Spider Jerusalem was created by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson and is the star of their creator-owned series, Transmetropolitan, in which he made his first appearance (#1). Originally created for the Helix imprint (as science-fiction is heavily intertwined into the future Spider lives in), after that crumbled a year into the title's run, the series continued on beyond its original imprint over at Vertigo (as it was a series for "mature readers") where it lasted for another four years. Apart from rare specials however, the character's entire saga is contained in the sixty-issue Transmetropolitan series and he met his natural conclusion at the end of the run. Spider Jerusalem represents one of the few characters in comics who aged in real time, five years having passed over the course of his series (although this didn't prove to be a significant enough time frame to show any natural physical aging).
Also of note in the character's creation were his numerous tattoos which Darick originally didn't want to have to draw constantly but it was decided to be best to differentiate Spider from King Mob (another bald white guy with stylish glasses) and so Darick painted the tattoos on an action figure so he could remember their placement and designs.
Major Story Arcs
Back on the Street
Spider was the most notorious journalist in the City. With his groundbreaking books he gained a great reputation and a great deal of money. Having nausea because of the filth in the City, Spider resigned to the Mountain, a of place solitude and peace. He would live in the mountain for five years, unclean and sickening to look at, he also seems to have lived off eating mice during this retirement too...
His five year retirement is however came to an end. His editor (Better known to Spider as Whore Hopper) calls and tells him to deliver two books immediately as instructed in his contract or they'll sue. With no money nor any other choice, Spider made his come-back. To write, Spider needs to be in the City,a place he truly despises. the place that fills him up with the hate that he needs to be productive. To remain in the City, Spider needs to have a job, after all it's not like he can just live in his car.
So he raids his old friend Mitchell Royce's office to ask for said job. Royce, now the chief editor of the greatest newspaper in the City, The Word gives him a column and explains to him that he wants a real story this time, not just the word "fuck" printed eight thousand times as Spider had done before.
So, Spider needs a story. And he has been away for a long time, so he watches TV, to catch the latest developments to find his first story. His first story comes to his feet when he sees his old friend Fred Christ, a former rock-band manager. Fred turned out to be a Transient (A Half Human/Half Alien), and better than that, he turned out to be a Transient leader who threatens the
government with a separatist secession. Spider goes to Fred to make an interview to see that separatist movement is nothing but a fiasco and only solid thing in the affair is Fred's lust for Transient women. The movement turns into a riot, which Police Department answers with brutality. However Spider's "live" column creates a public dispute and Police's interference is cut short. After the incident Spider is beaten up by the Police because of his column.
Lust for Life
Channon Yarrow, a stripper Spider encounters in Angels 8, shows up in Spider's apartment. Inspired by his journalism and determined to turn her journalism education in to something useful, Channon becomes his new assistant. Their relation is, however cut short. After Channon's boyfriend Ziang's decision to become a Foglet, Channon leaves Spider and becomes a nun in Fred Christ's newly formed Church.
Spider battles Yokels, because of a misdeed done by his dead ex-wife. During his struggle he also loses an adversary that he is not aware of. A castrated police bulldog, seeking revenge on Jerusalem leaps and falls down to his doom. If this was not enough, Spider must also avoid a headless explosive kid who claims to be his son.
Year of the Bastard & The New Scum
Meanwhile, Spider gains a new partner Yelena Rossini and reunites with his former assistant Channon Yarrow, who is sick of Fred Christ's Church.
The next thing for Spider is the election for Presidency. He starts practicing his "old school" journalism to reveal secrets of the candidates campaigns. The Beast, current president and old enemy of Spider runs the campaign with his right-wing methods where Gary Callahan, "The Smiler" puts out a rather mild campaign. Which turns out to be a lie as Spider learns that Smiler puts out an even dirtier political play. Things gets worse as Vita Severn, Smiler's campaign manager gets assassinated and the sympathy votes goes for Callahan, who proves to be lot worse than The Beast. Meanwhile Spider gets more and more popular and turns in to a media celebrity, which he hates. He feels that he needs to be hated and disliked to do what he does best.
Seeing the news of a hate crime murder against a sexgang person, Spider hits the streets with his filthy assistants to investigate. After questioning the detective at hand, Detective Newton, Spider becomes skeptic, and doesn't believe that not a single camera caught the crime on video. Still angry over what Callahan did to Vita, Spider is determined to solve this and make sure that the truth is known to the world.
