Spider-Man was one of many characters redesigned for Marvel’s experimental 1990s Timeslip initiative, which featured prominent artists of the decade offering new takes on the company’s classic characters. With the spread declaring, “It’s 1962 again…and Stan Lee has just had a new idea!” the artists commissioned by Marvel were invited to imagine how they would have drawn characters like Spider-Man and Iron Man for their first appearance.
Timeslip Spider-Man, who first appeared as one of a series of two-page spreads in Marvel Vision magazine, was brought to life by artist Mike Allred.
Allred’s Timeslip entry imagines an alternate version of Peter Parker’s original homemade Spider-Man costume, with a look and tech that somehow manage to be even cooler than the original.
Mike Allred’s design for Timeslip Spider-Man doesn’t seek to present an absurdly different take on the character; rather, it presents Peter Parker’s early outfit as more rugged – literally, in the sense that loose strands of red fabric are tied around his elbows and knees. The most exciting innovation of Allred’s design, however, is his concept for a replacement of Spider-Man’s traditional web-shooter devices. Instead, Peter has developed an extendable claw – akin to a cross between an arcade crane game and Doctor Octopus’s mechanical appendages – with the wire for it snaking up his arm. Interestingly, the goggles affixed to Peter’s eyes give this Spider-Man a somewhat fly-like appearance as well.
Of course, the conceit of Marvel’s Timeslip was that Stan Lee was asking the artist, in this case Mike Allred, for character sketches. Unlike any of the other Timeslip installments, the Spider-Man entry might leave readers wondering what Stan Lee’s reaction to the character design might have been. It is possible he would have rejected Allred’s design – considering Stan asked for “some sort of web apparatus” and Allred delivered him a claw. Perhaps, in Marvel’s Timeslip meta-continuity, where alternate histories of the company’s characters are explored, Stan asked to see something else, and readers still ended up with something closer the more familiar 1960s Spider-Man.
If that were supposed to be the case, it could also be imagined that Allred’s “original” character designs would eventually come to light – and a faction of comic book fans would invariably say how much cooler the Spider-claw was than the web-shooters. This would, as it often does, in turn lead to some variation of Allred’s claw making it into continuity. Even leaving aside the hypothetical, this could still happen. Marvel’s Timeslip character designs have not been used since their publication in the 1990s. With the Spider-Verse growing ever more popular, and populous, it is possible Timeslip Spider-Man could appear in some form, some day.