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SYFY WIRE Spider-Man

Spider-Man sculpture in Nebraska accused of promoting Satanism

By Christian Long
Spider-Man 2002

Anyone who's read "Brand New Day" knows that Spider-Man has made a deal with the devil in the past, but he's rarely (if ever) been confused with the Lord of Darkness. Until now. 

A sculpture from artist Ian Anthony Laing depicting Spidey's hands in Lincoln, Nebraska is causing some unexpected commotion. The work in question depicts the Wall-Crawler's hands in their iconic web-shooter gesture, which is usually accompanied by a 'Thwip' sound effect in the comics. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, this has drawn ire from one local resident, who, in an email to the Lincoln City Council, called the sculpture "a hate crime against the church." 

"It is a sculpture of two hands open, painted Red & Black, and formed into Devil Horns. This is antiChristen [sic] and demonic, and completely inappropriate and offensive," the email read. 

For all you spidey fans out there! This out-of-this-world piece by Ian Anthony Laing is across from the Sunken Gardens. Thank you, Warren Distribution, for sponsoring this fun piece! #ServingHands #Spiderman

Posted by Serving Hands Lincoln on Thursday, May 23, 2019

The work appears as part of the city's public art project, Serving Hands Lincoln, which features a number of hand sculptures in various locations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of local nonprofit Campus Life. City ombudsman Lin Quenzer, along with Campus Life executive director Matt Schulte, both emailed the concerned party, ensuring them that the work depicts New York's most neurotic superhero and not the devil. 

"The sculpture is most definitely not a devil-related sculpture," Shulte's response read. "It clearly has a very playful child-like intent."  

The controversy didn't end there, however, as the person replied back, insisting that the sculpture clearly depicts "black and red hands making the sign of devil horns." 

"I am not alone. I write this after a discussion with several people who also see what I see, and had no notion of it portrayed spiderman (doesn't he where [sic] blue and red). His nemisis [sic] VENOM wears black and red," the email continued. It then ended with the suggestion that the sculpture would be better served "in a lonely ditch somewhere in front of an empty lot." Ouch. 

While the response also clarifies that this person only knows the character "as portrayed in movies," it seems they weren't paying attention to all those dozens of scenes he spent web-slinging the 10 or so times he's appeared on screen the last 17 years. While they appear vaguely familiar with Venom, they seem to be confusing his costume with Carnage's. Or possibly Miles Morales', but he certainly wouldn't fall into the "nemisis" category.

Not to mention -- and this cannot be stressed enough -- none of these characters depict or promote the devil, or the worship of said devil, in any way whatsoever. 

Anyway, the whole thing seems unlikely to impact the location of the artwork itself, which will be on display with the rest of the Serving Hands Lincoln project until October 21.