Art: Reg Bunn
Original Printing: Lion 25/06/1966 - 17/09/1966 [14 parts]
Reprints: Lion 20/01/1973 - 14/04/1973; Vulcan 27/09/1975 -
This story is everything the Spider's about, Jerry Siegel's writing at its' most imaginative, the tone at its' most bizarre, the ultimate collision of British and American comic-book style. This is where the strip really kicked into overdrive. Really, the idea of a villain muscling in on the Spider's territory and needing a lesson couldn't run forever, especially when you consider the Spider rarely seemed to commit that much crime himself, usually ending up thwarting it by putting potential enemies' noses out of joint. So here we have the logical progression, the Spider moving over to crime fighting.
The opening episodes, as the mob (in the shape of Crime Incorporated) grow ever more annoyed with the Spider's meddling, are good, straightforward fun, with plenty of playful arrogance on show from the star. However, it really hots up when the organisation sets the Exterminator on him. The Exterminator's a great character, just as confident and able as The Spider (even if his head laser looks a little bit too much like a mining lamp...), and the next few instalments are gripping. The Spider is genuinely on the ropes at points, and yet it works because The Exterminator is shown to be cunning and powerful - he also understands his enemy, realising the importance of besting The Spider in front of his army of crime. The Spider's answer to, for once, being unable to defeat his enemy? To offer him an alliance. Genius!
The next few chapters are tremendous fun, as the duo set off after the mob, with a number of fun confrontations springing up. These mobsters are from Planet Siegel all right - 'Big Jake' Corso owns a bloody wheel-tank, for God's sake (not quite as bizarre as the expanding rockets the Spider and the Exterminator use to fire Crime Incorporated's loot into space, but still a big step up from Tommy guns)... Crime Incorporated then resort to hiring Dr. Mysterioso and the Android Emperor to kill the duo on a Pacific atoll, with an A-bomb test looming. Excellent stuff, even if the star-studded battle fizzles just a little. It's all tremendous fun, utilising Fleetway's trademark "make the thing move so fast no-one asks any questions" serial pacing, and piling twist upon twist.
Even the defeat of the mob isn't enough to satisfy the Spider's ego - first, he has to defeat and humiliate the Exterminator (something he achieves in a very underhanded way... you get the impression he's been planning it since the moment they became allies), and then the icing on the cake, his defection from the world of crime simply because smashing Crime Inc. had been so much fun. Reg Bunn is at the height of his powers here, seemingly driven to greater heights by Siegel's drive, and the length is just right - this one's low on repetition, and high on thrills. Highly recommended to any Spider fans.