August 12, 2012

Character Spotlight: The Spider

Did you know that there are actually superheroes who have the alter-ego of a billionaire? Me neither! OK, that’s a lie, but when you think about it, it really is a cool concept. Batman, Iron Man, Green Arrow, etc., have been fighting crime a long time, but not as long as The Spider has! Yes, the enigmatic, pulp hero/vigilante from the depression era has recently returned to the world of comics, and the world of Richard Wentworth will be the topic today! The Spider was created by Harry Steeger in 1933 (Popular Publications – The Spider Vol. 1 #1).

The character is sort of a rich war-hardened version of Peter Parker. He has everyday problems, like a woman that he loved but couldn’t marry, so she fled to the arms of another man. This man, Stanley Kirkpatrick, happens to be not only a friend of Richard’s, but the chief of police, too! Yeah, and he also thinks that Richard may be the infamous vigilante The Spider, but he can’t prove it due to lack of evidence. Richard must run a company by day, and bring villains to justice at night. There is one glaring difference between The Spider and most other crime fighters, however. He doesn’t hesitate to kill his targets. Now, this might get sticky if there’s a villain that isn’t really hardcore, but typically he’s seen killing criminals that have it coming.

Speaking of criminals, The Spider has many enemies, but he still takes out murderers, rapists, and so forth. Right now, in the pages of Dynamite Comics’ reincarnation of the character, writer David Liss and artist Colton Worley are crafting a fantastic tale about a villain named Anput. An Egyptian masked woman with a bulked up, silent sidekick, who’s bent on changing the entire city population into zombie-like creatures using a toxic gas. Yeah, and she and her man can fight, too. It’s up to Richard and his cunning mind to try and stop her. Good thing he has his ex-girlfriend, Nita, feeding him info from her police chief husband. He also has the help of two other men. First, his sidekick, Ram Singh. A man from the east who has a an innate fighting ability that includes hand-to-hand combat, as well as throwing knives with deadly accuracy. The other man is Professor Brownlee. His angle is that he is the man who manufactures all of the Spider’s cool weapons and gadgets. Not as many as Batman or anything, but he has two pistols that fire a webbing that can neutralize anyone. He also has his two trusty .45 handguns.

If you’re looking for something new out there, definitely give this title a try. It really does have an old school feeling, but is set in the modern day. Liss does a great job of pulling those two things together. Worley’s art, and the fantastic covers by Cassaday and Francavilla, really make this book one of the best (if not the best) books on the shelf right now.

Recommended Reading
The Spider #1- 4 (current, Dynamite)
The Spider (1933- click here for PDF’s)


Billy Dunleavy



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