Is it okay to talk about Peni Parker’s cameo in Across the Spider-Verse now? She appears for about 5 seconds and the internet has been talking nonstop about her appearance in the film for the past two weeks so I’m not really spoiling anyone by talking about her, right? I wrote a whole article last year about how Peni’s design has been moving away from her original comic design to a design closer to what was shown in Into the Spider-Verse and now a few second cameo in Across invalidated that entire thing by having her design revert to something closer to her initial comic appearances.
Despite her new design being in the film for only a few seconds, all of our social media feeds have been filled with the few frames of her that existed in this movie. There have been memes about her canon event and fanart galore. Peni Parker may not be one of the breakout characters of the film but the internet sure has been treating her like one!
This upsurge of Peni popularity isn’t a new thing either. Quite famously back in October 2018, after a new Spider-Verse trailer showing Peni, Noir, and Spider-Ham dropped, the official Fandom Facebook page posted an image showing the stats of each major character’s wiki page views in the 24 hours before and after the trailer dropped.
While each character understandably got a major surge in views, Peni’s completely eclipsed the others by the tens of thousands. Going from only a few hundred views to over eighty thousand. Even the film’s own protagonist, Miles Morales, didn’t see as large an increase in views.
Peni’s popularity on the internet is large enough that even I, a wannabe journalist and small-time blogger have witnessed tangible proof that people want to see Peni content. That article I wrote last December about the evolution of Peni’s design gained several THOUSANDS of views in the days after the release of Across the Spider-Verse. Just like the last time she had a small appearance in a Spider-Verse film, people flocked to the internet in swarms to learn whatever they can about her!
But despite her popularity, there’s a shockingly miniscule amount of Peni Parker content outside of these films. If you want to read something starring Peni Parker, you have exactly two issues of Spider-Verse related material where appears for more than a single panel from before the film’s release, a single Spider-Verse related issue after the film’s release, and eight chapters of Marvel’s Spider-Verse webtoon from last year.
This is a shockingly little amount of content for a character who has clearly touched a lot of people in the past five years. There being next to no Peni appearances made sense when she was a deep cut character who most people didn’t know about when the first film came out, but how have we not had more than a handful of appearances in the years since?
Other than a few chapters of a webtoon that is paywalled behind a very expensive subscription app, Marvel has not made a single attempt to capitalize on Peni’s popularity in the past half decade.
And It’s not like they don’t try to release comics to tie into these Sony animated films either. Both Spider-Punk and Spider-Man India got new solo miniseries because they were planned to have appearances in Across the Spider-Verse. Punk’s series came out nearly a year ago while Spider-Man India’s started only a few days after the film’s release. Would it be completely unreasonable to ask for Peni to have a few issue miniseries of her own? Surely they see that a market for a schoolgirl Spider-person who pilots a mech exists currently.
Outside of comics, the only attempts to capitalize on this popularity have a Nendoroid figurine as well as an appearance in a Japanese gacha game called Puzzles and Dragons. The latter of which is very surprising to me because neither Miles Morales nor Gwen Stacy were added to that game’s Marvel event, but Peni was.
But hey, perhaps Peni as a character just wouldn’t work in the medium of comics for some reason. In that case, why not go with manga? In order to help advertise Across the Spider-Verse in Japan, Marvel collaborated with Jump to release a new Spider-Man manga by Hideyuki Furuhashi on the Shonen Jump+ app. Surely this could be Peni’s chance right? A Spider-Man manga that is made to tie into a movie she appears in? It’s the perfect chance to deliver some Peni content!
The manga is about Doctor Octopus. I feel like I’m morally unable to say anything negative about Spider-Man Octopus Girl both because I do think it’s pretty good and because I’m part of the team working on the fantranslation of it, but how did we get this get made and not a Peni Parker manga?
The future for Peni Parker content is currently very uncertain. While she is always guaranteed to have a few panel appearances in Spider-Verse events, I have no idea if she’ll ever get a chance to shine on her own outside of those. Her chances aren’t completely bleak though. Surely Marvel must be realizing that she has blown up online a second time after the release of Across the Spider-Verse.
That in combination with the fact she is most likely going to appear in the third film based on her having a new design for only a few brief seconds at the end of the second film means that Marvel once again has the perfect chance to release some Peni content. A Peni series before the new film comes out similar to the treatment that Punk got would be absolutely stellar. Will it happen? I don’t know, maybe it won’t. Do I want it to happen? More than anything right now!
Can you imagine a future where people can talk about Peni Parker and have more content to post than a few frames of a film where she looks depressed or those few panels from her first appearance where the cast of Evangelion and Dirty Pair are in her classroom? Imagine this character being an actual character beyond just the concept of a mech pilot Spider-Man. That is the future I want Marvel to give Peni Parker.
If we’re lucky, we will hopefully be able to look back on this article and laugh about how outdated it is like my Peni design article. I have been wrong about this character’s trajectory before, maybe Marvel will prove me wrong again. Or maybe Marvel can announce a Spider-Boy comic instead the second I finish writing a rough draft of this article forcing me to find some place to fit in a rant about that, wouldn’t that be funny?!