The First Spider Man Story

As we’ve covered in a number of different earlier posts, the chain of causality which led to the creation of the Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel Comics’ signature creation, is long and tangled. Every once in a while I see people make reference to this story in relation to it. And in fact, there isn’t any direct connection at all, apart from the fact that this obscure Captain Marvel adventure featured a villain called Spider Man, and it too was illustrated by C.C. Beck, who would work on the Silver Spider with Joe Simon and Jack Oleck years later. But it’s still interesting to look at.

WHIZ COMICS #89 carried a September 1947 cover date, and went on sale July 9th of that year. The story “Captain Marvel and the Webs of Crime” was written, as so many of the Big Red Cheese’s adventures were, by Otto Binder. It was penciled, as revealed earlier, by C.C. Beck and inked by Pete Costanza.

The Fawcett Spider Man doesn’t climb up walls or swing from webs. Rather, he’s invented a sticky plastic compound akin to a spider’s web which he used to ensnare anybody who gets in the way of his crimes. His goggles sure look like they do something, but he never gets to use them in this story if so, and so we may never know for certain.

Astonishingly, while adults like Spider Man have no idea that Billy Batson is Captain Marvel’s other self and that he transforms through the mechanism of his magic word, kids appear to have that information readily at hand. I assume they read it in the comic books.

I do feel bad for that innocent tarantula that Captain Marvel squashes here. He wasn’t doing anything other than following his instincts, and Marvel was in no danger from him (unlike his alter ego) so this seems just a little bit cruel of Marvel.

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