Spider's reporting over the cops' cover up has many angry, so the police took the hate crime suspects in. Many are in protest outside of the precinct and Spider and his assistants go to see what'll happen. The accused were let out on bail, causing a riot. Spider and company try to escape, but the police won't let them out. After examining the now released video of the murder, they realize why the cops were trying to cover it up, there was a patrol car full of cops that watched the murder happen and didn't do a thing. Spider and his assistants fight their way out of the area only to be stopped by Detective Newton. She let them go and used an EMP to erase all footage of Spider being there, her deal, she gets left out of the column.
Returning home, Spider learns that all of the footage of the riot at Dante Street and the police's mass murder was cleared, there's no evidence at all. Spider and his assistants learn that it was a plan for Smiler to kill the members of the media who oppose him. Spider sends his column to Royce, only for it to be denied, because of a new censorship law created by Callahan. Spider ends his conversation, smashes his phone to pieces in anger, and tells Charron and Yelena to start carrying guns at all times.
Driven by his search for the Truth, and his ambition to avenge Vita's assassination, Spider starts to make his moves against Smiler. To get his word out, Spider now uses the pirate news station Hole Feed Site, to avoid Callahan's laws. Spider follows his many leads and lets out Smiler's dirty secrets. Spider informs the media that Smiler is forcing his wife to stay silent and at home, that he had whores over when he was staying in a hotel, what really happened in the Dante Street massacre, and that his presidential adviser was a pedophile. This leads his adviser to kill himself. Callahan forces The Word board of directors to force Royce into firing Spider.
Spider knew this was coming, so he emptied out his bank account and credit cards to be safe, and left a trap for the police at his apartment. Smiler's approval rating is in a downward spiral; Spider may not have a job, or a even a home now, but knowing this, he's the happiest he's been in a long time.
Still happy and on the run, Spider goes to a meeting with his filthy assistants to see the two people who manage Hole Feed Site. They walk and talk around the city and end up in a bar. While going to the bathroom, Spider and his crew get held up by men in anyone-suits. Spider holds them off by making fun of them, then whips out his gun, quickly killing two of the three men. Almost shot in the face, Spider is saved by Channon. The two that run Hole Feed Site wonder what is going on, and Spider says that it's a message from the Smiler. The message is that Smiler knows Spider's still out there, and he's still after him. Spider and the Hole Feed Site owners come to an agreement that Spider will write a weekly column for free. Later, Spider is in his new hotel room and Yelena asks him about his gun training and how many people he has killed. Spider claims that he's killed sixteen, all in self defense, with the exception of one.
Yelena wants to know more, but Spider won't respond, and leaves the room. Yelena notices Spider's strange behavior, and that he's become very forgetful. Soon after, Spider takes a shower, and discovers that his nose is bleeding, he realizes that he's come down with a sickness. Spider meets with Channon and Yelena at a coffee shop, and tells them: "This isn't a job anymore. It's a mission. We're going to bring down the presidency." It is further noticed that Spider is experiencing blackouts. Knowing that dying is a possibility, Spider records a message with instructions for what Yelena and Channon should do if he dies too early to accomplish his mission.
Spider wakes up to a news report of several cops contracting the flu, the report is interrupted by the news of a sniper opening fire onto the Print District. He rushes out and catches a cab with his assistants, further looking into the report, noticing that it's strange that there's no police backup to take out the gunman. He stops the cab at Dante Street and tells Yelena to call Royce to see if he's okay, she tells him he is, then Spider claims that the cops are committing an act called Blue Flu: "A secretly organized stunt where cops absent themselves from duty claiming illness." He states that he knows a human cop that works Dante Street, and if it really is Blue Flu, she'd know. Spider and his assistants notice an odd change in weather, suddenly becoming stormy. Spider sets up a meeting with his mystery informant, and it is revealed to be none other than Detective Newton from Dante Street.
Newton confirms that it is in fact Blue Flu, and that it was suggested the police be off the streets because something big is coming, and it's not just the sniper. After the meeting, Spider starts his Blue Flu column, but is cut short when he is told to get off the street because of the sudden intensity of the storm. The gang run into a bar for safety, and Spider tells them to see if he can write his column in the back room. Admiring the storm, a sudden explosion from the lightning knocks Spider out and covers him in shards of glass. Yelena and Channon drag him into the back room. Channon performs first aid while Yelena starts to write Spider's column.
