Spider-Slayer


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Spider-Slayer

(pop culture)
Over the years, Spider-Man has been pursued by a succession of perpetually upgraded robots specifically engineered to counter his arachnid powers and annihilate him, each machine bearing the name “Spider-Slayer.” The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #25 (1965), written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Steve Ditko, introduces Professor Spencer Smythe, a humble inventor who has subscribed to Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson's media tirade against Spidey by constructing a robot “guaranteed to defeat Spider-Man!” Jameson initially dismisses Smythe as a “crackpot,” but Bugle photographer Peter Parker—secretly Spider-Man—sophomorically goads J.J.J. into humoring the professor … and soon regrets his joke, as the robot's sophisticated sensors nearly expose his secret identity. Soon, the robot—bearing Jameson's sneering visage in its video monitor “face,” as Jameson helms its controls—pursues Spidey through New York, relentlessly tracking him and nearly overpowering him in a prison of superstrong steel cables. Fortunately, Spidey depowers the Spider-Slayer before Jameson and Smythe arrive on the scene to apprehend him. This comic-book story was adapted to animation as “Captured by J. Jonah Jameson” (original airdate: September 30, 1967) of the late 1960s Spider-Man cartoon, with actor Henry Ramer voicing a renamed Henry Smythe. In the comics, Smythe was soured by the defeat of his robot and slipped into a manic obsession of perfecting his robots and not merely capturing, but actually destroying, Spider-Man. A “bigger, far more powerful, far more deadly” Spider-Slayer Mark II was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #58 (1968), with Jameson again at the “wheel,” but it failed to squash the hero. Smythe returned in 1972 with Spider-Slayer Mark III, an eight-armed variation able to shoot synthetic webbing. Realizing Smythe's psychosis, Jameson severed ties with the crazed inventor, earning his ire. Smythe promptly built the tank-sized Spider-Slayer Mark IV, which he operated, nearly crushing Spider-Man until the hero triggered the machine to explode. Smythe was back with a vengeance in 1979 with his “last” Spider- Slayer, and borrowing a cue from Stanley Kramer's 1958 prison-escape movie, The Defiant Ones, locked Spidey and Jameson together with techno-handcuffs programmed to detonate within 24 hours. The mad scientist perished, due to radiation poisoning, at the end of this storyline. His son, Alistair Smythe, resumed the family business beginning in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #19 (1985). Originally financed by crimelord Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, Alistair nearly died in his first vengeful attack against Spidey, returning wheelchairbound in 1987, operating an upgraded Spider-Slayer in another failed attempt to kill the web-slinger. Amazing Spider-Man #368–#373's six-part “Invasion of the Spider-Slayers” (1992–1993) featured Alistair's full-scale assault on Spider-Man with a swarm of mechanical Spider-Slayers equipped with venom-spiked tails and razor-sharp claws; the fanatical son of Smythe surgically enhanced himself into the Ultimate Spider-Slayer, still meeting defeat, yet he tried again in the early 2000s. With his perverted passion for perfecting his father's Spider-Slayer technology and murdering Spider-Man, Alistair Smythe forever remains a threat to the wall-crawler. The Smythes and their Spider-Slayers appeared frequently in the 1990s animated TV series Spider- Man (1994–1998), with Edward Mulhare playing Spencer, succeeded by Maxwell Caulfield as Alistair, the latter of whom was featured in eighteen episodes. This series inspired a 1994 Spider-Slayer action figure from Toy Biz.
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