Wednesday 20 February 2013

Why The Spider is one of the best comics on the shelf

Image source: Dynamite Entertainment
We've noted before how there's been a recent resurgence in the popularity of pulp comics, from Garth Ennis' The Shadow, Kevin Smith's The Green Hornet and more recently the excellent Masks by Dynamite. One that was introduced in 2012 is The Spider and as it's about to put out its ninth issue it's fair to say that this is one comic you don't want to miss. Find out why after the jump.

Those pulp fans among you will recognise that The Spider was a character from the 1930s - a gun-toting hero who wore a domino mask and a cloak.

As an addition to their line-up of pulp heroes, including The Green Hornet, Kato and The Shadow, Dynamite decided to update The Spider, bringing him barrelling into the 21st century with laser-enhanced guns and a slick costume inspired by The Spider TV serials. They also gave him a biting humour, but kept his love of mercilessly gunning down bad guys.

The series, written by novelist David Liss, turned out to be a triumph in storytelling and characterisation. Richard Wentworth, The Spider's alter-ego, acts as a consulting detective which allows him to continue unravelling mysteries as The Spider in a way Wentworth couldn't do.

As a character, Wentworth is infinitely more interesting than many other pulp heroes; his ex wife (who he still loves) is married to his best friend who also happens to be the detective he works most closely with. His father was a multi-millionaire with links to the weapons trade - Wentworth hated his father. This web of drama leads to some great stories amidst the usual rough and tumble while he's The Spider.

Writing-wise, Liss knows exactly how to pace a story well, fitting in character development, intrigue and a healthy dose of ass kicking. The dialogue is witty, which is a great contrast to the often dark tone the book takes. This atmosphere is aided greatly by Ivan Rodriguez, whose art style is a great match for the book. Plus, every issue has a variant cover by Francesco Francavilla, which is always something special. You'd do well to pick up his covers.

Right now The Spider is going through a string of one-shot adventures, but all of them feel like a complete story. If you've every read Warren Ellis' Secret Avengers, you will know what I mean.

What I'm trying to say is that, with such a talented team and such a great character, you should be rushing to the stands ever Wednesday for a copy of The Spider.


  1. Agreed! My wife and I were initially leery of this 're-imaging' of the character, but the writing by Liss has won us over. It's a shame that sales don't seem to be that strong on the book.

    1. True - I want to spread the word of how good this book is. Have you read Masks? Loving that.

  2. Isn't this a British character? Anyway, I remember the Green Hornet being lame until the Kevin Smith miniseries. Maybe I'll give the Spider a try.

  3. I've enjoyed what Garth Ennis and Kevin Smith have done with the pulp model as inspiration, and the comparison to my all time favourite comic book writer warren Ellis has me sold. Time to start searching for stockists or trade paperbacks...

    1. Nice one! I didn't really get along with Ennis' The Shadow, despite the fact that I love him as a writer.