Real Name: Benjamin Blair
Identity/Class: Human mutate (1950s era)
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Dr. Conrad, Taranta
Enemies: Farmer Willie, Dr. Wombo
Known Relatives: Unidentified mother and father (both deceased)
Base of Operations: His home in Cedar Grove, Vermont
First Appearance: Marvel Tales I#101/2 (June, 1951)
Powers/Abilities: Blair was an ordinary (albeit deranged) man who kept the giant spider Taranta as his pet -- he seemed to have a rapport with the spider, because it obeyed his verbal commands.
When he was eventually bitten by Taranta, its venom transformed Blair into a spidery being (see comments).
Height: Unrevealed (5'9"; by approximation)
Weight: Unrevealed (160 lbs.; by approximation)
(Marvel Tales I#101/2 (fb)) - Since he was a child, Benjamin Blair lived with his parents in the small village of Cedar Grove, Vermont. While his playmates went off to swim in the creek, the cruel and mentally-disturbed Blair preferred to catch grasshoppers and butterflies, then watched them squirm as he pulled their legs off -- because of his odd "hobby," the other kids nicknamed him "Buggy".
One day, young Blair climbed a tree and found a bird's nest with five baby birds in it -- it gave him real pleasure to tease his cat with them and watch the feline tear the little birds apart.
When he grew older and went to high school, Blair enjoyed going to biology class, because the students had to dissect mice, frogs, and other small animals; but the teacher scolded him, because rather than use a scalpel, Blair liked to rip them apart with his bare hands.
A few years later, Blair stole a jar containing a rare lycosa spider from a huckster at a medicine show -- he kept the spider as his new pet and named it "Taranta". Blair began feeding Taranta flies and moths; but when his cat sniffed at the arachnid, the spider snapped and bit the feline -- when the cat died, Blair learned how deadly Taranta's venom was.
Blair told nobody about his eight-legged pet, and it thrilled him to watch Taranta devour the tiny insects he fed it. But one day when he got home, Blair discovered that Taranta was missing from the jar; he began his search first in his parents' bedroom, where he found Dr. Conrad attending to them. The doctor informed Blair that his parents were gravely ill, because they had been stricken by an unexplainable malady...and strangely, their bodies were rapidly growing a soft silky fuzz...somewhat like a spider's! Dr. Conrad further mentioned that they would be dead within an hour, so at least they wouldn't live long enough to see the horror that had befallen them. After the doctor left, Blair's immediate concern was for Taranta, which he finally found under the bed of one of his parents.
(Marvel Tales I#101/2 (fb) - BTS) - Blair inherited the family home following the death of his parents. He took good care of Taranta and continued to feed it; at first he fed the spider only insects...then mice...and Taranta grew bigger and bigger with each successive meal. Eventually, Blair had to keep the spider in his cellar, for Taranta was now larger than a horse!
(Marvel Tales I#101/2 (fb)) - One night, Blair stole Farmer Willie's dog and fed it to the mammoth arachnid.
The following night, Blair led Taranta to Willie's farm and watched as the giant spider devoured an entire cow. When Taranta finished with eating, Blair led the spider back to the cellar; he promised Taranta that he'd take it out again the next night, because Farmer Willie still had a team of horses that would make a fine meal!
But shortly afterward, Blair got an unexpected visit from his neighbor, Farmer Willie, who was suspicious that Blair was responsible for his missing animals. Blair denied any culpability, but regardless, Willie broke into Blair's cellar shortly afterward to search for his animals...and he was promptly devoured by the giant Taranta!
Blair was worried that others would come to search his home for the missing Farmer Willie, and then they'd take his pet away from him, so his first concern was hiding Taranta. He led the huge spider to the cliffs overlooking the ocean, in the hopes of finding a cave for Taranta to hide in. But when the giant spider lunged at him, Blair realized why his pet had suddenly turned on him -- since Taranta had tasted human flesh, the spider wanted more!
Blair managed to duck away from the spider's attack, then he pushed the giant arachnid off the cliff and to its doom in the ocean below...but not before Taranta managed to sink its fangs into Blair's arm!
Blair ran back to his house, and when he got home, he was horrified to feel silky fuzz growing from his flesh...and worse yet, he saw that his body was beginning to change!
(Marvel Tales I#101/2 (fb) - BTS) - The venom from Taranta caused Blair to transform further...
(Marvel Tales I#101/2) - From that day forth, no one dared to enter the home of Blair, for it had the reputation of being haunted. But the house still had one occupant -- the spidery Benjamin Blair!
Comments: Created by Hank Chapman and Larry Woromay.
Although the final panel showed Spider-Blair, there was really nothing near him to estimate his size -- but judging by his transition in the third image, my guess is that he retained about the same size he had as a human.
Profile by Ron Fredricks.
Benjamin Blair has no known connections to:
Taranta the lycosa spider has no known connections to:
Dr. Wombo has no known connections to:
Dr. Conrad has no known connections to:
Farmer Willie has no known connections to:
A turbaned huckster who ran a traveling medicine show, he
claimed to have traveled the world, collecting rare herbs and animal
juices to make his "miracle tonic". At some point, he obtained a rare
lycosa spider, which he kept in a jar.
A rare lycosa spider, it apparently came from
the jungles of equatorial Africa -- it was the only kind of its species, but it had all the
attributes of spiders, including the ability to spin webs. Originally
about the standard size of a tarantula,
this carnivorous spider grew in size after feeding, eventually reaching
the size of a large horse. Additionally, its venom caused humans to
transform into spidery beings.
--Marvel Tales I#101/2
Operating a medical practice in the town of Cedar Grove,
Vermont, he was the physician for the Blair family.
The neighbor of Benjamin Blair, he had at least one son; the
animals on his farm included a dog, a cow, and a team of horses.
images: (without ads)
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p2, pan4 (Main Image - Benjamin Blair; shadow of Taranta devouring cow on barn wall)
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p2, pan6 (Headshot - Benjamin Blair talking to Taranta)
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p6, pan6 (after being bitten by Taranta, Benjamin Blair begins to change)
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p6, pan7 (Benjamin Blair, transformed into spider)
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p3, pan4 (Dr/ Wombo, holding spider in jar, speaks to audience at his medicine show; Benjamin Blair (right))
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p3, pan5 (Dr. Wombo speaks to audience; Benjamin Blair steals spider (right))
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p1, pan1 (Benjamin Blair feeds Farmer Willie's dog to Taranta)
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p1, pan2 (Taranta; Benjamin Blair (left))
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p6, pan5 (Benjamin Blair pushes Taranta off cliff into ocean, after Taranta bites him)
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p4, pan4 (Dr. Conrad informs Benjamin Blair about his parents' impending death)
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p5, pan1 (Farmer Willie (right) visits Benjamin Blair)
Marvel Tales I#101/2, p5, pan5 (Farmer Willie (left) pushes Benjamin Blair aside as he opens door in cellar)
Marvel Tales I#101/2 (June, 1951) - Hank Chapman (writer), Larry Woromay (pencils), Stan Lee (editor)
First Posted: 03/14/2022
Last updated: 03/14/2022
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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