Ever since Spider-Man debuted all the way back in 1962, there has been a never-ending parade of alternate versions of everyone's favorite Web-Head. From mechanized Spider-Men to assassin Spider-Men to literal spiders who are also men, comic fans have seen them all. For years, these wacky wall-crawlers existed independently of each other, preferring to spin a web of any size in their own corner of the multi-verse. But then Spider-Verse changed everything.
This ambitious 2014 crossover brought every iteration of Spider-Man together for one massive adventure, and fans ate it up. Getting to see Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Man India, Spider-Man 1602, Spider-Girl and more interact and work together was an opportunity Spider-fans couldn't pass up, and the Spider-Verse event was an immediate smash. Since then, Spiders from across the Spider-Verse have entered the main 616 Marvel Universe, and the Spider-Verse has become a popular addition to the Marvel U. Now, with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse gearing up to bring a menagerie of Spiders to the big screen, true Spidey fans are waiting on bated breath to see how the film stacks up the beloved event. Whether you're a die-hard Spider-nut or you're new to the world of spider-pajama-clad superheroes, CBR invites you to join us as we look back at the biggest Wall-Crawling crossover ever!
15 SURFING THE WEB
The Spider-Verse isn't a loose connection of Spider-Men, web-slinging throughout the multiverse; quite the opposite, in fact. In actuality, the Spider-Verse is connected by the Web of Life and Destiny, an all-powerful connector of universes that tracks every single Spider, and serves as the focal point of the Spider-Verse.
Existing within five-dimensional space, the Web of Life and Destiny was constructed by the Spider-totem deity the Great Weaver, allowing travel between realities for Spiders.
Watched over by the otherworldly being known as the Master Weaver, the Web of Life and Destiny is integral to the Spider-Verse, allowing totemic entities to draw power from it, while also binding the multiverse of Spiders together. Without the Web of Life and Destiny, there would be no Spider-Verse.
14 DOES WHATEVER A SPIDER-TOTEM DOES
During one of the darker periods in the Spider-Man cannon, Peter Parker briefly embarked upon a wacky adventure involving a Spider-God, a Spider-power imbued old man, and a death that resulted in a rebirth with new powers, during which Parker learned of his true nature as a Spider-Totem. While this oddball time in Parker's life was mostly forgotten over the years, the Spider-God and the Spider-Totem would go on to play a large role in the Spider-Verse.
A Spider-Totem is an individual linked to the Web of Life and Destiny, which grants the individual their spider powers. Furthermore, certain Spider-Totems serve as Avatars of the Spider-God, linking them to the Web of Life and Destiny in a way that other Spiders are not. Avatars are considered sacred, and are destined to play a large role in the fate of the Spider-Verse, making them highly sought-after by the Inheritors. But what's an Inheritor? Funny you ask...
13 INHERIT THE EARTH
For as long as there have been Spider-Totems, there have been the Inheritors. This clan of hunters has existed for ages, existing solely to track Totems. But it's not like this family of posh weirdos hunt purely for sport; no, the goal of the Inheritors is much, much worse.
You see, the Inheritors hunt Spider-Men... and eat them.
Yes, don't let the fancy clothes fool you; the Inheritors are brutal and bloodthirsty, hunting Spider-Totems across the multiverse to feed on their life force. Consisting of family patriarch Solus and his children Morlun, Verna, Daemos, Karn, Jennix, Bora, and Brix, the Inheritors exist solely to consume Totems, and they won't rest until every Spider-Totem has been sucked dry of their life energy.
12 THE ONE TRUE SPIDER-MAN
Sure, the multiverse is chock full of people running around in Spider-tights, but at the end of the day, there's only one OG Spider-Man. The Peter Parker of the 616 Universe is a strong, capable hero known the multiverse over, inspiring both hope within his fellow Spiders and fear in the Inheritors. In fact, the OG Spidey is so renowned, one of the Inheritors is too afraid to even hunt the guy.
While Morlun and his fellow Inheritors have killed plenty of Spiders, Morlun hesitates to go after the 616 Wall-Crawler, due in part to a prior encounter that led to an embarrassing defeat. When Spider-Man beat the vampiric hunter and managed to overcome death itself, being reincarnated through the Spider-God with new powers, Morlun left the universe, licking his wounds and vowing vengeance. While Morlun would eventually be goaded into returning to the main Marvel U, the big bad Inheritor remains terrified of the Spider.
