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WITH HIS FILM "swinging" into theaters, America is caught in Spider-Man's "web," and will soon be "eaten." But did you know that the cinematic superhero can be found other places besides lunchboxes, soda cans and ads for Motorola? He actually appears in thousands of "comic books" as well! Here's a primer to the four-color world of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

Comic Books - Periodicals containing a narrative told in words and pictures. Comic books cover a wide range of subject matter including anger management ("The Incredible Hulk"), non-erotic lassoing ("Wonder Woman"), the joys of perpetual bachelorhood ("Batman") and winning the Pulitzer Prize ("Maus").

Marvel Comics - Publisher of the Spider-Man comic books. Recently enjoying great success with film adaptations of the "X-Men" and "Blade" comics. However, in the past, Marvel characters were featured in some costly bombs such as "Howard the Duck" and "The Bonfire of the Vanities."

Stan Lee - Legend has it that during a 48-hour acid trip in the early ’60s, Lee was convinced that radioactive spiders were crawling out of his skin and exclaimed, "I've got a great idea for a comic book!" He then went straight to his typewriter and created "The Fantastic Four."

Amazing Fantasy #15 - The 1962 comic book in which Spider-Man made his debut. First editions of the issue have sold at auction for over $30,000. Ironic, as the original cover price of the issue was $50,000.

The Green Goblin - Spider-Man's arch-nemesis. Name is derived from a deviant sex act popular during the early ’60s. This terrifying villain sometimes teamed up with the nefarious Dirty Sanchez to double-team Spidey.

Tobey Maguire - Studio execs were initially skeptical about casting the indie film actor as Spider-Man, but Maguire wowed them with his low-key charm and ability to scale walls.

Willem Dafoe - Portrays the Green Goblin, who wears a frightening metallic suit to commit his dastardly crimes. Even more frightening, the scary Goblin face mask was created using a plaster cast of Dafoe's own gnarled face!

Kirsten Dunst - Portrays Peter Parker's girlfriend Mary Jane (short for "Marijuana Jannibus"). At first, comic book fans were upset by the casting of the blond Dunst as traditionally-redheaded Mary Jane. But through the magic of special effects, Dunst's hair appears red in the film! Special effects wizards were reportedly unable to make the carpet match the drapes, if you know what I mean.

That is, they couldn't make the blue carpet match the red drapes in the set for Peter Parker's bedroom.

"Spider-Man, Spider-Man. Does whatever a spider can." - Schoolyard chant popular among bullies who taunt Gaithersburg, Maryland fifth grader Billy Spiderman.

"Web-Slinger" - Nickname for Spider-Man. Other nicknames include "Web-head, "Wall-Crawler," "The Bat-Man" and "Cash Cow."

Gwen Stacy - Peter Parker's girlfriend in comic book stories from the 1970s. The character's tragic death at the hands of the Green Goblin marked the first time a major character in a comic book series was killed off. Comic book fans enjoyed posing the question, "Where were you when you read the issue where Gwen Stacy died?" The answer is invariably, "Head first in the toilet receiving a swirly."

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure - Home to the world's only Spider-Man amusement park ride. Also home to the world's only Amazing Spider-Man Cherry-Flavored Snocone ’n’ TwixTM Sundae.

"Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham" - Parody comic book that ran during the mid-80's featuring the adventures of a pig in a Spider-Man outfit. Also, another nickname for poor Billy Spiderman.

More comic book comedy:
Speaking Truth to Superpowers
Muscle Over Mind

More by Nick Nadel:
A.I., The Robot Review
FAQ: PlayStation 2
I Wanna Veto Bills All Nite
and Party Every Day

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