Spider-Man is such a resilient and iconic character that the legend of the arachnid crime fighter can endure even when Peter Parker isn’t the one under the mask. Heck, even Doctor Octopus was once locked inside Peter Parker’s mind, controlling the hero’s every action, transforming the once likable hero into cold and calculating Superior Spider-Man.
Spider-Man has also been a clone, a robot, fought crime in the future, in alternate realities, and even piloted a giant Japanese mech (what?), but no matter what iteration Spidey has taken, the legend has endured.
With Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse now in theaters, we take a look at the other versions of Spider-Man who have spun a web (any size!) over the years, from the frightening to the cool to the evil and even the downright strange.
Kang’s Spider-Man Robot
First Appearance: Avengers #11 (1964)
Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck
The first time the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes, the Avengers, met Spider-Man, it was not actually Peter Parker in the red and blue suit. It was a robot created by Kang. Now, it’s pretty badass that Kang can just use future tech to whip up a robot that perfectly replicate’s Spider-Man’s powers, but the ‘bot also almost took out the entire Avengers team. The real Peter Parker had to show up to kick the robot’s doppelganger butt and save the Mighty Avengers, marking the first Avengers/Spider-Man team-up, something film fans would chew off their own thumbs to see.
Before it was revealed that this faux Spider-Man was a machine, the Avengers even offered the phony arachnid Avenger’s membership, something the real Spidey would not gain for decades. Changing its name to Timespinner, The Kang Spider-bot even made a second appearance in Marvel Team-Up #4 (1996), taking on Spider-Clone Ben Reilly and the Avengers.
First Appearance Not Brand Ecch #2 (1967)
Created by Stan Lee and Marie Severin
Spidey-Man was the satirical version of Spider-Man that appeared in Marvel’s legendary parody book Not Brand Echh. Spidey-Man was drawn by the recently passed first lady of the Marvel Age Marie Severin so we thought we would honor one of her more lighthearted creations. Thank you for all you did, Marie, you will be missed.
First Appearance: Midnight Sons Unlimited #3 (1993)
Created by Mort Todd
This might be the most ’90s concept ever.
A combination of Spider-Man and the once popular but oversaturated dark world of the Midnight Sons with an X thrown in there for good measure to hook gullible 1990s X-Men fans, Spider-X was a young, super hero obsessed kid named Brian Kornfield. Kornfield was transformed by the demonic tome the Darkhold into the ultra-violent Spider-X. Spider-X is a horrific parody of Spider-Man and his brutal tactics have brought this monstrous arachnid into conflict with Ghost Rider, Morbius, and other dark Marvel heroes.
I mean, is this guy excessive or what? He even shoots acid webs! Oh, early ’90s Marvel, we really don’t miss you. Except for Sleepwalker. We really dig Sleepwalker.
First Appearance Ultimate Spider-Man #1 (2000)
Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley
One of the most important alternate Spider-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man took the world by storm with his debut issue in 2000. The concept was simple, follow the Lee/Ditko formula but in modern times. Fans fell in love with Ultimate Spidey due to the earnestness and honesty creators Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley infused the character with as they tweaked the Spider-Man legend.
Ultimate Spidey almost isn’t an alternate Spidey at all because the character is so infused with that Lee/Ditko magic DNA that makes Spider-Man so special. But when Ultimate Spidey dies in battle with the Green Goblin, a new legend as born as Miles Morales rises to take on the mantle of Spider-Man. With this bit of story genius, Ultimate Peter Parker takes on the Uncle Ben role to Miles and the legacy of Ultimate Spidey greatly diverges from the classic Peter.
Ultimate Spidey may be gone, but for over a hundred issues Bendis and Bagley reminded the world why Spider-Man is so great. So thanks Ultimate Spidey, you were truly spectacular and always amazing.
First Appearance: Avataars: Covenant of the Shield #1 (2000)
Created by Len Kaminski and Oscar Jimenez
Yes, having the words Avatar, Spider-Man, and the Avengers all in one concept might make Hollywood’s collective heads explode. Marvel’s Avaatars are alternative reality versions of super-heroes that dwell on a sword and sorcery world called Eurth. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones with more costumes and less incest. The Webslinger is the medieval version of Spider-Man, and fights alongside Captain Avalon and his team of super knights.
Actually, it all sounds kind of cool. Who is up for a return to Eurth? Just think of it: armored versions of Daredevil, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Iron Ma-uh, you know what, never mind.
House of M: Spider-Man
First Appearance: Spider-Man: House of M #1 (2005)
Created by Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, and Salvador Larroca
House of M is considered one of the better Marvel crossovers of the modern Marvel era. Of course there was a huge role for Peter Parker in the world where mutants ruled.
