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Writer Commentary: David Liss on THE SPIDER #15

Find out the writer's thoughts as the latest issue was being written.

The Spider is continuing his war on crime. He may have finally defeated one of his foes but it looks like a new one has surfaced. The latest issue looks at how far he's willing to go to accomplish his mission.

Writer David Liss has been in control of the Spider's adventures throughout this entire series and we got the chance to find out his thoughts as he wrote the latest issue as he heads towards the end of the run. Here's his commentary on THE SPIDER #15, now on sale.

Page 1

THE SPIDER #14 was the first issue I wrote in which I knew for a fact that #18 was going to be the final issue. That meant I needed to start thinking seriously about how I wanted to wrap things up. I’ve always been attracted to stories about strong characters who are brought low and who have to try to build themselves back up, and it seemed like a good way to end up the last arc was to strip away Wentworth’s wealth and his network. In both the original pulps and in our reboot, Wentworth’s seemingly bottomless resources were a big part of what allowed him to function as the Spider, so it like an interesting challenge to remove those resources. Without the wealth, can he still be the Spider? I try to establish early on that some of the rules have changed, but it’s still pretty much the same game.

Page 2

I wanted to strike a couple of notes here. First, to let the reader see that, despite his setbacks, the Spider was still on the job. The other is to show the crime wave that the Spider is confronting. This is where I talk about the new villain he’ll be facing, the Red Hand. I also wanted to underscore the Spider’s extreme violence. He is, of course, always a very violent hero, but he’s not holding anything back here.

Page 3

Now we see how far Wentworth has fallen. He’s living in a dump, he is drinking too much, he’s on edge. Hopefully readers will link the extreme violence of the previous page with the crumminess of his new life here.

Pages 4-5

This was meant to feel like a replay of the Spider’s last major scene with Hilt, when he finds him in bed, and decides not to kill him because he can be of use against the Fly. Hilt becomes something of an alley, and maybe even thinks he’s safe, but the fact is that Hilt killed a lot of people and that isn’t going to sit well with Wentworth. Scenes like this are one of the reasons I like writing the Spider. Hilt has been a part of the story since I began working on the series. He’s a major player in the new Spider universe, but when there’s no reason to keep him alive, the Spider goes ahead and takes him down. It’s not like Batman forever circling the Joker. The Spider is willing to carry out executions, and that can make for some powerful character moments. The murder of this major character has an almost incidental feel to it, which is what I was going for.

Pages 6-7

I wanted this issue to feel like a great deal had changed for the Spider, so his rampage continues with the Fly. Again, this is a character who has been around a while – even longer than Hilt since he goes back to the pulps – and he’s eluded the Spider before. Not this time. The Spider wants to set things in order, and he doesn’t pull any punches. Like with Hilt, it’s a different sort of thing when you kill off a regular character in the middle of an issue. It messes with the usual pacing of a comic, and it also sends a message – that this is how the Spider operates. He’s going to toss a bad guy off a roof and not think about it again.

Page 8

Here, however, we see that there are other consequences. Nita is the only character from the Spider’s network with whom he now has any real contact. She doesn’t much care for the wholesale killing of baddies, so it seems like Wentworth’s isolation is only growing. I also had fun with the idea that Wentworth likes the show Archer. Wentworth drinks too much and goes around killing people, so of course he likes Archer.

Pages 9-10

And then we get one more nail in the coffin. Kirk is recruited by the mayor to catch the Spider, and he has to choose between his friend, Wentworth, and his job. He chooses his job. This felt like a human and very believable decision to me, but I also felt like I was taking some liberties with a long-standing original character. I like that I’ve been able to make this characters grow and evolve.

Page 11

There’s always a certain amount of back and forth in these kinds of narratives, as the hero and villain test one another. So here we get a more detailed analysis of how the Red Hand works – by making his victims afraid to talk to the police.

Page 12

Then we have the Spider’s reaction – rescuing a couple who was going to be executed for reporting the Red Hand’s activities. By the end of this page, I wanted it to be clear that both sides mean business.

Page 13

Now it’s time to start setting up the major players. First, with the Fly dead, Wentworth Industries is in the hands of his former right-hand-woman Norma, whom we see as being very aggressive, both in business and with her sexuality. Always a fun combo.

Page 14

And, at last, we meet the Red Hand. I love how Ivan renders him here. In the script, I described his as being overweight and non-threatening in appearance. I always like to push back a little against the way everyone in superhero comics is amazingly fit. The Red hand comes off looking like a homeless guy in a nice suit, which I tend to think only makes him seem creepier. Also, I wanted his mode of speaking to seem a little strange. Bottom line: writing weirdos is fun. Also, what I wanted to get started here is the idea that the Spider is now going to be directly opposed to what was formerly his own company.

Pages 15-16

More escalation with the Spider and the Red Hand. This is a classic sending-a-message confrontation in which the Spider lets one of the bad guys get away to make sure the Red Hand knows it’s personal. Also, we get a reminder that the Spider is drinking too much, because a deadly vigilante is even more fun when he’s a drunk deadly vigilante. Right?

