Martin Powell talks about the THE SPIDER, MASTER OF MEN

According to the solicitation…”For the first time ever… since his beginnings in 1933, pre-dating Superman and Batman, The Spider now has his own ongoing straight-up comic book series!

The most relentless destroyer of the guilty the world has ever seen is back in all of his “bloody pulp” action!  Even the Punisher can’t hold a candle to the body count The Spider racks up!” With a build up like that, I had to talk to series writer Martin Powell and find out what all the hype was about.

First Comics News:  Who is the Spider?

Martin Powell:  The Spider is a masked vigilante operating in New York City, during the 1930s.  His brand of justice is swift, merciless, and absolute.  Secretly, he is millionaire criminologist Richard Wentworth.  He is, literally, the Master of Men, and the most dangerous man alive.

1st:  What causes Richard Wentworth to put on a mask and fight crime?

Martin :  The Spider’s origin was only vaguely hinted at in the original pulp novels.  I’d very much like to tell the story of his origin someday, but that’s up to the licensor.

1st:  Who is Nita Van Sloan?

Martin :  Nita is Wentworth’s beautiful, brilliant, and perpetual fiancé.  Unlike nearly all other girlfriends of masked crime-fighters, Nita knows all of Wentworth’s darkest secrets and fights passionately at the Spider’s side.

1st:  Why is the forever fiancé, never the bride relationship okay with Nita?

Martin :  She is passionately devoted to Wentworth, and that includes his crime-fighting alter-ego, as well.  They share a far deeper bond than most married couples ever experience, and understand each other completely.  In a sense, she is Wentworth’s moral conscience.  Without her influence, even Wentworth is afraid that the monster within him might run amok, without restraint.  There aren’t many women who would fall for the Spider and his way of life, but Nita has her own inner darkness, too, as we’ll be seeing.  She’s actually my favorite character in the cast, and you can expect some genuinely startling developments occurring in the life of Nita Van Sloan during this series.

1st:  Who is Ram Singh?

Martin :  He’s a fierce Sikh warrior who has been allied with Wentworth for many years.  Ram is undying in his loyalty, a savage soldier, and the man you’d most like at your side in a fight.

1st:  This was one of few heroic roles for a Sikh at the time, are his religion and beliefs part of his story in the comic?

Martin :  That’s something I would love to do.  That’s a fascinating concept to me.  If THE SPIDER’s page count is increased, as I hope, I would pursue that idea immediately.  In the meanwhile, we’ll see what I can squeeze in.

1st:  Who is Ronald Jackson?

Martin :  Jackson served under Wentworth during WW1 and his now both chauffeur and an agent of the Spider, whom he always refers to as “Major.”

1st:  What makes him join the Spider’s cause?

Martin :  That is connected to the Spider’s origin, which I hope to tell someday soon.

1st:  Who is Harold Jenkyns?

Martin :  He is the original Alfred, from the Batman saga, and was created in the pulps several years before the first appearance of the Dark Knight.  Just like Alfred, Jenkins is more than merely the butler, having been employed by the Wentworths for many years, and is a formidable ally in dangerous situations.

1st:  Who is Stanley Kirkpatrick?

Martin :  Kirkpatrick is very much the original Commissioner Gordon.  Bob Kane and Bill Finger lifted as much of their Batman material from The Spider as they did from The Shadow.

1st:  What is his relationship with Richard Wentworth/The Spider?

Martin :  It’s a bit twisted.  Kirk is a very good, very smart police commissioner.  He’s practically positive that his friend Wentworth and the Spider, wanted by the police for murder, are one and the same, but Wentworth is a lot more clever and always manages to create an unshakable alibi.  Deep inside, Kirk knows that the Spider’s ferocious actions have saved the entire city, and many innocent lives, countless times.  Kirk is torn between his duty as a policeman and his deeper sense of justice, and—in many ways— he remains the Spider’s deadliest enemy.

1st:  The Spider has ten years of pulp stories as well as two movie serials, is any of that established canon for the series?

Martin :  Absolutely.  All of the original pulps and the serials (especially the first one which original SPIDER writer Norvell Page helped script, uncredited) are considered canon for my continuing series.

1st:  While this is the first on-going comic, the Spider has been published by Eclipse, Blazing Comics, Insight Studios, Vanguard Publishing, What makes this comic different, than the previous comics?

Martin :  We’re trying for the definitive SPIDER here.  There’s no re-imagining or re-booting.  This is the very same character from the classic pulps brought to life on the comic book page.  My mission, as I see it, it to remain as true as possible to Norvell Page’s vision.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be interested in writing the SPIDER in any other way.  It’s very gratifying, too, that we have an enthusiastic approval from Page’s own relatives.  They are really excited by what we’re doing with his characters.

1st:   In the first story arc, the Spider faces Frankenstein Legion. Who are the Frankenstein Legion?

Martin :  They are a vicious horde of shambling monsters, stitched and stapled together by a crazed genius with a horrifying ultimate plan concerning Nita Van Sloan.  That’s all I can tell you.

1st:  How do they gain the attention of the Spider?

Martin :  To know that will cost you the cover price.

1st:  How does a human being battle monsters?

Martin :  By becoming a monster yourself.  And the Spider is a monster, make no mistake.

1st:  For fans who may be on the fence, wondering if they should pick up the Spider; what makes the series so cool no comic fan should miss the first issue?

Martin :  The reason I would buy it is because it features the triumphant return of the great Pablo Marcos, illustrating the kind of the story that he was born to draw.  It’s been a tremendous honor working with Pablo on this, and I sincerely believe this is some of his best work ever.  Not only is he one of the ten greatest living comic book artists, Pablo was also a boyhood hero of mine and was extremely influential to me.  He’s a total pro, in every sense of the word, and a wonderful friend.  Working with Pablo has been an incredible dream come true.

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