11 SPIDEY'S VIDEO GAME ROOTS
Spider-Verse might be one of the biggest Spider-Man events ever, but the concept of bringing every iteration of Spider-Man together was an idea that took plenty of fine tuning. After all, with countless versions of Spider-Man running around the multiverse, just how was a storyline going to work in every iteration of the Web-Slinger?
Writer Dan Slott was faced with this exact dilemma, and he turned to video games for his answer.
Back in 2010, Slott wrote the story for the video game Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which brought Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Man Noir, and Ultimate Spider-Man together in a story spanning the multiverse. Inspired by the story, Slott got to work on a story outline that would go further than Shattered Dimensions, blowing past the four Spider-Men featured to include every iteration of Spidey ever made, giving birth to the Spider-Verse.
10 EVERY SPIDER-MAN EVER
Since debuting in 1962, Spider-Man has spawned numerous alternate universe interpretations. From a manga Spider-Man inspired by the Land of the Rising Sun to British knight Spidey, the multiverse is filled to bursting with alternate-reality Spiders. And they are all in Spider-Verse.
Yes, Spider-Verse is positively choked with people in spider duds. From the standards (616 Spider-Man, Ben Reilly), to the weirder (Spider-Ham, Spider-Monkey), to the just plain out-there (Hostess ads Spider-Man, a sentient Spider-Man car), they all pop up in Spider-Verse. The Spider-Verse is vast, and reaches out to the furthest reaches of the multi-verse to bring together just about every Spider-Man you could imagine.
9 (ALMOST) EVERY SPIDER-MAN
While Spider-Verse set out to assemble every Spider ever, rights holders and lawyers had other ideas. Yes, Spider-Man may be able to spin a web any size, but that doesn't mean ol' Web-Head can overcome a sticky legal web. Thus, while just about every Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, and Spider-Child popped up in Spider-Verse, a couple characters weren't able to join in on the festivities.
Despite writer Dan Slott's best efforts, several Spider-Man were left on the cutting room floor due to legal hiccups.
The Amalgam Universe's Spider-Boy was unable too participate due to partial ownership by rival DC Comics, while Sony's legal team put a kibosh on the inclusion of the Spidey from The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon, and both the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield silver screen interpretations of Spider-Man were off the table as well, though Maguire and Garfield's Spidey's were given sly references in dialogue. Ultimately, these missing Web-Heads prevented Spider-Verse from claiming to include every single Spider-Man, but the crossover event got darn close.
8 ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT SPIDERS
While Spider-Verse's promise to unite every Spider ever was all well and good, fans didn't just want to see every obscure variation of Spider-Man trotted out in brief cameos; no, for an event this big, fans would need new characters, too. Thankfully, Spider-Verse had those in spades.
The series was responsible for introducing the fan favorite web-slinging incarnation of former Spider-Man flame Gwen Stacy, fittingly named Spider-Gwen, the event also introduced the likes of SP//DR, a mech Spider-hero created by former My Chemical Romance lead singer Gerard Way, the guitar-ripping rocker Spider-Punk, and even an Uncle Ben Spider-Man! With an entire multiverse to explore, Spider-Verse used the opportunity to introduce readers to all manner of crazy new Spiders, and fans ate it up.
7 A HIGH BODY COUNT
Spider-Verse was a high-profile event, and a high-profile event calls for a high body count. In a tradition as old as the comic medium, a big crossover event all but guarantees that at least a couple beloved characters will bite the dust, and Spider-Verse was no exception. But while most comic events would just kill off a C-grade hero or two, Spider-Verse had a body count in the low 50s!
When it came to death, Spider-Verse certainly didn't hold back.
Across its seven main issues and numerous tie-ins, fans witnessed Morlun and the gang off the likes of the 1602 Spider-Man, the grizzled old Spider-Man from Reign, Six-Armed Spider-Man, and even the Spider-Man from the classic Hostess comic book ads! In Spider-Verse, no one was safe, and the death toll reflected this.
6 YOU'RE TOO FRUSTRATING TO KILL
As the Inheritors ran roughshod through the multiverse, it seemed as though no Spider was safe. As the bodies piled up and the death toll rose, fans were left wondering just what Spiders were going to make it out alive. As it turns out, one iteration of Spider-Man managed to survive the carnage by inhabiting a world just too frustrating to deal with.
