Lion’s “The Spider” collection out next April

Featuring work by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, the first definitive reprint collection of The Spider from Rebellion – the anti-hero from long-running British weekly, Lion – will be published next Spring.

The Spider’s Syndicate of Crime - Standard Cover

Fully remastered, The Spider’s Syndicate of Crime, a 144-page paperback volume, presents the super-crook’s earliest adventures that appeared in the pages of Lion, and were later reprinted in Vulcan.

This is the first in a planned four-volume edition, collecting the entire series.

Recently revived in an enjoyable tale in the Smash! 2020 Special by Rob Williams and John McCrea, the initially villainous Spider was created by writer Ted Cowan and artist Reg Bunn. Some of his early stories were written by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel.

Dubbed ‘The King of Crooks’, the arrogant and cunning criminal mastermind was one of the most popular British comic book villain of the 1960s, first appearing in Lion in June 1965, his regular adventures continuing there until April 1969.

An anti-hero with a razor-sharp mind, superb athletic ability and a vast array of cutting-edge gadgets, The Spider set his sights on taking over the New York underworld and establishing a ‘Syndicate of Crime’.

This first collection sees him recruiting other fiends into his fledging empire – and seeing off competition from other villainous foes, including the master of illusion, Mirror Man.

Lion - The Spider - issue cover dated 26th June 1965 - Page One
Lion - The Spider - issue cover dated 26th June 1965 - Page Two
The first episode of “The Spider” from the weekly comic Lion, issue cover dated 26th June 1965

Reg Bunn’s astonishing art has been re-mastered by Rebellion’s dedicated reprographics team and the character’s first annual story is presented in its original colour.

Due for release on 15th April 2021, retailing at £14.99, the collection will be released in North America as Jerry Siegel’s The Syndicate of Crime on 13th April 2021, retailing at $19.99.

(The different title there not only a marketing move, but also a means to sidestep copyright issues over the character’s name, an issue that impacted Titan Books collection some years ago).

A special limited hardcover edition will also be available exclusively from the Treasury of British Comics webshop with a cover by Judge Dredd and The Invisibles artist Chris Weston, who’s often recreated the character in the past.

The Spider versus The Steel Claw by Chris Weston, a 2012 private commission. “I don't mind drawing superheroes when they are British and creepy,” said Chris at the time.
The Spider versus The Steel Claw by Chris Weston, a 2012 private commission. “I don’t mind drawing superheroes when they are British and creepy,” said Chris at the time.

While The Spider began a villain, over time he eventually turned away from his criminal roots and became a crime-fighter, alongside reluctant allies, the criminal ‘Prof’ Pelham and safecracker Roy Ordini. The recent revival saw him embark on a return to villainy…

While Lion regularly featured The Spider’s adventures, he also appeared in editions of the Fleetway Super Library published in 1967-68. This is a title which Steve Holland has previously noted has some claims to being Britain’s first ever series of original graphic novels – an experiment based on the already established pocket library which had been appearing in the UK since April 1950 and the debut of Cowboy Comics.

The Fleetway Super Library actually encompassed three series — Stupendous, Secret Agent and Front Line — with two titles appearing a month for each series. The main story in each – often ran to 122 pages, the rest of the title filled out with humour strip reprints, a quiz, feature pages or a short complete six- or eight-page story. Those 122 pages contained some 255 frames and the strips were all new.

The Spider as featured on the cover of Fleetway Super Library Fantastic Series no. 2 (January 1967). Art by Alessandro Biffignandi. Via Bear Alley
The Spider as featured on the cover of Fleetway Super Library Fantastic Series No. 2 (January 1967). Art by Alessandro Biffignandi. Via Bear Alley

The Spider’s adventures were also widely syndicated across the world, and he has fans in India, Europe and elsewhere.

If you’re curious to know more about The Spider’s origins and the comic he first appeared in, then track down a copy of Bear Alley Books index series charting the history of British comics. Lion King of Picture Story Papersavailable direct from the publisher – a massive, 262-page volume covering the story of one of the most popular titles released in the post-Second World War “silver age” of British comics.

The Spider’s Syndicate of Crime will be released in 15th April 2021 – check out Treasury of British Comics title’s here on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Treasury of British Comics Presents SMASH! 2020 Special is available direct from Rebellion via the 2000AD web shop here

The Comic Creators Project has a profile of artist Reg Bunn here

Chris Weston is online at www.chriswestonart.com

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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