Real Name: Alvise Gianus

Identity/Class: Human magic user, Venetian citizen, circa 16th century 

Occupation: Scientist, alchemist 

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Formerly the Doge of Venice

Enemies: Doge of Venice, Leone Grimani, Night Assassins, Spider-Man (Peter Parker)

Known Relatives: None (but see Comments) 

Aliases: Vitrifyer, "Captain Glass," "Glass-Man" (latter two Spider-Man's goading nicknames)

Base of Operations: Monumental Cemetery, St. Michael's Island, Venice; formerly Murano, Venice (see Comments)  

First Appearance: (Italian, Panini's Marvel Italia imprint, 1st publication) L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro (2003); (1st English-language publication, Panini UK) Marvel Europa (2008)

Powers/Abilities: Gianus possesses low level telepathy, translating what he says so that Spider-Man could understand him and vice versa, even though neither spoke the other's language; this power may have been restricted to work purely between the two men, given that Spider-Man inadvertently triggered Gianus' revival, or it might only work between Gianus and others with some affinity to spiders, given Gianus' stated relationship to the lineage of the spider. He apparently possesses a level of superhuman strength, as he was able rip himself free of a considerable amount of Spider-Man's webbing.

Via his staff, which has a spider-like handle, Gianus can fire energy beams that vitrify (turn to glass, or perhaps just encase in same) anyone they hit. When anyone other than Gianus tries to wield it, the staff shocks them.

He may be immortal, as he refers to Spider-Man disparagingly as a "miserable mortal"; he is certainly resistant to heat, at least when it emanates from molten glass. He may also have other alchemical or magical abilities beyond those displayed. 

History: (L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro (fb) - BTS) - Conte (Count) Alvise Gianus of the "lineage of the spider" was once one of the most prominent figures in sixteen century Venice, a scientist and alchemist who dedicated his life to making glass.


(L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro (fb)) - From his lab on the Islands of Murano, where Venice's glassmaking industry was based, Gianus produced glasswork far exceeding anything his peers could manufacture, secretly sacrificing people and using their blood in the process. His glass was very thin but, despite this, also extremely durable. All of Venice admired it, especially the city's ruler, the Doge, who enquired admiringly of Gianus how he managed to achieve a particular shade of crimson in one of his pieces. Gianus politely declined to say, so the curious Doge ordered Gianus spied on so he could satisfy his curiousity. The spies discovered Gianus' terrible secret and, horrified, reported back to the Doge, who in turn instructed Murano's Night Assassins to destroy Gianus' glassmaking process and punish the Conte for his transgressions.


(L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro (fb) - BTS) - The assassins surprised Gianus in the middle of one of his rituals, burned his notes and threw the Conte, alive, into a pot of molten glass. However, somehow connected to his alchemical glass, Gianus was not slain. Though his face was badly burned, he was otherwise unharmed, and simply placed in suspended animation inside a cocoon of glass, trapped like a fly in amber, his powers and strength slowly growing. Believed dead, his body was transported in its glass prison to the Monumental Cemetery on St. Michael's Island, where it remained, stored in a crypt, for several centuries.


(L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro) - In the modern era Peter Parker visited Venice during carnival on behalf the Daily Bugle. While out sightseeing he encountered Venice University History professor Leone Grimani; upon learning that Peter wanted to see somewhere interesting and with a bit of atmosphere but also get away from the crowds, Grimani took the American to Gianus' crypt and recounted the Conte's history. Feeling drawn to the Conte, Peter touched the glass and felt a sudden spark of energy, unaware he had triggered the Conte's revival process.


(L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro - BTS) - A few hours later Gianus awoke, breaking free of his prison. He made his way back to Venice proper, where he began attacking revellers, apparently associating the masks the carnival revellers were wearing with those of the Night Assassins.


(L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro) - Hearing screams from Gianus' victims and those witnessing the attacks, Spider-Man swung from his hotel to the scene of Gianus' rampage and intervened. Goading Gianus with insults, Spidey lured the Conte away to a quieter part of town and tricked him into running into a wall of webbing, before punching him a couple of times and disarming him. However, when Spider-Man lifted up Gianus' staff, he received a shock, as if he were being electrocuted. Ripping himself free, Gianus struck the stunned wall-crawler, backhanding his foe into the canal.