When Morlun heads to the universe of the comic strip Spider-Man with feeding on his mind, he finds his plans thwarted by the repetitive nature of comic strips. As Morlun's plan stagnates due to Spider-Man repeating himself over and over again, Morlun eventually calls the whole thing off, leaving comic strip Spidey alive to seek out a universe less headache-inducing.
5 SPIDER-MEN (AND WOMEN) (AND CARTOON PIG)
When an ancient family of hunters is tearing through your people, it's adapt or die, and that is exactly what one group of Spiders did. During the events of Spider-Verse, an enterprising team of Totems teamed together to form comic-dom's first all-Spider team.
Dubbed the Web Warriors, Spider-Man UK led a crazy team!
It was composed of Pavitr Prabhakar (the Spider-Man of India), the talking pig Spider-Ham, Spider-Gwen, and the steampunk Lady Spider banding together to fight back agains the Inheritors. After the events of Spider-Verse, the team opted to stay together to keep an eye on the Web of Life and to protect the multiverse from future threats.
4 TWO SPIDER-VERSES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
An event such as Spider-Verse was too big to be confined to a single medium. Why, when your story takes place across the entire multiverse, any medium is fair game. As a result, Spider-Verse became the first ever comic event to crossover with its own animated adaption.
In the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, a four part arc saw the titular Ultimate Spider-Man embarking on a Spider-Verse adventure, teaming with the likes of Spider-Man 2099, Miles Morales, and Spider-Man Noir to stop a universe-hopping Green Goblin. Despite following a different plot than the Spider-Verse event, the Ultimate Spider-Man arc is considered canon within the Spider-Verse story, and has been confirmed as happening concurrently with the comic storyline. But Spider-Verse wasn't satisfied simply crossing over with a cartoon; no, the event even made its way into a third medium...
3 GOING MOBILE
While Miles Morales, Miguel O'Hara, and their fellow Spiders made the jump to cartoons, another crossover was in the works. Not satisfied becoming the first comic event to crossover with its own animated adaptation, Spider-Verse also broke barriers in the world of video games.
It became the first comic event to spill into a mobile game!
Popular endless runner Spider-Man Unlimited is no stranger the multiverse, having brought together Spider-Men from every corner of the Web of Life to run, jump, slide, and swing while doing battle with the likes of Green Goblin and The Vulture. To promote Spider-Verse, an event launched that saw Karn, Morlun, Daemos, Jennix, and Solus embark upon a great hunt that brought the Inheritors to the game. While the game's version of the Spider-Verse story certainly involved a lot more swiping and tapping, the event served as an interesting tie-in to the event.
2 SANS GWEN
Without question, one of the most popular Spiders to emerge from the Spider-Verse fracas was the Gwen Stacy of Earth-65, aka the Spectacular Spider-Gwen. Taking Peter Parker's dearly departed former flame and turning her into a punky, attitude-filled web-slinger clicked with fans, and Spider-Gwen would quickly gain traction among readers, receiving a solo title of her very own and even crossing-over with Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man. But this fan favorite Spider very nearly didn't exist.
According to writer Dan Slott, the original plan for Spider-Verse was to introduce a Spider-powered Uncle Ben, who would then serve as a major player throughout the course of the story. Ultimately, it was decided to save Spider-Ben for later in the story for bigger impact, and Slott went back to the drawing board for a character to replace the wall-crawling Uncle. Eventually, the decision was made to create a Spider version of Gwen Stacy, and writer Jason Latour and artist Robbi Rodriguez created the Spider-Gwen fans know and love.
1 TRULY SUPERIOR?
For a time, Doctor Octopus took control of Peter Parker's body, leading to the villainous Doctor assuming the mantle of Spider-Man, dubbing himself the Superior Spider-Man. For a whole year, Doc Ock Spidey waged a ruthless one-man war on crime and generally made people think Spider-Man was a bloodthirsty psycho. On top of this, this iteration of the Web-Head nearly starred in Spider-Verse.
When writer Dan Slott concocted the idea of Spider-Verse, Superior Spider-Man was in full swing, leading to Slott initially tailoring the story with Superior Spidey as its main character. Eventually, Slott realized that a story bringing every iteration of Spider-Man together would require the original recipe Spider-Man, and he put the story on the back burner until Peter Parker regained control of his body. While "SpOck" has his fans, a Doctor Octopus Spidey starring in Spider-Verse would have made for one drastically different story.