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Who Is SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE’s Peni Parker?

Who Is SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE’s Peni Parker?

The amazing new trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has introduced a lot of new faces to fans of the webslinger. Not only is the hero at the center of the action different from that which we’ve seen onscreen before—the film centers on Miles Morales, the Spider-Man from Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, voiced by Shameik Moore—but he is also joined by a whole team of spider-folks. While some are familiar (Peter Parker, anyone?) and some are downright weird, there’s one likely to leave even long-time Spider-Fans asking, “Wait, who is that?”: Peni Parker, a.k.a. SP//dr, voiced by Kimiko Glenn of Orange Is the New Black.

Peni Parker stands up at her desk in class, grabbing her bag, with a concerned look on her face

Who is Peni Parker?

From 40,000 feet, Peni Parker bears a striking resemblance to Peter Parker, the Spider-Man most of us know and love. She’s a teenager trying to juggle her life as a student with her life as a spider-themed hero. She moved in with her Aunt May and Uncle Ben after the death of her father. And, yes, there was even a spider bite. But that’s where the similarities end.

Unlike most of the spider-folks we’ve seen, Peni Parker doesn’t herself have superhuman abilities. Instead, she has a gigantic armored suit—the SP//dr suit, with which she shares her alias—itself powered in part by a radioactive spider. It’s not really clear where the suit or the arachnid inside of it came from, though the implication is that they were the result of some sort of experiment by her scientist/hero father, Aunt May, and Uncle Ben.

Peni inherited her position as the suit’s pilot after the death of her father. For unexplained reasons, the SP//dr suit could only bond with someone who shared a genetic link with her father, making Peni the only potential replacement. Unfortunately for Peni, for it to work she had to “bind” with SP//dr—in other words, allow the spider to bite her—a process that was described as “unpleasant” and which looked incredibly painful.

Where can we read more about her?

Peni was first introduced in 2014, in the lead-up to the Spider-Verse comics crossover, in Edge of Spider-Verse #5Edge of Spider-Verse was largely a showcase for new takes on the Spider-Man formula, some of which deviated quite a bit from the original model. Among them were Peni Parker, as well as the alternate universe Gwen Stacy who became Spider-Woman a.k.a. Spider-Gwen a.k.a. Ghost Spider, who will also be featured prominently in Into the Spider-Verse. (While he was a preexisting character, Spider-Man Noir, another Into the Spider-Verse star, was also spotlighted in Edge of Spider-Verse, making that trade an obvious go-to if you want to get ready for December.)

Cover of Edge of Spider-Geddon #2 showing Peni Parker standing on the SP//dr armor

While the concept behind Peni Parker and SP//dr are pretty cool in and of themselves, what made them stand out were the incredible style of Edge of Spider-Verse #5, written by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, with art by Jake Wyatt and color art by Ian Herring. It’s an amazing introduction that gets across all you need to know about Peni, while also sneaking in a critique about obsessive fans.

Unfortunately, it’s one of the only books where you’re likely to find Peni and SP//dr, who were created too late in the development process of Spider-Verse to be included in the crossover in a meaningful way. But, good news! Peni is set to play a bigger role in the follow-up Spider-Geddon crossover that’s going on this fall, with Edge of Spider-Geddon #2 focused on the duo.

So what’s her role in Into the Spider-Verse?

It’s not clear, though, how closely the Peni Parker of Into the Spider-Verse will mirror her comics counterpart. The movie’s SP//dr armor has a dramatically different color scheme and look, complete with what appears to be an emoji face screen. Our brief glimpse of Peni in the trailer also suggests she’s going to be a lot more fun (and funny) than the dour Peni we got in the comics. Given how little of Peni we’ve seen in the comics, this isn’t a surprise, though it may be a disappointment for fans of the highly stylized original by Way, Wyatt, and Herring.

Are you excited to see Peni Parker fight alongside Miles and the gang in Into the Spider-Verse? Let us know!

Images: Sony Pictures and Marvel Comics

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