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My understanding is that, in Marvel, there’s different accepted power levels which are matched by villains on the same level.

Without being fully defined, it is accepted that Daredevil or Spider-Man are street level heroes (meaning street level stories) while the X-Men or Thor are more like galactic entities with foes and stories to match.

As far as I know, each hero usually has their own villains that don’t tend to jump levels (i.e. Spidey fighting a villain from Thor), except in crossovers.

Out of this, the only one I can think of is Juggernaut, but I’m not sure even he can be considered a bigger (more difficult) foe than, let’s say, Doc Ock. However, I haven’t read many Spidey comics.

So, is there a foe (i.e. one out of his league) that Spidey has defeated on his own, in one of his own titles, without external aid from a crossover hero?

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    @Raj - Spider-Man wasn't wearing the symbiote when he defeated Firelord. The black costume he wore in that issue was made for him by the Black Cat out of regular fabric. Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 13:40
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    By definition, wouldn't any defeated foe be in his league? Because, well, he defeated them.
    – Peter M
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 16:50
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    My impression was that in many continuities, Spider-Man is very much not a “street-level hero” the way Daredevil is. I seem to recall being told in the late ’90s that his strength was second only to the Hulk’s, for example, and that only after the Hulk got a good rage going.
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 20:32
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    Yeah, this is a massive oversimplification. Spiderman stories are often street-level stories, that does not make him a street-level fighter
    – Nacht
    Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 2:42
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    Note that at least back in the early 1980s, Spidey's strength was on par with She-Hulk, Power Man and Colossus. Graphic. Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 18:49

4 Answers 4

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In Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #270, Spider-Man defeated Firelord, the former Herald of Galactus, who first appeared in Thor Vol. 1 #225 and was given his freedom by Galactus in Thor Vol. 1 #228.

The aftermath of the battle was shown in Avengers Vol. 1 #258, with Avengers such as the Black Knight and Hercules commenting on the extent of Firelord's power.

BLACK KNIGHT: Galactus, eh? I've met another of his Heralds... the Silver Surfer! If Firelord is even half as tough as the Surfer, Spider-Man must have put up the fight of his life!

HERCULES: I have battled both with and against Firelord... his power is awesome indeed!

Avengers Vol. 1 #258, page 11

Avengers Vol. 1 #258 (August, 1985)

The black costume worn by Spider-Man in this battle wasn't the alien symbiote he picked up during the original Secret Wars storyline, but a cloth replica made for him by the Black Cat, which he first started wearing in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #263.

SPIDER-MAN: The costume the Black Cat sewed for me! I almost can't believe that I'm putting this on! It looks just like the alien symbiote I brought back from the Beyonder's world!

Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #263, page 13

Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #263 (April, 1985)

In a much later issue, the Silver Surfer assumed Spider-Man was joking when he mentioned that he'd beaten Firelord once, apparently because he found the claim very hard to believe.

SPIDER-MAN: No idea, but we better figure it out fast. 'Cause there's hundreds coming. Possibly thousands. And they're all turning into your bad guys... which, no offense, isn't a problem for me. Heck, I took down the real Firelord once.

SILVER SURFER: I highly doubt that.

SPIDER-MAN: Honest! Firelord! Former Herald of Galactus! Boom! Pow! Knocked him out!

SILVER SURFER: I am sorry, Spider-Man, but your Earth humor escapes me sometimes.

SPIDER-MAN: I'm not joking! It was in all the papers. I--oh forget it. Don't know why I'm helping you. You're mean.

Silver Surfer Vol. 8 #6, page 13

Silver Surfer Vol. 8 #6 (October, 2016)

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How about Firelord, Herald of Galactus, a character with powers described below

Firelord wields a flaming staff and is capable of energy projection via his eyes and staff. Like all heralds, the Power Cosmic provides Firelord with superhuman strength, reflexes and durability, flight, mastery of the electromagnetic spectrum and total immunity to the rigors of space. Firelord is also capable of travelling faster than the speed of light.

Spidey defeats him in Amazing Spider-Man #270. The Avengers show up only after Spider-Man has won the battle.

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    As this is a less popular character it may help to add who Firelord is. My best understanding from a quick read that he is a herald of Galactus, and is on the same level as Silver Surfer?
    – Andrey
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 14:00
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    This is a great answer, because there is comic proof that heralds of Galactus are out of Spidey's league. Because in one comic, Rhino (a Spidey villian) attacks Silver Surfer (another herald) with his unstoppable charge, and is effortlessly stopped when Surfer grabs his horn and says, "I'm out of your league." Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 0:32
  • Thank you. I didn't read a lot of Spidey - but did read that ish.
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 0:51
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In 1989, Spider-Man briefly gained the powers of Captain Universe, using them to knock the Gray Hulk into orbit with a single punch in Amazing Spider-Man #328.

Spider-Man versus The Hulk

This happened during a storyline, Acts of Vengeance, where Loki had the evil plan to get supervillains to attack each other’s arch-enemies and take them by surprise. Conveniently, Spider-Man was able to use his temporary cosmic powers to defeat Magneto (albeit by unknowingly convincing the latter that Spider-Man had too many powers to be a Mutant, and was therefore not useful to Magneto’s plans) and Dr. Doom. The big fight at the end of the story was against a doomsday weapon called the Tri-Sentinel, created by X-Men villain Sebastian Shaw.

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    Cosmic Spider-Man was almost certainly stronger and more powerful than the Grey Hulk though, so he wasn't defeating someone above his metaphorical weight class here. Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 22:21
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    @LogicDictates A perplexing philosophical problem, True Believers! If Spider-Man gets a cosmic power-up, pushing him into a bigger weight class, is he beating foes above “his weight class” or not? You decide!
    – Davislor
    Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 22:29
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    Asker did mention "I mean raw Spider-Man, otherwise his “level” changes" in the comments, although this is still a valid answer to some extent.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 9:07
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In Amazing Spider-Man Vol1, Spidey defeats the Fantastic 4.

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Are the Fantastic Four above Spider-Man's power level?
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 21:06
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    How are you defining "defeats"...? The FF were all still standing at the end. Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 21:25

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