The second trailer forÂ Spider-Man: Into the Spider-VerseÂ dropped this week, introducing a new twist on the likes ofÂ Miles Morales, Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, Peni Parker, and a Nicolas Cage-voiced Spider-Man Noir. But, in a trailer full of goofy fun, there was one character who stood out as the goofiest by far: Spider-Ham, the anthropomorphic pig voiced byÂ comedian John Mulaney.If you’re not familiar with Spider-Ham, it’s easy to think he’s a one-off joke or maybe a reference to the “Spider-Pig” song inÂ The Simpsons Movie.Â In fact, Spider-Ham has a history going back three-and-a-half decades to the early 1980s. But, no need to worry! We’ll catch you up so you know all you need to know beforeÂ Into the Spider-Verse arrives in theaters.
Just Who Is Spider-Ham Anyway?
It all started with a spider… and a pig. But, probably not in the way you’re expecting. In an alternate universe where talking anthropomorphic animals rule the world (thinkÂ DuckTales orÂ Zootopia), there lived a spider named Peter. He resided in the basement lab of Dr. May Porkerâ€”aptly named, as she was not just a scientist, but also a pigâ€”who was working to develop the world’s first nuclear-powered hairdryer. Inevitably, something went wrong, and poor Dr. Porker was exposed to an unhealthy dose of radiation, which, for important plot reasons, led to her biting poor Peter, who just happened to be there minding his own business.As a result of the bite from a radioactive pig, Peter found himself transformed into a pig with the powers of a spider… or perhaps a spider with the powers of a pig.
“This is astounding! Am I a spider with the limitations of a pig? Or a pig with the proportionate strength and agility of a spider? I’ve become something greater than either spider or pig… I’ve become aÂ Spider-Ham!”
Meanwhile, as a result of the nuclear-powered hairdryer accident, May Porker became convinced that Peter had actually been her nephew all along.
Are You Serious? Marvel Actually Published This?
There’s no way I would have made up that “spider bitten by a radioactive pig” thing, I swear.Spider-Ham first appeared 35 years ago in the one-shotÂ Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham (itself a gag on the long-runningÂ Marvel Tales, which reprinted classic Spider-Man comics). The book sold well enough that it became one of the signature titles of Marvel’s short-livedÂ Star Comics imprint geared toward kids. The series lasted a little over two years (17 bimonthly issues), with Star Comics shutting down not long after. But Spider-Ham didn’t disappear entirely; instead, he made regular appearances in backup stories inÂ Marvel Tales until the early 1990s.And that would have been the end of poor Spider-Ham’s story, except for the fact that comics creators are an especially nostalgic lot. By the mid-2000s, creators who had grown up reading Spider-Ham’s adventures were making comics themselves, and he started popping up in anthology books likeÂ Spider-Man Family. In 2010, he got his own 25th anniversary special.
So Why Is He in Into The Spider-Verse?
Spider-Ham got promoted to the big leagues of Spider-People in the 2015Â Spider-Verse comics crossover. Spider-Verse was famously billed as starring “every Spider-Man ever,” and while there were a few who were left out due to licensing issues (notably the movie and most cartoon versions of Peter Parker), pretty much everyone else was there, including good ol’ Spider-Ham, who served as much needed comic relief. With the usually quiptacular Peter Parkers distracted by all the death around them, Peter Porker filled the void and brought the funny, becoming a key part of the team that helped save the day.(It’s not clear yet how much the comicsÂ Spider-Verse crossover relates toÂ Into the Spider-Verse; from the trailers, it looks likeÂ Into the Spider-Verse borrows the concept of the Spider-People of multiple universes teaming up without using the actual plot ofÂ Spider-Verse.)While most of the Spider-Folks went home at the end of Spider-Verse, Spider-Ham instead joined a special team dedicated to protecting the multiverse (and spiders) from further disruptions, first during theÂ Secret Wars: Spider-Verse miniseries, and later during theÂ Web WarriorsÂ ongoing series that lasted for 11 issues in 2016.
So What Should I Read If I Want to Know More About This So-Called Spectacular Spider-Ham?
The best place to start brushing up on Spider-Ham before the movie hits is probably theÂ Spider-VerseÂ crossover, and then you can move on from there to the theÂ Secret Wars: Spider-Verse miniseries andÂ Web Warriors. There was a 2010 trade collecting some of the classic 1980s Spider-Ham stories, but it’s been out of print and can now be a bit pricey online.If you want to read the classic stuff, you’re probably better off tracking down old issues. Or you can check out theÂ Amazing Spider-Man: Animal Magnetism collection, which includes the 25th anniversary Spider-Ham one-shot along with a few other ’80s-inspired tales. And if all that isn’t enough, then check out theÂ Spider-Geddon crossover, which launched in September of 2018.Which Spider-Hero are you most excited to see inÂ Into the Spider-Verse?Â Let us know!
Featured image: Sony Pictures
Images: Marvel Comics