Spider-Man has one of the best rogues’ galleries in comics. Formidable and iconic villains like Green Goblin, Venom, and Doctor Octopus. Heck, only Batman has a better set of bad guys. But Spider-Man has got some real D-list baddies too. (The Hypno-Hustler, anyone?) But one of those second-string bad guys, known as the Spot, has a pretty big role in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. And he’s actually quite powerful. Whether he realizes it or not. But who is this forgotten villain, now movie star? And is he secretly…kind of cool? Here’s the Marvel Comics history of the Spot, one of the most unlikely Spidey villains ever to get the cinematic treatment.
The Origin of the Spot, Spider-Man’s Goofiest-Looking Villain
The villain known as the Spot first appeared as an unnamed scientist at MIT, in 1984’s Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #97. Writer Al Milgrom and artist Herb Trimpe created him. In the very next issue, they revealed him as Jonathan Ohnn, who worked for Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin. Working for Fisk, they tasked him with trying to replicate the powers of the hero called Cloak, of the duo Cloak and Dagger. Cloak could create portals out of his own being, and the Kingpin wanted that power for himself. Working late one evening, he thought he cracked the code to Cloak’s dimension. But Ohnn actually wound up in a different dimension, one-half dark, and one-half light.
This dimension was filled with various small black portals that opened up into other realities. Ohnn found a way back to Earth eventually by going through one, but many of the small black portals had already attached themselves to his body. He discovered he could use these black holes, by throwing them and opening portals. Once returning to Earth, he confronted the Kingpin’s nemesis Spider-Man, declaring himself “the Spot.” Spider-Man laughed right in his face at the dumb name that made him sound like a pet. Spidey soundly defeated the Spot, leaving him humiliated. After all, being able to throw interdimensional portals? WAY cooler than having octopus tentacles or rhino skin. Having Spidey beat you regardless of how powerful you were must have been downright embarrassing.
After a few defeats at the hands of Spider-Man, Marvel relegated the Spot to permanent loser status. The character was conceived of as a joke villain, but the fact that they gave him such incredible powers makes it a kind of depressing joke. Since that first appearance, the Spot continually popped up here and there. Usually fighting Spider-Man, sometimes in battle with another hero like Daredevil. Often, the Spot was part of a larger Marvel criminal team, like the Sinister Sixteen, MODOK’s 11, or the Legion of Losers. The fact that he was part of a team with a name like that shows you everything you need to know about how the Spot saw himself.
The Spot’s Powers in the Spider-Man Comics
Despite the dumb name, the Spot was pretty formidable power-wise. With his trademark space warp spots, the Spot could transport himself or any part of his body from one area to another. All over what seemed like an unlimited distance. He’s able to do all these things thanks to the dimension that gave him these powers. A dimension he unimaginatively named “Spotworld.” These spots could be small, large, and even suspended in the air. He could also change their size at will.
The Spot could even control which portal could lead to Spotworld, and which could open up somewhere else in this dimension. Because of his connection to Spotworld, the Spot learned that he was effectively immortal. This power set technically made him one of Spidey’s most formidable foes. Or at least, it should have. But he’s inflicted less damage on Spider-Man than some weak villains with names like the Looter and The Answer.
The Spot’s Role in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Until now, the Spot’s most prominent role outside the pages of Marvel Comics had been in the 1990s Spider-Man: The Animated Series. He appeared in that show in season three’s “The Spot,” and then and then again in the recent 2017 Spider-Man cartoon. Now, Jason Schwartzman will soon play this lovable loser villain in Across the Spider-Verse. And it appears he’s that film’s “Big Bad.” He’s always been the Spidey villain with the most potential when it comes to his abilities, and yet barely ever used as anything but a punchline. Now let’s see if Across the Spider-Verse can actually make the Spot dangerous, and worth the awesome superpowers he’s got.