The SMASH! Special is bringing back some of the greatest heroes and anti-heroes of Brit comics history with all-new thrilling superhero adventures. Inside the action-packed 64 pages you’ll find an incredible line up of talent including Charlie Higson & Charlie Adlard bringing back Steel Claw, Simon Furman & Chris Weston bringing back the creepy delights of House of Dolmann.

The SMASH! Special is out 27 May – Get it from the 2000 AD Webstore or your local comic shop!

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But no collection of the best of British superheroes would be complete without the return of the King of Crooks… The Spider, and we’re chatting with writer Rob Williams and artist John McCrea about the return of this great British superhero/supervillain.

Rob, John, you’re bringing back The Spider for the SMASH! Special. For those who don’t know, who is this classic Brit comics character?

Rob Williams: He’s the master of all super-villains. A brilliant genius with an ego to match. He’s the classic version of The Spider.

The character, as created by Ted Cowan and Reg Bunn,was one of those classic supervillains of Brit comics, a total megalomaniac, a villain who ends up as some sort of hero. Is this the sort of thing you’re carrying on with here?

RW: Yes. We’re trying to stay true to the character’s heritage. There’s no avant garde reimaginings here. Strangely, he still works well in the 21st century. He’s just a hugely entertaining, larger than life character.

And what about the wonderful rogue’s gallery? Are we seeing some of those return as well?

RW: That would be giving away too much. But: yes.

John McCrea: His fantastic rogues gallery of some of the most insane villains ever created!

What memories of the character did you both have when sitting down to bring him back here?

RW: I’ll admit I’d not read the classic strips. Keith Richardson, our editor, let me have a bunch of reprints as Rebellion now own the library. There’s some astonishing art in those The Spider stories. And the storylines are wildly imaginative.

JM: I have been a fan of The Spider and Reg Bunn’s work since I bought the Vulcan as a wee nipper from my local newsagent- his work is modern in feel with incredibly detailed hatching and lighting- I also picked up the Titan reprint back in the day with a fab Garry Leach cover and that image as much as Reg’s work influenced the way I approached this story.

(The 2005 Spider reprint with that Garry Leach cover fondly remembered by John)

He’s also a character that’s appeared here and there in comics since the Reg Bunn days. Did you think about those various versions with this new strip or are we going to see something that harks back to the classic?

RW: Not really. We only had an 8-pager, so really it’s a case of reminding everyone what;s special about this character and keeping past history to a minimum. Really you want to try and tell a satisfying, fun little 8-pager that reintroduces The Spider to a modern audience. 

The character is yet another one of those quintessentially British characters, with the blurring of the lines between simple good guy & bad guy. I imagine it’s been a blast to bring someone as wonderfully arrogant as The Spider back to life.

RW:  His largesse and “WHO DARES?!’ egomaniac tendencies are just hugely fun to write. And writing the smartest man on the planet is always the type of challenge a writer enjoys. You sort of have to throw a big clever twist in there. The ‘is he a villain or a hero’ dynamic is a cool added twist. Really, The Spider’s just a massively entertaining character. You could have all sorts of fun with him in the future.

JM: I really enjoyed Rob’s script which brings the character back to his roots and there was a lot, visually, to sink my teeth into. Hopefully, people will see the work I poured into this and want more! I’d certainly enjoy the chance to do more with him!

Thanks to Rob Williams and John McCrea for sitting down for a chat. You can catch their all-new version of the King of Crooks when The Spider returns in the SMASH! Special.