The Spider-Slayers’ Legacy seems to be following Miles Morales through the cybernetic Spider-Smasher. What do Spider-Man’s villains tell us about him?
Marvel’s recent cover reveal for Miles Morales: Spider-Man # 38 from Saladin Ahmed and Christopher Allen teased the arrival of a new nemesis for Miles Morales: The Spider-Smasher. Apparently a cyborg of some sort, the character seems to take inspiration for both their name and look from classic foes belonging to Peter Parker: The Spider-Slayers.
The Spider-Slayer first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man # 25 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The manifestation of J. Jonah Jameson’s hatred of Spider-Man; he backed its creation so that he could pilot it against the hero. As time went on, the scientist behind the robot, Spencer Smythe, and his son, Alistair, toyed with the creation to create bigger and better Spider-Slayers.
These Spider-Slayers went on to fight both the Superior Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099. Since the vast majority of the Spider-Slayers had human pilots, but were unmanned, them fighting against the Spider-Men generally let the Arachnid heroes cut loose with their powers. For Miles Morales, however, the presence of a person within the suit promises to be more of a challenge. Miles will not be able to unleash his pure power until the foe is down, but he cannot fully know their motivation. A mustache-twirling scientist sending something to slay you is far less ambiguous than a person in a suit of armor with your symbol emblazoned on their chest.
Since Spider-Man has a nearly 80-year history, a lot of his villains have had relatively little nuance. Many of them were meant for a short adventure that a child picking up The Amazing Spider-Man could comprehend within a single volume. Miles Morales: Spider-Man, however, generally serves up more complex villains, with even the cover itself questioning whether the Spider-Smasher is friend or foe. What’s more, Miles has already experienced tech villains before, especially in the form of his uncle. The storyline promises to showcase some of Miles’ interactions in different lights.
If the past tells us anything about the Spider-Smasher’s relationship with Miles, though, the new character will probably be an antagonist. Only once have Spider-Slayers fought on the side of Spider-Man, which is when he programmed them himself. Though J. Jonah Jameson has technically fought against the Green Goblin using Goblin-Slayers made along the same lines, having the same foe does not inherently make the characters allies. Likewise, Miles does not necessarily have to be pitched in with the Spider-Smasher for them to be on the same side. Rather, they may very well be both adversaries and, as is teased in the cover, working toward a similar goal.
Ultimately, the objectives of the Spider-Smasher are unclear. Using a similar name to the Spider-Slayers, however, implies a more antagonistic nature for the character. Given the history surrounding Miles Morales and the Spider-Men recently, there is nearly a guarantee of a more complex character than what was presented by the Spider-Slayers. All of these factors combine to make a great deal of intrigue around this comic book, all of which will hopefully be revealed with the May release of Miles Morales: Spider-Man # 38.
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