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Comic Book / The Black Spider

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The Black Spider is a Superhero comic from The Golden Age of Comic Books, published by Ace in Super-Mystery Comics v1 #3-6 and v2 #1-6. It chronicles the adventures of District Attorney Ralph Nelson, who donned a Coat, Hat, Mask ensemble and trained spiders to take out criminals who snuck through the law's grasp.

Not to be confused with the minor Batman villains of the same name.


This comic contains examples of:

  • Acme Products: Super-Mystery Comics v2 #1 centres around some cars stolen from the Acme Motor Company.
  • Amoral Attorney: The antagonist of Super-Mystery Comics v1 #4 is one who bribed some jurors into voting on his side, then murdered them when they blackmailed him.
  • Asshole Victim: Mr. De Quincy, the millionaire whose party was the first one robbed in Super-Mystery Comics v2 #3, is a Jerkass who threatens to ruin Nelson and Stern's careers if they don't solve the case fast enough.
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  • Attack Animal: Ralph has spiders trained to attack, which he uses in his guise as the Black Spider.
  • Blackmail Backfire: Mike Ganns, Big Bad of Super-Mystery Comics v1 #4, is on a mission to kill the jurors who are blackmailing him so they don't expose his bribery of them.
  • Breaking Out the Boss:
    • The baddies of Super-Mystery Comics v1 #3 steal a literal smoking gun from Nelson's office, attempting to remove the one piece of evidence that would get their boss convicted.
    • In Super-Mystery Comics v1 #6, the henchmen of a crime boss pending execution kidnap the governor's wife to force him to stay the execution.
  • Clark Kenting: Ralph has an interesting method of Clark Kenting by removing clothes: He wears a Coat, Hat, Mask ensemble, with the mask being a small Domino Mask, along with his street clothes, and wears his costume's hat as his regular one half the time, but nobody notices.
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  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Black Spider, aside from his name invoking darkness, wears dark clothing, uses notoriously-creepy attack animals, and mentions preferring darkness over brightness. But he's still unambiguously heroic.
  • Death Trap: The villain of the second issue kills his victims by suffocating them in an airtight safe.
  • Disc-One Final Boss:
    • Super-Mystery Comics v1 #3 has an interesting example, as the Big Bad is known to be mob boss Sol Risko the whole time, but he remains unsought due to being in a jail cell the whole issue, but The Heavy is in question. The scheme to steal the evidence against Risko seems to be masterminded by fellow criminal Harrigan, but it's revealed halfway through that he was hired by Risko's lieutenant, Pete Macklin.
    • Super-Mystery Comics v1 #5 centers around an insurance murder ring initially led by Spike Bolger. However, the rest of the gang, led by a henchman named Benny, figure out that his idiosyncratic choice of dress gave his identity away, so they kill him and operate on their own.
  • Faking the Dead: In Super-Mystery Comics v2 #6, the Black Spider fakes his death in an explosion to keep assassins from hindering his investigation.
  • Frame-Up:
    • Super-Mystery Comics v1 #4 has the Black Spider investigating the framing of his friend and legal colleague for a murder committed by his partner to cover up some bribery he committed.
    • Super-Mystery Comics v2 #1 has the Spider investigating the framing of a truck driver for some car thefts. One Mook he interrogates tries to frame him as the leader by taking advantage of an overzealous inspector.
    • Super-Mystery Comics v2 #5 has a local mob boss frame Ralph Nelson himself for a hit he pulled.
  • Good Is Not Soft: The Black Spider is unambiguously on the side of good, but he's still not above holding guns or spiders to heads to get what he wants.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Big Bad of Super-Mystery Comics v1 #6 is Niles Rommo, a gangster trying to make the governor stay the execution of his boss Gimp Gollub. Gollub himself is never seen in the issue.
  • He Knows Too Much: The Big Bad of Super-Mystery Comics v2 #4 spends the issue trying to kill the reporter whose photography sent him to prison.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The Black Spider is considered a dangerous criminal by the local police, who see him as enough of a threat that they shoot to kill on default. Averted for his Secret Identity, Ralph Nelson, who is a universally-respected district attorney.
  • Home Base: The Black Spider has "the Web," a secret cave where he stores his costume, files on the city's criminals and his pet spiders. Amusingly enough, for somebody who was pretty clearly inspired by Batman, this lair showed up three years before the Batcave.
  • Inspector Javert: Inspector Stern, a major figure in the local police who's convinced that DA Ralph Nelson is weak for not letting him use Police Brutality and is quite certain that the Black Spider is a criminal mastermind.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: The Black Spider is fond of threatening people he interrogates with his pet poisonous spiders. One time he even forced a murderer to enter his own Death Trap at gunpoint to make him confess.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Super-Mystery Comics v2 #6 has the Black Spider contending with a small-town sheriff who dislikes city cops and is obstructing his investigation of a mob lawyer's murder.
  • MacGuffin:
    • Super-Mystery Comics v1 #3 has a stolen gun as this, due to it being needed to take out a major crime boss.
    • Super-Mystery Comics v2 #6 has a diamond buried when a crime ring was broken up, which the baddies are pursuing.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Scarface Scarmucci, Big Bad of Super-Mystery Comics v2 #5, is a pretty blatant stand-in for Al Capone, being a major crime boss nicknamed "Scarface."
  • Protagonist Title
  • Secret Keeper: Ralph's secretary, Peggy, becomes this in the first issue when ehe removes the Black Spider's mask.
  • Starter Villain: Sol Risko, a crime boss who masterminded a scheme to have the evidence needed to convict him stolen from the DA. His scheme fails, and he's convicted by the end of the issue.
  • Stock Superhero Day Jobs: Attorney.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Ralph's secretary Peggy disguises herself as the Black Spider in the climax of Super-Mystery Comics v2 #3.
  • Thematic Rogues Gallery: The Black Spider goes after organized crime that the police can't capture themselves.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: The plot-starting murder in Super-Mystery Comics v2 #2 was done by sabotaging a race car.
  • Vigilante Man: Ralph Nelson is motivated to become the Black Spider by frustration with being unable to stop organized crime in his day job as the district attorney.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: The Boss, Big Bad of Super-Mystery Comics v2 #3, quickly deduces that the Black Spider is Ralph Nelson, and attacks him in his own house. Eventually he's convinced otherwise by Ralph coincidentally forgetting his costume in his car and Peggy's timely disguise as the Spider.

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