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Black Spider(pop culture)
Black Spider is noteworthy more for his ethnicity than his originality. Swinging into Detective Comics #463 (1976), in a tale by writer Gerry Conway and artist Ernie Chua, Black Spider is a selfprofessed Batman emulator and costumed sniper who puts a bullet through pusher Doc Sugarman, provoking a slugfest with the Caped Crusader. Issue #464 reveals the villain's true identity, Eric Needham—a former junkie who accidentally killed his father, inspiring his sobriety and vendetta against drug peddlers—who happens to be African American. Renowned for his proficiency with his wrist-mounted pistols, Black Spider was Batman's first black rogue (discounting Eartha Kitt as Catwoman in the alternate reality of the 1966–1968 Batman television show) and DC Comics' first black supervillain. A relic of the 1970s, the character was seen only a handful of times before being put out to pasture by the creative team of Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #5 (1992), in which Needham became a suicide bomber to wipe out a narcotics ring. Receiving his walking papers from hell by Lucifer himself, Needham made cameos in Neil Gaiman's “The Kindly Ones” in Sandman vol. 2 #57–#69 (1994–1995), but conversely was shown in hell as Black Spider attempting to broker a deal with the demon Neron in Underworld Unleashed #1 (1995). Narcissistic hitman Johnny LaMonica assumed the Black Spider's costumed identity in Batman #518 (1995), contracted to kill Gotham crime boss Black Mask. Not unlike his predecessor, this Black Spider has maintained a meager status among Batman's rogues, although his inclusion in the miniseries Villains United (2005) may hint at a larger profile in the DC Universe's web of evil.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.