The Spider (#2) Is Still High-Slinging For Justice!
Dec 7, 2012
The first installment of THE SPIDER was nothing short of spectacular. It re-introduced the masked vigilante to the modern world, bringing him into present time while maintaining more than a healthy flavor for the world of the 30’s and 40’s in which Popular Publications hoped to take a bite out of THE SHADOW’s growing audiences. If you like pulp, then there’s really no reason to read any further: rush out to your local comic book store and pick up a copy today … or, if you’re inclined and you have the technology, download it for reading on your iPad or iPhone (as I do). You won’t be disappointed.
(NOTE: the following review will contain minor spoilers necessary for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who wants a review entirely spoiler-free, then skip down to the last paragraph for the greatest encapsulation I can give. But if you’re okay with a minor hint of things to come, then read on.)
The Egyptian goddess/queen Anput gets greater exposure in this issue as readers are presented with her quick backstory. While not all questions are answered, all that matters here is that she has the police and The Spider exactly where she wants them: powerless observers to the wrath of her Zombified army soldiers terrorizing the city. Still, The Spider has never been known to stand down, even when he’s ordered to by officers of the law … but perhaps it’s the law that Richard Wentworth should really be scared of!
Even if I tried, I wouldn’t be able to heap enough praise on this book. It’s amazing how writer David Liss has plucked The Spider and his cohorts from the era of gangsters and settled him into modern day New York. The artwork is decidedly and necessarily grim as the tale pits our noirish hero against secret Egyptians who believe they’re on the side of justice despite co-opting innocents to do their bidding. There may or may not be ties to the Wentworth family – another nice development to keep the audience guessing – as a nerve gas bares striking similarity to something our hero’s father tested during the war. It’s a tale that unfolds at a breakneck pace, exactly what one would expect from a contemporary interpretation of a property established in the pulps.
Also of note, Dynamite Entertainment has three different covers available, and all of them are great. Clearly, the artists (John Cassady, Francesco Francavilla, and Ron Lesser) are playing wonderful homage to the era of the pulps and its heroes. Two of ‘em would make great wall art, for those inclined to pick ‘em up for hanging. Yes, they’re that exceptional.
And don’t let the similarities to The Shadow deter you in the slightest. Both do-gooders emerged in the same timeframe from American history, so they’ve always been linked. While some dismiss The Spider as an inferior knock-off, I can only say that I’ve read a few reprints of Spider novels and wasn’t all that impressed. They did feel similar, but this version from Dynamite is truly a top-drawer variation. It captures the look and feel of a man in the shadows seeking justice for those who can’t (or won’t) find it themselves, and The Spider isn’t afraid to use his blazing .45s where others would only resort to fisticuffs. He takes no prisoners, and he mixes no small talk. He’s a man of action, and it shows.
THE SPIDER #2 is published by Dynamite Entertainment. The story is by Davis Liss; art is by Colton Worley; lettering is by Simon Bowland; and The Spider was created Harry Steeger. The issue bears a cover price of $3.99, and it’s worth every penny so far as this reader is concerned.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. If you like pulp (and who doesn’t) and you’re a fan of superheroes, then you really really ought to give THE SPIDER a chance. This second installment builds effortlessly on the first, bringing the reader a bit more perspective on the Egyptian villain Anput as well as fleshing out the man behind the mask. Plus, it’s got zombies. ZOMBIES. You read that right. Seriously, what more could a comics fan ask for?