Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse introduced moviegoers to a whole host of alternate-reality Spider-Men. Probably the most unusual was Peni Parker, who piloted the Sp//dr suit. Few viewers will have ever encountered Peni before; in fact, even comic book readers can be forgiven for not knowing who she really.
Peni has appeared in Marvel's "Spider-Verse" and "Spider-Geddon" comic book events, but so far has only ever starred in two issues herself. There's more than a hint of Neon Genesis Evangelion about Sp//dr, with a teenager bonded to a giant mecha and acting as a city's protector.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse recognizes this, with the artists choosing to render Peni and her robot in a Manga style. The result is unforgettable, albeit saddening when Sp//dr is damaged beyond all repair. But how true to the comics is Peni Parker, and what does the future have in store for her?
Peni Parker & SP//dr's Origin & World In The Comics
Marvel's 2014 "Spider-Verse" event saw the comic book publisher launch an anthology miniseries called Edge of Spider-Verse, which gave creators a chance to make their own versions of Spider-Man. The series was a hit, with the breakout star being Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez's Spider-Gwen. Peni Parker was another character introduced in this miniseries, created by Gerard Way and Jake Wyatt. Way's idea was a fascinating one; that in Peni's world, Oscorp had dedicated itself to creating technology that would protect the city from harm. They'd focused on the pseudo-science of psychogenetics, and created a way to bond people to powerful exo-armors using irradiated animals. Oscorp's greatest success was Sp//dr.
Peni's father was the first Sp//dr, bonded to the mecha after receiving a spider-bite. He kept that irradiated spider with him at all times, with the creature effectively serving as his co-pilot. Unfortunately, Peni's dad died while on a (still-mysterious) mission - and that was when Oscorp realized they had a problem. The spider had bonded to the Parker genome, and Peni was now the only one who could successfully pilot Sp//dr. With threats to the city continuing to surface, Oscorp had no choice; they approached the nine-year-old Peni and asked her to become the next Sp//dr. She agreed, and was bitten by the spider; ever since, she's acted as her city's premiere superhero, supported by her "Aunt May" and "Uncle Ben" - her technical team.
How Spider-Verse Changed Peni Parker & SP//dr's
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse ups the Manga style significantly, and its version of Sp//dr is a lot less thin and spindly than the comic book version. When dormant, it also curls up into a ball for ease of transport, which is a completely new idea. That said, the changes all really appear to be cosmetic; the concept is clearly the same. Watch closely, and you'll even see the radioactive spider that typically settles on Peni's hand; it escapes the wrecked Sp//dr suit at the end, which means the exo-armor can be rebuilt. It's interesting to note that the film doesn't explicitly spell this out, perhaps assuming viewers will go away and do the necessary research.
Peni Parker & SP//dr's Noir's Future
Over in the comics, Sp//dr was the focus of Edge of Spider-Geddon #2, a single issue that introduced a new nemesis, a rogue mecha named VEN#m. Sales weren't particularly high, though, and right now it looks as though Sp//dr will continue to only turn up whenever there's an inter-dimensional Spider-Man event. That said, it is possible that Peni's unexpected rise to stardom in Into The Spider-Verse will generate more of a buzz about her. It looks as though Sony may well continue to develop the character; the studio has both a Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse sequel and an all-female Into the Spider-Verse spinoff in the works, and Sp//dr could potentially crop up in either or even both of these.