It is not exactly a revelation that Garth Ennis doesn’t care much for most superheroes. He has admitted to liking Superman in concept, but for the most part, he isn’t a fan. Superheroes in a book Garth Ennis writes often come off as pathetic or awful, and that’s not even getting into The Boys or something along those lines.
But Ennis did once write a Spider-Man three-parter. I am sure Jimmy Impossible has it properly set in the Spider-Man Chronology.
OK, maybe not. Ennis wrote, with his Hitman collaborator John McCrea doing the artwork, the opening three issue storyline for a Spider-Man anthology series called Tangled Webs, so it may or may not count as canon or anything.
That said, I am pretty sure that Ennis did it as work-for-hire. I remember reading it and thinking it wasn’t quite on par with what I’d seen from the guy in the past, and a scene where Peter Parker deals with a high fashion crowd really felt forced while still being his sort of humor. You know, the sort of juvenile body humor that mocked stuff he probably isn’t all that into.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with a writer doing work-for-hire to help pay the bills. And it wasn’t even Ennis’s first or last time, I am sure. He did a Hulk mini-series before he wrote some Spider-Man, and I even recall a decent Star Wars one-shot he wrote about a Stormtrooper surviving the opening scene in the first movie only for Leia to shoot him in the face. Ennis can do good work when he isn’t deploying his juvenile sense of humor (and even that has its moments, or it did for me 20 years ago), and he can do good war and espionage type stories.
But who in the name of any deity you care to name thought to get him on Spider-Man of all characters?
Maybe it was because someone thought to let Ennis create a supervillain that lasted all of one storyarc for reasons that will make sense when I explain him now that I have done all the preliminary work of saying how this may or may not have all come to pass.
Or I could just show you a picture of the guy assuming you skipped the banner image:
See, this is an Ennis story, so that meant Peter Parker as a kid had an even worse bully hounding him than Flash Thompson. Carl King was the kind of bully that made Flash Thompson look like Peter Parker’s best friend. Naturally, he also saw how a radioactive spider bit young Peter. Being that kind of asshole, Carl decided Peter the wimp didn’t deserve the superpowers Carl noticed his favorite target had, so he set out to get them for himself.
But, Carl wasn’t exactly the kind of guy smart enough to irradiate a spider, so he somehow found the original spider that bit Peter and ate it.
But Carl didn’t develop spider-powers like Peter did. Instead, after a couple days, Carl realized his insides were now nothing but giant spiders wearing his old skin. Now, the skin wouldn’t last, so Carl soon jumped to from out of his old skin into a new target, devouring the insides and wearing that skin for a little while.
That first target was his mother.
Um, that’s even more gross.
His dad was next in a manner that is somehow even creepier than anything else I have described thus far, and I will say no more.
From there, Carl hopped from body to body, killing his victims as he went, until he was finally able to corner Peter Parker and take on Spider-Man, believing that by eating Peter’s insides, he’d gain those spider-powers he, and not Peter, deserved the whole time.
Peter did defeat Carl with the help of a lot of electricity to a lot of spiders. That more or less did the job. There was one spider that got away, still with Carl’s consciousness, but he got stepped on by an unknowing pedestrian. This being comics, I am sure someone could find a way to bring Carl back as the Thousand if they really wanted to.
But they obviously don’t. He was gross. We’re probably better off.