By any definition, Spider-Man has some of the best supervillains in superhero comics. Since his earliest days, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s signature web-slinger has faced bizarre villains who’ve thrilled readers and starred in some of the most famous comic books of all time. While several Spider-Man villains are icons in their own right, some of Spider-Man’s other foes aren’t all that sinister. Every decade of Spider-Man comics has been filled with some forgettable enemies, but the 1990s were especially harsh to the wall-crawler. With never-ending crossovers like “Maximum Carnage” or “The Clone Saga,” many of Spider-Man’s lesser villains embodied the worst qualities of comics’ most extreme era.
Now, CBR is counting down the Spider-Man villains who should’ve stayed in the 1990s. For this list, we’ll be looking back at the bad guys and villain teams who helped make that era’s Spider-Man stories some of the most infamous comics Marvel ever published. While all of these villains weren’t created in the 1990s, they all exemplify that decade’s styles and storytelling trends in ways that will forever tie them to that decade. Even though a few of these characters have survived and thrived in more recent times, most of these characters are simply too extreme for the 21st century.
17. LADY OCTOPUS/DOCTOR OCTOPUS II
The original Doctor Octopus, Otto Octavius, is one of Marvel’s most famous villains, but his female replacement has had a considerably less illustrious career. Created by J.M DeMatteis and Angel Medina in 1995’s Amazing Spider-Man #406, Carolyn Trainer had an obsessive crush on Octavius and became his lab assistant. After he was killed, Trainer used one of his spare set of tentacles and a force-field generator to become the second Doctor Octopus.
With a bright shock of pink or magenta hair and a bright green costume, Doctor Octopus II was one of Spider-Man’s most prominent, visually distinctive foes for a few years. After she used a digital backup of his mind to help bring Octavius back to life in 1997, she largely faded into obscurity. After taking the name Lady Octopus, she played a minor role in 2004’s Secret War and fought Mockingbird and Hawkeye in 2010.
Unlike most of the characters on this list, Carnage rose from the depths of the 1990s to become one of Spider-Man’s A-list villains. Carnage’s life began with the insane serial killer Cletus Kasady, who was created by David Michelinie and Erik Larsen in 1991’s Amazing Spider-Man #344. He was imprisoned with Venom, and bonded with the symbiote’s offspring to become Carnage in 1992’s Amazing Spider-Man #361, by Michelinie and Mark Bagley.
While the hyper-popular Venom became more of an antihero in the early 1990s, the more violent Carnage was created to take his place as Spider-Man’s symbiotic villain. Thanks to Kasady’s madness, Carnage’s gruesome crimes are usually only partially shown on panel, and his solo adventures have occasionally been more horrific. Even though the 1993 crossover “Maximum Carnage,” Carnage’s biggest showcase, is remembered fondly, Carnage has a Joker-esque edge that makes an uneasy fit with Spider-Man’s traditionally lighter adventures.
15. SPIDER-MAN’S CLONES
From 1994 to 1996, Spider-Man was embroiled in “The Clone Saga.” In that infamous storyline, the Jackal, an evil geneticist, created several clones of Peter Parker, including the heroic Ben Reilly, who was Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man for a short time. The Jackal’s first clone, Kaine, was less successful. After debuting in Terry Kavanagh and Steven Butler’s Web of Spider-Man #119, Kaine went mad and killed several characters, using his wall-sticking abilities to scar them with the “Mark of Kaine.”
In 1995’s Amazing Spider-Man #399, J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Bagley introduced Spidercide, a clone who could shapeshift into a giant creature. DeMatteis, Todd DeZago and Steven Butler introduced the Guardian in 1995’s Web of Spider-Man #122. Despite that clone’s super-strength, he died less than a month after his introduction. While Kaine and Reilly both had more recent well-received stints as the Scarlet Spider, the other clones have, mercifully, remained dead.
14. GRIM HUNTER
Kraven the Hunter is one of Spider-Man’s signature villains. After his death in the landmark 1987 story, “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” his son, Vladimir Kravinoff became the Grim Hunter in Howard Mackie and Tom Lyle’s Spider-Man #47. Although he only fought Spider-Man once, his natural physical abilities were augmented by the same serum that gave his father powers, and he seemed like he would become a major threat.
