After the latest Spiderman film which featured so many different kinds of Spider-Men bursting ‘Into The Spider-Verse’ (even going so far as to feature Peter Porker ‘The spectacular Spider-Ham’), it was only a matter of time before one of them ended up in the Algarve.
For a while now there’s been mysterious sightings of such a colourful web-wielding character in downtown Olhão. But it’s only been word of mouth and locals who managed to take snapshots and posted them to various ‘Olhão’ based Facebook groups. This made their friendly neighbourhood ‘Homem-Aranha’ something of a celebrity in his hometown.
So much so that recently he decided to get his own web-page and ‘The Spider-man of Olhão’ can now be found on Facebook. This is how I first came to know of him. The official photos were of course taken by his personal photographer ‘Pedro Parques’ and show this Algarvian web-slinger (rather appropriately) swinging and clinging to an alfarroba tree.
I wrote to him and said that I was a writer for The Portugal News, which I explained is sort of like the ‘Daily Bugle’ but for the Algarve, and that if he (or Pedro) was free to do an interview with me I would promise to cast him in a much more flattering light than that New York rag commonly does. I almost instantly got a reply - which was a real thrill to have such a direct line to Spidey himself. He told me that he would be hitting downtown Olhão at around 4 that afternoon, if I wanted to swing by?
When I got there I looked up and down (and even scanned the skyline) but I couldn’t see him, so I decided to send another message on what I was now starting to think of as my ‘Spidey hotline’. I told him I was by the market and soon got a ‘ping’ back and Spidey said to watch out for the “guy in red”. A moment later he came walking around the corner with all that casual ‘spider-swag’ that we all know and love from the films. Now, I wish I could say I played it cool. But I’m afraid I don’t think there’s any age where I won’t get excited to see a real-life Spiderman.
It was all rather surreal.
But what to ask now that one of my childhood heroes was standing right in front of me? The first thing that came to mind was something I always wondered about Spiderman and his white blanked out eyes. “Can you see me?” I asked. “Or are you relying on your spider-sense?” I don’t want to give away all the secrets of his suit that he bought, rather fittingly, “on the web”, but the eyes do in fact have lots of little tiny holes that when close up to the eye he can somehow see out of.
Of course, I didn’t have this local flamboyant crime fighter’s undivided attention for long, as children and adults alike would suddenly see him and break out into huge smiles with many kids being struck into total wonder as their parents came and asked politely if they could get a picture. Spiderman was always happy to oblige and broke out a few of his classic poses (he had been practising at home) and even taught some of the more awestruck kids how to set their hands up to shoot a web at the camera.
Spiderman told me that this is what he loves most about the job, that he gets to go around making people’s day better. He told me that “It’s a great power, but unfortunately, I have other responsibilities - but if I could afford to, it’s what I would do all the time”.
There have been requests on the net for him to make an appearance in other towns and cities across the Algarve, but he told me that it’s tricky as he doesn’t have a car and the trouble with being Spiderman here rather than a big city like New York (with all its skyscrapers) is that there’s not much to swing from between concelhos.
So, for the meantime at least, he will be ‘sticking’ to Olhão. So, “Lookout! As whenever this spider can” he will be roaming the streets and spinning a web of wonder and joy around the neighbourhood.