Just recently, the trailer for Sony’s new Spider-Man-related movie dropped, titled ‘Madame Web.’ Cassandra Webb is an intricate character in the comics whose powers of clairvoyance, telepathy, and other psychic abilities helped Peter Parker numerous times, as well as other Marvel characters.
That being said, the film – which is said to take place in a different universe from the SSU (Sony Spider-Man Universe) involving villains like Venom or Morbius – doesn’t seem to follow the comic-book narrative about Madam Web too much. If you want to learn more about Madam Web from the comics, and how the character’s history could tie into the movie, you’re in the perfect spot.
Here are the ten best ‘Madame Web’ comic book storylines you should definitely read before seeing the movie.
10. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ #210
What it’s about: Spider-Man follows a clue about a medium working as a psychic teacher in NYC under the name Madame Web. He first thinks she’s a fraud, but after meeting Cassandra Webb, the blind old woman confined to a life-support chair convinces him that her powers are real by helping him save a kidnapping victim and revealing to him that she knows his hidden identity…
Why you should read it: This is the first appearance of Madame Web ever that came in November 1980. From the jump, Madame Web’s powers were amazing. She could easily reveal Spidey’s identity, and although she never used it against him, it established the psychic as a very powerful character from the jump. If you want to start reading about Madame Web somewhere, why not start at the beginning?
9. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ #216
What it’s about: Spider-Man finds out that an assassination attempt is about to take place, but he doesn’t know where and when exactly. He contacts Madame Web for help, but her clairvoyance that day seems to be foggy. She gives Peter some information but can’t pinpoint the assassins or their location.
In the last second, a phone booth rings, and Spidey answers. It’s Madame Web who finally manages to see everything, and she shares vital information with Spidey, who then thwarts the murder plot.
Why you should read it: This was the very next issue in which Spidey used Madame Web’s help. It was kind of a ‘laying the groundwork’ issue that introduced us to the type of help and ally Madame Web would become for Spidey later on. She acts as a guiding force behind Spider-Man and later other heroes – mostly Spider-Women, which we’ll see in the movie, too.
8. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ #239
What it’s about: Spider-Man faces a supervillain who would later become a very important piece of his rogue gallery – the Hobgoblin. Meanwhile, Madame Web is at a hospital, slowly recovering from a situation with the Juggernaut that almost killed her. Cassandra is getting better – but she seems to have forgotten Spider-Man’s true identity…
Why you should read it: Spider-Man works tirelessly over the decades to keep his identity a secret. So, when Madame Web was introduced – and instantly knew who Peter Parker really was – it was seen as a big risk that his identity would be revealed.
Did Madame Web really forget who Peter was, or did she just want to leave his mind at peace? Whatever may be the case, it was a very important issue for their relationship, and the character-building around Madame Web.
7. ‘Spider-Woman’ #1
What it’s about: Cassandra Webb teams up with a couple of Spider-Woman variants, including Jessica Drew and Julia Carpenter. They have a mysterious enemy looming, trying to destroy them all – and they soon find out it is none other than Charlotte Witters – Cassandra Webb’s granddaughter – behind the plans.
Why you should read it: Not only do we learn a lot more about Madame Web in this issue – we also get her first real Spider-Women team-up here. The issue includes Julia Carpenter, who’ll also be in the movie, portrayed by the young, talented Sydney Sweeney. Now, seeing that the film’s Cassandra is young, their enemy won’t be her granddaughter.
However, a mysterious villain attacking Madame Web and a couple of different Spider-Women to change the future? Sounds a lot like what Ezekiel Sims is trying to do in the upcoming movie – at least based on what we’ve seen and heard in the film’s trailer.
6. ‘Spider-Man’ #96
What it’s about: Struggling with her powers being her own curse, Madame Web has a vision of Norman Osborn, promising to restore her physical health if she helps him and joins the Five – his brand new supervillain team. She gets Spider-Man to save J. Jonah Jameson – but it was actually a part of a bigger plan coiled by Osborn himself. Madame Web becomes a member of the Five…
Why you should watch it: Madame Web’s powers are amazing, and they can help heroes like Spider-Man save a ton of people and learn a lot about their own past, too. But what happens when those powers ‘play’ for the other side?
This issue is one of the very few when Madame Web turns bad – or at least it seems that way, as she has visions of horrible events that would transpire if Osborn’s plan prevails. I highly doubt this kind of plot will have anything to do with the upcoming movie, but it’s cool to see Madame Web in a different light.