With a metallic arm sheath and a giant, lion-themed shoulder piece, the Grim Hunter wore a costume that mixed that era’s trends with Kraven’s signature look. Despite Vladimir’s spiffy costume, Kaine killed the Grim Hunter in 1995. In 2010, some of the Kravinoffs resurrected him as a monstrous human-lion hybrid creature. After his father was also revived, Kraven killed the creature out of respect for his son’s memory.
13. NORMAN OSBORN’S GATHERING OF FIVE
After he was killed by his own Goblin Glider back in 1973, Norman Osborn stayed dead for decades. In the 1990s, he emerged and claimed responsibility for the events of “The Clone Saga” in a last-second twist. After that needlessly complex plot failed, Osborn launched another vaguely mystical threat with the Gathering of Five.
Starting in 1998’s Sensational Spider-Man #32, by Todd DeZago and Joe Bennett, Osborn started re-assembling an ancient artifact that would grant him and four others great powers or curses. While the ensuing mystical ceremony helped Spider-Man’s old ally Madame Web and turned Mattie Franklin into Spider-Woman, it destroyed Osborn, his associate Morris Maxwell and the fiery villain Shadrac. Around that time, one of Osborn’s underlings also revealed that he had kidnapped Aunt May and faked her death as part of his grand scheme. Beyond that somewhat controversial decision, most of the Gathering’s exploits were quickly forgotten.
Even though virtual reality is still a relatively young field today, it was all the rage in the mid-1990s. As a vaguely-defined concept, VR played a surprisingly large role in some of that era’s Spider-Man stories, especially with the villain Stunner. Created by J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Bagley in 1994’s Amazing Spider-Man #397, Angelina Brancale was a video store clerk who went to work for Doctor Octopus. With his VR technology, she became the super-strong, statuesque Stunner, a “virtual avatar” in the real world.
Although she fell in love with Octavius, she couldn’t prevent his death, and was sent into a coma for years after trying to resurrect him. While Octavius was posing as Peter Parker in Superior Spider-Man, he encountered Stunner again in 2013. After a few battles, he severed Brancale’s connection to her MR machine and broke up with her.
11. SCREAM AND THE HYBRID SYMBIOTES
After Venom and Carnage both proved to be successful characters, Spider-Man’s periphery was filled with symbiotes starting in 1993. Scream, Phage, Agony, Lasher and Riot were all created by the Life Foundation to be a private security force. After their debut in David Michelinie and Ron Lim’s Venom: Lethal Protector #4, these symbiotes made a handful of appearances in Venom’s solo stories and starred in the 1995 video game Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety.
While the red-and-yellow symbiote Scream, Donna Diego, was mildly popular, her siblings were killed and combined to form Hybrid in 1996’s Venom: Along Came A Spider #2. In that Evan Skolnick and Patrick Zircher story, prison guard Scott Washington merged with the new symbiote and became a minor superhero. Both Scream and Hybrid were killed by once-and-future Venom host, Eddie Brock, in 2012’s Venom #15, by Rick Remender and Lan Medina.
In 1989, Marvel’s main crossover, “Inferno,” revolved around a demonic invasion of New York City. While the event primarily took place in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, one of those beings merged with Spider-Man’s enemy, the Hobgoblin, in 1989’s Spectacular Spider-Man #147, by Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema. After a few years together, the Hobgoblin and the creature, now called the Demogoblin, were separated in 1992’s Web of Spider-Man #86, by Howard Mackie and Alex Saviuk.
Like Venom, the Demogoblin was guided by a warped sense of justice. Although he was a strident protector of children, he tried to kill anyone who he thought wasn’t virtuous enough. With his supernatural nature, Demogoblin stood out as an odd remnant of a mystical crossover in the science-centric world of Spider-Man. Even though he allied himself with other Spider-Man villains, Demogoblin died saving a child from the Hobgoblin in 1994.
