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.
SPIDER-KID/STEEL SPIDEROllie Osnick was a kid who an incredibly gifted kid who was also a huge fan of Dr. Octopus. A member of a group of teenagers who admired super-villains, Ollie actually built himself a mechanical arm harness similar to Doc Ock’s and called himself Kid Ock. The kid then tried robbing a toy store but freaked out when he realized he might’ve injured a security guard in the process. Then Spider-Man showed up and easily defeated the kid.
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.Years later, we saw Ollie Osnick again. The kid was a little older and now physically fit, having lost his extra weight by seriously exercising. With his new build and a new model of his mechanical spider arms, he decided to try his hand at being a superhero again after his girlfriend was assaulted by muggers. Now wearing a simple black costume, he called himself the “Steel Spider.”
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 SPIDERWe talked about this guy before in the first part of our Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. coverage on Spider-Man. But just to briefly recap, Ben Reilly was a clone of Peter Parker. When Peter believed him dead, Ben was wandering around the U.S. and leading his own life. By the time he and Peter met up again, his personality was somewhat different. He also took the time to consider new weaponry, creating smaller spider-tracers and “impact webbing.”
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.”Because that’s really what this costume looks like. Similar to the Steel Spider, it’s Spider-Man Lite. A red spandex suit with a mask and a hooded sweatshirt that has had the sleeves (and later even the hood) ripped off. Also, the pouches strapped to his ankles seem a bit weird when he already has a belt to carry stuff.
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 gave up the Scarlet Spider identity when a villain named Joe Wade took it and tarnished it with his criminal activities. Joe’s Scarlet Spider identity was… well, a big silvery Spidey-like guy with a red spider emblem on his front and his back. And claws. And that was basically it. Many years after Ben made his final appearance, Spider-Man got a new crimson and gold techno-suit courtesy of Tony Stark AKA Iron Man. After Peter abandoned this suit, three special agents of the Avengers Initiative wore copies of it. This trio was known as Red Team and was nicknamed the Scarlet Spiders. One cool feature these techno-suits had was to alter their appearance to Spider-Man’s other costumes.
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.Kaine is a character with a darker attitude than Peter. He not only has a stealth suit but is someone who has to be much more careful about avoiding attack and being undetected by his enemies since he has no spider-sense to warn him of danger or help in a fight. He looks very similar to Spider-Man but also successfully gives off a darker atmosphere.
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.”
SPIDER-MAN 2099In 1992, Marvel created a line of titles that took place in the year 2099, depicting a possible future version of its superhero universe. It all kicked off with Spider-Man 2099. The story introduced Miguel O’Hara, a sarcastic, egotistical geneticist who wound up becoming a hybrid of human and spider. He had strength, speed, agility and coordination on par with Peter Parker, but no spider-sense. On the flipside, he had powers Peter didn’t have, such as organic webbing, heightened vision, and fangs that delivered paralytic venom.
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.In the story, the costume was explained as originally having been worn for a Day of the Dead party, hence the skull design. The costume was made of unstable molecule fabric, originally developed by Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. Unstable molecule fabric (UMF) interacts with powers and is pretty impossible to damage. So Miguel was able to use his talons without shredding his gloves and boots in the process. After becoming Spider-Man, Miguel decided he needed an extra feature to help him take advantage of the wind currents since the New York of 2099 had much taller buildings that weren’t necessarily close enough to each other for proper web-slinging. So he made himself a “web-cape” of “lyte byte,” a material made for gliding that also had anti-gravity properties.
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.However, for your own enjoyment, here are some altered images showing a dark gray coloring instead, thus giving us a version of Spider-Man 2099 that truly seems to be wearing a black and red suit.
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…
SPIDER-MAN NOIRLike Miguel, “Spider-Man Noir” is the inhabitant of an alternate timeline. Normally, we stay away from such timelines except in special cases. This version of Spider-Man has proven very popular and has appeared in the video game ”Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions” alongside the mainstream Peter Parker, so we figured he merits inclusion in this article.
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.I understand that this wasn’t supposed to look like a superhero costume, but I still think a bit more could have been done to make this hero look like a Spider-Man and not just a thief. A simple silver spider emblem stamped on the forehead or a spider-badge on the coat could have done the trick. The video game ”Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions” put him in a vest that had a spider-emblem on the back, so that was something at least, but I still would’ve liked some symbol on the front.
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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