Imbued by blood and magic, teenager Anya Corazon is the last in a 900-year-old line of hunters, on her mother’s side. This legacy allows her to grow protective armor that’s accompanied by superhuman strength and with it, Anya helps defend the world from ancient and modern darkness all while trying to be a good student.
Blood and Magic
In 1099 in the Iberian Kingdom of Castile, benevolent Crusaders—kingmakers hoping to protect the world from the shadows they felt were consuming the Holy Lands—form a secret society. Arab writings lead them to totems granting arcane powers, but internal dissent fragments the organization into two factions: the Spider Society, which retains their original goal, and the Sisterhood of the Wasp, which seeks to accumulate power for its own sake. Through subsequent centuries, the two groups fight a secret war, each side fielding two linked champions, a Mage and a Hunter, against their opposite numbers in the rival cabal. When a champion falls, another has their innate mystic potential ritually activated and as such replaces them, with new champions often being descended from prior ones as the potential passed down family lines.
In modern times, and a little over 16 years ago, Aña “Anya” Sofia Corazon is born in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, a descendant of one of the original Spider Society Hunters through her mother Sofia’s line. At a young age, Aña‘s family moves to Mexico City where her father Gilberto is a successful investigative journalist. Gil begins an exposé of crimelord Felix Jade (pronounced ha-day) when Aña is six years old; warned to back off, Gil refuses, and the next day Sofia perishes in an unexplained house fire. Believing (apparently erroneously) that Jade is responsible, Gil takes Aña back to Brooklyn rather than risk further reprisals against his family.
Over the next decade, Jade becomes the target of several failed assassinations, which he thinks are arranged by Gil. Aña grows into a sassy teenager, her life revolving around friends, gymnastics, field hockey and generally unreciprocated crushes on boys. She grows tired of people constantly mispronouncing her name, so she Anglicized the spelling to Anya. Her refusal to back down from confrontations often leads to trouble at school.
One day as a freshman at Milton Summers High School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, she’s bullied and in coming home that afternoon, her father calls her “Arañita” but it’s embarrassing for her and she keeps the day’s events from him until he reveals that he received a call from the principal about the incident. Before she can defend herself, Gil received another call that takes him away. Meanwhile, the Spider Society’s Hunter dies as a result of giving the hunter spirit within him total control. His Mage partner Miguel Legar is supposed to bond with fellow Society member Nina Smith, making her the new Hunter, but Miguel has a vision of both of them dying in battle, ending the Spider Society lineage. Secretly in love with Nina, Miguel instead searches for another Hunter candidate. Pursued by Wasp agents wishing to deny the Spiders their Hunter, Miguel is drawn to Fort Green Park, where he cast a summoning sigil; Anya, in the park after being taunted by a school bully into a late night fight, stumbles into Miguel’s battle with the Wasps. Concluding that Anya was the new Spider initiate, a Wasp agent fatally stabs her. To save her life, Miguel bonds with her, healing her and triggering the dormant powers she carried within to slowly activate, visibly manifesting as a spider-like tattoo on her right arm. Though his superior Mr. Sanderson and the Society board disapproves of Miguel’s choosing such a young and untrained Hunter, having no alternative they reluctantly accept Anya.
After initial uncertainty, Anya agreed to become Miguel’s partner, hiding her new role from her father behind the façade of an internship with WebCorps, the Spider Society’s front. To hasten the full emergence of her powers, Miguel abandons Anya in Mexico’s Yucatan desert, hoping to cleanse her system of the city’s pollutions and waken the Hunter within. After several hours, a wolf pack attacked the thirsty and exhausted Anya, but she experienced a vision of her dead mother, who draws her powers fully out; a carapace armor grew from her tattoo, protecting her while she defeated the wolves. Though this armor, which no prior Hunter had manifested, confirms to Miguel that Anya was not the true Hunter, he keeps this information from her. He informs her that each Hunter chooses their own name, so Anya picks her mother’s maiden name, Araña (pronounced “ah-rahn-ya,” meaning “Spider” in Spanish), and designs herself a costume. She and Miguel disrupt Wasp Mage Vincent’s ceremony creating the Wasp’s new Hunter, denying them Araña’s counterpart for a year, until a new ceremony could be performed.
Anya possesses superhuman strength (lifting 3 tons), endurance and speed. She can climb walls and do a 25' standing high jump. Anya’s skeleton is incredibly flexible, allowing her to conceal herself in tiny cavities.
The spider-tattoo on her right arm is invisible except when it senses danger. Anya can generate a carapace armor from it that would instinctively expand to block attacks, even ones she’s unaware of; Anya could also consciously control the thickness, coverage, and shape of it. At its thickest, it was resistant to small-arms fire, but when armored even partial immersion in water paralyzed and asphyxiated her, forcing her to retract it. The Doomsday Man ripped the carapace off Araña and it is uncertain if it will regrow.
The Hunter spirit grants Araña exceptional fighting prowess before its departure; Araña is trained by expert martial artists Nina Smith and Batroc the Leaper. She is a skilled mechanic and designed a spider-bola weapon useful as a swing-line or for tripping and binding opponents. As her father and mother are of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent, respectively, Araña is bilingual, speaking English and Spanish.
The Sisterhood of the Wasp becomes Araña’s enemy when she joins their opposition, the Spider Society. She comes up against their potential Hunter, teenage Egyptian assassin Amun, and battles him until he is offered respect that the Sisterhood did not, and agrees to protect her identity. Though makes it clear that he would fight her again if the Sisterhood demanded it of him.
Believing for the large part of her life that the crimelord Felix Jade killed her mother, Amun faces off with him, nearly killing him in their first encounter. They meet again and Jade controls her with telepathy though Araña’s mother’s spirit helps her overcome it. Amun reveals to Araña that Jade is not her mother’s killer and Jade escapes.
Alongside other Spider-Heroes, Anya battles the Inheritors, a vampiric family who feast on Spider-Totems, and interdimensional Electros from across the Multiverse.
Family Ties and Heroic Allies
Araña’s father Gilberto “Gil” Corazon raises her on his own after her mother Sofia Araña Corazon is killed and they have a healthy relationship. He supports her after discovering her superpowers and allows her to train with Carol Danvers, AKA Ms. Marvel (later Captain Marvel) and Simon Williams, AKA Wonder Man.
Araña joins the Spider Society, an ancient order that protects the world from the shadows using powerful totems, and goes up against its opposing group, the Sisterhood of the Wasp who seeks the power for themselves. She bonds with one of the leaders, Miguel Legar, and he hopes to awaken the Hunter spirt within her but knows she is not meant for the position. He admits it to her eventually and says that her armor is a gift from her mother.
In going up against the Sisterhood, the Spider Society enlists another Spider-Totem, Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, and they successfully stop their Hunter ceremony, though Araña loses Miguel in the process.
Araña joins the Initiative after the Superhuman Registration Act (SHRA) is enacted and becomes Ms. Marvel’s protégé and works closely with Wonder Man. During this time, she also becomes friends with Rebecca Barnes, AKA Nomad. While it bothers her to see families separated by the SHRA, she continues fighting against Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America’s anti-registration team.
She also gets recruited by the Avengers Academy and learns combat techniques from some of the best fighters in the Avengers. She helps Earth’s Mightiest recover Terregenesis cocoons during the time of the Terrigen Cloud bomb.