5. ‘The Sensational Spider-Man’ #39
What it’s about: Auntie May is in a coma, barely clinging to life, and Peter is devastated about it. Madame Web showcases her amazing powers in not only seeing the future but interacting with the past as well, as she helps Peter talk to a past Auntie May through a psychic bond.
Why you should read it: Firstly, you should read this issue because it’s incredibly well-written and shows you a lot more about Madame Web and her incredible powers. Secondly, I found this power to be incredibly vital for the movie or Madame Web’s future in the cinematic universe(s).
The film is supposed to be a part of a completely different universe than what we’ve seen so far – MCU, SSU, or the animated Spider-Verse. However, the line between those universes has been thinned out quite a bit, and seeing that Madame Web essentially sees all multiverses and possible futures, who knows?
Maybe she could transfer into a different universe – for instance, the MCU – where she helps Peter talk to Auntie May one last time. It’s a total stretch, but I guess it could be cool.
4. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ #229
What it’s about: Black Tom Cassidy wants to find out how he can defeat the X-Men, so he sends the Juggernaut to kidnap Madame Web, who can foresee the future for Cassidy. However, Juggernaut doesn’t know Madame Web can’t be removed from her life-support chair, and she starts dying. She is eventually saved when Juggernaut leaves her dying body behind.
Why you should read it: This was one of my favorite Madame Web storylines ever. First, it showed how deep the connection between her and Peter Parker was – he went after the Juggernaut later and trapped him in wet cement as revenge for almost killing Cassandra.
Secondly, it reminds us once again that Cassandra Webb is one of the most peculiar characters in Marvel Comics – incredibly powerful yet so incredibly fragile at the same time.
3. ‘Prowler’ #4
What it’s about: The Prowler was defeated, and now, its clone has risen from the dead. Only this time, the Prowler fights on the side of good. He finds out that the company that brought him back also brought back a number of clones – including Cassandra Web. However, they are mistreating and abusing the clones, controlling them with a pill they have to take each day to survive…
Why you should read it: SPOILER ALERT – there’s another issue further down on this list that depicts the first time Madame Web died in the comics. Well, this was the second time, and it was absolutely heartbreaking but perfectly summarized who Madame Web was: a wise, brave woman despite all of her physical shortcomings.
Granted, her role was basically a cameo used as a plot device, but her last words before rejecting the pill that would keep her (or her clone, to be exact) alive was: ‘I have seen the future, and it is one I would prefer not to live through.’ It’s a true testament to Cassandra’s determination, but also her completely lost faith in humanity changing its ways.
2. ‘Alias’ #17
What it’s about: Jessica Jones finds herself in the middle of an investigation revolving around Mattie Franklin, who went missing. She asks Madame Web for information, and Webb uses her powers not just to help with that but also to dig around Jessica’s own dark past – which shakes Jones to the bones.
Why you should read it: Madame Web is usually a light character, and the storylines involving her don’t really get that dark. Well, this one kind of got dark, but so does any storylčine, including Jessica Jones.
I think you should read this one for several reasons. One, it’s one of the coolest Madame Web comics ever. Two, the story involves Mattie Franklin – one of the Spider-Women who’ll make an appearance in the film. And three – wouldn’t it be awesome if you combine those things, and we get a Madame Web-Jessica Jones live-action connection through Mattie?
Yeah, different universes and all that, but that seems like a non-issue at this point. It’s a totally insane theory, but it could work for the future of Madame Web as a character and the return of Jessica Jones that so many fans are rooting for.
1. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ #637
What it’s about: This issue is the culmination of the Grim Hunt storyline, where a resurrected Kraven the Hunter and his family seek revenge against Spider-Man. The Kravinoffs kidnapped Madame Web to use her as a human sacrifice to resurrect Sergei, aka Kraven the Hunter. Cassandra Webb dies at the end of the issue, but Madame Web lives on…
Why you should read it: SPOILER ALERT! When Cassandra Webb dies in this riveting, horror-ish, and fantastic issue, she transfers her powers – and her blindness – to Julia Carpenter – the former Spider-Girl, or Spider-Woman, if you will. Julia becomes Madame Web – and I believe that’s actually something we could see happening in the upcoming film.
After all, the very next SSU movie to come out next year after Madame Web is ‘Kraven the Hunter’ starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the titular villain/antihero. Perhaps the ‘giving of the torch’ from Cassandra to Julia won’t come right away in the ‘Madame Web’ movie, but it might set up a future storyline involving Kraven where Julia takes over as Madame Web, just like she did in the comics.
‘Madame Web’ is set to premiere in theaters on February 14, 2023.
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