Thea Belak ‘21 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
With the recent release of Marvel’s Spider-Man PlayStation 4 video game and the upcoming animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Marvel might be taking the first few steps to bring the Spider-Man multiverse to mainstream media. Of course, we all know the origin of the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker, but did you think Marvel would be content with having just one Spider-Man?
If you’re a long time comic reader, you’ll know that both Marvel and DC have what they call their main universe, where the majority of their most popular characters are based. For Marvel, their primary universe is Earth-616 where the version of Peter Parker as Spider-Man exists. However, as Earth-616 is only one in the endless alternative realities Marvel can create, Peter Parker is not the only Spider to exist out there. This article showcases my top 10 picks, but there are many, many, many (possibly infinitely) more alternative versions:
#10 – Peter Porker (Spider-Ham, Earth-8311)
Have you ever seen the Simpsons movie? Well, the joke of Homer’s adopted, ‘Spider-Pig’ is based off Marvel’s Spider-Ham. His first appearance was in the 1983 ‘Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham.’ In it, Peter was a spider living in the basement of the pig scientist, May Porker. After a botched attempt of creating the world’s first atomic-powered hair dryer, May irradiated herself and in a delusional frenzy, bit Parker, turning him into a pig like herself. However, Peter still maintained his web making abilities, thus making him ‘Spider-Ham.’
#9 – Hobart Brown (Spider-Punk, Earth-138)
Really, his name says it all. First appearing in 2015 within the pages of Amazing Spider-Man Vol 3 #10 Hobart Brown has the same powers and abilities as Peter Parker. But has the added bonus of being the leader of the Spider-Army on his earth against the corrupted regime of President Osborn. Tough, reckless but having killer music taste, what makes Hobart a hero is his dedication to fighting for the lower classes that the regime seeks to eliminate. What makes him a badass-punk is that he took Osborn down himself by bashing him over the head with his electric guitar…rock on Hobart, rock on.
#8 – William ‘Billy’ Braddock (Spider-UK, Earth-833)
You know one thing Marvel loves to do? Mash up two existing superheroes and turn them into one on an alternative world. Billy’s first appearance came in the 2014 ‘Edge of the Spider-Verse #2’ series and has both the powers of Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and the moral compass of Captain Britain (Bian Braddock). After traveling through the multi-verses to help form the Spider-Army to protect Spider-People from all universes from a clan known as the Inheritors; a group that feeds on the life forces of creatures with enhanced DNA, he ends up on Earth 833. Although the Spider-Army defeated the clan, several Spiders home universes were destroyed in the fight, including Billy’s. Undeterred, Billy formed the Warriors of the Great Web, a group of Spiders who work to protect the universes that were left unprotected after their home occupying Spiders were killed in the battle.
#7 – Peni Parker (SP//dr, Earth-41512)
Another relatively new Spider, first appearing in 2014 ‘Edge of Spider-Verse #5’ Peni Parker is from a futuristic universe where her father, who Peni never knew, was the former operator of the SP//dr suit. The suit is a robot powered by a radioactive Spider, who only bonds with a human compatible host to control the machine. However, in the opening panel of the issue, her father dies while in battle, leaving the nine-year-old Peni as the only known person who can bond with the spider and operate the SP//dr. After being approached by two scientists who introduce themselves as her Aunt May and Uncle Ben, Peni accepts the responsibility and is bitten by the radioactive spider. Five years down the line she is approached by Spider-Pig, who tells her of Morlune (a member of the Inheritors) traveling through all of the dimensions killing the Spider-People. Without hesitation, Peni goes with him and joins the Spider-Army to defeat the Inheritors.
#6 – Ben Reilly (Scarlet Spider, Earth-616)
Another Earth 616 Spider-Man you ask. Well…kind of. A key figure in Marvel’s highly despised 1990’s series ‘Clone Saga,’ Ben Reilly is one of several clones of Peter Parker created by the Jackal. Although he first appeared in the 1975 original ‘Clone Wars’ arc, the character was presumed dead after only a brief encounter with Spider-Man, which ended with a bomb blowing up the building they were in, leaving the clone trapped under rubble. However, the clone survived and spent the next five years wandering the streets of New York, dubbing himself ‘Ben Reilly,’ taking Uncle Ben’s first name and Aunt May’s maiden name. He suffered from severe depression knowing that he’d always be a knock-off version of the true Peter Parker. Eventually, Ben realized that like Peter, he could use his spider abilities to help people and went on to reunite and work alongside Peter. Nicknamed ‘Scarlet Spider’ by The Daily Bugle. After that things get very messy so you can either A) read Clone Saga or B) spare yourself the pain and watch a recap video on YouTube.
