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LION Comic, "The Spider V the Sinister Seven 
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`LION` Comic’s “The Spider V The Sinister Seven”.


This is partly from `memory` so-apologies for errors etc! Anyhow; one of my favourite 1960s comic characters appeared in `Lion` comic from 26th June 1965 to 26th April 1969; namely the `Spider`!! Clad in black and first as a villain, this character soon became a favourite of mine.

The artwork on this strip I always enjoyed, having to me an airbrushed style such as used on oil paintings. Whoever the artist was, I really loved their work on the `Spider`.

The man himself- well; he might have been inspired by Marvel comic’s “Spiderman” but he was very different in many ways, especially persona! To put it mildly, Lion’s `Spider` was an acerbic son of a –you-know-what! With an ego the size of the planet Jupiter and a pretty short temper to boot! He was `aided?` by sidekicks, the bespectacled Professor Pelham and part time pickpocket and bag snatcher the cerebrally challenged Roy Ordini!

The strip had an American setting, principally in and around a US city called “Croy”.

The Spider lived in a castle (He must have built it himself) where he and Prof Pelham would invent many way-out devices that the Spider initially utilised in his life of crime. Principal of these were his two `web guns` and the `Helicar`. The latter a sort of rocket and blade propelled hovering shower cubicle in design to my eyes!

As stated, the character began in villainous mode, but during the 1966 story where he faced down a gangland hired killer the `Executioner` the Spider decided to become a crime fighter. Carrying on in this mode he faced assorted menaces such as `The Crook from Outer Space`, `The Crime Genie` `Spider Boy` circa 1966-67 and later `The Snake` in 1968.

Premier of the `Spider` stories in my opinion was a October 14th 1967 to May 1968 offering titled “The Spider versus the Sinister Seven`. It was in this story that I felt the strip peaked, both in the scope of its plot and artwork. It was by far the longest running of the `Spider` stories at 31 weeks (20 episodes being previous longest with “The Spider V Spider Boy”) and was worth every one of those thirty one weeks!

The story concerned intergalactic villain `Limbo the Unknown` who planned to recruit a gang of super villains in order to conquer not just Earth but any and every part of the cosmos. The motley crew of nee`r-do-well’s numbered `Sylvester Jenkins` - villainous scientist who had been the real enemy in the `Spider Boy` story that had run in `Lion` in the summer of 1967 previous to this tale. Then there was the `Living Totem` a three headed `living` totem pole with various powers which weren’t that well explained in the plot. Up next was `Muto the Form Changer` an odd looking being that could turn itself into any form it wished, Animal, Vegetable or Mineral. There was `The Mad Mechanoid` a rogue robot policeman from planet Kangol who had gone over to villainy. The `Shark` a water based humanoid with a fin on top of his head. He was the last survivor of an undersea race of `shark-men` people who had betrayed his own kind when they deposed him as ruler. As well as the fin, he also possessed `shark-like` powers (again not clearly defined). Sixth member was `Gas Man` (No-he didn’t read meters!) formed of gas with gaseous powers! Seventh and most powerful of all was Limbo himself who led the terrible troupe. His powers were `Limbionics` whatever that meant! Of members of this group only the origins of `The Living Totem`, `Mad Mechanoid` `Shark` and `Sylvester Jenkins` were relayed to readers.

On the side of good were the `Society of Heroes`. These consisted of Captain Whizz` who rode a mechanical steed and who had a multi powered lance. `Mr Gizmo` inventor and all round scientific genius. Next up was `Rock Man` who had been a statue brought to life by an evil scientist to do bad, but had rebelled and fought for good. He could expand himself to mountainous size. We met `Tigro the Wild Man` who had actually been a real tiger which due to the radiation from a fallen meteor and his keeper’s (A Witch Doctor) magic, had been turned into a shape-changing humanoid. Most tragic of all was `Snowman`; he had once been human, an explorer Fred Storm who, on a journey into the arctic regions to research absolute zero radiation! He had been captured by `Abominable Snowmen` (Who should have been in the Himalayas, not the arctic) they were most abominable as they turned him into a being composed of snow with frigid powers! He was set free to do good-but the caveat was that at the point he would be most needed his powers would fail and he would become human again! There seemed to me a heavy streak of sadism in whoever wrote this! There was `Rex Robot` also from Kangol who was the good alternate to evil’s `Mad Mechanoid`. To complete the seven for good would be added the `Spider` himself; but not at first, no, he took some persuading. As with the evil group; only some background origins to `Snowman` `Rock Man` `Rex Robot` and `Tigro` was divulged.