9. VENOM 2099
Throughout the 1990s, Marvel took a glance into the world of tomorrow with its Marvel 2099 imprint. The well-remembered line of titles looked about 100 years into a possible future where Marvel’s classic heroes disappeared. In that line’s biggest title, Spider-Man 2099, Peter David, Rick Leonardi and other artists chronicled the adventures of Miguel O’Hara, that world’s Spider-Man. Along with his new villains, the futuristic wall-crawler fought updated versions of Spider-Man’s classic villains, including Venom 2099.
In David and Andrew Wildman’s Spider-Man 2099 #35, Kron Stone, Miguel’s abusive older half-brother, bonded with the Venom symbiote. While most of that future’s villains were dramatically different from their modern counterparts, Venom was strikingly similar to the original. Shortly after his introduction, he killed Miguel’s girlfriend Dana D’Angelo and eventually fled into the ocean. While he disappeared, a nearly identical Venom from a different version of 2099 debuted in 2016.
8. ALISTAIR SMYTHE, THE ULTIMATE SPIDER-SLAYER
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Spencer Smythe built several robotic Spider-Slayers to capture Spider-Man for J. Jonah Jameson. Although he died because of those machines, his son, Alistair Smythe, started carrying on the family business in 1985’s Amazing Spider-Man Annual #19. Created by Louise Simonson and Mary Wilshire, Smythe was obsessed with avenging his father’s death. As he did in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, he initially worked closely with Kingpin to defeat Spider-Man.
After sending a small army of Spider-Slayers to fight Spider-Man in 1992’s “Invasion of the Spider-Slayers,” Smythe turned himself into the Ultimate Spider-Slayer. With these bizarre cybernetic enhancements, Smythe had razor-sharp blades on his arms, talon-like feet and giant laser-shooting prongs coming out of each shoulder. The more extravagant aspects of Smythe’s design were toned down in his subsequent appearances. After killing Jameson’s wife, Marla, Smythe was executed in 2013.
In the original Infinity War, all of Marvel’s heroes had to fight twisted versions of themselves who were created by the cosmic being Magus. Like the other evil copies, Spider-Man’s Doppelganger was a sentient “geometric pattern” and debuted in Jim Starlin and Ron Lim’s Infinity War #1 in 1992. After Doppelganger was injured in a battle with Spider-Man, Demogoblin healed him and forged a psychic bond with the creature.
While all of Magus’ other creations disappeared, Spider-Man’s Doppelganger stuck around, thanks to his psychic tether to Demogoblin. Since the monstrous creature was mostly mindless, he mainly followed orders from other villains, most notably during 1991’s “Maximum Carnage” crossover. Although he hasn’t made too many appearances, this remnant of a long-completed crossover teamed up with Carnage in the early 2010s and made a cameo in 2012’s Spider-Verse.
In a possible echo of parental overreactions from the 1980s, Frances Barrison became the supervillain Shriek, partially because of heavy metal music. Created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Lim in 1993’s Spider-Man Unlimited #1, Barrison found solace from her miserable upbringing in drugs and rock music. After she was shot in the head and sent into another dimension, her sound-manipulating and emotion-controlling mutant powers emerged. Shriek was obsessed with the concept of family and took Carnage as a surrogate husband during “Maximum Carnage.”
While her look mixes a more operatic version of X-Force‘s Domino with Cable’s glowing eye, Shriek has all the makings of a pretty decent villain. Even though she was powerful enough to manipulate a large swath of New Yorkers, Shriek disappeared for over a decade. When she re-reemerged in 2010, she worked with Carnage again on a few occasions and became a bouncer at a Detroit nightclub.
5. JUDAS TRAVELLER
Although he originally seemed to be an all-powerful cosmic entity, Judas Traveller was eventually revealed to be nothing more than a delusional psychiatrist. Created by Terry Kavanagh and Steven Butler in 1994’s Web of Spider-Man #117, Traveller was presented as an otherworldly figure with a clinical interest in testing Spider-Man and his morality. As one of the many moving pieces of “The Clone Saga,” Traveller seemed poised to become a major player in Spider-Man’s adventures.