The House of M version of Spidey is fraught with irony, as Peter actually lives a good life in the dystopian reality. For one, the world believes Peter to be a mutant and as such, this Spider-Man gains fame and acceptance that the regular Marvel Universe Spider-Man never received, and many great tragedies of the Spider-Man mythos have been avoided. Uncle Ben and Aunt May are both alive and well, Peter is married to and has a child with Gwen Stacy, and Sony never interfered in the scripting of Spider-Man 3 and actually let Sam Raimi make a good movie (I made that last bit up).
First appearance: Spider-Man: Reign #1 (2006)
Created by Kaare Andrews
Spider-Man: Reign is an older version of Peter Parker who comes out of retirement to save his city from a conspiracy involving Venom. Spider-Man: Reign is one of the darkest takes on the Spidey legend you will ever see. The character is killed in Spider-Verse when his head his caved in with his dimension’s version of Mary Jane’s tombstone. See? Told you. Dark.
Amazing Spider-Man Family #1 (2008)
Created by Karl Kesel and Ramon Bachs
Spider-Monkey is almost exactly like Spider-Man. Except he’s a monkey.
Appearing as part of the 2008 Marvel Apes event, Spider-Monkey was kind of an arrogant dick and did not hesitate to kill. He did fight Doctor Ooktavius though, so there you go. Sadly, Spider-Monkey was killed during the Spider-Verse comics event. Also sadly, Spider-Monkey did not shoot webs out of his ass. You missed some easy hanging fruit there, Marvel.
First Appearance Amazing Spider-Man #700 (2012)
Created by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos
Let’s face it, on the surface having Doctor Octopus take over Peter Parker’s body and mind after Parker seemingly dies could have been just a dumb idea. Having Ock stay in the body for well over a year is just batshit insane. But you know what? It all worked, and against all odds and logic, Superior Spider-Man became one of the best conceived and best written alternate Spideys of all time.
At first it seemed that Superior Spider-Man was way more successful being Spidey than Peter ever was. As Spidey, Ock fixed Peter’s life and became a more efficient hero. Or at least he did on the surface, while in Peter’s body, Ock began to see just how rare and special Peter’s heroism was and became a better man through Peter’s example. At the end, Ock sacrificed himself to bring Peter back because the world needed the greatest, the best, the original, Spider-Man.
In recent years, Ock has returned and Marvel is paving the way for Ock as a new Superior Spider-Man. How will Amazing and Superior coexist? Stay tuned, true believer for the next stage of the legacy of the Superior Spider-Man.
First appearance Edge of Spider-Verse #5 (2014)
Created by Gerard Way and Jake Wyatt
SP//dr is an alternate universe version of Spidey created during Spider-Verse. She is a Japanese student named Peni Parker who is adopted by May and Ben Parker. She shares a psychic link with a suit of mech armor and helping her pilot the mech is an intelligent radioactive spider because awesome.
With all the Spider-Verse films and games on the way, we have a feeling that Peni Parker may become a big deal because let’s face it, there is just so much potential in a character that is a young Japanese kid adopted by the Parkers and BFFs with a heavily armored mech spider thing.
First appearance The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 3 #10 (2014)
Created by Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel
No, Spider-Punk is not a surly but compelling wrestler from Chicago who quit the WWE and is really vulnerable to being punched by MMA fighters.
Spider-Punk is another alternate version of Spidey introduced in Spider-Verse. Spider-Punk is really Hobart Brown. Brown lives on a world ruled by President Norman Osborn and uses his powers and punk rock influence to take the battle to the man! In the regular MU, Hobie Brown is the Prowler; so really, Spider-Punk is part of two Marvel legacies. Between comics and video games, Spider-Punk has been all over the place lately, so look for big things from this safety pin wearing punk rocker. OI!!!!
“Golden Sponge Cakes” Spider-Man
First Appearance: Spider-Verse #1 (2014)
Created by Dan Slott and Ty Templeton
Remember those old schools Hostess snack cake adds of the ’70s where the heroes would defeat a large cross section of bad guys by tempting them with Twinkies, cupcakes, or fruit pies? Well, that shit’s canon, and that makes us so happy.
In the Spider-Verse event, writer Dan Slott introduces us to a version of Spidey that runs into the murderous Morlun. When encountering Morlun, this Spidey does what he does best, he tries to tempt the multi-dimensional killer with Golden Sponge Cakes. Morlun kills “Golden Sponge Cakes” Spider-Man. Bastard. But hey, the fact that “Golden Sponge Cakes” Spider-Man Spidey exists proves that there is hope for the human race.
