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Real-Life Spider-Man Spins a Classic Comic Tale

Spider-Man Spins a Classic Comic Tale” width=”560″/>

Can a spider bite change your life? It happened to Spider-Man ‘s Peter Parker and, according to recent news headlines, a California man named David Blancarte.

It all started in 1988 when Blancarte, then just 21, was in a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Now, after 20 years in a wheelchair, he’s walking — a change that he says came about after he suffered a spider bite. Strangely, his arachnid wasn’t radioactive like the one that got Parker in Amazing Fantasy #15, or a genetically engineered “super spider” like the one that got Tobey in the 2002 movie). It was a Brown Recluse, au natural. Could this unaltered arachnid have given Blancarte the power to repair his damaged nerves? Could he be a real-life Spider-Man?

Most Brown Recluse bites are minor, though they have been known to cause necrosis (a deadening of skin cells, which is hardly a healing property). Knowing the  bite could have had serious consequences, Blancarte’s family immediately took him to the hospital for treatment. It was there, while undergoing physical therapy at the Kindred Hospital in Modesto, that his miraculous transformation occurred.

After a nurse noticed David’s leg spasm, she ran a test. “When they zapped my legs, I felt the current, I was like whoa and I yelled,” he told CBS News. After two decades of inactivity, his nerves were alive and he was able to move his lower limbs again. Five days later, doctors say he was on his feet. Now, after months of therapy, he walks over 250 feet every day.

Blancarte says he tried rehab before the bite and no one was able to help him. Could the Brown Recluse have been the cause of his recovery? In the sense that it got him to go to the hospital, absolutely. But even though there seems to be no other explanation for the change in his condition, there’s no evidence to suggest Blancarte is the next friendly neighborhood webslinger.

Perhaps, in time, he’ll develop other skills — you have to walk before you can walk on walls, after all. One thing’s for sure: Like Peter Parker, Blancarte is learning that “With great power comes great responsibility.” On Friday, just days after his heroic story appeared in the news, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge and brought to the San Joaquin County Jail. As the Daily Bugle might posit, “Is this man a hero or a menace?

If reading a headline like “Spider Bite Miracle Man Arrested” doesn’t make you feel like you’re living in the Marvel Universe, nothing will. Stan Lee for one must be loving it, even if it is — scientifically speaking — just a bit of J. Jonah Jameson-style hyperbole.

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