Pages 17-18

Wentworth mends fences with Nita. This is moving toward a big plot point, so the main thing I wanted to emphasize here is that, despite her reservations, Nita really wants to help Wentworth. Indeed, as we’ve seen, she can’t, or at least won’t, say no to him. These two crazy kids are in love, and while her pesky marriage may be getting in the way, Nita is still there for Wentworth.

Pages 19-20

But, of course, it does have consequences for her marriage. I think anyone who has followed this run knows that I love to inject real character elements into my pulp stories. These characters are only interesting if they have real problems, and those problems can only seem real if there are consequences to their actions. With Nita helping Wentworth, and Kirk trying to hunt down the Spider, I’ve got some good emotional clay to work with.

Page 21

We now see the fruit of the meeting between the Red Hand and Norma. The Red Hand has got some high grade weaponry, which can’t be good. The observant reader will note that this is the same bar where the Spider stood up for the owner earlier in the issue.

Page 22

And we end with what I felt was a nice twist. The place the Spider saved has been utterly destroyed, and a sign has been left, blaming the Spider for this outcome. It’s a slap in the face, and it’s exactly the kind of note with which I love to end an issue. I hate issues that end with Hero X seemingly about to be defeated or killed by Villain Y. Who cares? Hero X isn’t going to die. We all know it, so there’s no real tension. When I can end an issue so that the reader will think, “I have no idea how this is going to play out, but I sure want to see it,” then I’ve done my job.

THE SPIDER #15 is now on sale.

21 Comments
Posted by InnerVenom123

This is a cool idea for a regular segment.

Posted by Dernman

I get why they did that with the fly but I think they pushed it too far with just tossing him off the roof without a second thought. It would have been nice to see the Fly realize his idea of safety and his security from not being killed was an illusion. Doesn't have to even be that. Just a little more not to much that you lose what you were trying to get across.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

Damn, I need to catch up, I'm a few issues behind

Posted by lifeboy

@innervenom123: Yeah! Gman has been doing this quite abit with Dynamite. I love it! Especially since it spotlights their great titles.

Posted by medulaoblaganda

spider man wanna be !!haha

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

spider man wanna be !!haha

FAIL> The Spider was created almost 30 years before Spider-Man.

Posted by medulaoblaganda
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
Posted by medulaoblaganda
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@jonny_anonymous: ohh okay, so that means spider man is a rip off right?

Stan and crew said they took some inspiration from the character

Posted by medulaoblaganda

@jonny_anonymous: woow that's great. so, what will you say about black spider from dc comics? isn't black spider also a rip off?

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@jonny_anonymous: woow that's great. so, what will you say about black spider from dc comics? isn't black spider also a rip off?

The only thing Black Spider, The Spider and Spider-Man have in common is they all have spider in there name and The Spider and Spider-Man have a web motif, other than that they are totally different

Edited by medulaoblaganda
Posted by yolo_el

dat art tho

Posted by Vaeternus

Ehhh, The Spider seems like Batman+Shadow+ Spiderman combined in a way. Will pass.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
Edited by Vaeternus

@jonny_anonymous said:

@vaeternus: He precedes all of them

Depends which version you speak of. There's a british version that debuted in 1965 came out after all three of them.

This version came out around the same time as Batman or the Shadow. Batman was created in 1939 the second main DC character after Superman, and inspired from the shadow(original) some what who appeared in the late 1930's.

The Spider 1933, created the same year Superman was created when DC bought the rights to him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_(pulp_fiction)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_(comic_book)#The_Golden_Age_and_the_early_1950s

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shadow

Another version of Spider when owned by DC came out in 1940(still after Batman and Shadow)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_(DC_Comics)

While the british version of The Spider originated in 1965, that's well after both Batman and The Shadow

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider-Man who orginated in 1962 which precedes the 1965 Spider version but not the DC 1940 version.

So really depends which version of Spider you're referring to. The current version just seems like a combination of the three I mentioned in some ways, more or less but I suppose different in others. He has no powers and definitely isn't as good a fighter as Batman or Spiderman not to mention a drunk.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@jonny_anonymous said:

@vaeternus: He precedes all of them

Depends which version you speak of. There's a british version that debuted in 1965 came out after all three of them.

This version came out around the same time as Batman or the Shadow. Batman was created in 1939 the second main DC character after Superman, and inspired from the shadow(original) some what who appeared in the late 1930's.

The Spider 1933, created the same year Superman was created when DC bought the rights to him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_(pulp_fiction)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_(comic_book)#The_Golden_Age_and_the_early_1950s

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shadow

Another version of Spider when owned by DC came out in 1940(still after Batman and Shadow)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_(DC_Comics)

While the british version of The Spider originated in 1965, that's well after both Batman and The Shadow

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider-Man who orginated in 1962 which precedes the 1965 Spider version but not the DC 1940 version.

So really depends which version of Spider you're referring to. The current version just seems like a combination of the three I mentioned in some ways, more or less but I suppose different in others. He has no powers and definitely isn't as good a fighter as Batman or Spiderman not to mention a drunk.

This version of The Spider is Richard Wentworth, the one created in 33.

Edited by Vaeternus

So youre referring to the one created the same era as batman and shadow.