He’s strong, he’s agile, and he’s a bit deranged in the head. Rek-Rap, the bizarro Spider-Man from the Limbo realm has returned. There are a lot of crazy Spider-Man variants out there (trust me, I’ve checked), but Rek-Rap might be the looniest. The fan favorite character makes his grand return in Amazing Spider-Man #29 (written by Zeb Wells and penciled by Ed McGuinness). What has Rek-Rap been up to? Defending canines from the tyrannical rule of dog walkers.
Like we said, he isn't a typical hero. Let's break it down...
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Amazing Spider-Man #29!
Who is Rek-Rap?
If you don’t know who Rek-Rap is, then this section will tell you everything you need to know. Or maybe you already know Rek-Rap’s backstory, but love being reminded. To understand Rek-Rap’s origin, you need to understand Limbo. Introduced in Uncanny X-Men #160 (1982), Limbo is a realm inhabited by demons and monsters. It’s kind of like Hell, but with a Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Beetlejuice twist. Oh, and it’s currently being ruled by Cyclops’ ex-wife Madelyne Pryor.
Rek-Rap was introduced during a Spider-Man and X-Men crossover event called Dark Web. The storyline featured the inhabitants of Limbo invading Earth, causing chaos and destruction. It was the perfect time for a new hero to rise. When we first met Rek-Rap in Amazing Spider-Man #17, he was just a scrawny unnamed demon. Inspired by Peter Parker’s kindness and heroism, the demon decided to become a vigilante himself.
The demon’s brother had an extra alien symbiote lying around and combined it with pieces of a makeshift Spider-Man costume. The symbiote turned the scrawny demon into Rek-Rap, a muscular hero. In case you hadn’t noticed, his name is Parker backwards. However, his name isn’t the only backwards thing about him.
Rek-Rap is known for his puzzling battle cries like “I’m Rek-Rap, the web-whipping wall-prancer,” and “It’s web-whanging time.” Spider-Man was embarrassed by his presence, but was grateful for his help in repeling the Limbo invasion. For more on Rek-Rap’s nutty origin, check out this article I wrote breaking down his first appearance.
After the events of Dark Web, Rek-Rap disappeared. Spidey assumed that he had returned to Limbo, but now we know he’s been lurking in the shadows, protecting New York in his own twisted way.
Amazing Spider-Man #29 follows Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson as they try to save Norman Osborn from Doctor Octopus. Norman has been trying to atone for his past as the Green Goblin, but Doc Ock isn’t ready to forgive and forget. It’s an exciting storyline, but let’s get to the reason you’re all here.
The long-awaited return of Rek-Rap occurs during a two-page interlude. A pair of patrolling cops stumble upon a webbed up New Yorker, and they initially believe that Spider-Man has captured another crook. However, the more they observe the scene of the crime, the more it becomes clear that something is amiss. For starters, two dogs quickly run past the cops, with their leashes still attached to their collars.
There is also a note attached to the webbed up New Yorker, which simply says “Yur welcum.” One of the cops states that Spidey’s notes are usually funnier. This is when the webbed up New Yorker tells the cops that she’s not a criminal, she’s a dog walker. Watching from a nearby rooftop, Rek-Rap takes pride in his handiwork. “Hear this puppy imprisoners of York City New Town. None of you are safe! So says the web-whanging warrior Rek-Rap!”
In case you haven’t pieced it together, it seems that Rek-Rap saw the dog walker and thought she was kidnapping the dogs. His heart is in the right place, even if his head isn’t.
The scene ends with an editorial note from Nick Lowe, teasing Rek-Rap’s future. “That’s right True Believer, Rek-Rap is back! Will he help Spider-Man?! Probably not. Will he save the city?! Certainly not. Will he not show up until a later story arc, but we didn’t want you to forget him and Ed really wanted to draw him?! Yes,” Lowe wrote.
Lowe should have more faith in Rek-Rap’s heroic skills. After all, he did liberate those dogs. Regardless, it looks like we’ll be waiting a bit before we see him in action again. That’s okay, because this two-page interlude was a wonderful appetizer to hold us over.
Why we love Rek-Rap
The Marvel Universe has no shortage of Spider-Man variants, so what makes Rek-Rap so special? Since his debut in Dark Web, the character has become a fan favorite. In fact, my article breaking down his introduction was one of Popverse’s most popular articles of 2022. Praise for Rek-Rap can also be seen in the Amazing Spider-Man letters pages. “Rek-Rap was definitely a highlight. He’s an awesome addition to the Spider-Verse,” Chris Banks wrote in Amazing Spider-Man #22. “Rek-Rap is indeed the cat’s pajamas,” editor Nick Lowe wrote in response.
During an interview with Popverse, Zeb Wells recounted Rek-Rap’s creation. “It was so much fun. And it all comes from Ed McGuinness' design,” Wells said. “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.”
Perhaps that’s why Rek-Rap is such a hit, because he was created from a place of love. When creators are having fun, it comes through on the page. Or maybe Rek-Rap represents something in all of us. At his heart, he’s a Spider-Man fanboy who just wants to do good. He may screw up, but his heart is in the right place.
It's also possible that I’m overthinking this. Rek-Rap is a fun character to read, and it’s always a joy to see more of him. Maybe that’s all there is to it.
Is Rek-Rap in Across the Spider-Verse?
If you’re looking for Rek-Rap in Across the Spider-Verse, then you’ll have a hard time finding him. While the critically acclaimed animated film contains hundreds of Spider-Men and Spider-Women (as well as a car!), Rek-Rap is not among them. If you’re looking for an in-universe reason, I would imagine that Miguel O’Hara would not want an unstable individual like Rek-Rap anywhere near the Spider Society. However, it would be fun to imagine Miguel trying to handle him.
The real answer is that by the time Rek-Rap was introduced in the comics, Across the Spider-Verse was in its final stages of post-production. At that point there wasn’t any time to add our Limbo hero into the film. Beyond the Spider-Verse is another story. A member of the film’s animation team recently told Vulture that there is still a lot of work to be done on the movie, and it will likely miss its projected March 29, 2024 release date.
If the animators haven’t rendered all the various Spider-Heroes, then there might be time to throw in some newer characters like Rek-Rap. If Spider-Cat and Spider-Rex could be included, who says there isn’t room for a lunatic from Limbo?