Comic Books To Read Before Watching ‘Madame Web’

The popularity and success of the Spider-Verse animated franchise have inspired Sony to introduce shared Spider-people-oriented world-building gimmicks in live-action movies as well, and Madame Web is the first step in that direction. As a part of Sony’s existing Spider-Man Universe (SSU), which includes movies like Venom, Morbius, and the upcoming Kraven, Madame Web will introduce the titular spider-themed clairvoyant as well as a host of female spider-characters, as the movie aims to become the franchise’s first female superhero ensemble.

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However, despite the fact that these characters are prominent members of the Spider-Society, appearing across comics, animated series, and games for a couple of decades, they are relatively obscure to the general audience due to not having a presence in live-action movies yet. This can make enjoying a superhero team-up movie a bit of a challenging affair, and to get rudimentary knowledge about the characters in question, interested readers can always rely on the established lore detailed in comics. We would like to suggest some titles or series that can give readers a basic idea of the background of the Spider-Man characters involved in the movie and let them know what is to be expected from Madame Web.


The First Appearance Of Madame Web

The central protagonist, Madame Web, aka Cassandra Webb, made her debut in the Marvel Universe in 1980 with The Amazing Spider-Man #210, which saw Peter Parker learn about a mystic named Madame Web from his then-love interest, Debra Whitman. Later, on the trail of an abduction case orchestrated by a criminal organization, Peter/Spidey finds a common link in his investigation and visits Madame Web, who turns out to be an elderly paraplegic blind woman connected to a cobweb-themed cybernetic life system. Madame Web reveals her exceptional psychic abilities, which include future sight, enhanced perception, and telepathy, to name a few, and eventually helps Peter crack the case. By the end of the issue, she informs Peter that she knows his true identity as well, which she is willing to keep secret. From this point on, Madame Web became a mentor-like figure in Peter’s life, and later in the lives of several Spider-Man characters as well. This issue acts as an informal introduction to the character, which doesn’t reveal much about her right away. Hopefully, the movie highlights the connection between Madame Web and Peter Parker in some form, and given that Ben Parker will presumably play a crucial role in the plot, major foreshadowing elements are expected.

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More About Madame Web And The Spider-Woman Team-Up

Although since her introduction Madame Web had appeared in a number of series died, resurrected, and has been cloned all the while, it was not until 1999’s Spider-Woman series that readers got to know much about the person behind the blindfold, Cassandra Webb. In this series, a young, immortal version of Madame Web gathers three female heroes who have donned the mantle of Spider-Woman at some point in time, namely Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter, and Mattie Franklin (Jonah Jameson’s niece), to stop the villainous Charlotte Witter, the newest to take up the said mantle. Eventually, it is revealed that Charlotte Witter is Cassandra’s granddaughter, who was corrupted by the machinations of Doctor Octopus and went down a terrible path. The rise of Mattie was the highlight of the series, which will act as a sort of blueprint for the upcoming movie as the similarities are already perceivable.

In the Underneath story arc, which is part of Brian Michael Bendis’s Alias series, an unexpected Spider-Woman crossover takes place once again as the retired vigilante Jessica Jones finds herself entangled in the web of intrigue involving Mattie Franklin, Jessica Drew, and Madame Web. The arc is violent and dark and showcases an entirely different side of the Spider-Man characters, who so far have been involved in more action-oriented, less cerebral narratives. Mattie’s journey comes full circle in this arc, and taking clues from Sony’s live-action Spider-Verse might form a foundation for the future storyline.

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Introduction Of The Antagonist: A Different Ezekiel Sims Than One In The Comics

Ezekiel Sims, often referred to as Zeke in Spider-Verse comics, will play the role of the sole antagonist in the upcoming Madame Web movie. Making his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2, the elderly Ezekiel Sims surprises Peter by displaying similar abilities and reveals himself to be chronologically among the first of the Spider-characters (pre-dating Peter’s stint by several decades). In the comics, Ezekiel, a business tycoon, gained spider powers from a mystical spider totem, which he obtained from a Mesoamerican tribe, but focused on using his powers for personal goals instead of crime-fighting. In time, Ezekiel helped a young Cindy Moon harness her spider powers and become the vigilante Silk, and they eventually came across Spider-Man, aka Peter Parker. Ezekiel was able to deduce Peter’s identity using his wits and resources, and almost in a similar vein to Madame Web’s arc, he became an elderly mentor to New York’s beloved webslinger for a while.

Later, while battling against a common multiversal enemy alongside Peter Parker, Ezekiel was inspired by his selfless, altruistic motivations and sacrificed his own life to save Peter. In The Book of Ezekiel,  which is a part of the original The Amazing Spider-Man run, this arc is showcased, where Peter’s past is revisited in parallel to Ezekiel’s to emphasize the themes of power and responsibility that related storylines have in common. However, the Madame Web version of the character is going to play a negative role in the narrative, as the trailers reveal him to be hunting down the rest of the Spider-Man characters for reasons unknown. The character is also seen donning a prototype version of the Spider-Man suit, and it remains to be seen how that works out within Sony’s existing Spider-Man universe. 

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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