after his house was visited by George Stacy 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 Burglar, locating and apprehending many criminals who fit the description. However, none of them have a star tattoo on their wrist and Stacy indicates in a conversation that Peter's attempts to catch the man by catching random people are causing more harm than good. 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.
- The Burglar is the first boss in the Spider-Man video game (based on the 2002 film), voiced by Dan Gilvezan. This version of Dennis Carradine is the gang leader of the Skulls and goes by the alias "Spike". In battle, he wields a sawed-off shotgun. 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 identified by Herman Schultz by his name and is a low level thug, who has been selling advanced weaponry to gangs. After Spider-Man saves the civilian hostage during his chase on Carradine, Dennis is killed by Cletus Kasady shortly before Spider-Man finds his dead body in an alley. The police officers identify the burglar's murderer as the "Carnage Killer".
- The Amazing Spider-Man #200
- Sensational Spider-Man #0
- Ultimate Spider-Man #53 (2004)
- Amazing Fantasy #15
- The Amazing Spider-Man #170
- Sensational Spider-Man #4
- Sensational Spider-Man #6
- What If? Vol. 1 #7
- What If? #15
- What If? #19
- What If Aunt May Had Died Instead of Uncle Ben? #1
- What If? Vol. 2 #72
- Spider-Verse Team-Up #1
- Spider-Man: Chapter One #1
- "Origins". Spider-Man. Season 1. Episode 0. Disney XD.