#5 – Peter Parker (Spider-Man Noir, Earth-912014)
If you can’t already tell by the title and picture, this isn’t exactly you’re ‘friendly neighborhood’ Spider-Man. He first appeared in plainly named 2009 series ‘Spider-Man Noir’ which takes place during America’s great depression. Peter lives in poverty with his Aunt May, but is taken in under the wing of an investigative reporter, Ben Urich. Working under him, Peter sees the trails of broken families and bloody corpses that the cities crime lords leave behind them. Unlike Urich, Peter still holds onto the belief that one day he’ll bring the crime lords to justice. After taking a tip meant for Ben, Peter goes to a warehouse where the crime lords are importing a Statue of a Spider God when one of them slips and the statue breaks, unleashing hundreds of spiders. One of which, of course, bites Peter, giving him spider abilities blessed by the Spider God himself… want to guess what happens to the crime bosses then? (Hint: he doesn’t settle for turning them into the corrupt police)
#4 – Gwen Stacy (Ghost-Spider, Earth-65)
In Marvel’s mainstream universe, Earth-616, Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker’s first predominant girlfriend. However, she is kidnapped by the Green Goblin and thrown off a bridge. Although Peter tries to save her by shooting out a web to catch her before she hits the ground, the whiplash breaks Gwen’s neck, killing her. But in the 2014 Edge of Spider-Verse #2, we are introduced to Earth-65’s alternative version of Gwen Stacy. Instead of Peter, she was the one bit by the radioactive spider and develops abilities. Her earths version of Peter Parker, a childhood friend, becomes the villain Lizard, after he injects himself with a formula he concocts in hopes to also develop powers. In a fight between them, Gwen is able to subdue Peter, who transforms back into his normal form, but soon dies in her arms. The message is that no matter what universe any of the Spider-heroes are from, they are all united by their writers’ need to make them suffer mercilessly.
#3 – Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099, Earth-928)
First appearing in the 1992 Spider-Man 2009 #1 Miguel was a scientist working on genetics for his firm. He also has the misfortune of having the worst boss in the world, Tyler Stone. Tyler gets all of his employees addicted to a costly drug that only he can supply them with to force their loyalty to the firm (Remember this if your boss ever offers to take you out to lunch). In an attempt to cure himself of his addiction, Miguel tries to modify his genetic code but is sabotaged by a coworker (Future advice, don’t trust anyone you work with). Although Miguel is cured of his addiction, he developed spider-like abilities, plus claws on his hands and feet, which rip through all articles of clothing except those made out of unstable molecules. But wouldn’t you know, Miguel has just the thing in the form of a Day Of the Dead festival costume, and thus, Spider-Man 2099 is born.
#2 – Jessica Drew (Spider Woman, Earth-616)
As with most comic book characters, Jessica Drew’s (first appeared in 1977’s Marvel Spotlight #32’) origin has gradually altered and changed over time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean it’s become any less complicated. In the most recent version of her origin, her pregnant mother was a scientist that was accidentally hit with a laser beam. This laser contained the DNA of several different spiders, which is how Jessica gained her spider-like abilities. She was recruited and trained under Hydra, escaped them, became a PI, died and was resurrected, lost her abilities, and re-joined Hydra, becoming a spy for them in S.H.I.E.L.D.. She then became possessed by Veronica, queen skull, got de-possessed and sought to make up for all the terrible acts she committed under the power of Veronica, and joined the Avengers. Eventually, she decided to quit and resume her status as a P.I. working with Ben Urich, and the retired villain turned good guy, Porcupine. Currently, Jessica has retired from the superhero life as her top priority is taking care of her newborn son. Questions? No? Good. Moving on.
#1 – Miles Morales (Spider-Man, Earth-616)
Finally, we come to Miles Morales. First appearing in the 2011 series Ultimate Fallout that was based in the Ultimate Marvel universe. Miles gains his powers after he is bitten by a spider that crawled into his Uncle’s bag (Hobart Brown, aka Prowler) when he was robbing Osborn industries and develops spider-like abilities. What has arguably made Miles so successful, is that the Ultimate Marvel universe blends the fantasy world of superheroes with the real world. It humanizes heroes by making them vulnerable, dealing with issues that aren’t just the monster of the week, but emotional turmoil and self-identity. An example of this is when Miles learns both his father and his uncle used to be thieves, he wonders if he is destined to go down the same road as them – if it is built into his DNA. After the Ultimate Marvel universe was canceled, Miles was transferred over into the main Marvel Universe, so don’t worry, Miles Morales’s story has just begun.