The Meshugge Foes of Spider-Mensch

with Jacob Sager Weinstein

Andrew Garfield, star of Amazing Spider-Man 2, told Time Out that Spider-Man is Jewish. “He ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ about his future because he’s neurotic. He’s Jewish. It’s a defining feature,” Garfield explained, quickly adding, “I hope Jewish people won’t mind the cliché, because my father’s Jewish. I have that in me for sure.” – Slate

Spider-Man? More like friendly haimishe Spider-Mensch. And here’s a Rogue’s Gallery of some of the better- and lesser-known foes of the Wailing Wallcrawler...

Chrain Goblin. What makes the Chrain Goblin so deadly isn’t his scalding-hot horseradish bombs or even the rocket-powered gefilte fish he rides. It’s his knowledge of Spider-Mensch’s personal life. Alone among the Web-kippah’d One’s foes, the Chrain Goblin knows that Spider-Mensch is actually Peter Parve, ace photographer for the Daily Shofar. For the Chrain Goblin was once Peter Parve’s best friend, until a freak accident cleared his sinuses of all feelings of compassion and justice.

Doctor Octopus, DDS. Although he had always dreamed of being a supervillain, Otto Octavius gave in to his parents’ nagging and went to dental school instead. There he built a set of robotic arms capable of flossing all four quadrants at once. When an unfortunate accident fused them to his spine, he vowed to destroy the society that scorned him by leading a life of violent crime (and also to annoy his parents by closing his dental practice). Doc Octopus is obsessed with Spider-Mensch, because how can he possibly brush properly with that mask over his mouth?! His oral hygiene must be horrible... yet society calls him the hero! Well, Doctor Octopus, DDS, will show them all! He’s going to reach into his office toy drawer, and pull out... REVENGE!

ElAl-ectro. When his airplane was struck by lightning, flight attendant A. L. Eron was granted the proportional strength and speed of a Boeing 777. He used his newfound powers to assault a passenger who asked for one in-flight magazine too many, and he’s been on the wrong side of the law ever since. ElAl-ectro’s ability to soar away from trouble, and his obsession with security, make him nearly impossible to defeat; Spider-Mensch’s only hope is to battle him on Shabbos, when ElAl-ectro refuses to fly.

Hobgonif. Wealthy, WASPy couturier Buckley Spenser acquired the vestments and accoutrements of the Green Golem when that villain retired and donated his costume to a gallery show Spenser was curating. After altering and updating the outfit—basically a cloak and a pair of tights—Spenser donned it and began his second life as the Hobgonif, breaking the laws of man in service of the laws of fashion, by snatching a distracting piece of jewelry from a woman’s wrist or an incompatible pocket square from a man’s breast pocket.

Kingpunim. 350 pounds of menacing muscle, two percent body fat, and such a sweet face!

Maven the Handler. Once the most respected price negotiator in the wholesale garment business, Anton Mavenoff realized that he would never truly be satisfied until he had successfully reduced his own criminal sentence, a quest that now requires him to commit crimes—and get caught—just so that he can enter into plea bargains with the prosecution. His expertise with the system makes Maven is the best there is at haggling. He spends no more time behind bars than he has to, making it back out onto the streets with incredible speed... only to continue in his criminal hunt for the perfect deal.

Mishpochio. Bernard Rosenberg can make you think you’re seeing what he wants you to see. Once a successful optometrist, Rosenberg discovered a way to disguise his identity... by projecting the impression of someone else in his own extended family! Whenever Mishpochio commits a crime, he makes sure to be seen—but eyewitness will describe someone other than, though related to, Rosenberg. Following reliable leads, Spider-Mensch has apprehended Rosenberg’s wife, parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, nieces, nephews, and— more than once—his mother-in-law, but each time the web-spritzer catches one, the police have to let the perp go, because it really wasn’t them!

Mr. Manishevitzptlk. A visitor from an alternate dimension in which kosher wine tastes delicious, Mr. Manishevitzptlk is more mischievous than evil. His pranks have included turning the Daily Shofar building back into a giant ram’s horn; booking every table in every Chinese restaurant in the world on Christmas Day; and leaving hard-to-remove stains on the rug in Spider-Mensch’s living room. The only way to send Mr. Manishevitzptlk back home is to trick him into reading from left-to-right instead of right-to-left. Spider-Mensch usually accomplishes this by handing him a Reform prayer book.

Shlemieleon. The Shlemieleon—true identity unknown, but believed to be from Latkeria—is a master of disguise, changing his appearance at will... making him nearly impossible to catch. Is he the bumbling waiter spilling hot soup... or the unfortunate restaurant patron having soup spilled into his lap? Is he the nudnik hocking someone’s tshaynik, or is he the mamzer noodging the macher? Possibly the half-brother of Maven the Handler as well as a onetime roommate of Shlocker, a burglar who liked to break into delicatessens and pick cheap lox.

The Sinister Shikse. She’s got a crush on our hero. And she’s gorgeous. But she’s not a member of the tribe. (And her dad is Lex Lutheran.) ‘Nuff said, Jew believers!

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

Read more humor here. Or read some fiction here.