These are the ones that I feel have seriously damaged Spidey, the mythology, and the books. It's a top 10 list. Maybe one or two more will do. And unfortunately, this isn't one of my comedy posts (I'll do one of those next time.).
#10. The Sandman- Maybe this is me, but I kind of liked him better as more of a semi-hero and "gray" character. I don't really care for him as a villian except for his early appearances.
#9. They ruined the Jackal- I think that the second Clone Saga ruined him, and he's one of my all-time favorite Spidey characters. But when they had him out to kill everybody and replace them with clones, I think that it pretty much doomed the character. I did like his return though. The only way they can salvage him and bring him back is if they retcon the Jackal in the Clone Saga to being a renegade clone.Also, how many clones did he create anyway? And Spider-Cide. Yuck.
#8. Bringing back Eddie Brock- Ever since that first story in the Jenkins arc, he died at the end. But then in that very arc, he was brought back at the end. And then in the Millar run, they had him attempt suicide. And then in that Sensational Spider-Man arc, he- JUMPED OUT OF A WINDOW. Of course, only to be saved at the end. This guy has had his story closed off three times, and he always gets brought back. I feel that they should retire him for a while.
#7. Bringing back Aunt May- In my opinion, this never should have happened. I could see why they brought her back of course, but really, as Peter grew up, she wasn't really needed anymore. Her being alive sort of sends Peter into a state of less maturity, because he doesn't really need and her role has expired. Although there have been a lot of good stories with her since, I really feel that bringing her back was a huge backstep for the Spidey mythos.
#6. The Goblin legacy/history is a mess- We had Norman, then he died. Then we had Harry and Bart Hamilton. Then we had two Hobgoblins, then a retcon that one wasn't really the Hobgoblin. Along the way we got Demogoblin, Phil Urich, and worst of all, the totally unnecessary Grey Goblin. All and all, the Goblin Legacy has gotten way out of hand. We've had about ten or eleven Goblins total. That's too many, and has convoluted the Osborn legacy. Also, bring back either Kingsley or Macendale.
#5. Bringing Harry back AFTER they Brought Back Norman- When one or the other was dead, the Goblin/Spidey fights and dynamic were much better. Especially when Norman was blaming Peter for Harry's death. It brought a different side to Norman and Norman and Peter's relationship. It's cool that we got to see a few confrontations between Norman and Harry now that both of them are back from the great beyond, but still, I think these characters worked better when ONE of the two were dead.
#4. Norman sleeping with Gwen and impregnating her- This was totally unnecessary. It pretty much diluted the motive behind a classic and pivotal moment in Spider-Man history. We didn't need a "new" reason for Norman kidnapping Gwen and knocking her off of a bridge. Also, as stated above, how many Osborn kids do we need? And this absolutely does not in any way make any sense with Amazing #121. And it also can't work if we take into account the Gwen clone, because the GC would have been pregnant as well. And it gave us yet ANOTHER Goblin. It figures that the one story of his that JMS wanted to retcon/erase, Marvel wouldn't let him. Sigh!
#3. Bringing back Kraven the Hunter and expanding the family- Really, bringing Kraven back is horrible. There was absolutely no reason for this guy to come back. And he blew his head off. His death was as close to a "There's no way that he's going to come back after this" as can get. And when a character commits suicide, there's pretty much no new direction that you can take them in. And really, how many kids does Kraven have no anyway? The only really interesting one is Aloysha or whatever his name is. The Spidey titles, unlike the X-titles where everybody and their mother (In some cases literally.) comes back from the dead, are usually pretty good in that they respect a lot of deaths.And really, Kraven already won. He beat Spider-Man. Any story where he either wins or loses will be totally redundant. Okay? This had better be Mendell Strong after a month long coke bender, because I'm going to pretend that the writers and editors were smarter then this.
#2. Spidey making a deal with Mephisto and them retconning the marriage- Really, I've never heard of this. Them retconning out an entire marriage. I don't have a problem with Peter and Mj not being married or not dating anymore. But really, THIS is the best that they can come up with? This sounds like something that DC would do. Really, they could have left the marriage intact and found a way to make a brand new, clean start. And Spidey making a deal with Mephisto is just too absurb and taints the character. But Spidey has done worse, as we're about to see with number 1.
