Dynamite Entertainment is at it again. The pulp fiction character, the Spider, was created back in 1933 by Harry Steeger. There aren't many characters from that era that can still hold their own today. Dynamite has been taking some of those pulp characters and turning them into something we can all enjoy today. It doesn't hurt when they get top talent on the books either.
The Spider will make his return this May and writer David Liss will be the one to guide him along. In preparation for the first issue, we asked David some questions to get an idea what we can expect.
Comic Vine: From the description, it sounds as if THE SPIDER will take place in modern times as opposed to taking place in the 1930s. Why was this decision made?
David Liss: When we first began talking about the possibility of my doing the Spider, Dynamite was weighing both options, and I felt good about going either contemporary or historical. In the end, the publisher decided they liked the idea of updating the character better, and as much as I enjoy writing period pieces, I have to say I really loved the challenge of figuring out how to change the character so he would not seem like an anachronism but also have the elements essential to keeping him the Spider, and not simply something like the Spider. I don’t know all the reasons Dynamite made the final decision, but I do feel there was not a bad decision to be made – both options had their plusses and minuses. To my mind, the advantage of updating the character is that it will, I hope, appeal both to readers who identify as pulp-fans and those who dig elements of pulp but may not necessarily realize it.== TEASER ==
CV: Will the series begin with an origin/beginning for the Spider or will he already be active in his fight against crime?
DL: He will already be active. We make sure readers will understand the basic circumstances of his life and, in general, why he has chosen to dedicate his life to fighting powerful bad guys, but we’re saving the origin story for another time. We felt it would be better to see the character in action, doing what he does best. Personally, I think origin stories are more important for characters with special abilities and powers and less vital for costumed vigilantes. Watching a guy say “Hey, I think I’ll wear a mask!” is probably less momentous than watching a guy discover, for the first time, that he can toss a rhinoceros at his enemies.
CV: What sets the Spider apart from other pulp heroes?
DL: I would say there are two things. First, it’s the scale of the villainy he faces. Spider Villains are insanely destructive and remorseless. In the pulps, the Spider’s enemies took over entire cities, wiped out multiple city blocks in New York, enslaved thousands, and did all kinds of unspeakable things. There was always something compelling about this one man facing down destruction on that level. The other thing is that the Spider always felt more fully realized as a character than a lot of pulp heroes, who can often by ciphers or enjoy super-human bravery. The Spider has people he cares about, and he has a lot to lose. More importantly, he feels things deeply, and the suffering affects him. The life he has chosen doesn’t make him happy, but he knows he has the responsibility to do what others won’t or can’t.
CV: On a scale of 1 to 10, what will be the level of violence and action?
DL: 11! There will be a lot of mayhem and action and destruction, and much of it will be on a huge scale. That said, I always want to write character-driven stories about people, and Richard Wentworth – and the affect of living as the Spider – will always remain at the center of everything.
CV: Will we see much of the Spider's alter ego, Richard Wentworth, and will he have a cast of supporting characters?
DL: Yes and yes. I’ve brought in many of the original supporting characters, but who they are, and the nature of the relationship to Wentworth had to undergo some big changes to have everything make sense for the 21st century. In every case, I’ve tried to stay true to the spirit of the pulps, but we live in a different time with different values, and I couldn’t ignore that. For example, Wentworth’s relationship with Nita van Sloan is a big part of the pulps. They love each other, but they can’t marry, because Wentworth’s somewhat patriarchal values won’t allow him to risk making Nita a widow. That feels like a silly reason not to marry in 2012, so I had Nita married to someone else – pulp fans will be surprised to see who we went with, by the way. Another case is Ram Singh, Wentworth’s bodyguard and servant. In the pulps, Ram is a somewhat inarticulate Hindu Indian (with an inexplicably Sikh name), but the era of that kind of orientalist fantasy is long past. Ram is now much closer to being an equal, with a life of his own, and some pretty cool skills of his own.
CV: From the released images, we can see the Spider has guns that do different things. Can you tell us anything about them now and what else gives him an edge against evil?
DL: I wanted to make sure I included some cool gadgets in the Spider’s arsenal, because that’s a big part of the character. That said, the most important kind of gun the Spider carries has always been the kind that shoots lead into bad guys. The Spider’s tool are there to help him get around quickly, break falls, capture bad guys he doesn’t want to kill and lots of other things, but really it’s his intelligence, courage and stubborn determination that are at the heart of the character. He had dedicated himself to protecting people when no one else can, and that is what gives him his edge.
CV: Does the Spider only operate at night? Is the general populace aware of his existence?
DL: People are aware of his existence, and one of the things that makes him unusual in the canon of vigilantes is that people suspect Richard Wentworth is the Spider. To use the most obvious example, he isn’t like Clark Kent hoping no one will guess he is Superman. Instead, he is constantly trying to deflect suspicions and as long as no one can prove anything, he’s content. In the first arc, readers will see the consequences of these suspicions. In fact, this is one of the elements that got me excited about writing the Spider, because the potential for personal and antagonistic cat-and-mouse conflicts are always there.
CV: What makes the Spider cooler than the other pulp heroes out there?
DL: I’ve mentioned a lot of things already that make the Spider unique, but one of the elements I would also point to is the fact that he is totally ruthless – we’re talking about a guy who brands the foreheads of the men he kills, after all – but he is not uncaring. The Spider lives by his own code, and he – more or less – knows what the right move is at any given point, but he’s willing to do some pretty drastic things to fulfill what he sees as his responsibilities. A shorter way of saying all this is that the Spider is intense.
Be sure to let you comic shop know you're interested in this series debuting in May!