After turning down repeated entreaties from individual members of the Society of Heroes, the Spider was captured by the group who then attacked him! After a fierce fight and even though he fought valiantly the Spider was at the point of being killed-but he faced his fate fearlessly. Lo-and behold! It had all been a final test to discern his fighting spirit and bravery. While the now friendly society members again sought to recruit him, the decision was made by villain Limbo attempting to destroy all via a sneak attack. The Spider was instrumental in making Limbo retreat and now threw his lot in with the heroes when the full magnitude of Limbo and his cohorts was relayed to him.

By late January 1968 the real action got under way! Limbo in collusion with `Grokk` an interstellar slave trader began harvesting humans up to the slave masters 50 mile long craft high up in the skies over Croy city. Rushing to thwart this were the six members of the Society of Heroes! The Spider? He had been attacked in a pre-emptive strike by sinister member `Sylvester Jenkins` the villain from the previous `Spider Boy` story who had seemingly been executed at close of that story! Jenkins it was revealed had been saved by Limbo’s `power of `Limbionics` and promised first crack at the Spider`. The villain via his special projector, turned the Spider and his cohorts Pelham and Ordini into `Mist Men` who in their now incorporeal state could not affect anything material. Triumphant, Jenkins re-entered his flight capsule (All `Sinister` members employed by Limbo had been stored in waiting in similar capsules). Thankfully, for the story, the Spider soon solved their dilemma and rejoined the fray via his heli-car.

Limbo released each member of his evil crew piecemeal. As stated, Sylvester Jenkins was unleashed in the 13th January (1968) edition. Next up one week later (The 20th) was the `Mad Mechanoid`. The `Living Totem` then débuted in the 27th January dated comic. The 10th February issue was the turn of `Muto the Form changer`. Two weeks later on 24th February readers were introduced to `Gas Man` and finally in the 23rd March edition `The Shark` made his appearance.

Soon full battle was joined high up in the skies over Croy City and this presented readers with a glorious visual spectacle from late January to early May 1968. Best visuals came in the 24th February edition when both shape changers `Muto` and `Tigro` clashed. Muto became a huge winged whale that locked in combat with Tigro’s flying dinosaur: even the other warring factions halted briefly to watch Tigro and Muto’s incredible tussle.

As the battle continued, casualties began to mount. First to go was `Gas Man` who checked out in the 23rd March edition! Gas Man had tried to usurp Limbo for control of the group and Limbo forced the Spider to try and kill him inside a minute allowed by holding Pelham and Ordini (The Spider’s underlings) hostage until he did. The Spider could not complete the task so Limbo fired a jet of flame (from his waist-belt) at our hero. However, the Spider set up a shield powered from his suit and some of the flame was deflected onto the gas being who incinerated. This begs the question; why had Gas Man not converted to a non-combustible gas such as helium or carbon dioxide?

The `Living Totem` met its demise on the 6th April in what was I thought a rather unique mode of destruction. To preface what happened readers were shown Rex Robot and the Mad Mechaniod fire an `irresistible` force and `immovable` force against each other. Simultaneously, Captain Whizz fired a `X-missile` from his lance at the Living Totem who dodged it resulting in X-missile hitting both Irresistible and immovable forces together at exactly the same moment. The result was the creation of an `X Globe` which `Mr Gizmo` calculated would continue to expand and swallow up every galaxy in existence! Both `Sinisters` and `Hero’s` had to temporarily ally themselves to tackle the globe. They managed to disperse it, but not before it had swallowed up all three heads of the unfortunate `Living Totem`.
Next up for `the chop` was the `Shark` who had set to with the spider in a personal duel which took place under the nearby sea. Said `Shark` had commanded his cronies, various undersea sea monsters, to kill our hero as both fought on the ocean floor-but `The Spider` turned the tables and the monsters set about the villainous `Shark` in the 13th April `Lion`.

