Into the Shocker-Verse: The Spider-Men of WSU


Rachel Rudisill

Alejandro Clavier was the first of the Spider-Men to emerge on campus.

At first glance, Alejandro Clavier, Devon Robinson and Nicholas Davis don’t have much in common. Clavier hails from Venezuela, and came to the United States to be with his mother and to find better opportunities. Davis is an Ohioan turned Texan who came to Wichita State for the low in-state tuition rates and impressive film/art program while Robinson is a dedicated local artist and animator. But, when the weekend rolls around, or a local comic event pops up, you’ll find all three clad head to toe in Spider-Man suits ranging in value from $25 to nearly $200. Clavier, Davis and Robinson all adopt the classic Peter Parker persona in hopes of reigniting childhood joy and providing unforgettable experiences to Marvel fans, WSU students and their families.

Clavier first began doing cosplay and establishing his costume-career in Venezuela as a hobby with his grandmother. Her sewing skills and Clavier’s enthusiasm for wearing handmade costumes fueled Clavier’s love for portraying movie, TV show and video game characters. Once Clavier moved to the United States, he was determined to keep that passion alive. Unfortunately, because Clavier lost nearly all connection to his relatives in Venezuela (excluding WhatsApp calls and texts), he found himself without the family and support he has had his entire life.

“When it comes to Spider-Man, he struggled a lot. And I feel like I struggle a lot, too. I mean my family isn’t dead, but in a way I lost them,” Clavier said. “Spider-Man loses some of the people he cares about the most … and I can relate to that.”

Clavier’s experiences with immigrating to the United States and having to find his own way in a new world brought him even closer to the characters he leaned on for support when he was young, including Spider-Man. For Clavier, cosplay became not just a hobby, but a means of finding community and acceptance in a place that had none. After beginning to feel more and more like himself in his cosplays, Clavier enlisted the help of fellow fine arts student Devon Robinson. Robinson took on the identity of Miles Morales, a multiverse alternate persona of Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. Together, the duo attended local events, found ways to elaborate upon and improve their cosplays and racked up likes and follows on social media posts, boasting hundreds of post interactions and thousands of likes across social media platforms.

“It’s pretty funny because Alejandro was the main driving force for me buying my suit,” Robinson said. “He really enjoys cosplaying and making people’s day.”

It wasn’t long before Nicholas Davis joined the Spider-Verse. Davis, who initially kept his identity a secret but revealed himself to The Sunflower for this piece, reached out to Clavier at the beginning of the fall semester for Spidey-related tips and tricks, with everything from best suit sellers to audience interaction advice. While Davis used the Spider-Man persona similarly to Clavier and Robinson to spread joy, Davis also used the suit as a way to express himself and discover newfound confidence, something Davis finds particularly difficult to achieve and maintain with his autism.

“In a way, the mask helped me represent [myself] and my values and who I want to be … The mask helped me be myself,” Davis said. “Masks conceal, but mine helped me feel like I was free.”

Davis quickly began causing the occasional fan-driven commotion on campus with his impromptu Spider-Man cosplays that garnered the love and adoration of WSU Marvel fans. Davis would stroll across campus and take photos with fans, chat on FaceTime with star-struck kids and provide much needed snippets of enjoyment and entertainment for busy students.

“I truly felt like a superhero in a way because I was making people happy … and I was being a symbol of goodwill and hope for people,” Davis said. “The love [from my fans] means everything to me.”

Even though the trio have yet to collaborate together on group Spider-man events or campus visits, they each plan to continue pursuing their Spider-Man cosplay careers on and off university grounds. Clavier aims to incorporate nods to Spider-Man in his film projects and appear in comic or cosplay events, Robinson continues to use Spider-Man as a way to let loose and have fun and Davis plans to continue portraying the Marvel character at WSU and is even considering forming an official WSU Spider-Man club or organization. 

“It’s a fun, unique experience getting to meet someone who likes what you like,” Robinson said. “I enjoy hanging out with [Clavier], proudly representing the Spider-Verse.”

While their backgrounds, experiences and circumstances make them vastly different from each other, each Spider-Man shares the same love, drive and passion for putting on the suit and bringing joy to others. But, until villains come knocking at WSU’s door or a photoshoot opportunity goes unfulfilled, you’ll find the Spider-Men of WSU walking amongst students and staff to attend class, visiting friends and, of course, devoting time, effort and energy to their beloved fans.