Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the upcoming two-part sequel to the blockbuster animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and like its predecessor, Across the Spider-Verse seems poised to introduce a whole host of alternate versions of Spider-Man from around the Marvel Multiverse.
As viewers will recall, Into the Spider-Verse went deep into Spidey lore to bring together its cast of heroes, even recruiting Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.
But believe us when we say Spider-Ham is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the weirdest, wackiest, wildest versions of Spider-Man from Marvel Comics.
Here are the ten weirdest versions of Spider-Man, who we probably won't see in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (but we'd sure kinda like to!).
What if Spider-Man was part dinosaur?
I know we've all pondered this question a million times, and thankfully the lovably '90s Excalibur #51 has the answer in Arachnosaur, a half-dino hybrid creation of the mad geneticist the High Evolutionary who is part of his personal guard of dino-fied superhero clones the Fantastic Five.
PS: even though this is a Spidey-centric list, everyone loves (hates?) a good (terrible?) pun, so here are the other members of the Fantastic Five pictured above, ranked with our commentary:
- Saur Fantastic (this dino version of Mr. Fantastic is a reach - and that's a better pun than the name).
- Dino-Torch (it's a straightforward riff on Human Torch, but we like the simplicity).
- Invisiguandon (a superlative portmanteau of Invisible Woman and Iguanadon. We're greenlighting her solo title).
- The Thing (yep, no pun here, just a weird hairy guy who says "HONK!" instead of "It's Clobberin' Time!").
Someday we'll tell you about Shadowcompsagnathus and the other members of the dinosaur Excalibur…
Golden Spongecake Spider-Man
Who remembers those funky ads for Hostess Fruit Pies (copyright, ™, etc all the relevant parties) that appeared in '70s and '80s comics, where superheroes would divert their foes from their dastardly schemes by distracting them with the delicious taste of those fruit-filled treats?
Dan Slott and Ty Templeton certainly remembered in 2014's Spider-Verse event, when they hilariously brought the Hostess ad version of Spidey into the core Marvel Universe under the nickname 'Golden Spongecake Spider-Man' (probably to avoid all those TMs and copyrights we mentioned).
By the way, the so-called 'Golden Spongecake' Spidey had a whole rogues gallery of villains appearing solely in those comic strip ads, with names like 'Legal Eagle,' 'Chairman,' 'Home Wrecker,' 'Photoman,' and 'The Human Computer.'
Wonder why they never made the jump to mainstream comics?
Maybe it's cheating just a little to have a three-way tie of animal-themed Spider-Men here, but then again, we're the ones making these rules - so who's gonna stop us?
First up is Spider-Cat, a literal housecat with all the powers of a Spider-Man who hails from Earth-999.
Then there's Spider-Wolf, a Spider-Man with all the powers of a werewolf who comes from Earth-13939, which is of course the werewolf dimension (no we're not making that up).
And finally, there's Spider-Monkey, a murderous version of Spider-Man from Earth-8101, the world of the Marvel Apes, where everyone is part ape or monkey, all the way down to characters like the Ape-Vengers and Doctor Ooktavius.
In the '70s, Spider-Man got his own snoozer of a live-action TV show in the US which lost most of the colorful charm of the comic book source material.
But across the world, Japanese audiences were treated to their own live-action Spider-Man whose whole deal went in the exact opposite direction, ramping up the sci-fi weirdness with a totally new version of the hero named Takuya Yamashiro, based in the popular Super Sentai transforming hero genre.
The Japanese version of Spider-Man comes with all the best (and most inscrutable) Super Sentai trappings, from a groovy costume transformation sequence to a giant-robo vehicle/companion named 'Leopardon,' who can transform into an even more powerful form known as 'Marveler.'
Takuya Yamashiro made it into Marvel Comics continuity as an inhabitant of his own reality in the Multiverse, Earth-51178, as part of 2014's Spider-Verse event.
Tsum Tsum Spider-Man
Believe it or not, this absolutely bizarre toy tie-in version of Spider-Man (based on Marvel parent company Disney's Tsum Tsum line of formless, cylindrical plushies decorated in the likeness of Disney-owned characters) actually appeared in the core Earth-616 Marvel Universe.
As hard as that is to explain, we'll try (briefly). In the Marvel Tsum Tsum Takeover tie-in comic, Tsum Tsum are depicted as adaptable alien beings that can take on not the shape or form, but the general appearance of other beings.
And this one decided it wanted to be Spider-Man, I guess… Can't blame 'em! So did I way back when I was a shapeless, formless alien being.
Marvel Comics purists will be quick to correct anyone who misses the hyphen in the name 'Spider-Man.' But weirdly enough, Peter Parker was actually beaten to the page in Marvel Comics by a guy named 'The Spiderman' by nearly 20 years.
The Spiderman debuted as a villain of '40s era hero Miss America back when Marvel was still known as Timely Comics. Unlike Peter Parker, he didn't have any superpowers. But somewhat like Peter Parker, he was a scientist who made an almost indestructible web formula.
Ai Apaec is not a Spider-Man so much as a Spider-God - and a relatively brutal one at that.
Known as 'Ai Apaec the Decapitator' to the people of his native Peru (based on the real-world mythology of the Mochica people of Peru), the monstrous Ai Apaec takes the form of a twisted version of Spider-Man after being captured by Norman Osborn for recruitment into his Dark Avengers.
Peter Parker spent years protecting his dear old Aunt May from the shock of learning he's Spider-Man. But in What If? #23, the Aunt May of Earth-3123 is bitten by a radioactive spider rather than her nephew Peter, becoming the kindly elderly vigilante known as 'Spider-Ma'am.'
And, well, yeah, that's pretty much it. The whole deal is right there in the wacky name (and we love it).
Now, who's up for some wheat cakes?
In one horrible version of Peter Parker's origin, set on Earth-11580, rather than being bitten by a single radioactive Spider, poor Pete fell into a massive vat of them, quickly being devoured into nothingness.
Talk about the ol' Parker Luck.
The spiders became a sentient colony operating as a single entity that believes itself to be Peter Parker. The ickily-named Spiders-Man became a double agent in the story Spider-Geddon, working both alongside the Superior Spider-Man (the hero at the heart of Spider-Geddon) and betraying him to the story's villain Spider-Nor-Man, a mash-up of Peter Parker and his arch-enemy Norman Osborn from yet another reality in the Multiverse.
Spider-Jameson, the Super Astronaut
In the mainstream Marvel Universe, J. Jonah Jameson has often tried to discredit Spider-Man and uncover his secret identity. But on the world of Earth-78327 from What If? #7, he gets in on the ground floor when his own son, astronaut John Jameson III, is bitten by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker.
Yes, he receives all of Spidey's usual powers, but does John Jameson become his world's Spider-Man?
Instead, his dear ol' dad takes the reigns, designing him a costume that proves JJJ should leave the creative visuals to Peter Parker (and maybe just never ever design anything again… ever), and dubbing him 'Spider-Jameson, the Super-Astronaut.'
This from a Pulitzer Prize winner…