With three `Sinisters` down it was the turn of two `Society of Hero’s` members to perish in the fray and in the 20th April edition both `Rockman` and `Snowman` met their fate. Rockman was first and it came to be when the `Sinister Seven` members `Limbo` and Sylvester Jenkins clashed after Limbo had infused Jenkins with Limbo might when attacked by Rockman. The treacherous scientist turned on his benefactor and both hurled `Limbo rays` at each other. Poor Rockman was caught in crossfire from some of the rays and began to both splinter and shrink down to human size. He blundered into marshland, and though rescued by nearby construction workers, had reverted back to his original state of a lifeless statue.

Meanwhile, Mr Gizmo and Captain Whizz were also being bathed in the fallout from the Limbo/Jenkins conflict which caused `Snowman` (Who had just recovered from an earlier heat-ray blast from the slave trader Grokk) to put up an ice-shield to help his pals. Suddenly, a blistering ray of light from over the horizon whisked Snowman back to the Arctic where the abominable snowmen who had changed him from Fred Storm to `Snowman` changed him back to human and told him they only let him use his powers for good until they were most needed. The creatures cast Storm to his death in the Zero-Light pit. (This was pretty sadistic stuff in my book!).

The next issue (27th April) `Tigro the Wild Man` departed. He tried to intercede in a three way battle between the Spider, Limbo and Sylvester Jenkins; but as he whizzed towards the trio in the form of a living sword (He had been battling the `Sinister` member `Muto` in that form) tragedy occurred! Back in Africa, the Witch Doctor who had helped give `Tigro` his powers was killed by a rogue gorilla and with the doctor’s demise Tigro reverted to his original form of a Tiger and fell to his death!

The following week’s episode of 4th May was something of a bloodbath! To set the scene; Captain Whizz (With Mr Gizmo hitching a lift) had suffered a bout of cowardice and headed away from the battle as the Spider, Jenkins and Limbo all struggled for supremacy. An enraged Mr Gizmo wrenched Captain Whizz` lance from him, and riding it, headed towards the struggling trio firing a ray towards Limbo. The arch-villain however manoeuvred Sylvester Jenkins into its path, with the result that Jenkins was turned into a `Mist-man` the very fate he had tried to inflict upon the Spider squad. Jenkins now floated away, doomed to be an insubstantial creature for the rest of his days.

Before Mr Gizmo could fire again, Limbo (While still struggling with the Spider) projected a controlling force from his mind that forced Mr Gizmo to turn evil and he sped off on the lance to cause destruction.

As all this was happening, poor Rex Robot was being buffeted to-and-fro by both `Mad Mechanoid` and `Muto` who was still in the form of a living sword. Suddenly, an ashamed Captain Whizz headed back into the melee now seemingly over his bout of cowardice. Spotting him, living sword `Muto` hurtled towards the Captain intent on running him through. To Muto’s surprise, Captain Whizz showed no sign of fear at all. He had turned he and his robot steed to anti-matter which upon contact with Muto annihilated both (How the captain was able to do this was never explained!).

Meantime Rex Robot had clamped onto the Mad Mechanoid and initiated the switch-off process on his nemesis. The Mechanoid now stated that at point of deactivation he would explode killing both! Rex jetted them up high into the stratosphere where both were destroyed by the detonation.