#1.Having Spidey become a killer/blackmailer/criminal- During JMS's run, Spidey has either killed a few people (Like Morlun. Yes I know that Morlun wasn't exactly a person, but still.), or let people die. Remember that Spider-lady? Spidey just let her die. Remember during Millar's run when Spidey tried to extort Jonah with pictures of John's son as Spider-Man. And Jonah buying it sucked too. Remember when Spidey was doing stuff like stealing ambulances during the Back in Black stories? But really, the killing thing will forever taint him.
Honorable mention goes to:
#Keeping Bendis on Ultimate Spider-Man for so long- I used to LOVE this title. But somewhere along the line I lost interest. I would follow it again if another writer takes over, because Bendis has been aboard for too long, and the title has long run out of steam.
#Norman ripping off the Jackal during the Final Chapter and trying to kill the world.
#The secret identity being erased from everybody named Daredevil, Osborn and Venom.
#10: The Sandman's Reformation: Writers like David Michelinie handled it in a believable, organic fashion that saw the Sandman trying to reevaluate his life and go straight. Then, all of a sudden, he's brainwashed into being evil again. Was that really done by the same John Byrne who developed the classic X-Men series with Chris Claremont?
#9: Todd McFarlane as Spider-Man's Artist: The reason artists continued to follow John Romita Senior's art style on the spider-comics is because he defined what Spider-Man's world should look like. McFarlane should have remembered that if something isn't broke, there's no need to fix it.
#8: The Revelation that Roderick and Daniel Kingsley are Twins: Okay, before I get lynched let me say both that I'm a huge Roger Stern fan and I love the original Hobgoblin mystery. That said, though, I feel it's a dramatic cheat and deus ex machina that Stern and his successors had to resort to the cheap "evil twin" plot device to steer people away from suspecting Kingsley.
#7: The Clone Saga: This one needs no explanation.
#6: Aunt May Inherits A Nuclear Reactor: I've reread this story several times in the Essentials, and I still can't figure it out. A core aspect of both Peter's and Aunt May's characters is that they're poor and have a hard time making ends meet. But apparently May's relatives are wealthy enough not only to own a nuclear power plant, but their own private island where the plant is stored. How can she be able to own an island, and yet not be wealthy enough to help support her nephew?
If May's relatives had that much money, why couldn't they spring for her medical bills? Or do they just not give a damn?
#5: One More Day: Getting rid of the marriage was worth getting the mask back on and getting JMS off the spider-books for good, not to mention allowing the new writers to begin telling Spider-Man stories again. But Joe Quesada was so desperate to see it happen that he did it in the worst possible way.
#4: Morlun: Who would have thought that such a supposedly badass villain could be so boring and flat? No origin, no backstory, a generic design and a generic motive (I want to kill you, Spider-Man!) all make for a character who tries to go out with a bang, but comes across as more of a whimper.
#3: The Totem: All of a sudden it turns out that the random quirk of fate that turned Peter into Spider-Man was destined. And Spider-Man's not even the only one out there-apparently there are lots of totem people just like him.
JMS somehow managed to crap on two of the most essential elements of Spidey's character-namely, that what happened to him could have happened to any of us, and the idea that Spider-Man is unique. Instead, it sucks just as much as Buffy the Vampire Slayer did when it went from having just one Slayer to a whole army of them, cheapening the uniqueness of what Buffy had going.
#2: Sins Past: It was a stupid idea no matter who would have been the twins' father. Would it really have added anything to Peter's character to essentially make him guilty of child abandonment and being a deadbeat dad? Not to mention Straczynski defecated all over Gwen's characterization, turning her into a tramp who'd do it for donuts in the process.
#1: Spider-Man Unmasks Himself: Sure, Aunt May and Mary Jane are safely guarded in Avengers Tower. But no one seems to have considered the danger that Peter's putting everyone *else*, like Flash Thompson and the students at his school, from unmasking. Is Stark supposed to guard all of those people too?
What makes it even more galling is that Aunt May told Peter that Uncle Ben would be proud of him. If that's the case, then May obviously never really knew Ben Parker to begin with. He'd be horrified and appalled that Peter would so cavalierly put so many innocent people in danger by revealing his true identity.