Madame Web: When did she first debut in the Spider-Man comics?

Madame Web: When did she first debut in the Spider-Man comics?

Madame Web will be Sony’s first Marvel film — and the first Marvel movie in general — to be released in 2024. The Dakota Johnson-led flick will come out in February, and serve as the titular character’s live-action debut.

In Spider-Man canon, Madame Web has been one of the Webhead’s most fascinating allies. In the comics, her mysterious and mystic nature, incredibly unique design, and eloquent vocabulary (especially in contrast to Peter Parker’s constant jokes) help her stand out in every panel. Before Dakota Johnson brings the character to the mainstream, fans may be interested in learning just when and how Madame Web debuted in the comics.

Madame Web debuted in a rather conventional Spider-Man story

Image via Marvel Comics

Madame Web’s comic debut was in November 1980, when she appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #210. The iconic writer-artist duo of Dennis O’Neil and John Romita Jr. created the character.

Spider-Man #210 begins with Rupert Dockery — a manager at the Daily Bugle‘s rival newspaper, the Daily Globe — talking to a group of masked and armed thugs in a basement. Peter Parker is then seen walking with his friend Debra Whitman, with the latter telling Peter about a psychic and “teacher of the paranormal phenomona.” Peter immediately has a field day with this, and dismisses this person —Madame Web — as a “garden-variety fraud.” He goes so far as to claim, “I wouldn’t give her the time of day!” Well, turns out he would have to give Madame Web a whole lot of his time down the road.

The issue sees a pretty standard Spider-Man story unfold. Dockery’s goons storm one of his meetings, and attempt to kidnap someone while he feigns surprise. Spidey shows up and wallops the thugs (I seriously cannot get enough panels of Spider-Man just jumping, fists first, into a group of thugs).

After the scuffle with the armed attackers, a clue leads Spider-Man to Madame Web’s apartment. Here, the Wallcrawler’s bewildered reaction likely mirrors that of fans. Spider-Man is completely baffled by Madame Web’s appearance and the golden chair she sits on, with its countless rods jutting out and the high-tech machinery surrounding her. If the debuting character’s appearance wasn’t enough to catch Spider-Man (and us) off guard, then her mystic speech surely was. One of the first things she says to the hero is: “I can touch the cords of creation — these blind eyes can see beyond normal sight, in short, I am clairvoyant — a soothsayer, a psychic, a witch if you will.” As colorful as Spider-Man’s supporting cast of characters can be, blind and paralyzed psychic witches really don’t pop up all that much during his adventures.

The issue ends with Web’s visions aiding Spider-Man in apprehending Dockery — who was planning an elaborate takeover of the Daily Globe — and saving a hostage from his thugs. However, Peter Parker’s classic bad luck strikes; after performing this good deed, the Daily Globe shuts down, slashing his main source of income. Just as he is thinking about applying for unemployment or signing up for a loan, he gets a call from Madame Web, who already knows he is Spider-Man. She assures him not to worry about any financial troubles. The issue’s last panel hilariously depicts J. Jonah Jameson trying to get a hold of Parker.

Madame Web played an important role in the ’90s animated series

Image via Fox Kids Network

In the comics, Madame Web plays a significant role in some well-known Spider-Man storylines. Arguably, her most famous appearances are in The Amazing Spider-Man #229–230, two issues that see Spider-Man go toe-to-toe with the Juggernaut. Working with Black Tom Cassidy, Juggernaut plans to attack Madame Web, with the latter wanting to use her psychic powers against the X-Men.

Working with Black Tom Cassidy, Juggernaut plans to attack Madame Web, with the latter wanting to use Web’s psychic powers against the X-Men. The story arc does a wonderful job of portraying Juggernaut as a demonic wrecking ball; it’s especially interesting seeing Spider-Man take on a signature X-Men foe. The Wallcrawler struggles in every panel to halt Juggernaut as he approaches Madame Web’s location. Things get so dire that Spidey and Web call for assistance, asking for aid from the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and Doctor Strange. Overall, these two issues should be on every fan’s must-read list; they showcase Spider-Man and Madame Web working in perfect sync as both try to stop an unstoppable opponent.

Aside from the comics, Madame Web also had a major role in the iconic ’90s cartoon Spider-Man: The Animated Series. In the show, Web is introduced in season 3, and begins acting as a sort of advisor to Peter as he struggles to navigate his everyday life with being New York City’s guardian. The two clash often, with the young hero not always appreciating the mysterious woman’s ambiguity. Madame Web’s role gets even more serious when Peter loses Mary Jane Watson after a crazy battle with Hydro-Man (seriously, if you’re a millennial, then you may remember that this arc was way too dark for a kid’s cartoon). In the series, Madame Web even serves as the catalyst for Spider-Man joining the show’s adaptation of the Secret Wars. After that, our favorite Webhead is forced into a crazy multiversal adventure where he has to work with other Spider-Men. That’s right, this ’90s gem made the Spider-Verse before it was cool, all thanks to Madame Web!

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