Real Name: Benjamin Blair

Identity/Class: Human mutate (1950s era)

Occupation: Unrevealed

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Dr. Conrad, Taranta

Enemies: Farmer Willie, Dr. Wombo

Known Relatives: Unidentified mother and father (both deceased)

Aliases: "Buggy"

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)
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Brown

(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:

Dr. Wombo

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.

One day, Wombo went to the town on Cedar Grove, Vermont, where he tried to sell the gathered crowd his tonic; but while he was busy making his sales pitch, Benjamin Blair stole the spider and made it his pet.

(Comment: It was unrevealed if "Wombo" was actually his real name, but considering the nature of his "business," it was probably just an alias. And although I have him listed as an enemy, there was no actual hostility between him and Blair -- Wombo probably didn't even know that Blair existed)

--Marvel Tales I#101/2


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.

It was supposedly captured by Dr. Wombo, a huckster who ran a traveling medicine show; Wombo kept the spider in a glass jar. When Wombo stopped at the town of Cedar Grove, Vermont, he was distracted while trying to sell his "miracle tonic" to the spectators, and the spider was stolen by Benjamin Blair.

Blair named the arachnid "Taranta" and kept it as his pet; initially, Blair fed Taranta only insects, but as the spider grew larger, he began to feed it mice, which made Taranta grow bigger and bigger still.

When Taranta attained the size of a large horse, Blair kept it locked in a room in his cellar, and he began to feed it animals from his neighbor's farm. But after the giant spider devoured the farmer, Blair led Taranta to the cliffs overlooking the ocean, in the hopes of finding a cave for it to hide in. 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 avoid the giant spider's attack, then he pushed Taranta off the cliff and to its doom in the ocean below...but not before it managed to sink its fangs into Blair's arm!

--Marvel Tales I#101/2

Dr. Conrad

Operating a medical practice in the town of Cedar Grove, Vermont, he was the physician for the Blair family.

One day, he made a house-call when Mr. and Mrs. Blair suddenly took ill from a strange malady that was causing a soft silky fuzz -- somewhat like a spider's -- to rapidly grow over their bodies.

When the Blairs' son Benjamin came home, the doctor informed him that his parents would be dead within an hour, but at least they would be spared seeing the horror that had befallen them.

Dr. Conrad was unaware that both Mr. and Mrs. Blair had been bitten by Benjamin's venomous pet spider, Taranta.

--Marvel Tales I#101/2

Farmer Willie

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.

It was a dark and stormy night when Willie went to Blair's house, to see if he knew anything about Willie's missing dog and cow; but when questioned, Blair acted suspiciously and ordered him to go away, which prompted Willie to investigate further.

From a basement window, Willie broke into Blair's cellar and was about to open a closed door, expecting to find his animals behind it; but Blair rushed downstairs and cautioned him not to do so. Despite Blair's warning, Willie pushed him aside and entered the room anyway. Seconds later, Blair heard Willie's bloodcurdling scream.

A few minutes later, Blair went into the room where he kept his giant pet spider Taranta -- all that was left of Farmer Willie was his old straw hat, for he had become the arachnid's final meal.

Farmer Willie was unaware that Taranta had earlier feasted on his dog and cow.

(Comment: He was only identified as "Farmer Willie," so it's unrevealed if "Willie" was his first name or surname.)

--Marvel Tales I#101/2

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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