(L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro - BTS) - Gianus assumed Spider-Man had drowned and swiftly departed, stealing a boat to traverse the lagoon and return to Murano, where he found his laboratory still stood, albeit in a somewhat ruined state. He began working on his glassmaking ritual. Meanwhile the local news reported on his attack, dubbing him "the Vitrifyer."

(L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro) - Spider-Man soon tracked Gianus down for a rematch, but the Conte declared he was pleased with this turn of events, as his ritual needed human blood. Dodging Gianus' vitrifying ray, Spider-Man disarmed the Conte at a distance with webbing, having learned his lesson not to directly touch the Conte's staff. The pair battled atop a platform overlooking large pots full of molten glass, and Gianus pinned his foe against the wooden railing, intent on throttling the American, but the ancient railing could not take their combined weight and broke. Both men toppled off the platform; Spider-Man saved himself with a quickly fired webline, but was unable to catch the falling Gianus, who was once again immersed in molten glass. Spider-Man extinguished the fire that was keeping the glass liquid, and once the glass cooled, the wall-crawler returned Gianus, now in a new cocoon, back to St. Michael's, taking care not to make direct contact with the glass lest he revive Conte Gianus again.    

Comments: Created by Tito Faraci (writer) and Giorgio Cavazzano (art).

After its initial publication in Italy in 2003 as a black and white story in hardback format, L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro was re-released as a paperback and in color in 2004, then translated into French that same year and released, in color but in hardback, as Spider-Man: Le Secret Du Verre. It wasn't until 2008 that an English-language translation (in color), Spider-Man in Venice: The Secret of the Glass, was included in Panini's British TPB Marvel Europa, alongside Wolverine: Saudade and Daredevil & Captain America: Dead on Arrival, both of which had also originated from Marvel Italia. The latter two tales have been released in the USA too as individual stories, but to date Secret of the Glass is only available in the English language in Marvel Europa. It is unclear when the story is set in Spider-Man's timeline; it is after Carnage's debut, because Peter spots someone dressed as Carnage in the Venice carnival (so post 1991, real-world); at the start of the story, Spider-Man is shown posing for a photograph beside a just-captured Green Goblin, so presumably it is after the return of Norman Osborn too (though the captured Goblin might be someone other than Norman, such as the Green Goblin construct); however, Peter seems to be single, as there is no mention of needing to let Mary Jane know about him suddenly heading overseas, nor thinking of her when he is in the romantic city of Venice; even post-One More Day, this would be problematic, because for much of the period they were married pre-OMD, Peter and MJ still cohabited post-OMD. Of course, MJ might simply be out of town so Peter doesn't need to consult with her before departing.  

Conte Gianus (Comte Gianus in the French translation, Count Gianus in the English) is identified as being of "the ancient lineage of the spider" but it isn't explained what this means. It might refer to a family tree that is somehow associated with spiders, and so hint at unrevealed relatives. Or maybe he's somehow related to Omm's spawn, the Spider-People. The link to spiders is real though, not just a metaphor, since Spider-Man felt drawn to him and Peter Parker's touch triggered Gianus' release from the glass.

In the 16th century Venice was an independent city state republic, the Serenìsima Repùblica Vèneta (Serene Republic of Venice), so, assuming he was a native, Conte Gianus would not be of Italian nationality but Venetian. Venice had (and still does have) its own language, distinct from Italian, which Gianus presumably speaks.

The English translation states that Gianus' lab was on the Island of Murano, but Murano is actually composed of seven islands, collectively known as Isole di Murano (Islands of Murano). That small error aside, Murano is an appropriate choice, since in the real world Murano was famous for being a center of glassmaking. The glassmakers moved to the islands in 1291, ordered to relocate there away from the rest of the city because the furnaces used in the glass making process were considered fire hazards.

Profile by Loki with images provided by Angelo Mammone.

Conte Alvise Gianus has no known connections to

Doge of Venice

The Doge of Venice was the chief magistrate and leader of the Serene Republic of Venice. Intrigued by Gianus' glasswork, he became curious as to how Gianus had made it, and when the Conte declined to inform him, the Doge had spies monitor Gianus. Upon learning that Gianus was sacrificing people as part of the manufacturing process, the Doge sent the Night Assassins to slay him.