According to ex-marvel editor Glenn Greenberg, that era’s Spider-Man creators weren’t sure how to use the character and didn’t think he fit into Spider-Man’s world. In 1997, Tom DeFalco and Ron Garney jettisoned the character by revealing that he was a liar in Amazing Spider-Man #417, Traveller’s final appearance. After suffering a nervous breakdown, Traveller’s mutant psychic powers activated, and he used those to convince those around him that he was an ancient entity.
Even though she’s only made about a dozen appearances, Coldheart played a role in one of the most important events in the history of the Marvel Universe. Created by Howard Mackie and Tom Lyle in 1994’s Spider-Man #49, Coldheart was originally a government operative named Kateri Deseronto. After her son was killed during a battle between a superhero and a supervillain, she stole a bulletproof costume and two ice-producing swords and became the villain Coldheart to punish superheroes and villains for hurting innocent people.
Ironically, Coldheart was involved in the Stamford, Connecticut incident that killed hundreds of civilians and kicked off Marvel’s Civil War in 2006. As seen in Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Civil War #1, she was hiding out with the explosive Nitro when he detonated himself while fighting the New Warriors. Although she seemingly died in the blast, she was seen in a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison in 2016.
3. SPIDER-MAN’S ROBOT PARENTS
Since Aunt May and Uncle Ben raised Peter Parker, Richard and Mary Parker, Peter’s biological parents, have always held a precarious place in Spider-Man’s world. In 1968’s Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5, Stan Lee and Larry Lieber established that they were C.I.A. agents who had been killed on assignment overseas. While their absence was only an occasional factor in Peter’s life, they seemingly rose from the dead in 1992’s Amazing Spider-Man #363, by David Michelinie and Mark Bagley.
After claiming that they had been in captivity for decades, Richard and Mary raised suspicions around Spider-Man’s titles for a few years and tormented Spider-Man with cynical advice. Secretly, they were near-perfect Life Model Decoy robots who were created by the Chameleon and an insane Harry Osborn. When the Richard decoy attacked Peter, the Mary decoy rejected her programming and perished saving Peter’s life.
Superhero comics are filled with all kinds of mysteries that have never really been resolved. While some of those mysteries can fuel years of storylines, others have been abandoned by their creators. One of those unresolved and almost forgotten mysteries involved the armored villain F.A.C.A.D.E. Created by Terry Kavanagh and Alex Saviuk in 1994’s Web of Spider-Man #113, the Full Acclimation Combat And Defense “Explo-Skeleton” was stolen during its first public showing.
Although a man wearing the suit killed a Daily Bugle reporter and attacked Spider-Man, the armor’s occupant escaped. After the plot involving F.A.C.A.D.E.’s identity was dropped in favor of “The Clone Saga,” he went unmentioned and unseen for years. In 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man #678, by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, F.A.C.A.D.E. faced Spider-Man again. After he was webbed up, he began to reveal his identity, but Spider-Man interrupted him and swung away before F.A.C.A.D.E. could finish talking.
1. THE JACKAL
Even though the Jackal wasn’t created in the 1990s, the villain will be connected to “The Clone Saga” for the rest of his existence. The Jackal originally debuted as Peter Parker’s professor Miles Warren in 1965’s Amazing Spider-Man #31, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. In 1974, he became the Jackal in Gerry Conway and Ross Andru’s Amazing Spider-Man #129. Using his expertise in genetics, he tried to torment Spider-Man by cloning him and his late love, Gwen Stacy.
Since that modest 1970s storyline became the basis for “The Clone Saga,” the Jackal took on a major role as the saga’s principal foe. Although Norman Osborn was ultimately revealed to be the mastermind behind the affair, the Jackal was the face of the operation. The Jackal and his numerous clones were at the heart of the endless reveals, feints and false revelations that made the “The Clone Saga” infamous.
Keep it locked to CBR for all the latest news on Spider-Man and all your favorite superheroes. Let us know who your favorite 1990s Spider-Man villain is in the comments!
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