Get To Know Your Marvel Universe Spider-Folk
There are a couple of spidery trailers hitting the web (no pun intended) recently, concentrating on some of the characters in the extended Spider-verse who are definitely not Peter Parker: namely Eddie Brock, Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy. For those who haven’t been following along in the comics for the past 50 years, there are a lot of spiders to wrangle.
Marvel has enough spidery heroes and villains to keep everyone’s spider sense tingling, and more of them are making their way into the big screen. Not up to reading Marvel back issues, dating back to the Silver Age? Here’s a brief run-down of the origins of just a few of the major web-crawlers in Marvel’s universes, according to sources like Marvel Wikia and piles of old comic issues taking up my garage.
We’ll start with Peter Parker, who got this whole spider ball rolling and to me is still the “one true spider.” Several of these characters are part of Parker’s world, and others are from alternate realities.
Spider-Man (Peter Parker). Peter Parker is the Spider-Man everyone knows, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. He made his first appearance in 1962, and was orphaned an infant. His parents were CIA agents assigned tin infiltrate Red Skull and his spy ring, but that’s another story. He was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and got his powers at age 15 when he was bitten by a spider irradiated by nuclear materials. When he failed to stop a burglar who later murdered his uncle, he soon realized he needed to take on the “great responsibility” that comes with “great power.” Hence, the first Spider-Man was born.
“Ultimate” Spider-Man (Miles Morales). Morales was created in 2011 by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, and is the focus of the upcoming animate feature film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Spoiler alert for readers, Morales eventually took over the Spider-Man duties after the death of Peter Parker, which kinda sucks, but Miles is a good kid. He gained his powers when his was visiting his uncle, who had recently broken into the abandoned Osborn Industries. Morales was sitting by his uncle’s bag, when a genetically enhanced spider that had crawled into during the break-in emerged and bit him on the hand. Soon, he discovered he had similar powers to that of the original Spider-Man. I have no idea how much the movie will follow the original Bendis story.
Spider-Gwen, the new Spider-Woman (Gwen Stacy). Those familiar with the original story of Spider-Man know Stacy as Peter Parker’s first ill-fated love, but in an alternate universe, Gwen was bitten by the spider instead of Peter to become Spider-Woman. She has worked with S.H.I.E.L.D., and has been part of what is known as the Spider-Army with fellow Spider folk Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Spider-Girl, Silk, Spider-Man 2099 and more. Even Otto Octavius was part of this group as “Superior Spider-Man.”
Fun fact: In the Spider-Gwen reality, Stacy was a drummer for a band called, “The Mary Janes.”
Venom (symbiotic organism). This alien symbiote attaches to other beings, and the lucky host gets Spider-Man like powers. It has bonded with anti-hero and disgraced journalist Eddie Brock, Parker’s former classmate and Army Corporal Flash Thompson, criminal Mac Gargan, and Parker himself, among others. There have also been several versions of Venom in different stories, and alternate realities from a She-Venom to a pretty formidable “Manga” style. In some stories, Venom has even taken over Groot, Mary Jane and Luke Cage.
The upcoming Venom movie will focus on Brock, played by Tom Hardy. Rumor has it he will come up against the psycho killer Cletus Kasady, who bonds with a spawn of the Venom symbiote to become the deranged killing machine Carnage. Ooh, let’s hope so.
Silk (Cindy Moon). In her story, created in 2014 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, Moon was bitten on the ankle by the same spider that bit Parker, after it dropped from his hand. She unfortunately discovered her powers when she accidentally “webbed up” in front of her parents. She was taken away by a man named Ezekiel “Zeke” Sims to learn to use her powers. Sims, by the way, has the powers of Spider-Totem, and used his powers to make some serious bank.
Sims’ company WebCorps was the front for The Spider Society, a group of spider-worshiping knights founded in 1099 A.D. One of the ways members can earn their powers is with the a special tattoo.
Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew). There was high amount of uranium in the town in which Drew lived as a child, and she became deathly ill as a young girl from being exposed to it. Her father, a geneticist, was an expert on regenerative and other properties of arachnids. He injected her with an untested serum in hopes of saving her. He then sealed her in stasis for decades. She awoke with no knowledge of her past. A panic attack triggered her first blast of powers, killing her first boyfriend. She has made the rounds being part of Hydra, S.H.I.E.L.D., Avengers and more since her first appearance in 1977.
Scarlet Spiders (The MVP clones). Before the Superhuman Civil War, Tony Stark made Spider-Man a special “Iron Spider” costume, and it completely rocked. In a later story, the trio of clones of Michael van Patrick, called Michael, Van and Patrick, were given replicas of this costume and dubbed themselves the “Red Team.” This armor had a ton of great weapons and abilities, but two of them were eventually killed off.
Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O’Hara). This version of Spider-Man was part of an ongoing series created in 1992, of the marvel universe 100 years into future. O’Hara was a geneticist working on creating Spider-Man like powers in others. Of course, an accident caused his own DNA to be re-written with a spider’s genetic code. For those who think Miles Morales was the first Spider-Man version with a Latino background, O’Hara came long before him, as well as Anya Corazon, a Spider-Girl version also known as Araña.
The Marvel Universe is not for the arachnophobic. It’s teeming with spiders, and there is plenty of reading material out there to keep those anticipating upcoming movies occupied.