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The Spider #1 – Review

Moonstone is back with another dose of Pulp and this time it's the Spider who dates back to the 1930's. The story opens with a Miss Van Sloan running for her life. She makes it to a gas station and begs the man inside to help her that is until some undead arms break through the glass of the door. Meanwhile, Richard Wentworth (The Spiders alter-ego) is having a friendly drink with Commissioner Kirkpatrick that turns into an interrogation. Kirkpatrick seems to believe that Wentworth has some connection to the Spider, but alludes to it being more of a supporting role rather than actually being the masked man.

Wentworth receives a call from Van Sloan that ends abruptly, forcing him to end his conversation with the Commissioner no doubt casting more suspicion upon him. Wentworth takes off down the road with his Butler behind the wheel. He had Miss Van Sloan wear a tracking device in case anything ever happened to her and now he's hot on her trail. As he gets closer to the signal he switches into his Spider attire which includes fangs, a wig, and awesome hat, a cooler cape and some bad ass guns. Upon leaving his car he's jumped by more undead goons who seem to have knocked him out.

Looks can be deceiving as he springs back into action and begins gunning them all down. He lets out a maniacal laugh as he puts the dead back in their grave. Miss Van Sloan wakes up with her clothes mostly torn off to find herself strapped to a metal gurney. An unknown Doctor draws blood from her and leaves one of her arms free. Perhaps it was intentional or perhaps the doctor didn't think that the she had any fight left in her, which ever it is... he was wrong. Van Sloan picks up a nearby knife and goes to town on her straps and then starts taking out some undead goons herself. Know she must find the Spider and figure out why her friend's house is full of the undead.

The Spider - MoonstoneThe second story in the issue takes place during the Great Depression. A bunch of angry goons go into a Jewish owned café and begin tossing the place while making anti-Semitic comments towards the owners. It's all fun and games for the goons until a cop shows up and the leader of the group lays him out as well. They take off before they can get into any more trouble.

Later one of the men is seen making a radio transmission into his cigarette lighter. His name is Operator 5 and he's infiltrating the gang to get close to the fascist gang the Nordic Cross to which the belong. The gang as a whole is well trained and better organized than other fascist gangs making them particularly interesting. From there Operator 5 meets the rest of his gang for the leader of the Nordic Cross' speech. The leader is Reverend Gallows Sloan Mather and he makes it clear that he's a complete racist. Operator 5 is moving up in the ranks and is treated to a night with a group of sexy women, too bad they drug him and his gang so that they can brain wash him for Mather's army.

This issue took a little time to grow on my and honestly the review helped me like it even more. I was unfamiliar with the character of the Spider and even less familiar with Operator 5 of the second story, but found myself really enjoying them. The Spider is polar opposites from his alter-ego which is great. So often the character underneath the mask seeps through to the alter-ego, but that really can't happen here because the Spider comes off like a blood crazed lunatic. He shot everything he could and did it all while giving a haunting laugh. The story was decent, but I would have preferred it to be longer. The writer really came off like he was rushing the ending which I think robbed the reader of some good pulply action and story.

The second story was well written and really caught my attention, but I didn't know what world it was taking place in. I felt like I had missed the first part of the story and was playing catch-up. I'm not sure if the writer could have worked in some captions to give back story to Operator 5. It was still a great story that really hooked me in, but I definitely needed a recap of the world of Operator 5.

The art for both stories, while different, was very good. In the Spider's story the art was full of rich pencil lines that reminded me of Mike Deodato Jr. full of shadows and rich details. The art was just the perfect fit for the story and really helped distract away from the rushed ending. For the second issue it was a much different style, but still had a very pulp look to it. The art was still very detailed, but whereas the first story was going for ultra-realistic, the second was much more stylized. It too worked great with the story.

Overall this is a pretty good issue to introduce readers to the world of pulp action comics. Much like what Moonstone did for Captain Action, this book has brought the adventures of the Spider to a new generation. Even though I was a bit lost by the second story I really didn't care because it seemed like an added bonus to the book. I would highly recommend it to readers that enjoy the Phantom or are wondering what a pulp comic is. If you were a fan of Marvel's the Twelve then I highly recommend trying it out and seeing a world of comics before tights and capes.

Story – 8.5
Art – 9.5
Overall – 9.0


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