I agree, the Spider-totem thing was quite good, and often seems to be dismissed by people who haven't read the full story (or maybe don't remember it). The big reveal at the end of the first JMS arc was that Spidey ultimately rejected the whole notion.
Peter realised that, even if there had been a history of a spider-totem, the circumstances that led to him becoming Spider-Man and using his powers in the way that he chose to were wider than that, and he refused to be pigeonholed in that way by Ezekiel. He rejected the idea that he was purely a spider-totem character, and it's ultimately what enabled him to win his battle with Morlun.
A lot of Spider-Man's interactions with Ezekiel at the end of that story (and subsequently) revolved around refusing to go along with the whole spider-totem idea, because he didn't feel that it really said anything meaningful about who he was. Which is pretty much the same argument that the fans were making.
I haven't read any of the current DC Dark Metal stuff, but I wonder whether Snyder is maybe ahead of the readers in the same way here.