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Background art by John Newton Howitt
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A Brief History of The Spider III
"Grant Stockbridge"

Norvell Page had been working in newspapers since he was 18. He turned to Pulp writing in 1930 to help support his family which was ruined in the stock market crash. Page was picked to continue The Spider for one important reason: He wrote really quickly. Page was 27 years old and received $500 per story, an amount that would later climb to $700.

Page took RTM Scott's influences and added to the mix his own Ken Carter series from Ten Detective Aces. Ken Carter was a detective that didn't just chase down gangsters and crooked polititions -- he handled only big, wierd, science-fictional type crime. So in that vein The Spider spent the rest of his long career chasing down menaces like The Eyeless Legion, The Hordes of the Red Butcher, The Pain Emperor and the Dragon Lord of the Underworld.

But the most important innovation that Page brought to The Spider -- and The Spider contributed to the Pulp pantheon -- was what editor Rogers Terrill called "emotional urgency."

Spider historian Bob Sampson writes, in his book Spider:

"No other writer in the field achieved the intensity of emotion which fires Page's characters. They dwell in the super-heated clouds, confronting, loving, sacrificing, suffering. Sweat springs cold on their pallid, tense faces. Anguish rends them."

While heroes like The Shadow and Doc Savage would glide through their adventures unmoved and untouched by the madness around them, The Spider tried to show -- for all it's break-neck, fantastical plotting -- the real impact that a violent life of service has on the justice figure.

"How many years was it now since first he had donned the valorous garments of The Spider? What sort of man had he become? But he knew without introspection. He was a man to whose hand a gun was more familiar than the hand-clasp of a friend, whose life was spent amid horror and death, whose eyes could never gaze upon a fellow man without probing behind the mask of humdrum existence and wondering: Shall I some day be forced to kill this man? ... All this, merely that he might serve an ideal of justice. ... It was a weary road he traveled, and lonely ... lonely ..." --Slaves of the Murder Syndicate

But then Richard Wentworth was not just fighting crime anymore. In Page's terms, he was fighting a WAR; And he was often fighting it betrayed, blinded, and hunted by the police, barely staving off armageddon until next month's issue, when all the toppled buildings of New York and millions dead would be magically resurrected to do it all over again.

"And he could not turn from the path to which he had set his feet. Until the bitter end, he would drive on for the salvation of humanity, fight for the people against the encroachment of the underworld."

NEXT: Enter The Spider