ARAKNIS THE DEATH SPIDER
ARANAEA THE DEATH WEAVER
Death Spider, or Araknis the Death Spider as he calls himself, is one of the most dangerous and hated foes of Justice Inc. and the new Enforcers of Justice. He is also one of the most mysterious. Aranaea the Death Weaver is an ancient Atlantean demon-spider goddess who, millennia ago, was defeated and imprisoned by the sorcerer Arion.
Death Spider first appeared shortly after the defeat of Overlord after the latter's attempt to invade Earth, around the same time as Extant was manipulating the timestream to create a temporal explosion. At this point in time Aranaea had been accidentally freed from her imprisonment by zoologist Katherine Robbins, who was secretly the vigilante Arachnia. Araeana escaped by switching places with Katherine and assumed her identity, submerging her own so deeply she believed she was the zoologist. As time passed her facade began to crack and she went mad until the demon Neron restored her memories. By this time Katherine's lover, the hero Tarantula, had rescued her and Aranaea had been imprisoned by the authorities in America.
It is believed that Death Spider is the same Tarantula that Headlong encountered during a brief journey twenty years into the future. For some reason this Tarantula made the journey back in time but was driven insane during the transit. One of his first actions on reaching the present was to free Aranaea (whom he apparently believed to be Arachnia) from Belle Rève prison. A few weeks later the two appeared in New York, with this Tarantula calling himself Death Spider, and ambushed Justice Inc., incapacitating them. With the team out of the way Death Spider challenged the present Tarantula to a fight to the death. Death Spider's motives for the fight are a complete mystery, since by all evidence he would have been killing himself. Only Death Spider knows the truth, and even he may be a little vague on it given his state of mind. The battle was close but Death Spider defeated Tarantula and threw him in the East River to drown. As far as Death Spider and Aranaea, and the rest of Justice Inc. for that matter, knew the Tarantula was dead (he had in fact survived but went into hiding with Arachnia using new identities, leaving just about everyone thinking he was dead.) Death Spider and Aranaea escaped.
In Death Spider's next appearance he encountered the heroes Arclight, Paladin, and Zodiak (who had his own connection to Death Spider). The three heroes were investigating a drug operation run by Vandal Savage when Death Spider appeared. Savage had been using the stolen original body of the hero Quiksilver to create an updated version of his super-speed drug Velocity-9 and Death Spider succeeded in stealing the body for himself. The three heroes tracked down Death Spider and he appeared to die in an explosion, but it would later turn out that the body found was not his.
The next time Death Spider and Aranaea appeared they brought allies, a group of villains echoing the original Enforcers of Justice team who Death Spider called the Enforcers of Injustice. The villains disrupted the wedding of ArcAngel (formerly Arclight) and Paladin. While his team fought the heroes assembled there, Death Spider spirited away the priest who was going to perform the ceremony, ArcAngel's ally Father Kelley. Death Spider forced Kelley to perform a wedding ceremony for Aranaea and himself and then cocooned him in a web and dumped him in the river. ArcAngel saved Father Kelley and attacked Death Spider, killing him with her sword. The body disappeared shortly afterward but not before tests had revealed that the it had apparently been cloned from Quiksilver's original body. This revelation led to speculation that Death Spider might not be a future version of (the still believed dead) Jonathan Law Jr. Tarantula but instead he may be the future Will Talbot, the hero Quiksilver who, when his original body had died, had been saved by placing his mind in a clone body. The clone body did not have Quiksilver's powers so Talbot had adopted the identity of Tarantula to honor his (believed) dead friend.
Few of the heroes really believed Death Spider was really gone, and Zodiak set out to track him down rather than wait for him to show up again. When he located Death Spider and the other Enforcers of Injustice, Zodiak called in a group of heroes consisting of Renegade and Solitaire (the new identities of Tarantula and Arachnia), Mindblade, ArcAngel, Cat, Torch, and Metalmorph, as well as Zodiak's reluctant companion, Ghost. The group defeated the Enforcers of Injustice and in a desperate bid to escape Death Spider deliberately killed himself but his consciousness survived by being transferred into the global computer network by OMEGA. The others, including Aranaea were captured and handed over to Federal authorities. During the battle with the heroes Death Spider learned that not only was Tarantula still alive (in the new guise of Renegade), but the hero Zodiak was also Tarantula, a time-displaced one like himself, but virtually identical to the other Tarantula (he was only from a few weeks in the future). This sent the disembodied Death Spider into fury and he swore that he wouldn't just kill these two Tarantulas, he would destroy them a piece at a time, letting them watch their lives crumble around them before they died.
Watching Renegade from the 'Net, Death Spider learned of the cybernetic technology used by the Silver Path. Being trapped in a computer system did have some advantages for Death Spider, he was able to hack into the computers at the Slab and free Enforcer, a sometime ally. With Enforcer acting for him in the real world Death Spider got hold of one of the Silver Path's chevals and modified the cybernetics to let him take possession of the body. When the hero Flashback showed up in Superior City, Death Spider struck upon a fiendish plan of revenge against Renegade and Zodiak. He kidnapped Flashback and had Enforcer mimic his time-travel powers. It took weeks for him to calculate what needed to be done but when he was ready Death Spider used Enforcer's newly-stolen power to go back in time and not only erase Jonathan Law Jr. from existence, but do it in a way that Renegade and Zodiak would know hat he had done. The first step involved going back in time and killing Jonathan Law Jr's grandmother before his father was born. This might have been enough for most, but Death Spider had studied time travel and knew that the timeline was elastic, changing events in the past might stretch it out of shape but it would always try and snap back to a semblance of its original shape. What Death Spider intended to do was control just how the timeline restored itself.
