With everyone’s favorite webslinger swinging back into theaters this July, ComicsVerse is taking a look back at SPIDER-MAN’s greatest adventures. From the big screen to the small screen to a simple comic panel, we will find out how this ol’ Web Head has evolved since he first webbed his way into our imagination.

Most people outside of the comic nerd bubble think that Peter Parker is the only Spider-Man there is. However, there are so many incarnations of Spider-Man that deserve recognition. You might even find that they are, dare I say it, cooler than Peter Parker?

In a world where comics are spreading across demographics, the characters need to be more representative of the people who read them. Along with a new generation of diverse readers comes a new generation of diverse characters. Specifically, Spider-characters. Since the “SPIDER-VERSE” arc developed through SPIDER-MAN and other adjacent titles, we have met plenty of alternate spiders in our comic filled world.

From the Peter Parkers across different universes to the Uncle Ben’s who somehow never came to a demise — there’s an innumerable amount of alternate spiders that we could talk about. To narrow it down, let’s just take a look at Earth-616. This is the original universe where most of Marvel’s stories take place.

1. Jessica Drew, A.K.A Spider-Woman

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Jessica Drew on the cover of SPIDER-WOMAN #4. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Drew was a little girl with a fatal illness until her father injected her with spider’s blood to help her heal. Not only did the spider’s blood give her powers, but it sped up her aging process, making her a young woman. Since then, she’s been brainwashed by HYDRA, had her powers stolen, died, and been reborn.

That’s the Marvel canon for you. Nowadays, Jessica Drew hangs out with her best gal, Carol Danvers (the female Captain Marvel) and fights evil whenever she can. Despite being one of the alternate spiders instead of an original hero, Drew has struggled with the best of Marvel’s characters…And won.

READ: Check out this article where a ComicsVerse writer talks about how Jessica Drew saved his life!

Jessica Drew has been the center of a few political conversations since her inception in 1978. She’s the oldest one of the alternate spiders on this list — and one of the strongest. Just like many other characters, Drew started off as a one-shot hero in MARVEL SPOTLIGHTS #32 but then was so popular she became a regular. She eventually got her own solo series.

What Are They Most Known For?

Drew was the center of a controversy surrounding an unfair, sexist depiction on the cover of her series. She was, like many other female superheroes, sexualized with illustrations that were far beyond practical. To make up for it, Marvel has redesigned her outfit as cute and practical.

Best Series to Start With:

SPIDER-WOMAN #1 by Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, and Alvaro Lopez. In this series, Spider-Woman has to balance being a mom-to-be, and superhero, and a private investigator! We don’t get to see many pregnant superheroes, and certainly not many as vigorous and competent as Jessica Drew. This series is wholesome while still being action-packed — it’s a must read for Spider-Woman fans.

2. Cindy Moon, A.K.A Silk

alternate spiders
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The same spider that bit Peter Parker — minutes later, it also bit one of his classmates, Cindy Moon. It gave her some of the same powers and some even cooler ones. Moon’s Silk Sense (her version of Spidey Sense) is much stronger than Peter’s. She also has a photographic memory.

Silk is a very new hero, having only existed since 2014. Since then, Marvel has also given her a well-received solo series. Also, she might be in the new 2017 Spider-Man movie.

What Are They Most Known For?

Cindy Moon is a strong, Korean-American superhero. She’s also been one of Peter Parker’s love interests, and a strong asset to the team during the “Spider-Verse” arc. Plus, let’s face it, Silk has one of the coolest Spider costumes around.

Best Series to Start With:

SILK #1 by Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, and Ian Herring. After the events of Spider-Verse, Cindy works to find missing members of her family. In this series, she also teams up with Black Cat. Their dynamic is great. The art of SILK is gorgeous and tells a tale of family, responsibility, and friendship with every decorative panel.

3. Miles Morales

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Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Before someone points out that Miles is not from the 616 Universe, I’ll admit that I made a little exception. You see, Miles Morales is one of my all-time favorite superheroes. Also, he is currently living in the 616 Universe.

READ: Think diversity in comics is important? Check out our CEO’s open letter to Marvel!

