"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Spider-Man, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Spider-Man, culminating with the release of the Amazing Spider-Man film in July. Future installments will deal with Spider-Man creators and Spider-Man stories, but this month will be about Spider-Man’s supporting cast and his villains.
You all voted, now here are the results! We’ll begin with Spider-Man’s supporting cast. For the first day, we’ll open with ten characters and the installments will get smaller as we countdown to #1.
25. Kaine (Scarlet Spider II)
Introduced as a mysterious super-villain, over time Kaine became more of a sympathetic character. It was revealed that he was the initial attempt by Dr. Miles Warren to clone Peter Parker, so deep down between the scarred psychopathic behavior he would show, there was a real nobility there. He sought to protect Peter from those that would harm him (as he saw Peter as an idealized brother)…
He initially hated Ben Reilly, but soon came to view him as a brother, as well. Soon after Ben’s death, Kaine went into character limbo.
He returned recently and played a major role in the Grim Hunt storyline, where Kaine decided to sacrifice himself to take the place of Peter (whose death was sought out by Kraven’s family to resurrect Kraven). He died and Peter gave him a burial as “Kaine Parker.” However, the Jackal resurrected him.
At the end of Spider-Island, Kaine ended up with a hi-tech Spider-Man suit. He left New York with the suit and was headed to Mexico to start a new life. He got caught up in Houston where he was sucked into the world of superheroing as the new Scarlet Spider, honoring his dead brother Ben Reilly’s legacy (while, of course, dealing with his past as a killer).
24. The Prowler (Hobie Brown)
One of the things that fascinates me about Hobie Brown is the way that Stan Lee gave us, in Hobie, an example of what Peter Parker might have been like it he had been black. Hobie had the same technological genius as Peter, only the same opportunities that were available to Peter as a young white man were not available to Hobie. Therefore, he was forced into a situation where he used his genius to become a nominal super-villain…
Peter thankfully realized that Hobie was misunderstood more than he was evil, and the Prowler’s career as a villain was very short-lived. He and Spidey became good pals. Prowler has had an on and off superhero career over the past 40 years (more off than on) but Spider-Man knows that he can count on Hobie if he ever needs his help.
23. Norah Winters
A quirky, young reporter for Front Line (now the Daily Bugle), Norah Winters had a strong relationship with Peter Parker…
but even as Peter’s photography career has come to an end, Norah’s importance in the Spider-books continues. She was prominently featured in the acclaimed Osborn mini-series (as she tried to expose Norman Osborn at the height of his powers during Dark Reign. He eventually threatened her off of the story) and regularly appears in Amazing Spider-Man as the go-to reporter for the Daily Bugle.
Introduced into the Spider-Man books as a mercenary hired to take Spider-Man down, the Puma eventually drew to begrudgingly respect Spidey. There was even a time when the Puma (in his secret identity as the millionaire Thomas Fireheart) purchased the Daily Bugle just so he could turn the Bugle into a pro-Spidey propaganda machine. Even then, the Puma felt ill at ease with Spidey. The two, though, eventually came to an understanding…
After being in limbo for awhile, Puma showed up in the pages of Super-Villain Team-Up as a member of the ragtag group known as MODOK’s 11.
21. Silver Sable
The small Balkan nation of Symkaria (neighbor to Latveria) owes its prosperity to the work of Silver Sable International, a company led by Silver Sable, one of the world’s premier mercenaries.
Here she is in in her first appearance…
Her cool demeanor and her beauty make for a striking package, and she has encountered Spider-Man on numerous occasions (including hiring him on a number of missions). She was popular enough to have her own ongoing series, which lasted 35 issues (23 more than Nextwave. The world is unfair).
Her appearances have been sporadic recently, although she just recently popped up into the pages of Amazing Spider-Man to give Spider-Man assistance versus Doctor Octopus.
20. Madame Web
Although she was an invalid (due to suffering from a neuromuscular disease), Madame Web’s powers of precognition were of assistance to Spider-Man on more than one occasion…
It was Black Tom’s Cassidy’s desire to use her powers for evil that led the Juggernaut to try to capture her, which in turn led to the classic Spider-Man/Juggernaut clash.
She appeared less frequently over the years (especially after gaining her mobility again in a storyline at the end of the first volume of Amazing Spider-Man) but recently showed up again as part of the Grim Hunt, as Kraven’s family kidnapped her to use her to aide them in their attacks on Spider-Man. At the end of the storyline, she is killed (but not before transferring her powers on to Julia Carpenter, the heroine formerly known as Spider-Woman, who became the new Madame Web).
Madame Web also played a major role on the 1990’s Spider-Man TV series, which I imagine plays a large role in how fondly she is remembered.
19. Ben Urich
Introduced in the pages of Daredevil, Daily Bugle investigative journalist Ben Urich has always been more of a Daredevil character than a Spider-Man character, but he has appeared in Spider-Man books ever since he debuted and has become a more important character as time has gone by.
Urich eventually left the Daily Bugle to form a small online newspaper. That small online newspaper eventually became the new Daily Bugle (with J. Jonah Jameson’s blessing). Peter Parker worked for them before the name change…
Ben is still a recurring character in the Spider-books, as he works on stories and runs the Bugle along with Joe “Robbie” Robertson.
While their personalities seem to conflict with each other, it seems as though that conflict is what makes Spider-Man and Wolverine such an engaging pair of team-up partners…
What’s fascinating is that while Wolverine’s life is in turmoil with his relationship with many of the X-Men fractured, Spider-Man, who has been his teammate on various Avengers teams since Brian Michael Bendis re-launched the Avengers, might be Wolverine’s closest superhero friend now. That’s not something you’d ever expect to be the case 10 years ago!
17. Doctor Curt Connors
Dr. Curt Connors is the alter ego of one of Spider-Man’s rogues, the evil Lizard, but when the Connors’ personality is in control, he is a sweet guy who routinely helps Spider-Man out as best as he can…
Tragically, Connors’ very existence was destroyed when the Lizard killed Connors’ son, Billy. The act served as a destruction of Connors’ personality within the dual relationship and now only the Lizard remains (although once Connors’ disappeared, the Lizard ironically found himself stuck with some of Connors’ residual emotions – including his inherent kindness).
16. Captain George Stacy
Captain George Stacy was a well-respected retired member of the New York police department who was brought out of retirement to work on a case involving Spider-Man. Stacy, as it turned out, unlike many other members of the police department, was actually pro-Spider-Man.
He relayed this information to Peter Parker, boyfriend of his daughter, Gwen. He was fond of Peter and encouraged his relationship with his daughter.
When he dies saving a young boy from debris caused by Doctor Octopus, we learn that Stacy knows Peter is Spider-Man….
Man, Peter can’t catch a break, huh?
Super-Villains #25-16 is up next!