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Spider Bytes

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As befitting any true superhero, Spider-Man boasts an obsessive online fan base that records and catalogs his every move and utterance. And their devotion runs deep: Many feel such a frighteningly personal connection to Peter Parker and his crime-busting alter ego that you may just feel grateful his fans aren’t posing for pictures in their Spidey underwear.

Case in point: Jon Falkner, cocreator of Spider-Friends. com, says that the 1980s TV series Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends shaped his ”ideals, morals, and ambitions.” It also helped him shape an amazingly thorough website, with video clips from every show of the series’ three-season run (including the first episode, in which the Green Goblin tries to poison the New York City water supply).

And Ronald Dupont Jr., a Florida-based journalist, says his life is so much like Peter Parker’s that he only wishes a radioactive spider would bite him. His most cherished collectible is an invitation to the publicity-stunt marriage of Mary Jane Watson and Spider-Man held on June 5, 1987, at Shea Stadium. But the most interesting item on his site (ron ald-dupont.com/spidey.htm) is his copy of a little-seen trailer for next month’s movie — showing Spider-Man snagging bad guys in a web spun between the World Trade Center towers — which was pulled after the events of Sept. 11.

To view the Web’s strangest assemblage of arachnid arcana, visit the Spider-Man Crawl Space (spidermancrawlspace.com). The webslinger’s likeness has adorned asthma inhalers, toilet paper, and a backstage pass for a Grateful Dead concert. There’s also a set of Spider-Woman Underoos on display, with a caption that reads, ”I wonder if they make these for women over 18?” Webmaster Brad Douglas even founded a club where the site’s regulars write fictional biographies about their own transformations from mere humans into…Crawl Space Avengers!

While Spider-Man Hype (superherohype.com/spider-man) is widely considered to be the hottest source of news about the new movie, it also lacks the kooky obsessiveness of other fansites. Which brings us to Spider-Man’s official movie site (spider man.sonypictures.com) and its ”Spider-Man Movie Network” geared to die-hard fans. TheNetwork, which requires registration, mostly offers sneak peeks of material that’s accessible to everyone else a few days later. At the very least, fans should be required to prove their worth by submitting photos of themselves dressed in Spidey Underoos. That is, if they make those for men over 18.

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