Richard Wentworth is a wealthy socialite by day but by night he becomes the violent, uncompromising vigilante...THE SPIDER. Little is known of his origins other than he saw action in the First World War with the rank of Major and later returned to live in New York.
In the 2012 Dynamite series The Spider, the title character's origins were largely unchanged but modernised for new readers. In this version of The Spider, Richard Wentworth is still an army officer with advanced level training which enables him to carry out his vigilante life as The Spider. He is highly intellectual and has a strong, almost extreme, morale stance. He is also somewhat of an inventor, creating many of the gadgets he uses in his war on crime himself. During his service in the military Wentworth went missing in action during a Black Ops mission. How he escaped, who captured him and exactly how long he was gone for have not been fully revealed. Although it is stated he was gone for a number of years. When Wentworth returned to New York, he was appalled by the degradation of the city and due to his strong beliefs in justice, decided to adopt the role of The Spider.
The Spider was created by Harry Steeger for Popular Publications in 1933 as competition for rival publisher Street & Smith Publications' vigilante hero The Shadow. The Spider first appeared in print in the pulp magazine series The Spider, the first two issues of which were written by R.T.M. Scott. The majority of The Spider stories in the series were written by Norvell Page. The cover artist for The Spider #1 (Oct. 1933) is Walter M. Baumhofer.
The Spider’s first appearance in comic book format was in Eclipse Comics’ The Spider #1 (1991). The short lived series was written and drawn by Timothy Truman.
For the 2012 Dynamite Entertainment series The Spider, the character was re-imagined by writer David Liss and artist Colton Worley.
At first he dressed in cloak, slouch hat and a sort of dominoe mask with an attached "face curtain" that conceiled the lower part of his face. Later in an original turn he created a lurid and horrifying persona consisting of a wig of disheveled lank hair, bushy brows, prosthetic hooked nose and fake "fanged" teeth. Assuming a hunchbacked and shambling gait, this new creation terrified both the underworld and the police.
The Spider was often aided and accompanied by his faithful band of servants, most notably his courageous Sikh manservant "Singh", who followed Richard with almost religious zeal. Singh veiwed Richard Wentworth as "The greatest warrior he had ever known". Sometimes his lover Nita Van Sloan also aided him in his battles, even adopting her own costumed persona as "The Black Widow". Nita was a brave fighter herself and an expert marksman. Also to be counted as a stalwart was Ronald Jackson, Wentworth's Chauffeur and sometimes pilot who was thought to have given his life for the Spider but later was revealed to have been wounded. Professor Brownlee created The Spiders many weapons.
In Richard Wentworths private moments he often reflected that the persona of The Spider seemed to have a mind of its own and wondered about his own sanity. The Spider was violent and ruthless to the extreme. In times of reflection he would often play the violin, much like another world famous sleuth. Wentworth would at times venture into the Underworld disguised as small time villain Blinky McQuade in order to gain information.
The 2012 Dynamite series is set in current times but contains a strong element of 1930's pulp fiction. As Wentworth didn't expect to return alive from a black ops mission, he decided to end his engagement with Nita Van Sloan in order to spare her grief. However Wentworth did return, although years later and by this time Nita was married to Police Commissioner Stanley Kirkpatrick - a close friend of Richard. Unable to quell his love for Nita, Richard confides in her that he is The Spider in an attempt to keep a semblance of a relationship with her. This relationship forms a major part of the ongoing story of the series. It is also the reason why Richard Wentworth has turned into an alcoholic.
Meanwhile Richard acts as a special consultant to the police, giving him access to crime scenes and police reports which he uses to the benefit of The Spider. Wentworth is also the son of a wealthy chemical manufacturer whose company deals in chemical weapons. Unable to accept his father's line of work, Richard has an extremely stormy relationship with his dad. However after his father's death Richard inherits the company and attempts to change its direction.
The Spider's cast of original support characters have also returned in moderinsed form. His former servant Ram Singh is now his best friend and lawyer and one of the only two people who know for certain that Richard Wentworth is The Spider. Ezra Brownlee returns as a University professor and an old family friend who helps Richard in his consultancy work. Ronald Jackson is also back as a former soldier who served with Richard in the army and The Spider's getaway driver.
Major Story Arcs
Terror Of The Zombie Queen
A new danger rises in New York as the deranged terrorist Anput launches a series of attacks using a gas that turns ordinary citizens into mindless zombies, bringing the city and the police force to its knees. Richard Wentworth discovers the gas may have been developed by his father's chemical company and begins to investigate his father while simultaneously battling Anput and her brutal bodyguard. Meanwhile Detective Hilt suspects that Wentworth is The Spider and goes as far as endangering innocent civilians to prove his theory. All this and Richard's love for his ex fiancée, now married to one of his closest friends and who happens to be the Police Commissioner of New York, is driving him to alcoholism! But The Spider will stop at nothing to save the city he's sworn to protect.
This storyline features in the Dynamite series Masks and is not in continuity with the ongoing series The Spider. Set in 1938 when The Justice Party has been elected power of New York State, it soon conspires the newly-elected officials are controlled by powerful criminals, who quickly corrupt the law to their own advantage. A fascist police state is instituted and ordinary citizens are brutalised, oppressed and crushed into submission. The only ones who stand up to protect the innocent are masked vigilantes like The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Kato and The Spider.
Powers and Abilities
The Spider has advanced military and black ops training and is an exceptional athlete with superb stamina. He is trained in the use of a variety of weapons from firearms to swords and knives. He is also an accomplished pilot and should be considered a master of disguise. In addition he is immune to a small degree to spider venom due to consuming small amounts of venom regularly. The original version of The Spider/Wentworth was prone to Berserk furies.
The Spider habitually carries a pair of custom Colt M1911 pistols with uncovered barrels and fitted with custom lasers that resemble a red spiders web when turned on. He carried a swordcane both as Richard Wentworth and The Spider. The Spiders trademark was a crimson seal that he placed on the forehead of his "kills". This seal was hidden within a trick platinum lighter. He also carried a super thin ropeline that was capable of supporting several hundred pounds that he called his "web". He sometimes carried a net of the same material shaped like a large spider-web. It was studded with "dry ice" that was coated in curare poison. He would hurl it upon his prey whose own struggles against the sharp poison coated ice blades, would spell there hideous demise. His mentor Professor Brownlee made his lethal silenced air pistol for stealth attacks.
A list of movie adaptations of The Spider: