Where did all these spiders come from? In most cases, that's a question you don't want to hear. But it has a great answer when it comes to "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," the animated movie premiering Friday.
In the film, Spider-Man meets a bunch of other interesting Spider-people from parallel earths. But when I say Spider-Man, I don't mean Peter Parker, the one most people know. In this movie, the lead Spider is Miles Morales, a young black-Latino kid from Earth-1610, a parallel earth in the comics. Earth-1610 is also known as the Ultimate Universe, because Marvel started an imprint in 2000, Ultimate Comics, set on that world. These books were created specifically to launch alternate, updated versions of the classic Marvel characters, often with different powers and/or histories.
Even on Earth-1610, though, Peter Parker was still the web-spinner, starring in "Ultimate Spider-Man" comics. But only for 11 years. He was killed by the Green Goblin and the Sinister — oops, Ultimate — Six in 2011. Morales continued Parker's web-spinning and wisecracking as the new Spider-Man of Earth-1610. Morales proved popular, and even teamed up with "our" wall-crawler for a little mentoring in a miniseries titled "Spider-Men" (2012). However, Marvel destroyed the entire Ultimate Universe in a 2015 story titled "Time Runs Out." Beyond Morales, there are lots more Spiders in the movie, all of whom pre-existed in the comics — and appeared in a series named (of course) "Spider-Verse."
Published in 2014, "Spider-Verse" assembled an army of Spiders from parallel universes to battle a group of immortal bad guys named the Inheritors. Two characters introduced in that series have continued, and will appear in "Into the Spider-Verse." One is Spider-Woman, also known as Spider-Gwen and Ghost Spider. Or, as described by the omniscient narrator at her introduction, "your new favorite."
A second Spider-character introduced in "Spider-Verse" is Peni Parker, a Japanese-American middle school student who pilots a mech suit named SP//dr, created by her adopted parents, Uncle Ben and Aunt May, which is partly controlled by a radioactive spider, with whom Peni shares a psychic rapport. I'd say more, but the craziness of that sentence is probably enough.
That brings us to Spider-Man Noir, who will be voiced in the movie by Nicolas Cage. This character was introduced in 2009, when Marvel published a slew of "what if" books re-imagining their main characters in a 1930s film noir setting.
Now to bring home the bacon. Our last major "Into the Spider-Verse" character isn't a person, he's a pig. And a cartoon pig at that. He's Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, first appeared in an eponymous one-shot in 1983 for reasons that aren't clear.
Many of these Spider-critters continued from "Spider-Verse" into a short-lived series called "Web Warriors." Even more are appearing in a crossover titled "Spider-Geddon." So if you have a taste for radioactive spiders — and they certainly have a taste for you — feel free to gorge on "Spider-Verse," "Web Warriors," "Spider-Men" and "Spider-Geddon."