There were so many criminals called Spider or the Spider, just one more could hardly make a difference. The nickname was so common, indeed, that most of the time it wasn’t even considered unoriginal. The creature was silent, viscerally-unsettling, a weaver of nets and a lurker in shadows. It was often venomous and it did things to its prey that gave lesser classes of animals the screaming heebie-jeebies. It had been all these things for an endless march of years, and people had been using it as a synonym almost as long as people had been people. The nickname had therefore weathered the storms of fad and cliché, ridden the waves of conscious self-referential usage and been washed up on the lonely beaches of “oh, with a nickname like that he’s probably up to no good.”
Spied’jjer Merdokk had felt uniquely placed to make it his own.
This is not, as you readers in English may already be assuming, because Spied’jjer sounds a bit like spider. That’s pure coincidence, and it is only expediency of localisation that leads us to use the common Spider Merdokk rather than the more technically accurate Spied’jjer Spider. Spied’jjer is in fact just a horrible name that was inflicted on him by his adoptive parents. It means pink wiggles, and the only reason Merdokk hasn’t killed a lot more people than he has is that the language in which spied’jjer means pink wiggles is a very rare and obscure one. The Xidh word for arachnid, however, is merdakni, and that sounds enough like Merdokk to get the job done all on its own. And I really don’t care if you’re not interested.
Added to this, of course, was the fact that Merdokk was almost uniquely placed to claim spiders as part of his birthright. He was not, as legends and unauthorised biographies would later claim, actually raised by spiders – not even most spiders are raised by spiders, that’s sort of the point of them. The truth was even more bizarre, and the species he was raised by far more appropriate for a young grandmaster criminal. He did, however, come as close as a non-spider may to arachnidism by heredity, without actually crawling out of an egg sac along with seven hundred other babies, and then eating half of them.
After making his decision, Merdokk arrived at a simple and audacious plan in two parts. First, he would not call himself Spider, but would instead let the authorities and the public and the media label him themselves, unprompted. Second, he would make sure that he was never dismissed as simply “a criminal called Spider.” He would see to it that he was the definitive, that he was what people thought of when they heard the name, and that any other criminal using it was considered naught but a pale shadow of his reality – if in the past, a colourless precursor; if in the present, a pathetic imitator; if in the future, a sad homage.
For all their errors and absurdity, the biographies did get one thing right almost unanimously: the first theft, or at least that for which Spider Merdokk should justly be most celebrated, was the theft of his own nickname.