Amazing Spider-Friends is a monthly column, written by contributor Tyler Barlass, that highlights the rich and complex relationships that Spider-Man has built with just about every character in the Marvel Universe through the years.
As this year comes to a close, it’s time to bring my recent Amazing Spider-Friends spotlight series on all five spider women to a close as well. The last lady arachnid that I’ll be dwelling on is the spunky teenager named Anya Corazon. First introduced as Arana ten years ago, Anya now goes by the Spider-Girl moniker and along with Jessica Drew and the newly introduced Silk plays apart in the current “Spider-Verse” crossover. Anya’s journey to becoming a spider-powered super heroine is just as strange as the other four spider women I’ve already profiled. In fact, Anya’s dealings with the mystical cults such as the Spider Society and the Sisterhood of the Wasp may make her story the strangest of all.
Like Mattie Franklin before her, Anya Corazon received her powers not from a serum or an experiment but rather from an ancient ritual. After stumbling upon a battle between a mage from the Spider Society and members of the Society of the Wasp, Anya was badly injured and saved only by the powers of the mage. In doing so, a tattoo appeared on her arm and the inner abilities of a spider were awoken inside of her. After promising to act as a Hunter for the Spider Society, Anya took the name Arana as her secret identity and put together her own costume (which included goggles and a back pack) and her own gadgets (such as a bola and discs attached to a wire that she could run across).
Life as a Hunter with the Spider Society wasn’t an easy one. Her struggles with the Society of the Wasp finally came to a head in the Hunter Revealed one-shot that featured Spider-Man teaming up with Anya while dressed in his Iron-Spider costume. Fearing that the Society of the Wasp would revive a powerful spider-totem of their own, the Spider Society recruited Spider-Man to be their chosen spider-totem and what resulted was a bloody battle between the Wasps, the Spiders, Arana, Spider-Man and a monstrous spider-totem. In the end, Anya released the Hunter spirit that was gifted to her and she vowed to leave the Spider Society to become a proper hero like Spidey.
The next time Anya found herself in legion with Spider-Man it was again in less than ideal circumstances. During the gruesome “Grim Hunt” storyline, the ilk of the long dead Sergei Kravinoff captured Madame Web, Mattie Franklin, Anya Corazon and Julia Carpenter. After sacrificing Mattie, the Kravinoff’s continued their insane rituals and took the life of the original Madame Web, Cassandra Webb. An irate Spider-Man came after the clan of hunters with a murderous rage but was stopped before he did something that he would regret first by Anya and then by Julia who used the powers given to her by Madame Web to show Peter the future. With Julia now taking on the role of the new Madame Web, Anya was given the black and white Arachne costume that Carpenter had worn for so long and in turn Anya began to go by the name Spider-Girl.
Soon after switching costumes and identities, Anya’s father was killed by an organization of ninjas known as RAVEN. With the help of Spider-Man, Spider-Girl began to attack the organization by searching out the group’s many hideouts. During her search for RAVEN, Anya came across the Phil Urich iteration of the Hobgoblin. In one of many instances that shows how independent Anya Corazon had become, Anya was able to avoid Phil’s disabling laugh by putting gum in her ears where as Spidey didn’t come to the fight prepared and was immobilized by the Goblin’s weapon. After chasing off the Hobgoblin, we find that Anya didn’t really need Spider-Man’s help at all. As you might expect, she made sure he knew this little fact too.
Eventually, Spidey and Spider-Girl found that RAVEN’s motives in killing Anya’s father and kidnapping her roommate was so they could brainwash Anya and turn her into a RAVEN agent. With the help of Red Hulk, Spider-Man and Spider-Girl were able to foil RAVEN’s plans and bring the organization to justice, giving Anya some peace as she continued to struggle with the loss of her father.
Recently, Anya has not only made an appearance in the “Spider-Verse” saga but has also been seen within the pages of Avengers Assemble. While teaming up with the Avengers, Anya received yet another new costume that’s much less reminiscent of Julia’s old duds. Working alongside Avenger Jessica Drew, Anya has begun to develop a mentor/protege relationship with the original Spider-Woman. I guess it’s only fitting that these two interesting spider-powered ladies would form such a bond. Through the years we’ve seen a lot of different spider-women pop up in the 616 Marvel Universe. Some have endured through the years while others have disappeared never to be heard from again. Hopefully we see Anya survive this whole “Spider-Verse” thing so that she can continue to team-up with Jessica (possibly in her new series) or Spider-Man for years to come.