Limbo rejoiced at the demise of the heroes and stated he had also planned on his `Sinisters` also perishing. Only Mr Gizmo along with the Spider and Limbo lived: but not for long as he summoned enough will power to rebel against Limbo’s control and turned the lance’s `force claw` upon himself, sacrificing his life to escape the Limbo influence.
Only the Spider and Limbo were now left and in seconds Limbo hurled the Spider into another dimension where a `Vandal` beast (Who thought that name up?) set upon our hero as Limbo concentrated now on taking full control over Earth.

In the final episode on 11th May 1968 the Spider was rescued from the clutches of the `Vandal` beast (Which resembled a huge centipede) by the bell-shaped craft of the `Dimension Police` who had long been trying to bring Limbo to justice for his many dimensional crimes. Aboard the craft the officers asked Spider where Limbo was. The Spider agreed to lead them to the arch villain on condition they added a couple of devices to his `spider-guns`. He was returned aboard the huge slave ship of Grokk’s where Limbo had now taken control, betraying his last ally. Amazed to see the Spider again, Limbo directed his `Limbo might` against his foe, but one of the new devices added by the dimension police on to the Spider’s guns negated all Limbo’s power. The Spider now physically clobbered Limbo out of the ship into a waiting cage held by the police craft which now dematerialised back to the prison planet with it’s now terrified captive! The Spider, with the second device affixed to his guns now sabotaged Grokks ship and departed before its destruction (The human captives having been released first) taking the also freed Pelham and Ordini with him.

The Spider’s greatest adventure was over after 31 weeks!

What were the pro’s and con’s of `The Spider versus the Sinister Seven`? Con’s first, and like many of the `Spider` stories the plotting would sometimes wander off point, though in this case, the plotline was mostly adhered to.

Dialogue? If you are an advocate of the “It’s so bad it’s good” school, this is for you! Yes, the dialogue in `Spider` tales was often very `corny` and seemed to often parody the less successful style of American super hero publications in my view. However, it was enjoyable in its own way if you didn’t take it too seriously.

On the pro side- most definitely the artwork! The artist had a very unique style which suited the `Spider` strip admirably. In fact the only drawback to this story was that halfway through the penultimate episode the regular artist must have been taken ill as the final two pages of that week’s episode and the following final edition were taken over by another artist. Sadly, it wasn’t the same-and I mean no disrespect to that `substitute` artist who did as good a job as one could expect- but it just didn’t look the same to me. Thankfully, the regular artist was back for the next story, “The Spider versus the Snake`.

“The Spider versus the Sinister Seven” was in my view, the finest `Spider` tale in the series history.

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Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:16 pm
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I agree Alan - though the whole thing was completely bonkers 'The Spider vs. the Sinister Seven' was one of my all-time favourite comic stories too. Apart from the last two episodes it was written from America by Superman's co-creator Jerry Siegel, while the fantastically cross-hatched art was the work of an (apparently) disabled Brummie with the unlikely name of Reg Bunn. According to Lion's editorial staff Siegel seemed happy to keep the story going indefinitely and simply ignored all their requests to wind it up - as a result of which the abrupt conclusion was taken out of his hands!


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Tue Jun 09, 2015 4:22 pm
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I was way too young to appreciate the Spider first time around, but an incarnation was repeated in the VULCAN in the mid-70s, and I remember this well----it was very like uber-bizarre VALIANT type stuff, a real curio but nothing wrong with that!


The version I read had artwork that was more, er------'spidery' than Phils' example above.

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Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:02 pm
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The weird thing is, if you read American histories of comics ( such as "Men Of Tomorrow") they'll tell you that Siegal's comic writing career virtually ended with the failure of "Funnyman" in the late 40s, and what jobs he got after that were favours from friends who pitied him. What rubbish! "The Spider" was pretty crazy, but it was fun, and being a super-antihero the character was perfectly at home in a British boys' comic.


Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:21 am
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Thanks for your input! Jerry Seigal writer-from the US! No wonder the dialogue was the way it was! Nice to know the artists name- Reg Bunn; I really liked his work! Can I be clear here Phil? The reason the last episode and a half were `different` is because Lion editors got another writer to end it? But why take artist Reg Bunn off too? Those last six pages really needed his style. I assumed he had taken ill.

