Superman’s doppelgänger, Bizarro, is potentially one of his most dangerous villains, but one copy of Spider-Man is just too silly to be a threat.
The backwards-minded Bizarro may be one of Superman’s most frustrating enemies, but a similar villain of Spider-Man was so much his opposite, he wound up not even being a challenge. Donning a costume with an inverted color scheme, Peter Parker’s complete moral opposite, Web-Man tried taking down Spider-Man. However, the clone had one particular flaw that prevented him from ever being a worthy enemy.
The idea of a thematically opposite villain has been explored with several characters, one notable example being Bizarro. Originally created by Otto Binder and George Papp, Bizarro has had several interpretations on what it means to be Clark Kent’s opposite. Whether being a failed clone of the Blue Boy Scout or hailing from a world of moral inversion, one thing remains true: he’s as catastrophic as Superman is helpful. So when it comes to Peter Parker, one would think that that the reverse of Spider-Man’s good-natured heroism would be a force to be reckoned with.
As it turns out; not really. Spider-Man’s dastardly doppelgänger, Web-Man, was created by Jim Salicrup and Winslow Mortimer and made his first, and only, appearance in Spidey Super Stories #25. The story involves Spider-Man unwittingly falling into a trap set by Doctor Doom, who utilizes a “Twin Machine” to create an exact copy of Spider-Man but with “none of Spidey’s goodness.” The villainous Web-Head is indeed quite more villainous than Peter Parker, but in a comedic turn, he’s also less graceful at web-slinging. He’s also quite easy to fool, possessing none of the cleverness of Spider-Man, who easily evades him and apprehends Doom for his scheme.
While Web-Man’s only appearance was relegated to the non-canon kid’s story, his existence shows just how hard it is to get a “complete opposite” character right. Web-Man may be just as strong as Spider-Man, but he lacks the wit and grace that often turns the tide for Peter Parker. It isn’t enough to just have a reversed color scheme and a similar power set to gain a place as a hero’s diametric counterpart. Bizarro, on the other hand, is more endearing because writers have embraced how he can truly challenge Superman. Bizarro might not be as smart as Clark, but he’s a lot more destructive and he possesses nearly the same strength as Superman. Some writers have portrayed Bizarro as choosing to be evil because Superman is good, while others interpreted Bizarro as unable to tell the difference between right and wrong. Whatever his motivations, Bizarro succeeds as a villain because the prospect of Superman’s powers falling into unstable hands is a terrifying notion. Web-Man on the other hand, is a goofy footnote that even his original copy doesn’t even take seriously.
Given his history of dealing with clones, it’s probably for the best that Spider-Man’s forgotten ‘Bizarro’ stay in the past.
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