Comments: It isn't stated which Doge appears in the Secret of the Glass, and even his image is of little help; there were fifteen Doges during the 16th century - Leonardo Loredan, Antonio Grimani, Andrea Gritti, Pietro Lando, Francesco Donato, Marcantonio Trivisan, Francesco Venier, Lorenzo Priuli, Girolamo Priuli, Pietro Loredan, Alvise I Mocenigo, Sebastiano Venier, Nicolò da Ponte, Pasqual Cicogna and Marino Grimani - and most of them had large white beards. So, without more exact dating as to when Gianus operated, it is nigh impossible to specify who Gianus ran foul of.  


-- L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro

Night Assassins

The Night Assassins were extremely trustworthy men who always went around with masked faces. They were tasked with defending the secrets of the Murano glass makers at all costs, including murdering any glassmaker who tried to leave the city. Though destroying a manufacturing secret went counter to their normal duties, the Doge tasked them with destroying forever Gianus' secret and eliminating the Conte too. They surprised him during a ritual, burned his notes, then threw Gianus into a pot of molten glass to burn alive.

Comments: The Night Assassins of Murano genuinely existed; the glassmaking on Murano was so important to Venice's economy that anyone who was even suspected of risking the secrets involved in the glassmaking process was simply disposed of by these paid killers, generally stabbed to death and dumped in a canal. The victims were euphemistically said to have been "eaten by a salamander," since the glassmakers, many of them alchemists, believed that salamanders could live in fires, such as the ones in the glassmaking furnaces.   


-- L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro

Leone Grimani

An Italian and a history professor, Leone Grimani was familiar with the story of Conte Gianus. He lived for several years in New Haven in the United States of America (probably the New Haven in Connecticut) before returning to Italy to take a post at Venice University (the English translation doesn't clarify whether this is Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Iuav University of Venice or Venice International University). During carnival time, when Venice was packed with tourists and people celebrating the holiday in a variety of costumes, Leone encountered Peter Parker when the latter boarded a boat intending to get away from the crowds by visiting some of Venice's smaller islands. Recognizing Peter as an American, Leone struck up a conversation, and, upon learning that Peter was interested and with a bit of atmosphere, Leone took him to the Monumental Cemetery to see Conte Gianus' "corpse" and recounted the legend of the murderous alchemist, noting that glassworks could still be found on Murano today.

The next day, after the "Vitrifyer" rampage was reported on the news, Leone recognized Gianus from witness descriptions, and immediately realized that the Conte had only been in suspended animation within his glass prison, and had now escaped. However, when Leone tried to inform the police, they discounted his theory, treating him like he was crazy. Returned to the Cemetery to confirm his suspicions, Leone found Peter in Gianus' crypt, as well as the shattered remains of the glass that had confined the Conte. Peter admitted that he believed himself somehow responsible for releasing Gianus, insisting that his wakening so soon after their visit was not a coincidence, but Leone told him this made no sense, as he could not see what a nice young American would have in common with a Venetian nobleman of the ancient lineage of the spider. Since revealing the link would endanger his secret identity, Peter said nothing, but asked Leone if he knew how to get to the Murano alchemical glasswork labs he had mentioned  the day before. Leone gave him directions, though he queried why Peter wanted to know, adding that he hoped Peter would not get himself into any trouble.     


-- L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro

images: (without ads)
L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro, p10, pan1 (main image)
L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro, p5, pan6 (headshot)
L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro, p7, pan2 (Gianus prior to being burned)
L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro, p6, pan1 (Gianus trapped in glass)
L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro, p10, pan1 (Gianus using his vitrifying ray)
L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro, p12, pan7 (Spider-Man being electrocuted by staff, close-up of headpiece of Gianus' staff)
L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro, p7, pan2 (Doge)
L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro, p20, pan 6 (Night Assassins)
L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro, p8, pan1 (Leone)

L'Uomo Ragno: Il Segreto Del Vetro (2003) - Tito Faraci (writer), Giorgio Cavazzano (artist), Enrico Fornaroli (editor)

Last updated: 07/05/14

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