Have You Seen These Spider-Men?

Origins of the Spider-Verse: Indonesia, 1969–1979

ou may have heard of Mexico’s strange, alt-canonical Hombre Araña comics of the 1970s, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that, during the very same decade, Indonesian comic stalls were packed with off-model Spider-Clones of their own. Take a good look at the line-up below. Do any of these two dozen Spider-artist pairings look familiar?

Not super-likely! Unless you came of age in 1970s Jakarta, Indonesia’s superhero alt-canon was never so much as a rumor to Western fandom.

I come from the ’70s, but not from Jakarta. So it wasn’t until very recently that I noticed the Indonesia-shaped crack in the Marvel multiverse–mid-2018 to be exact, when I first hearted the comic book page below on a Captain America Tumblr.

A less mindful Marvelite might blink and miss it, but the splash page pictured above does not, in fact, faithfully reproduce Jim Steranko’s iconic story-opener from Captain America #110. A side-by-side comparison illuminates what this Steranko nerd grasped in an instant:

Captain America #110 (Marvel Comics, Feb 1969) // Serial Kapten Amerika (Sanggar Karya, Feb 1979)

As you can see, the Indonesian edition is neither a photo-stat nor a tracing but a freehand recreation, not just translated but redrawn entirely.

Such a “dirty Steranko” would’ve shook up my want-list any year of my life, but in 2018 it busted in like the Kool-Aid Man.

⬑ GIF preview // JavaScript interactive ⬎

Ever the playful front-end developer, just right then I also was taking liberties with Steranko’s late-’60s layouts, which I’d been tickled to discover existed in wide contemporary translation.

Alas, by the time I managed to track down my own scanning copy of Serial Kapten Amerika, I wasn’t really obsessing over MorphSVG-driven transitions anymore.

But my quest for Komplotan Hydra opened my eyes to the bigger picture. I discovered that there’s more to Bronze Age Indonesian comic history than freehand Steranko clones–there’s also Spider-clones.

Of course, Indonesian comics go much deeper than fake Spider-Men–or fake anything–but there’s only so much one can cram into a single Medium article.

So be patient while I get another spreadsheet ready to share–or be impatient, drill into the links below and commence digging your own cross-dimensional treasure.

FURTHER READING

Essential overview of “apocryphal” Marvel history, published by Italian comics scholars in early 2020, perfectly intelligible in auto-translation:

My first major exposure to Indonesian comics was the Flickr pages of Komic Kazi, a father-son team from Brazil who really know how to collect international comics. Skye Ott, the son, spent a year on the ground gathering the set presented here:

Ott also amassed a preposterous trove of original Indonesian comic art, with exhibition-ready overviews of the industry’s most iconic talents:

Indonesian comic collectors took to Facebook Groups for Buy/Sell/Trade quicker than many regional subcultures, accumulating searchable archive for years’ worth sales and scholarship:

Foreign Comic Collector Magazine, briefly a physical magazine, now the Facebook home of hardcore international comics collectors:

One of many 2019 news items on the viral re-emergence of Mexico’s non-canonical Hombre Arana:

Joey Anuff is a full-stack web developer, focused on ML applications in the comic art domain. For more comic-related demos, please visit my 2018 portfolio or my CodePen demos.

Should I be prototyping your tech? I’m looking for interesting Dev Rel assignments involving: GraphQL, headless CMS, cloud ML (CV/NLP), Gatsby/Django.

ML Developer, comic book stacker