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The secret origin of Marvel's Bizarro Spider-Man Rek-Rap goes all the way back to the '80s

Spider-Man editor Nick Lowe reveals that Rek-Rap was originally conceived sometime in the 1980s.

Rek-Rap banner (from Amazing Spider-Man #17)
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Here at Popverse, we love Rek-Rap. This Bizarro version of Spider-Man has captured our hearts, thanks to his fun character design, hilarious catchphrases, and his earnest desire to be the best hero possible. We’re not alone in our love for the Limbo realm refugee. Amazing Spider-Man #42 contains some fan letters singing the praises of Rek-Rap, which prompted some interesting replies from editor Nick Lowe. For example, did you know that Rek-Rap was created in the '80s? Let’s break down everything we learned…

Who is Rek-Rap?

Rek-Rap origin
Image credit: Marvel

If you’re not familiar with Rek-Rap, he’s a misguided demon from the Limbo realm. Limbo is a demonic dimension in the Marvel Universe, which is currently being ruled by Cyclops’ ex-wife Madelyne Pryor. Rek-Rap is one of the many demons from Limbo. During the Dark Web storyline, the unnamed demon bonded with a mutated piece of the Venom symbiote.

Inspired by Peter Parker’s heroism, he began calling himself Rek-Rap. He tried his hand at heroism, but his Bizarro-like nature led to some hilarious misunderstandings. For example, Rek-Rap has attacked neighborhood dog-walkers, accusing them of enslaving helpless animals. His battle cries are a bit….odd. “It’s web-whanging time,” is one of his more notable quotes. He might be nutty, but his heart is in the right place.

(For more on Rek-Rap’s humble beginnings, check out this article I wrote about his debut)

Rek-Rap’s creative origin

Rek-Rap returns
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Rek-Rap may have debuted in 2022, but it turns out the idea for the character dates back to the '80s! Spider-Man editor Nick Lowe broke it down in the letters column for Amazing Spider-Man #42. “I WISH I could claim Rek-Rap, as I flarking love him, but that has to go 80-90% to Ed McGuinness. It was an idea Ed had in the 1980s,” Lowe wrote.

Lowe doesn’t specify what part of the decade Rek-Rap was conceived in, but this means that Rek-Rap could have been created before Venom, who debuted in 1988. While it isn’t outright stated, we can reasonably assume that McGuinness conceived of Rek-Rap as a fan creation, not as an official pitch for Marvel. McGuinness’ first Marvel project was Wolverine ’96 in 1996, so he probably created Rek-Rap for fun.

“He (McGuinness) pitched Zeb (Wells), Kaeden (McGahey), and I on Rek-Rap, and we loved this oddball addition to the Spidey mythos. The goofy joy, the huge silhouette, the bizarre teeth and tongue! Then Zeb took the ball and ran with it, cultivating Rek-Rap’s humor,” Lowe continued.

This lines up with a conversation we had with Zeb Wells last year. When we asked him about the origins of Rek-Rap, Wells marveled at McGuinness’ creativity. “It was so much fun. And it all comes from Ed McGuinness' design. He came with that character and said, ‘Here, I've got an idea for a character. Here it is. I think the name is Rek-Rap. Is there room for this in the story?’ And I was like, ‘Well, there's got to be, because whatever that is, he looks like he’s too much fun to write.’ I went in and reread the Rek-Rap stuff that I wrote and I was kind of cracking myself up because it's so stupid. This stuff coming out of his mouth is so stupid in a funny way,” Wells said.

However, while we’ve known about McGuinness creating Rek-Rap for a while, the fact that it happened in the '80s is new information. Do you know what this means? We’ve been robbed of decades of Rek-Rap stories! If only Marvel had hired McGuinness in the '80s.

Rek-Rap could have been the best man at Peter and Mary Jane’s wedding in 1987. He could have added some much needed comic relief to the complicated Clone Saga in the 1990s. Imagine Rek-Rap in classic storylines like The Superior Spider-Man. We were robbed.

Thankfully Rek-Rap is here now. In fact, the letters column in Amazing Spider-Man #42 had Lowe give us some interesting teases for Rek-Rap’s future. “Peter doesn’t need to be gone for Rek-Rap to get a whole line of books. The Web-Whang of Rek-Rap is particularly brilliant! And listen, we aren’t supposed to do this, but in the movie meetings I sit in on, Tom Hanks is circling the role of Rek-Rap, and I think he’ll be great. But don’t tell anyone as it is TOP SECRET,” Lowe writes.

Calm down everyone, the Tom Hanks thing was obviously a joke (but we can dream). However, there may have been some truth behind the joke about Rek-Rap getting an entire line of books. How long before Marvel announces the inevitable Rek-Rap mini-series?

A plea to Marvel and Sony

A cropped comic panel with Rek Rap yelling Done! It's wall-crawling time
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Nick Lowe, if you’re reading, give Rek-Rap a mini-series. In these stressful times we could all use the type of comic relief that can only be provided by a Bizarro vigilante from the Limbo dimension.

(We realize that criteria is specific, but Rek-Rap is one of a kind!)

A Rek-Rap series will probably sweep the Eisner Awards. Even if it doesn’t, it will be worth it. Think of the local comic shops struggling to bring in new customers. A foil holographic variant cover for The Web-Whanging Rek-Rap #1 could boost business for retailers, allowing them to keep their doors open. Yes, you read that correctly – the survival of the comic book industry depends on Rek-Rap.

Oh, and Sony Animation, it’s not too late to put Rek-Rap in Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse. We all loved Across the Spider-Verse, and all the crazy Spidey cameos the film had. Only one thing could’ve made it better – Rek-Rap. We understand that the film was in the final stages of production when Rek-Rap debuted in Dark Web, but the sequel is another story.

A Rek-Rap cameo, even if it’s just a few seconds long, will give the film a box office boost. Across the Spider-Verse was one of the biggest films of 2023, and Beyond the Spider-Verse has the chance to be bigger. Box office numbers have been struggling to recover from the pandemic, and a Rek-Rap cameo has the power to give Beyond the Spider-Verse numbers that eclipse Top Gun: Maverick.

Save cinema and give Rek-Rap the cameo.

Okay, maybe this is all an exaggeration. Maybe I just like the goofball and want to see more of him. What can I say, Rek-Rap makes me smile.

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