In celebration of everyone’s favorite web-head, July is Spectacular Spider-Month at AiPT! We have a series of amazing articles in store for the month. Movies, television, gaming, and of course comics will all be covered with great responsibility as we honor one of comics’ greatest heroes.
Spider-Man is the noblest of heroes in the world of comics, but that doesn’t mean you should trust anyone wearing his costume in real life. In fact, people adorned in the wall crawler’s apparel while committing crimes has become a disturbing trend over the last couple decades.
Today, we’re going to take a look at six of the oddest modern examples of real life Spider-Man villainy. Also, to balance things out, we’ll finish up with a couple examples of Spider-clad folks who turned out to be real life heroes.
1. Failure to Change
In the early morning hours of Friday, September 20 of 2013, 21-year-old Pittsburg University student Johnathan Hewson walked into a convenience store wearing a full Spider-Man costume. Instead of stopping a crime or picking up ingredients for Aunt May’s wheat cakes, he shouted at the clerk “How much money you got?”
Clearly aware that this Spider-Man was not the same one who valued pairing great power with great responsibility, the clerk responded by pulling out a stun gun. That’s when Spidey decided to hightail it on foot out of the store. This created one of the greatest photo opportunities imaginable, which someone was able to snap and post online (courtesy of CBS Pittsburgh)
Considering that the Pittsburg Police were looking for a man dressed in a Spider-Man costume…and that Hewson didn’t even change out of the costume after fleeing the store…he was quickly apprehended less than a block away and charged with armed robbery. He was also ordered to undergo a mental evaluation, where they no doubt learned that the young man was under the influence of Otto Octavius.
Adam Krauss, Hewson’s roommate at the time, claimed that his friend meant no harm. He was simply a Spider-Man enthusiast who’d made a poor decision after a night of drinking. Unfortunately, the “drunken shenanigans” defense doesn’t hold up too well when you enter a convenience store in the middle night and ask about money while wearing a mask–even if that mask happens to be the same one worn by the great superhero in the world.
For those of you who read my blog (HI MOM!), I covered this incident back when it happened in 2013. Since then, childhood-destroying security footage of the incident has been release.
Hewson was also able to get the charged dropped after the store’s clerk decided that there’s no way Spider-Man would really want to rob his store.
What the clerk didn’t seem to realize is that this crime was committed back when Doctor Octopus had taken over Peter Parker’s body as the Superior Spider-Man. Armed robbery was still unlikely, but definitely not out of the question.
2. Web Fluid < Liquid Courage
Florida resident Edward Wilburn has a rap sheet that could be generously described as substantial. This is probably due in part to the fact that like many of his life choices, his methods of criminal activity are not through.
On January 2, 2019, Wilbur decided to ring in the new year by robbing the Winn Dixie Wine and Spirits store in Casselberry, Florida. One has to assume this was a spur of the moment decision since he walked up to the entrance–in full view of the surveillance camera–and attempted to open it.
After realizing that he could potentially jimmy the door (but not realizing he had probably been spotted by a camera), Wilburn went to a nearby thrift store and bought a Spidey mask. He then returned and proceeded with the robbery as planned, pilfering $150 in liquor and $420 in Newport Cigarettes.
Thanks to Wilburn’s extensive record (and stupidity), police were quickly able to identify and arrest him.
I was unable to find what Wilburn has been up to since then, but one would assume he’s been taken to The Raft, where he will most assuredly break out to commit crimes once again.
3. Pills and Piles of Cash
On April 25, 2017, a man dressed in a Spider-Man hoodie attempted to rob the East Harlem Pharmacy in Harlem. Unfortunately for him, this particular pharmacy wasn’t very big. So when he forcefully demanded his shopping list (percocet, oxycodone, xanax and other prescription painkillers) the store’s clerk was genuinely able to claim that they didn’t have any.
But that wasn’t going to stop this villainous Spidey from taking things that didn’t belong to him. He next made his way over to a nearby HSBC Bank and successfully robbed it…but also took off his hoodie and exposed his face.
Despite such a major slip up, this Spider-Man is still at large. One has to assume that if/when he robs a bank or pharmacy again, it’s highly probable that the same Spider-Man outfit will be utilized.
4. Spider Sword
We once again head back to the sunshine state for yet another Spider-Man convenience store robbery. This time, however, a weapon was involved.
Thankfully, there were not injuries, but this Spider-Man is also still at large.
5. Big Mac Attack
The video’s description is literally all I can find on this incident…which absolutely kills me since I have so many questions. Here are a few of them:
- What was in the order?
- Did the dude in the track suit actually think he could catch up to Symbiote Spidey running that slow?
- Did the people running this Youtube channel steal the burger (because it sure looked like the person who filmed the video was ready for the crime to happen).
- Was this whole thing staged? (Probably).
6. Traffic Jam via Kafka
I tried to stay away from single-source stories without pictures, video, or police reports, but this one was too good to pass up.
On February 15, 2009, commuters in the Israeli city of Rosh Ha’ayin were experiencing much worse traffic than usual. According to YNetNews, this was because a man in a Spider-Man suit was jumping from car to car while attempting to lasso various automobiles with “webs” made out of rope.
After being captured and subdued by police, the 24-year old man (who was never identified in reports) claimed to have been previously hit by a car and woke up in the hospital already wearing the Spider-Man costume.
Still, even if you don’t buy this guy’s story, he really was jumping from car to car like Spidey sometimes does. Have to give the dude credit for going full method, at least.
7. Crime Doesn’t Pay on Free Comic Book Day
And now lets finish things off with some real life Spidey heroics!
Like most comic stores in 2010, Adelaide Comics Centre was filled with customers–many of them in some type of costume–for Free Comic Book Day. The owner of the Australian shop, Michael Baulderstone, had even gotten in on the fun himself by dressing up as Spider-Man.
At some point, a man began “behaving suspiciously” near the back of the store. While this could mean any number of horrifying things in a comic shop, in this case, it meant snagging at $150 X-Men Omnibus, shoving it into his backpack, and trying to leave the store.
That’s about the time Baulderstone sprung into action, as seen in the security footage below.
There’s a lot of awesomeness to behold in that clip, but I think my favorite part (besides Baulderstone yanking the thief’s backpack away) is the fact that a group of jedi were the ones who held the door until the cops came. That’s the type of corporate synergy Disney is likely never to achieve between it’s Marvel and Star Wars brands.
8. Spider Dance
On Halloween of 2016, Mark Zillow was doing his usual thing–busking (i.e. street dancing) on the streets on Toronto in a Spider-Man costume.
Meanwhile, at the nearby Theatrics Plus costume shop, 32-year old Stephanie Marsh had purchased a costume. What she had not purchased was the expensive mask that she purposefully walked out of the store with.
Zillow, who goes by the name Peter Parkour (ugh), saw security guards struggling to capture her and decided to lend a hand.
Gotta love how despite admitting he doesn’t ever want to get involved in stopping street crime, Zillow realized that “with great power comes great responsibility” and that he needed to help. You could argue that the guards could have wrangled Stephanie without Zillow’s assistance, but it’s still pretty cool that he stepped in like that.
Unfortunately, Zillow’s selfless act of heroism hasn’t done him any favors with the city government. Since then, he has been ticketed multiple times for seemingly minor infractions while busting a move on the streets on Toronto.
I think we all know who’s pushing City Hall to come down on the webslinger like this.
Thank you for joining AiPT! during Spectacular Spider-Month! Be sure to check back in every day for more Spider-Man content including interviews, features, opinions, and more!