The Spider Vol. 1: Terror of the Zombie Queen by David Liss – Graphic Novel Review [Bane of Kings]

The Spider Vol. 1

Bane of Kings reviews David Liss’ first volume of The Spider, entitled Terror of the Zombie Queen, published by Dynamite Entertainment.

“A thrilling and engaging noir title that is an excellent opener to a stunning new comic series.” ~The Founding Fields

Writer: David Liss | Art: Colton Worley | Cover: Alex Ross | Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment | Collects: The Spider #1-6

I love NetGalley. It’s a great opportunity to read titles that I would have never heard of otherwise, and the first volume of The Spider, written by David Liss – proves why any reviewer with an e-reader should have an account. There are some gems like The Spider that will keep you entertained and prove to be very enjoyable. Whilst I’ve never read as much pulp/noir fiction as I would like, especially when told in the graphic narrative, this series is certainly a gripping start to what is hopefully one of the many things set in that genre that I will read in the coming year.

One of the most celebrated pulp heroes of all time is back, and re-launched into the 21st century!

Richard Wentworth is a decorated war hero who has sacrificed everything, including the woman he loves, for duty. But the New York City Wentworth returns to is riddled with crime and corruption. With the police overwhelmed and a populace helpless, Wentworth becomes The Spider, a vigilante as ruthless and merciless as the criminals he hunts. But now there’s a new danger on the rise. A deranged woman called Anput has begun a series of attacks that turn ordinary citizens into mindless zombies, bringing New York and the police force to its knees. Wentworth will stop at nothing to save the city he’s sworn to protect, but in the process he will risk his family, his friends, and the woman he still loves.

Whilst this character has apparently been around for a while, I was relieved to see that David Liss managed to introduce the Spider to a new audience like myself so we don’t have to go and hunt down any of the older volumes if we don’t want to. The writer’s take on the character is superb, and I instantly find myself thrust into a series that manages to be very strong (despite a couple of issues), with some awesome, cinematic-esque artwork.

The Spider Vol. 1David Liss manages to combine not only noir and horror, but also the vigilante aspect of things superbly well. We don’t get men running around with spandex costume on here, as The Spider does manage to make things on the vigilante angle seem much more realistic than some of the more mainstream superheroes. The villains though, are not that realistic at all. Having a large Egyptian influence, the criminal mastermind known as Anput, is turning people into zombies. This presents an interesting dynamic  and after all – who’s really looking for realism in a comic book?

The problem is though, that The Spider doesn’t really tread any new ground with this Volume. It’s a strong read for sure, but ultimately  nothing that you haven’t seen before. The Spider, aka Richard Wentworth, has a costume that looks similar to Peter Parker’s Spiderman only with the colours switched around. The “love interest” (you’ll see why I put quotation marks around that when you read the book) is a reporter, much like Lois Lane. And the Police Commissioner is friends with the Spider, in a similar way to how James Gordon is friends with Batman. Even if the Police Commissioner does actually know that Richard Wentworth is The Spider, it still feels like most of the time, a “Been there, done that” graphic novel. However, that doesn’t stop the book from being a strong read.

You can’t have a good graphic novel without the artwork being as good as the narrative, and Colton Worley’s artwork is superb here. It’s got a very noir, pulpy and cinematic feeling to it and It really enhances the graphic novel itself. The cliches are, the only real thing that prevents this book from getting 5/5, and I hope that later volumes start to become more unique. But as a whole, don’t let originality (or the lack thereof) put you off, for The Spider: Terror of the Zombie Queen, is a great read and a lot of fun.

Verdict: 4/5

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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