Spider is trapped in his mind, at first thinking he's dead, and that he'd been sent to Hell because he has no cigarettes. In the blackness, he states that this isn't the way he had imagined dying, and that he would've expected an audience. Spider deduces that he's in a coma, and soon wakes up in Yelena's home. A doctor informs him that he has caught an i-pollen infection: a disease that causes cognition damage, memory loss, intense hallucinations, and motor control damage. Spider is told that he has a two percent chance of survival, and that he only has about a year until he completely loses it. Spider then asks for his assistants to get him a machine so he can get his column in, Yelena informs him that he's been out for four days, and that she wrote his column under his name. He kisses her on the forehead and thanks her, and also thanks Channon after she gives him a new pair of glasses. Spider won't take death lying down, he says that he's now got a deadline, and he is intent on finishing his mission.
After Yelena's father gives Spider permission to use his home as a base of operations, Spider goes to ruin Smiler's press conference. He passes out disks containing information on the set-up of Vita's assassination, then reveals that many current murders have been committed by men in blur suits, suits that are highly used by the Secret Service. Yelena activates a disruptor, revealing men in blur suits to the crowd. Callahan starts to lose his cool, stating that Spider's insane because of his disease, and that he has no evidence. Spider claims he doesn't need evidence because he's not an accredited reporter, that he's not dying until Smiler's gone from presidency, and that the next time they see each other will be the last.
Knowing that he's going to die, Spider tries to be at peace, and resolve all of his issues. He grows cold and assembles a new outfit. Yelena says that he frightens her, and he replies that he frightens himself. A news report is given, stating that all of the media archives have been wiped clean due to the previous storm. All of the evidence that they've built against Callahan is gone, and Spider realizes that the combination of the storm and sniper gave Callahan the perfect opportunity to send a team in to wipe the archives. Spider develops a new plan for dealing with Callahan, which involves building up an entire case against him, and taking him out in one blow.
Spider Jerusalem is obsessed with the Truth, which he refers as the "ultimate weapon". He shows a highly anarchic personality. Defying the rules of society and trying to mock them at every chance. He is also an atheist. His distaste for organized religion can be seen on various occasions. This is first seen in Transmetropolitan #6 where his initial speech is:
Thats it! that's the absolute fucking limit! Thieves! the goddamn lot of you! Thieves and Leeches! Fucking Vampires sucking the will from people whose only goddamn crimes were to be frightened and tired! and you don't help them! You don't listen to them! They get no truth from you! All you do is scare them with stories of something that doesn't exist! And you bastards are winning, Hundreds more of you everyday! Getting away with it in a place so noisy, no one could hear the truth if it were ever told, and I can't fight you alone, you fucks, couldn't when I was a kid and my dad turned cultist and I can't now---all I can do is tell the truth
Spider also shows signs of a socialist belief. His socialist beliefs can be seen with his reaction to state of Angels 8 and the Cluny State community estate. He is highly anti-social and on many occasions repulses the characters of opposite sex. To achieve his goals he viciously uses violence of any sort. Spider Jerusalem was a chronic smoker and in many instances he is not seen without a cigarette in his mouth. It is also to be noted that Spider's personality is largely based on real life gonzo journalism founder Hunter S. Thompson.
Weapons and Abilities
Spider owns a great array of firearms and explosives and uses them frequently in the series. His favorite, however, is a bowel disruptor. He is also a very capable fighter. Not showing hints of any martial arts, he mostly uses simple but brutal blows to the groin, to the stomach and to the head. Throughout the series he brings down many opponents, even ones with a better training. Spider is also known for his many gadgets, such as his glasses which he uses as a camera, for both video, and photos, they automatically take pictures when they think he's being attacked. He's also been seen using a gadget that when activated, it sound proofs a room from any recording devices. Spider also has various immunities to certain diseases and infections that he has purchased. Spider is very capable when it comes to technology, such as televisions and computers as well.
In 2003, Ellis and Robertson were approached by Patrick Stewart's film production company Flying Freehold Productions to develop a Transmetropolitan movie. Later, it was proposed that they create an online animated series with Patrick Stewart voicing Spider Jerusalem. Sadly, both of those plans never came to fruition. Both Ellis and Robertson have stated that they would enjoy seeing actor Tim Roth play Spider if a movie were to ever happen.