Renew Your Vows Spider-Man
First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 (2015)
Created by Dan Slott and Adam Kubert
One of the most notorious moments in Marvel history is when Marvel abandoned the child of Peter and Mary Jane. Whaattt? Yeah, it happened. Mary Jane was pregnant, she was kidnapped, an unknown enemy stole the unborn child, and it was never spoken of again. Of course, the Spider-marriage ended as well in One More Day so it seemed like fans would have to live without the wedded Spider bliss. It goes without saying that fans would also have to live without the Spider-Kid… until Renew Your Vows, that is.
Renew Your Vows introduces a world where Peter and MJ are still married and are raising their lost-in-our-universe daughter Annie Parker. The three become a crime fighting trio as Peter trains wife and daughter to be just as amazing as he is. Renew Your Vows Spidey is a great look at what could have been if Spider-Man was allowed to become Family-Man.
First Appearance: Monthly Shōnen Magazine January 1970 – September 1971
Created by Kōsei Ono, Kazumasa Hirai, and Ryoichi Ikegami
Yes, Japan had two Spider-Men of its own. This is the less insane one.
When Junior High Schooler Yu Komori is bitten by a radioactive spider, he is transformed into Japan’s own wall crawling sensation. Similar characters and tropes from the legend of Peter Parker defined the Spider Manga. Yu had a loving elderly Aunt and worked for a cantankerous newspaper publisher, plus, he fought such menaces as Electro, the Lizard, and the Kangaroo.
Now let’s get this straight, of all the great Spider-Man villains to choose from, the Japanese creators of manga Spidey go with the Kangaroo?
Let’s just hope Mark Webb doesn’t follow that lineage of villains. He’s two-thirds there already! Manga Spidey is a fascinating alternate take on Spider-Man and is well worth seeking out, but really Japan, the Kangaroo?
MC2 Peter and Spider-Girl
First appearance: What If (Vol. 2) #105 (1998)
Created by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz
If old school is your thing, then MC2 Peter Parker and his daughter “Mayday” are the heroes for you. Essentially, the MC2 Universe was designed to be the next chapter in the saga of the Marvel Universe, stories that exist in a possible future.
Spider-Girl saw a retired Peter Parker try to find a sense of non-super-hero normalcy after he lost his leg in the battle with the Green Goblin. After his daughter May develops spider powers, May and Peter are thrust back into a world of adventure.
Writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz fought low sales for almost a decade but kept plugging away at the Spider heroes of tomorrow. It’s a bit surprising that neither Disney nor Sony has tried to exploit this property It screams ‘tween sitcom.
Gerry Drew Spider-Man
First appearance: Spider-Girl #32 (2001)
Created by Ron Frenz and Tom DeFalco
Another MC2 DeFlaco and Frenz creation, Gerry Drew was the son of the original Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. A rare blood ailment was killing the poor Drew child but it also granted him strange powers. Gerry decided to spend his last days fighting crime and trained under Darkdevil (who was, y’know, Daredevil, but dark…oh, comics).
Gerry didn’t wear the webs for long, but he was a neat character study into the psyche of a dying young man. Happily, Reed Richards promised to find a cure for the boy. Usually, Reed keeps his promises of finding a cure unless he’s trying to cure someone covered in orange rocks, so things probably worked out well for young Gerry.
I mean seriously Disney/Sony or whomever, this has CW or ABC Family drama written all over it. Why aren’t you on this? Victoria Justice as Spider-Girl…It writes itself!
First appearance: Ultimate Fantastic Four #22 (2005)
Created by Mark Millar and Greg Land
Superheroes are popular, and so are zombies. When Marvel mashed up their pantheon of heroes with flesh-devouring zombies, they discovered the two genres went great together.
On an alternate universe discovered by the Ultimate Fantastic Four, Marvel’s brightest paragons of justice had turned into lumbering flesh eaters. First Mark Millar and Greg Land, and then Mr. Zombie himself, Robert Kirkman, and artist Sean Phillips presented the dark world of Marvel Zombies, and by Odin’s dangling nether parts, was it disturbing.
Peter Parker was a particularly twisted version of the classic character, as ‘ol Pete was just as ravenous a flesh eater as the other atrocities, except Peter, in true Peter fashion, was ravaged with guilt over once having devoured Aunt May and Mary Jane Watson. One can only guess what happened to Ms. Lion.
After Kirkman, many other writers followed, fleshing (ha) out the twisted world of Marvel Zombies, and poor old guilt ravaged Peter was along for the ride, proving again and again with great power comes great hunger and the need to eat peoples’ faces and internal organs. Where’s Daryl Dixon when you need him?
