|First appearance||Detective Comics #463 (September 1976)|
|Created by||Gerry Conway
|Alter ego||Eric Needham|
|Team affiliations||Suicide Squad|
Fictional character biographies
The original Black Spider first appeared in Detective Comics #463 (September 1976) and was created by Gerry Conway. Eric Needham is a small time crook who is addicted to heroin. Desperate for money to buy more drugs, he robs a liquor store. He kills the owner, who turns out to be his father. After being arrested, he kicks the habit out of remorse and begins a war on the drug trade.
Donning a costume, he becomes a self-styled vigilante and begins killing those suspected of dealing drugs. This brings him into conflict with Batman. Needham believes that the two should be allies, as he sees common purpose in their war against criminals. His murderous methods, however, continually put him at odds with the Dark Knight.
Needham's paraphernalia and missions as the Black Spider were bankrolled by a man who is secretly involved with narcotics and wants to take out the competition.
Despite his professed desire to fight criminals, the Black Spider occasionally allies himself with costumed villains (most notably in the gathering of super-villains in Detective Comics #526 and Batman #400). Ostensibly, Black Spider's goal in this is to seek revenge against Batman, or at least, this is how he attempted to justify his actions in his own mind. Needham also faced King Faraday and Nightshade in a brief flashback in Secret Origins #28.
During his war, Needham's wife and son are killed by a drug lord who discovers the Black Spider's identity. In a rage, the Spider prepares for one final assault. After being shot multiple times, Needham invades the drug lord's headquarters and detonates explosives strapped to his back, killing the drug dealers in the process.
Whatever the case, Needham's survival has since been confirmed and the character has made subsequent appearances as the Black Spider, such as in the miniseries Underworld Unleashed. He was seen in Identity Crisis as an ally of Deadshot, Monocle, and Merlyn. He is later a member of The Society.
He is one of the villains sent to retrieve the Get Out of Hell free card from the Secret Six.
In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Eric appears as a member of the Suicide Squad, though he resents being forced to work with criminals despite not being one himself. Despite his holier-than-thou attitude towards much of the team, he does not view himself as a hero, just as a man who kills criminals, even willing to smother them in their hospital beds. He is also slightly overconfident of his abilities, getting himself injured multiple times while assuming he could easily defeat several armed opponents. Amanda Waller eventually offers him an opportunity to quit the team, stating that he is not a monster like the others. Eric declines, stating that he "needs" the team after losing his family.
However, this turns out to be a ploy, as Needham was actually a double agent working for Regulus of the terrorist group Basilisk. A double of Black Spider had accompanied the team to Basilisk's hideout, only to be shot by Deadshot, who realized it wasn't the true Spider because he would've dodged the bullet. The real Black Spider had invaded Amanda Waller's grandmother's home in order to kill both of them. However, he underestimates the cunning of both the senior Waller and the younger Waller, and is defeated. He was then locked away in maximum security at Belle Reeve.
The second Black Spider first appeared in Batman #518 (May 1995). Professional hitman Johnny LaMonica takes the name "Black Spider" when he is sent to kill the crime lord Black Mask. He is thwarted by Batman and sent to prison. He sustains injuries during this incident that leaves his face a disfigured web of scars, giving his choice of codename an ironic touch.
He is later killed by Detective Crispus Allen during a gang shooting. Black Spider had opened fire on Detective Renee Montoya, preparing to kill her, when Allen unloaded his magazine on the villain.
A third Black Spider appears shortly after as a member of the Society. He first appeared in Birds of Prey #87 (December 2005). Other Society members reported that he was presumed dead. Real name Derrick Coe, he apparently bought his "villain franchise" from the Calculator, who assigns him to help torture Savant into revealing the identity of Oracle. When Oracle sends in her task force, the Birds of Prey, to rescue Savant, Savant throws Coe out a window, nearly killing him — Black Canary speculates that he may be a metahuman, allowing him to survive the experience.
In other media
- Black Spider appears in Young Justice voiced by Josh Keaton. He is a member of the League of Shadows. In "Infiltrator," Black Spider, Cheshire and Hook are sent to defeat the Young Justice team and assassinate Dr. Serling Roquette. He was knocked out by Kid Flash. According to Greg Weisman, Black Spider escaped from the prison transport before it could reach Belle Reve. He re-appeared later in "Insecurity" where he tried to assassinate a reporter named Bernell Jones only to be thwarted by Green Arrow and Artemis. This version of the character bears a strong resemblance to Marvel's Spider-Man with his physique and web shooting. It's even more noticeable considering that Keaton previously voiced Spider-Man in Spectacular Spider-Man, a series also written and developed by Greg Weisman.
- Black Spider appears in the animated movie Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. He is one of the many supervillains trying to collect the bounty on Superman.
- The Eric Needham version of Black Spider appears in Batman: Assault on Arkham, voiced by Giancarlo Esposito. He appears as a member of the Suicide Squad. Batman and Black Spider duel where Batman defeats Black Spider and switches costumes with him as a way of joining the Suicide Squad without their knowledge. He is last seen walking weakly until the Joker (mistaking him as Batman at first) ambushes and attempts to murder him only for Waller to do so by triggering the detonators which killed only Black Spider and King Shark since the others had theirs deactivated by Riddler.
- Black Spider was mentioned in Batman: Arkham Origins. He is mentioned in a file folder at the Sionis Steel Mill with a red "Rejected" stamp on it implying that Joker (who was posing as Black Mask at the time) considered hiring him to assassinate Batman, but decided against it just like he decided against hiring Cheshire and David Cain to assassinate Batman.
- The Eric Needham version of Black Spider appears as a member of the Black Mask's gang in Batman Adventures #5-8.
- Black Spider appeared in the comic book spin-off of Young Justice. In issue #3, he was sent with Hook to assassinate Farano Enterprises CEO Selena Gonzales. Black Spider and Hook ran into Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash (who were protecting her at the time) where Black Spider tied them up in his webs. In issue #4, Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash broke free and defeated Black Spider and Hook.
- Wallace, Dan (2008). "Black Spider I and II". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 53. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5.
- Suicide Squad (vol. 4) #1
- Suicide Squad (vol. 4) #8
- Gotham Central #23 (November 2004)
- Battle for the Cowl: The Network One Shot July 2009