Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. - SPIDER-MAN Knock-Offs
Marvel !st Look: SCARLET SPIDER #1
Last week, we discussed the many standard costumes of Peter Parker AKA Spider-Man. First published in June of 1962 (although it was official the August issue), Spider-Man just celebrated his 50th anniversary with an official Spider-Man Week in New York City and the just-released movie The Amazing Spider-Man, which is introducing the character to a new generation of fans. This year also included the return of Spider-Man to cartoon media with the new series ”Ultimate Spider-Man” and Marvel is rocking out a very special crossover story in their mini-series Spider-Men.
But what some folks don’t realize is that Peter Parker has inspired others to take up the mantle of a spider-themed hero. We’ve already discussed the various heroes who have used the names “Spider-Woman” and “Spider-Girl.” Let’s see who else is slinging webs in the Marvel Comics multiverse.
Believing Ollie had realized what he’d done was wrong, and seeing that the guard was not really hurt, Spidey let the kid go. He was right, Ollie never wanted to emulate super-villains again after that night. Instead, he now idolized Spider-Man. With a little modification, he altered his mechanical arm harness so that it resembled the legs of a spider. Wearing a Spider-Man costume (and his glasses), he then donned this new harness and proclaimed himself the spectacular Spider-Kid, determined to become the web-slinger’s sidekick.
Spidey appreciated the teenager’s desire to help, but told him flat out “no.” Spider-Kid then joined up with the mutant Toad and the masked Frog-Man, both of whom had always wanted to be Spidey’s sidekicks. The trio was known as the Misfits but they quickly split up and went their separate ways.
Ollie’s first outfit is rather comical and it was supposed to be. He wasn’t intended to be his own character really, just a kid who let his love of Spider-Man go a little too far. As the Steel Spider, he doesn’t look bad, but he doesn’t look all that interesting either beyond the mechanical arms. His costume just says “Spider-Man Lite.” Spidey was his inspiration, but he should still look pretty cool on his own. A simple spider symbol and two Spidey-style eyes isn’t really cutting it.
THE SCARLET SPIDER
So that people wouldn’t confuse him with Spidey, Ben donned his own costume and called himself the Scarlet Spider. You’d think it would attract just as much attention for New York to suddenly have yet another spider-themed hero with a very similar mask who habitually traveled via web-lines, but somehow people never thought “Wow, it’s just Spider-Man wearing a hoodie.”
Now, to be fair, the idea was to have a costume that looked as if it were assembled “off the rack” and that is certainly what this suit says.
Ben Reilly was not the only clone made from Peter Parker’s DNA. Another one was called Kaine. Initially, this clone suffered disfigurement and cellular degeneration. But after helping out Peter during a recent storyline called “Spider-Island,” Kane’s condition stabilized and his disfigurements were healed. Since then, he’s headed off to Houston in a stealth suit that Peter invented. With this suit, he has become the new Scarlet Spider.
The gloves have the digits colored black, giving the impression of claws. This works for Kaine since his wall-clinging ability is so strong he can scar others with his hands, using the “Mark of Kaine.”
While Peter stuck to walls thanks to “bio-magnetism” (similar to spiders clinging to surfaces with the aid of electro-static force), Miguel had actual talons on his fingers and feet. These talons could also be used as weapons as they easily shredded through flesh and some forms of body armor. These natural weapons, along with the fact that Miguel lived in a future where the police were replaced by privatized security forces, made it clear this was a darker take on the hero. This was not the kind of guy who would call himself “your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” So the spider-skull symbol definitely works for this character.
Now, although the costume was colored in a way that made it look blue and red, characters in the story always referred to it as a black costume. This is similar to how Peter’s costume was meant to be red and black but coloring later caused it to become red and blue, instead. Miguel’s alter ego was often referred to as “the man in black” but you wouldn’t think that from the art. In new video games, Miguel has appeared alongside Peter Parker and is wearing a costume that very clearly has a very dark blue and maroon color scheme.
Although he was an inhabitant of a possible future, Spider-Man 2099 was popular enough that he’s encountered a few different heroes from different realities of the Marvel multiverse. He’s also teamed up with Peter himself in both comics and video games. Though he hasn’t had his own comic book series for over a decade, fans haven’t forgotten Miguel O’Hara.
And speaking of heroes in black…
Just for fun, Marvel published a few mini-series that reimagined their characters as inhabitants of fictionalized Depression Era America. In this world, Peter Parker seems to have been chosen by a mystical spider-god and given great power. This version of Peter had the familiar speed, strength and agility of a spider and could spray black organic webbing from his hands (though he couldn’t focus it enough to create web-lines for swinging). Unlike most Spider-Men across the multiverse, this Peter Parker had no superhuman wall-clinging ability.
The world of Marvel Noir was not one meant for colorful superheroes and so Spider-Man Noir just wore a black outfit, a leather mask, and goggles. The stitching on his mask gave a small implication of webs, but that was all, really. Take away the mask and this is just a guy in a dark coat and turtleneck who’s dressed for the winter.
And that wraps it up for now, folks. Enjoy Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary by enjoying his adventures in comics, film, cartoon, video games, novels or whatever else you can find! Until next time, this is Alan Kistler, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., signing off![Alan Sizzler Kistler is the author of the Unofficial Spider-Man Trivia Challenge and the Unofficial Batman Trivia Challenge, available at book stores such as Barnes & Noble and at Amazon. He has been recognized as a comic book historian by news media outlets and publishers. He believes Isaac Asimov should be required reading. His Twitter handle is: @SizzlerKistler]
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