It all started with an itsy-bitsy, irradiated spider. Soon after plunging its teeth into young Peter Parker, that spider crumpled and died, taking its place in modern legend.
Or so we thought.
This July, Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos pluck that webbing once more to reveal the spider’s last hurrah, and the secret of a woman called Silk. It all stands revealed in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4 and #5, a tie-in to Original Sin.
“One thing we’re exploring with Original Sin is the revelation that many heroes of the Marvel Universe are either keeping a terrible secret or that a terrible secret is being kept from them,” Slott explains. “That is the case with Peter Parker. There is a secret that’s been kept from him, and the secret is that the spider that bit him lived just long enough to bite one other person. There’s a second spider-person! Who is she? You’re going to have to read AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4 to find out.”
Of course, this represents a bigger story than will be told in that issue or even the next. The mystery extends beyond the spider and the recipient of its dying bite. The secret can best be appreciated as a web.
“Why was this kept from Peter?” asks Slott. “A good question to ask is ‘Who is keeping this from him?’ What parties would know about the existence of this person? Why haven’t we seen her in all this time since the events of AMAZING FANTASY #15? Where has she been?”
Important questions to be answered in the continuing story, but they demand another query about the sanctity of the spider in the Spidey offices for over 50 years. Though we’ve seen many iterations and mutations of Spider-Man, why have we never seen further bite victims until now?
“Much like holy books, the scriptures of comic books are rife with contradicting narratives” says Slott, “This fits well in two of them. We’ve seen what happened to the spider after it died. It was eaten by somebody. This happened before that. This spider had a very complicated life. But I think it’s fair to say that spiders bite people. After it bit Peter the idea of it biting one more person isn’t such a big stretch.
“This was a scenario where everyone went, ‘What’s the biggest secret our heroes could have tied to them?’ When I offered up the idea that the spider bit another person, it wasn’t a Bucky scenario. It wasn’t everyone going, ‘We should weight this carefully. We should think about the ramifications. We should ponder.’ Instead it was everyone going, ‘That’s cool!’ It probably hadn’t come up before because—you’re talking to the guy writing LEARNING TO CRAWL—you want to treat the origin story as sacrosanct. Over the years, people want to attach ballast to origins, to make whatever story they’re telling in the present more ‘important.’ There is the danger of taking something as simple and beautiful and elegant as an origin story and adding too many wrinkles to it. I think we’re safe on this one. Spiders bite people.”
Still, that the spider took one more bite for the road remains a significant addition to the lore. Then, that’s the whole point:
“If you’re gonna do a story like Original Sin, where everybody’s got such a big secret, you go big or you go home.”