First appearance: Mutant X #6 (1999)
Created by Howard Mackie and Cary Nord
In the Mutant X universe, (it was a reality where the regular Marvel Universe Havok went for a bit, Storm was a vampire…It was the ‘90s, don’t ask questions). Spider-Man was a mutated hero with four arms that joined forces with the heroes of that reality. He was killed by the villainous Goblin Queen and replaced with a four armed clone who was also killed at some point.
In the regular Marvel Universe, the real Spidey also had four arms for a brief period of time in a classic story by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Gil Kane (Amazing Spider-Man #100-103), where he fought the Lizard and the freshly introduced Morbius. That story was awesome. Mutant X, not so much.
First Appearance: Powerless #1 (2004)
Created by Matt Cherniss, Peter Johnson, Alex Maleev, and Michael Gaydos
On the surface, Marvel’s 2004 mini-series Powerless doesn’t sound like the most gripping of sagas, but it was actually a surprisingly good read with insanely cool art.
The premise of the book is a world of super-heroes with no super powers. Most people just call that reality, but it remains one of Marvel’s best experimental series of the last decade.
In this powerless world, Peter Parker uses the net handle Spider-Man and is still bitten by a radioactive spider. Instead of super powers, Powerless Pete has a nasty, atrophied arm. Of all the Peters in all the multiverse, this one got the short end of the stick. With shriveled nasty arm, comes absolutely no responsibility beyond weekly doctor’s appointments and massive doses of antibiotics.
First Appearance: Marvel 1602 #1 (2003)
Created by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
Neil Gaiman’s contribution to the Spider-Man mythos, Peter Parquagh appeared in the great 1602 mini-series. Parquagh was an apprentice to the royal spymaster Nicholas Fury. As Parquagh globetrots with his master, he is constantly coming close to being bitten by unusual spiders. This finally happens in one of the 1602 sequels not written by Neil Gaiman (it was Greg Pak), and Parquagh’s life as a colonial adventure begins in earnest. It’s all very cool and a bit streampunky, and listen, it’s all created by Gaiman, so just read it.
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #365 (1992)
Created by Peter David and Rick Leonardi
Even in the far-flung future, power and responsibility are irrevocably linked. In the long running Spider-Man 2099 series by Peter David and Rick Leonardi, all the elements that make Peter Parker so special are packaged and shipped into the future, where a geneticist named Miguel O’Hara wields the webs. O’Hara is a hero cut from the same cloth as Peter: a victim of an experiment gone wrong, he uses his powers to help his really close to dystopian future.
Spider-Man 2099 featured kickass world building by David. Using the world of Spider-Man and the Marvel Universe proper as a template, David built a fully functional future that was new enough to grip readers but different enough to provide for an alternate experience to regular Marvel continuity.
O’Hara is currently swinging around the present Marvel Universe and will soon be featured in his own title written by, because the comic gods are kind, Peter David.
The rest of the world learned of the awesomeness of O’Hara in the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions video game, and it looks like Marvel would like nothing better than a 2099 resurgence.
First appearance: Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man #1 (1995)
Created by Created by Peter David and Mike Wieringo
When Peter Parker met Miguel O’Hara, another era’s Spider-Man went along for the ride: the tragic Spider-Man of 2211, Max Borne. It appears this Spidey was “Borne” to suffer. (editor’s note: booooooooo!)
With the other Spider-Men, Borne had to fight his age’s Hobgoblin, who was actually his daughter driven completely bugnuts. This Hobgoblin was eventually killed by something called a retcon bomb, a weapon that would later be utilized by Dan Didio (oh, stop, we’re just kidding). If that wasn’t tragic enough, at story’s end, Borne is shot and killed by his era’s Chameleon, posing as Uncle Ben.
Wow, that’s one tragic Spidey. I’m shocked he didn’t Oedipaly kill Uncle Ben and marry Aunt May. Yeeesh. Spidey 2211 was designed by Mark Wieringo, so you know he’s visually awesomesauce.
First appearance: Spider-Man Noir #1 (2009)
Created by Created by David Hine and Carmine Di Giandomenico
His hands were stickier than a pick pocket at a taffy convention, he stuck to walls like dames stick to their make-up mirrors. And the way the creators of the Spider-Man: Noir mini weaved in noir elements while maintaining the super-hero integrity of the story was quite the narrative trick. Spider-Man: Noir remains one of the most successfully daring alternate versions of Spider-Man to date.
Now excuse me while I continue to practice my noir parlance: Miss Watson’s hair was so red it made blood insanely jealous, she had a body that made a priest want to break a stained glass window…
This version of Spidey also appeared in the Shattered Dimensions video game.
First Appearance: Spider-Man: India #1 (2004)
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