The Spider

The Spider

The Spider interferes with a heist'The Spider' was devised by 'Robot Archie' writer Ted Cowan as an 'American-style' comic strip for Lion. The Spider himself was a vaguely superpowered criminal, the self-styled "Uncrowned King of Crime" - his origins and species were never really explained, and his physical prowess was matched by a dazzling array of gadgetry. The serial initially had a typical anti-hero set-up (as seen in stories such as 'The Steel Claw' and 'The Sludge'), with the Spider squaring up against conventional detectives Pete Trask and Bob Gilmore. Thankfully, help was around the corner - America at this stage had a better handle on this sort of thing, and when Superman creator Jerry Siegel turned up at Fleetway looking for work, the Lion team were only too grateful to let him take over writing duties for the Spider, with the excellent Reg Bunn remaining on art duties. At the end of his arc, the dull detectives made their final appearance.

The Spider and the Exterminator team up against Dr. Mysterioso and the Android EmperorAt this stage, things went a bit mad, as Siegel soon had the Spider turn crime-fighter to satisfy his ego, and then devised a gallery of inventive villains for him to combat. British comics had never really seen anything like it, and rarely would again - usually the star of the strip would fight more mundane enemies, but not the Spider. The strip claimed frequent covers in the late 1960s, but after Siegel departed Fleetway in 1969, its' popularity quickly waned, and regular serials ended later that year. The odd annual story would follow until 1975, and reprints appearing in Lion from 1972 to 1973. Of course, the next run came in Vulcan.

The Spider escapes one of the Death-Master's trapsThanks to Titan's King of Crooks collection, I do have some actual information on the full Vulcan run. The Scottish version of the comic contained full reprints of the first three serials, and then an edited version of "The Spider vs. The Android Emperor". The conclusion of the latter was condensed so the nation-wide title could launch with the start of the next story, "The Spider and the Exterminator". After the conclusion of that serial, the strip was rested for a couple of weeks, before launching into a reprint of "The Spider versus the Crook from Outer Space". This was left sadly incomplete when Vulcan was cancelled. The character would reappear in the Vulcan Annual, when short post-Siegel serial "The Death-Master" was reprinted in its' entirety.

The Spider battles the Infernal GadgeteerSince the end of Vulcan, the Spider has had a couple of sporadic revivals. Firstly he resurfaced in the 1980 Lion Holiday Special, in the all-new strip "Robot Archie versus the Spider". Then a decade or so later Mark Millar took it upon himself to shit all over the character for the most dire segment (and that really is saying something) of the notorious 2000AD Action Special. That was as horrible as baby rape, so no-one dared touch the Spider until around the turn of the century, when two different series had a go at showing what he was up to at the time. The first was Paul Grist's superb Jack Staff series, which featured the character as a retired (ish) hero. The other was Leah Moore's Albion, where the Spider was a major character, even if most of his actions were kept in the background. He was fittingly treated as possibly the most dangerous of the whole bloody lot, having initially been used to hunt down his fellow unusual adventurers, then betrayed. He got his own back by stealing Mytek the Mighty at the end. Sadly, Wildstorm did not seem to have a bloody clue as to what to do next, and went for the "bugger-all" option. Idiots.