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Spencer Smythe and his Spider-Slayers
|First appearance||The Amazing Spider-Man #25 (June 1965)|
Fictional character biography
Professor Spencer Smythe was a robotic and arachnid expert who asked J. Jonah Jameson to fund his projects, having become convinced by Jameson's editorials that Spider-Man was a menace. After watching a demonstration showing that Smythe's robot could sense and track spiders, Jameson hired Smythe to capture Spider-Man. Jameson himself controlled the robot, meaning that Spider-Man found himself chased by a machine with Jameson's face. However, Spider-Man escaped by leaving his Spider-Man suit wrapped in the robot's tentacles.
Smythe, annoyed at the inability of his robot to capture Spider-Man, began to obsess about the Web-Crawler, turning to crime to finance his research and constantly improving his robots, which he dubbed Spider-Slayers. However, no matter how deadly or powerful he made them they were always defeated by Spider-Man utilizing a key flaw in their designs; the second one, for example, was capable of tracking a unique energy signature generated by spiders, but was defeated when Spider-Man lured it back to Smythe's laboratory, causing it to overload from the multitude of spiders Smythe kept there for his research.
Eventually, Smythe's criminal career came to an end when the radioactive materials used in the manufacture of the robots poisoned him, dooming him to a slow and agonizing death. Blaming Jameson and Spider-Man equally for his impending demise, Smythe handcuffed the two of them together with a bomb scheduled to detonate in 24 hours, determined to make the two of them suffer the agony of inescapable death that he saw them as having condemned him to. Unfortunately for Smythe, his disease was too advanced for him to survive the 24 hours himself, and he died convinced that he had killed off the two men responsible. Peter Parker, however, had a pretty good grasp of what made mechanical devices tick, and was able to abort the bomb by freezing its controls mere moments before it would have detonated.
In other media
- In the 1967 Spider-Man animated series, Henry Smythe (voiced by Henry Ramer) from the cartoon is based on Spencer Smythe. Just like Spencer in the comics, he creates the Spider-Slayers as seen in "Captured by J. Jonah Jameson" where he uses a Spider-Slayer to capture Spider-Man. When Spider-Man fools the Spider-Slayer with a dummy, J. Jonah Jameson gets angered at Spider-Man's trick as Henry Smythe takes the Spider-Slayer away to do some adjustments to it.
- Spencer Smythe appeared in Spider-Man: The Animated Series voiced by Edward Mulhare. In the series, he is hired by Norman Osborn to create the original Spider-Slayer called the Black Widow in an effort to capture Spider-Man. As part of the bargain, Osborn would build a hoverchair for his paralyzed son Alistair. At Oscorp, the robot instead captures Flash Thompson in a Spider-Man costume and Spider-Man attempts a rescue which leads to a massive fire in the plant. When Osborn refuses to build the promised hoverchair for Alistair if Spider-Man isn't destroyed, Spencer chooses to stay behind and finish Spider-Man off while Osborn gets Alistair to safety. After the Black Widow is destroyed by Spider-Man, Oscorp explodes and Spencer is believed dead. Later, it is revealed that Spencer had survived having been found by Kingpin. Spencer Smythe was put in cryogenic suspension in order to maintain the loyalty of Alistair. Eventually however, Alistair outlives his usefulness and is changed into a biomechanical Spider Slayer by his replacement Dr. Herbert Landon. Alistair Smythe eventually discovers that his father is alive with Spider-Man's help and escapes with his cryonically preserved body. Afterwards, he continues working for various individuals (most predominantly the Kingpin's rival Silvermane) in order to revive his father. Spencer would remain in stasis at the conclusion of the series.
- Spencer Smythe appears in Spider-Man, voiced by Benjamin Diskin as a primary antagonist. This version is Peter Parker and Harry Osborn's strict science teacher who has a rivalry with Max Modell (which is passed onto his son Alistair) and Norman Osborn (who he claimed took his Spider-Slayer work). He is responsible for sabotaging Harry's experiment, resulting in his suspension from Horizon High pending an investigation. Spencer is also allied with Vulture (who also has personal issues with Modell) and created a robot known as The Slayer which stole Harry's work from Horizon High. It is implied during the episode "Osborn Academy" that he is partnered with Norman Osborn, being that Harry's equipment was shown at Oscorp after Norman Osborn appropriated it. In the episode "Ultimate Spider-Man," Spencer Smythe controls one of his Spider-Slayers to attack Oscorp as a diversion so that he can steal the briefcase containing Raymond Warren's spider experiments for Raymond only to bump into Miles Morales and lose the Electrolis Arachnatis specimen. Later on, he controls a giant Spider-Slayer and competes against his own son to catch Miles Morales. After ejecting from his Spider-Slayer upon defeat, Spencer crashes into the bullies that picked on Miles where he is then webbed up by Spider-Man and handed over to the police. While being walked to his prison cell, Spencer sees Raymond in his cell and asks how he got back in prison. Raymond told him that he never left prison.
A viral marketing campaign for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 shows a mention of Spencer Smythe in a Daily Bugle article as the head of the engineering division of Oscorp and that he is working on significant advancements in robotics. An article published at a later date revealed that Spencer was fired from his position as department head and replaced by his son Alistair.
- Spencer Smythe is featured in the PlayStation 2 and PSP version of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. Like Nick Fury and Kingpin, he also calls up Spider-Man at specific points of the game. He is shown in alliance with A.I.M. whom he hires to capture J. Jonah Jameson in his plot to clone him and gain control of the publishing business and discredit J. Jonah Jameson and Spider-Man. Spencer Smythe had Jackal as his double agent on board the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier to obtain Spider-Man's symbiotic suit. Spencer Smythe later sends Jackal to steal the Sonic Emitter from the top of Fisk Tower and unleashes a mind-controlled Black Cat on Spider-Man.
- Spencer Smythe appears in Marvel Heroes.
- Spencer Smythe at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe