The police in Spider-Man PS4 must be going deaf in their radar-facing ears. Crime—of the super villainous and regular villainous variety—is constant, and Spider-Man has mementos of his fights with various baddies stashed around the city, including a piece of Rhino’s horn and rubber gloves he wore to take on Electro.
But this orange-labeled vial, which contains the sample of the Lizard’s blood that Peter used to transform his nemesis back into mild-mannered scientist Kurt Conners, is the most interesting of them. The vial suggests a history to Peter’s time in the mask beyond the rogue’s gallery of supervillains depicted in the game. The same goes for the fragment of Mysterio's helmet, which is also stashed in a backpack. That said though, since we see someone dressed as Mysterio at the Halloween party, it doesn't have quite the same world-building effect. Was the Lizard at the Raft? Why wasn’t he invited to be a part of the Sinister Six? Is Dr. Conners even still alive? Will we encounter him in the inevitable and heavily foreshadowed sequel? We don’t know yet, and that’s what makes this collectible so intriguing.
A yellow boutonniere that was crushed during a prom night tussle with the Kingpin, this memento suggests the breadth of Peter’s experience as Spider-Man as little else in the game does. When the game begins, Peter is a grown man, living in his own apartment and working a post-college job. This souvenir, dating back to his senior year of high school, helps us grasp just how long eight years really is. It also points to the way Peter Parker’s personal life has ALWAYS gotten mixed up in Spider-Man’s responsibilities.
This bullet hole-bearing textbook and the prom flower are similarly resonant, suggesting Spider-Man’s long history as a New York fixture. The physics book adds an extra wrinkle, however, because the bullet that pierced its cover wasn’t fired from a thug or villain’s gun.
“Took a bullet from the cops back when they thought I was working with Electro,” Peter’s narration begins. Peter often tells us that he’s had a fraught relationship with the police, but seeing that they attempted to kill him early on into his career helps us to understand the tightrope that Spider-Man and Yuri are walking by working together.
10. Apartment Application
Like the continually referenced dumpling incident, this sheet of paper conveys some measure of Peter and Mary Jane’s history. Peter telling us they were serious is one thing. Peter keeping a filled out application for an apartment they would have shared is quite another.
A toymaker approached Spider-Man with this big-headed prototype for a plush toy with Funko Pop! proportions. Unfortunately, Peter says, our poor post-grad hero hasn’t been able to make any money off of merchandise sales, because he can’t reveal his real name. Like the hospital bill found in another of Peter’s backpacks, the plushie is a reminder that while Peter may be a nationally recognizable figure who’s working his ass off to protect New York, he’s not any better off than the rest of us broke twenty-somethings.
The straw that broke the camel’s back: in this frontpage Daily Bugle article, J. Jonah Jameson blames Spider-Man for killing cops, a crime that Electro was actually responsible for. After that, Peter couldn’t, in good conscious, keep working for Jameson.
This article is one point that helps us chart Jameson’s transformation from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to the conspiracy-theorizing blowhard we hear on Just the Facts. It also helps contextualize the wariness with which the police regarded Spider-Man early on.
The only mention of Peter Parker’s deceased secret agent parents comes in the form of this silver locket, containing their pocket-sized portraits. Peter’s ticket to the last basketball game he attended with Uncle Ben serves a similar role; it reminds us of the Spider-Man origin story we’ve seen so many times, while refusing to shoehorn that well-worn story into a game that is remarkably focused on an experienced, established Spider-Man.
This webbing that ran from Spider-Man’s forearm to his rib area graced his costume in his debut in Amazing Fantasy #15 and the subsequent run of early comics. It was designed by Steve Ditko, but with no real functional purpose, it's never really been a staple of the comics. Peter admits as much when he says, “Thought they might help me glide short distances but they never really worked,” in a fun, meta joke.
One of two callbacks in Spider-Man PS4 to Spidey’s history as a pizza boy, this red-and-white hat will bring back sweet nostalgic memories for fans of Spider-Man 2 (the movie and Treyarch’s seminal game).
Crusher Hogan has a history in the comics that can be traced back to Spider-Man’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15, and our hero’s origin story in Spider-Man PS4 also involved a brief stint as a wrestler. Fans of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man will also likely have a soft spot for Spidey's outing in the ring, though in the 2002 film Peter's opponent was called Bone Saw McGraw.
While Spidey can take pictures of Avengers Tower and the Wakandan Embassy for Landmark Tokens, this eggshell white business card for Nelson & Murdock Attorneys at Law is the only reference among the backpack collectibles to the broader Marvel universe.
Comic fans will know that Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer who Spidey says offered to represent him, also happens to lead a double life as Daredevil. The fact that Murdock is present in New York City during the events of Spider-Man PS4 raises some interesting questions, given the fact that the Kingpin, who Spider-Man has spent the past eight years fighting, is also Daredevil’s arch-nemesis. What was Daredevil doing for all those years? Will he make an appearance in future games? Does Spider-Man even know who Daredevil is? We don’t know yet, but I can’t wait to find out.
On its own, this scrap of fabric and Peter’s hope to eventually create a stealth suit, isn’t all that interesting. By the end of the game, this Spider-Man can have as many as 27 suits with various abilities.
However, after playing through the research station in which Spider-Man is tasked with using cloaking tech to take down rogue Oscorp drones, it seems that Insomniac is hinting that the stealth suit will be utilized further in the future. The fact that the game drops two references to stealth (including one fleshed-out gameplay segment) suggests that we’ll see the stealth suit take on added significance in this game's DLC or sequel.
I love to see video games come up with excuses for their bullshit. Hiding lore explanations for silly story or design elements throughout the world is a classic video game trope. Oh, this huge sequence got cut and there’s no time to design a new level or get voice actors back in the booth? Well, drop a newspaper clipping somewhere in the environment.
Spider-Man PS4 knows that Peter Parker having a seemingly infinite supply of backpacks scattered throughout the world is ridiculous. This collectible, the Wilson Fisk Science Prize trophy, netted Peter a “lifetime supply of backpacks.”
This is a wonderfully self-aware explanation for the game’s best collectible, and one that will likely get a chuckle out of anyone who puts in the time to hunt down all the backpacks.