Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Spider

The Spider was a truly great character in British comics, one of the darkest and weirdest heroes of an era where every hero was dark and weird. He was introduced with no backstory or explanation, just sold to us as a master criminal who was so convinced of his own genius, he took to battling other criminals he considered beneath him.
Was he an alien? A mutant? A young Basil Rathbone?

We didn't know, and his mystery was always part of his appeal. But the stories he appeared in have a couple of problems, for me. Firstly, they mostly consisted of The Spider fighting low-rent villians like The Android Emperor, Mr. Mysterioso and The Exterminator, none of whom were a match for the self-appointed King Of Crooks, and secondly each episode consisted basically of he and each bad guy trading boasts as to who was more powerful.

And there was the fact that each tale usually went on way, way too long. But then these stories were never meant to be read en masse, but week by week, and were clearly made up on the fly. Not that I noticed any of this as a kid, of course. All I knew was that The Spider himself was always cool, fun and a little bit scary. Plus, there was some incredibly unsettling imagery in this strip. Like this:

And this:

And as if all that wasn't enough, he was mostly written by no less a name than Jerry Seigel.
Here's a done in one tale that sidesteps those issues, from the 1977 Valiant annual, as The Deathmaster unwisely challenges our anti-anti-hero to a duel to the death. The pitiable fool. None can challenge the might of The Spider!


  1. I haven't visited this blog since opening my first comic shop last October. That Lion cover is on the wall. No one's even mentioned it let alone ask to buy it. It is next to some early TV21's bit all the same.

  2. Where's your comic shop, HD? Go on, have a free plug.

  3. Very kind of you! New shop selling old stuff! One recent customer said 'Where else would I find Skywald, Romeo, Countdown and TV Action in the same shop?' 'Dunno' I said 'But promise me you'll tell me when you find one'!
    I stock large amounts of the above + 400+ undergrounds, Misty, Spellbound, TV21, Starblazer, Joe 90, Warrior House of Hammer etc + quality GN's and a good selection of silver and bronze.

  4. That sounds great! Rush me my invite I am over 18!

  5. Being a Yank, I am thoroughly amazed by the UK stuff whether it be Jim Holdaway's Modesty Blaise, or Frank Bellamy's Garth. I love the fact that you add material from some of the British story-strips. Best part is when you do the story-strips, you collect the whole story which has to be damn painstaking. I have a Jose Luis Gracia Superman story which was originally printed in black and white, but that I managed to scan from an Australian comic book: "The Sleeper Out of Time." You interested in submissions like this on your blog?

  6. Is it a good story? Sure, be worth a look. What I really want is good scans of John M. Burns' Eartha if anyone has that. And any Look-In strips. And... and... and...

  7. I thought it was on of Gerry Conway's better ones about a warrior who ultimately realizes that war he was supposed to fight ended up ending millenia before. It was originally from Superman 347, with some great sequences like Superman and Lois dancing in the night sky. It really shows the details in black and white. Just let me know what e-mail address I should post to if you want it.

  8. hi i am keerthi from india . can i get the soft copies of those book .