A radioactive spider bit Miles, just like Peter. In the Ultimate Universe where Miles is from, Peter Parker died. The Green Goblin killed him, and he died in Mary Jane Watson’s arms. It was a sad moment, not only for the characters in the story but for real people who had loved Peter for a long time. This incident also affected Miles, who watched Peter die. The need for a new hero inspired Miles to take on the mantle of Spider-Man.

 What Are They Most Known For?

Of all the alternate spiders listed, Miles has been an incredible inspiration to many, including me. I’m black and Puerto Rican. Seeing a black Puerto Rican boy take the name of Spider-Man meant a lot to me regarding representation. Also, Miles Morales’ fame began to surge during a particularly tense time regarding race relations in the United States. While many people were traumatized by seeing black boys murdered by the police, watching Miles thrive in his superpowers and escape harm time and time again became an outlet for relief and hope.

Best Series to Start With:

ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, and Justin Ponsor. This is the start of Miles’ run as Spider-Man. On the one hand, we get to see Miles as the sweet teenage boy he is. He hangs out with his friends, loves his family, and does his best. On the other, Miles has to grow exponentially to take on the mantle of Spider-Man. Following this series means supporting the growth of a genuine, strong character.

4. Anya Corazon, A.K.A Araña/Spider-Girl

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Anya in AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL #1. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Anya Corazon is sure to capture any reader’s heart (A pun for my Spanish speakers out there). Since her inception in 2004, Anya has taken many names such as Araña and more famously, Spider-Girl. To save her from a fatal wound, the Spider Society imbued her with fantastical powers. She worked with them for a time before deciding to go solo. She has had a few solo titles, most notably AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL.

READ: SPIDER-MAN comics are not the only thing we are celebrating this month! Check out the pros and cons of Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN!

What Are They Most Known For?

Anya is Marvel’s first Latina superhero. Anya came from Mexico to the United States at the age of five with her father. She takes pride in her Mexican heritage, a trait we see too little of in comics. She also once had a symbiotic exoskeleton to protect her from harm. It emerged from a spider tattoo on her upper arm!

Best Series to Start With:

ARAÑA: HEART OF THE SPIDER #1 by Fiona Avery, Roger Cruz, and Victor Olazaba. Though the art style might not be everyone’s taste — very early 2000s, graffiti-esque art — the story is plenty compelling. Here we delve into Anya’s time as a member of the Spider Society. She also meets Peter Parker in the first issue, and they quickly become friendly. The dialogue is tight, the characters are well-rounded, and Anya kicks some serious butt.

5. Madame Web

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Madame Web in PROWLER #1. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Cassandra Webb, known as Madame Web to most. She is a blind paraplegic who still does amazing things in the Marvel world. She is telepathic, clairvoyant, and can know all the outcomes of a particular situation. Sounds like the strongest of the alternate spiders on this list, no? Kudos to a hero who never physically fought any villains but still aided Peter and others when they needed it most. The fourth Spider-Woman, Charlotte Witter, (I told you there were a lot of incarnations) is also her granddaughter.

READ: SPIDER-MAN comics are not the only thing we are celebrating this month! Check out the analysis of SPIDER-MAN 3!

What Are They Most Known For?

Cassandra Webb is the adviser that Peter Parker has always needed — someone who isn’t afraid to push him to his limits to make him greater. Madame Web is also one of the few mutants to keep her powers after M-Day.

Best Series to Start With:

PROWLER #1 by Sean Ryan, Jamal Campbell, and Javier Saltares. The Prowler was a previous villain in the Spider-Man universe who turned good. In his series is Madame Web’s first appearance after her resurrection. We see her in all her “old sage” glory as she complicates The Prowler’s daily routine. Read this for the art, the twists, and the appearance of our favorite Spider mutant, Madame Web.

Why Should You Care?

Spider-Man was always meant to be a character for teenagers to identify with, according to Stan Lee himself. Peter Parker isn’t someone that everyone can identify with.

With these alternate spiders that have new, more inclusive identities and stories, the idea of Spider-Man can reach much more people. These stories can change more lives, just as Peter Parker did and continued to do. All they need is a chance in the spotlight.

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