The aerial battle section that lasted from last week of January (1968)to 4th May was just incredible!! Wish I could have put scans up- just cannot seem to do it!

A question if anyone can help please! I always felt that the final two Lion `Spider` stories in early 1969 had a different writer. The 4 part `Deathmaster` and 8 part `Frog & Ant` tales have very different style of dialogue and rather less of the meandering off plot style Seigal often fell prey to! Were those last two written by someone else?

Many thanks for letting me know the artist was a Reg Bunn!

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Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:22 am
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That page from the 4th May edition that Phil kindly put up was the last one Reg Bunn drew on the story. The final two pages that week had a different artist-as did the final edition. Most unusual it changed halfway through the penultimate episode.

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Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:38 am
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It's unclear why the artist was suddenly changed at the end of the 'Sinister Seven' story but my guess is that Bunn had already handed in a different version of the penultimate episode when the editorial staff made a last minute decision to 'doctor' a new ending in house. On the other hand you could well be right about Reg being taken ill.

Steve Holland covers a lot of the Spider's tangled history in his excellent book 'Lion - King of Picture Story Papers' where the comic's assistant editor is quoted as saying that they ultimately dispensed with Jerry's services during the 'Ordini the Terrible' series, leaving British writer Ken Mennell to write the final two Spider stories. Incidentally Siegel also scripted the superhero strip 'Gadget Man and Gimmick Kid' for Lion during 1968.


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Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:58 am
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Ah! I thought the writing `Had` changed after `Ordini` story - which I thought was by far the poorest `Spider` adventure (The ending makes no sense to me at all!) Bet readers had complained! Phil, have you any scans from the 24th Feb 1968 issue? The Muto/Tigro duel was a visual feast!!

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Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:13 am
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The nuttiest episode in my small selection of Lion is from "The Android Emperor" , 11th June 1966. Two pages of the most ridiculous back-story, and just as you start to groan, the writer takes it all back! Wow!


Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:03 pm
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Yes! The strip did get pretty loose script wise! I thought the first two stories "The Spider" and "The Return of the Spider" were controlled- but after that Mr Seigal's writing did rather wander all over the shop-to me!

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Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:25 pm
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Perhaps the weirdest part of the whole Sinister Seven storyline was a single panel in which a distant entity called Planet-head was introduced and killed off in a single panel!

Incidentally the Spider was created by British writer George Cowan who wrote the first two serials before Siegel took over with the Dr. Mysterioso storyline. Reg Bunn was the weekly artist throughout apart from the two episodes mentioned by Alan (though various other people drew the character in Annuals, Specials and his issues of the Fleetway Super Library, while Geoff Campion generally did the covers).


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Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:48 pm
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`Planet Head` was a rather unashamed `pinch` of Marvel's `Ego` character which had first appeared in a 1966 issue of `Thor`. Mind you- sentient planets had been around in 1950s literary sci-fi!

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Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:47 pm
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Oh! `Planet Head` wasn't killed off Phil! He (It) just got a bit upset when calculating that the `X Globe` would end the universe -including `Planet Head` itself- as you would! Anyhow- the poor entity got all worked up prematurely as the X Globe was nullified by combine efforts of both `Heroes` and `Sinisters`

What about "Hippy-Dippy" lane then? (`That` panel does my head in!)

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Mon Jun 15, 2015 3:08 pm
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I know just what you mean Alan. Beatniks and Hippies got an amazingly bad press in comics from the 1950s and 1960s! :)


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Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:16 pm
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alanultron5 wrote:
Yes! The strip did get pretty loose script wise! I thought the first two stories "The Spider" and "The Return of the Spider" were controlled- but after that Mr Seigal's writing did rather wander all over the shop-to me!


Coincidentally, only the other day I was having a conversation about the Spider scripts with another artist. We basically came to the same conclusions you folks have. Nice distinctive art, but some of those scripts.... sheesh. Amazing that the character is so fondly remembered!

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Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:07 pm
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