In one story, Spider-Man actually got his powers from a magical spider from another dimension. In the three-issue Spider-Man: Fever mini-series, written and drawn by acclaimed artist Brendan McCarthy, Spider-Man is abducted by soul-eating spider demons from another dimension. Taken to their surreal and horrifying home, he and Doctor Strange must find a way home; along the way Spider-Man learns a shocking revelation about the spider that bit him – it was from another dimension.
Spider-Man’s origin was pretty straight-forward: bitten by a radioactive spider, he gained fantastic powers. Over the years, Marvel has tweaked the story, having other people bit by the spider and adding that Peter was destined to become a spider avatar, and that there were many Spider avatars throughout the multiverse. But McCarthy took it a step further – the spider itself was magical and did not have the best intentions for Spider-Man.
One of the spider demons, from a group called the Arachnix, finds a way to our world; he soon meets Spider-Man and carries his soul off to their realm so he and his Arachnix brethren can feed on it. In their dimension, he learns that the spider that bit him was from that dimension, and when it bit Peter, it went on to live inside of him, and sought to return to its home ever since. The spider plans to use Peter to become the new leader of the Arachnix. Spider-Man is successful in stopping both the spider and the Arachnix; and Doctor Strange is successful in freeing Peter from the spider’s dimension.
The implications this development has for Spider-Man’s origin are big. If this is true, then it would make him a magical character instead of one spawned by science. At one point in the story, one of the Arachnix claims that the reason the spider that bit Peter glowed was because it was magical, and not because of radioactivity. The story’s status is canon is unclear, so this claim should be taken with a grain of salt.
Fans may balk at the idea of Spider-Man being a magical character. Despite this, Fever is an amazing story. McCarthy’s art is psychedelic, compelling and even revolting – all at the same time. McCarthy nails the character and all his quirks. The Arachnix are terrifying villains and have the potential to evolve into regular menaces for Spider-Man. And the revelations made here about the nature of the spider that bit him are potentially game-changers. Marvel never followed up on the story, so its status in continuity is up for debate.