Traveling to point several months before Jonathan Law Jr. would have been born, Death Spider found three women and used his knowledge of genetic engineering to impregnate them with embryonic clones of Jonathan Law Jr. he had created from stolen tissue samples. Death Spider then jumped forward in time to a point just after the children's birth and killed the mothers and the men who thought they were the children's father. He then arranged for the three children to be raised in the same orphanage. The final task was to ensure that Renegade and Zodiak would remember the original timeline, not their own. It would be tricky, but it could be done thanks to a side effect of Flashback's time travel powers. When everything was ready Death Spider sat back and watched the timeline realign itself. In the new timeline the three boys were raised like brothers. As a teenager one of them, named Michael Pierce, met the elder Jonathan Law who saw the young man as the grandson he (in the new timeline) never had. From this point on Michael lived the life that had been Jonathan Law Jr.'s. Michael became the new Tarantula, fell in love with Arachnia, joined Justice Inc., and died at the hands of the mysterious Death Spider. In this new timeline no one saved Tarantula, instead his two childhood friends, Joshua Chambers and C.T. Nelson, decided to take over for their departed friend and become heroes themselves, adopting the respective hero identities of Renegade and Zodiak. Death Spider had even gone as far as to create a clone of Arachnia and arranged for her to grow up to become Renegade's lover Solitaire while the "real" Arachnia (who Death Spider had arranged to keep her memories of the unaltered timeline) lived a new life where she never went into hiding after Tarantula (Michael Pierce)'s death..
As Death Spider planned Renegade, Zodiak, and Arachnia retained their memories of the original timeline. It took a few days before they began to even realize things had changed. Renegade was the first to notice when he realized that the woman he was with was not Arachnia, but the "real" Solitaire. He, Zodiak, and Arachnia found a handful of others who had not been affected by the changes and remembered the old timeline and they set out to fix things. Not only were they opposed by Death Spider, but even some of their friends were against them, since they perceived the heroes' actions as a threat to their late friend Michael Pierce. The heroes eventually rescued Flashback and with his powers they were able to undo most of Death Spider's changes to the timeline (see Zodiak's entry for details of what changes were not undone). Enforcer escaped, as did Death Spider, who retreated to his virtual fortress in the 'Net where he began formulating his next plot against the former Tarantulas and their teammates.
It was several months later when Death Spider was ready to strike again. This time he assembled a new team of Enforcers of Injustice. The members of this new team were dark reflections of Renegade's current team of Enforcers of Justice. Death Spider then trapped the Enforcers of Justice in a stasis field where no time would pass for them. While the heroes were trapped, the Enforcers of Injustice, using disguises and illusions to make them appear to be the heroic Enforcers, went on a murderous rampage through Superior City. When the real Enforcers broke out of the stasis field, they found themselves to be wanted criminals. Hiding themselves from the authorities, the real Enforcers devised a plan to capture their evil doppelgangers and expose their deception at the same time. With the help of Zodiak, Solitaire, and a newly formed team of heroes called the New Adventurers, the Enforcers lured Death Spider and his team into an ambush. Zodiak and Solitaire had researched Aranaea's original imprisonment and had devised a spell to put her back where Arion had trapped her thousands of years earlier. Meanwhile, the techno-voodoo hero Mystère had found a way to deal with Death Spider, who they were gambling would flee back into the 'Net when it looked like he would be defeated.
The ambush worked perfectly and the heroes defeated the Enforcers of Injustice. Zodiak and Solitaire's magic successfully trapped Aranaea and, as hoped, Death Spider fled back to his virtual fortress in the 'Net, and right into Mystère's trap. On previous journey into the 'Net, Mystère had located Death Spider's home, the so-called Silver Web (a deliberate reference on Death Spider's part to a proposed joint headquarters for Tarantula and his friend Quiksilver). Mystère had used her techno-magic to alter the gateway into the Silver Web so that it would send the cyber-spirit Death Spider straight to Hell. When he tried to retreat to the Silver Web, Death Spider instead found himself trapped in the Netherworld. Death Spider's entrapment did not last long though. Shortly after his defeat, the rogue angel Asmodel stole the power of the Spectre and froze the fires of Hell, releasing many of the demons and damned souls. Death Spider was among those who escaped, and was thus restored to physical form. Death Spider immediately began formulating another plan of revenge against Renegade and Zodiak, but just before he was ready to implement it he was confronted by the new Spectre who destroyed him utterly.
Powers and Abilities:
When he first arrived in the present, Death Spider appeared to be what he claimed, on older Tarantula. He possessed the skills and physique that the present Tarantula would theoretically have developed and perfected over several years. His equipment consisted almost exclusively of more advanced versions of the present-day Tarantula's equipment. After his body was destroyed, Death Spider lived on as a digital spirit living in the 'Net and traveled in the physical world by using a victim outfitted with variations of the Silver Path's cheval technology. When possessed by him, Death Spider's cheval had superhuman strength and endurance, four razor-sharp metallic appendages (resembling spider legs) which were tipped with poison and could also fire an adhesive web-like substance, and he could adhere to surfaces and climb them like a spider.
Aranaea, the Death Weaver, is a spider-demon. She could theoretically take any form, but most often appeared as a beautiful woman, except that she possessed two extra sets of arms (giving her eight limbs, like a spider). Her nails were sharp enough to cut through steel and she could climb along any surface like a spider. Aranaea is difficult harm and even harder to kill, she can heal injuries far faster than a normal person can. These powers are all merely attributes of Aranaea's typical form. The demoness herself is a creature of magic and as such she can, within the limits of her power level, do almost anything imaginable.