Spider-sense

Spider-Man

Spider-Man’s ‘spider-sense‘ manifests in a tingling feeling at the base of his skull, alerting him to personal danger in proportion to the severity of that danger. For instance, a little tingling such as a happenstance passing by of an enemy would prompt Peter to be alert, while a strong tingling, sometimes to the point of being painful, is interpreted as a need to take immediate evasive action.

Spider-Man can choose to ignore his spider-sense, and distraction or fatigue can cause decreased unawareness. Spider-sense is depicted in most comics as wavy lines appearing around Spider-Man’s head; when he is unmasked, this effect is sometimes accompanied by a symbolic half-mask appearing on his face. In the 90’s cartoon, negative colored shapes appeared around him. 

Though the exact mechanism of this ability is unknown, his original spider-sense clearly has at least two aspects in addition to sensing potential or immediate danger: echolocation and radio frequency sensitivity. Like Daredevil, Spider-Man has a radar-like awareness of his surroundings. His spider-sense helps him navigate darkened rooms, instinctively avoiding obstacles or hazards, or potentially noisy or unstable floorboards, walls or ceilings that may betray his presence. In one comic, he is shown sensing how many fingers Mary Jane is holding up. In another he learns to navigate while temporarily blinded. His ability to sense radio waves allows him to tune his spider-tracers to specific frequencies that he can detect.

Using his spider-sense to time his enhanced reflexes, Spider-Man can casually dodge attacks up to and including automatic-weapons fire. Even point blank, his spider-sense has already warned him in enough time to get away. It is a precognitive ability and he acts before he can even consciously think about his actions. However, he can ignore this instinct. His spider-sense is sufficiently well-linked to his reflexes that a threat can trigger them even when Spider-Man is asleep or stunned. When Spider-Man swings across a city on his weblines, his spider-sense guides his aim, allowing him to travel at high speeds hundreds of feet above street level with minimal concentration, confident his weblines will find secure anchor points.

Spider-Man’s spider-sense is directional and can guide him to or away from hidden weapons and disguised enemies. Sudden and extreme threats (such as the Beyonder observing Earth before the first Secret Wars, Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to destroy half of the sapient population of the universe, the Ultimate version of Venom, or the predatory Morlun) can cause his spider-sense to react with painful intensity. Spider-Man can also sense and dodge attacks directed randomly or by a computer. His spider-sense has helped him preserve his secret identity since it alerts him to observers or cameras when changing into or out of his costume. The spider-sense does not react to those whom Peter does not consider a threat, such as Aunt May. Contrary to this, his spider-sense has warned him of people close to him when he does not wish to be seen, such as when he’s partly in costume.

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