You’ve waited long enough for another dose of my favorite Silver Age camp super hero strip, Archie’s The Web. As we’ve gone over before, in an attempt to hop onto the super hero fad of the mid-60s, archie resurrected a number of their 1940s characters and presented them in what was almost a parody of that Marvel style, so poor a grasp did they have on what was making the Marvel books sing. These returned heroes bickered like Marvel heroes, threw around ersatz Stan Lee longo and had problems that were presented as shtick. My favorite is the Web, who was re-envisioned as almost a gimmick sitcom, with the titular hero constantly being hounded by his wife to give up his costumed career.
As with almost all of the MIGHTY COMICS stories, this one was written by Superman’s originator Jerry Siegel. And he was trying oh so hard to capture the lilt of a Marvel title. But the word choices are just a hair off, the language is stilted and stiff, and there’s a clear sense that not only does nobody involved buy into any of this shtick, but they’re also a bit embarrassed to even be attempting it. These were comics produced by people who thought the heart of Marvel’s appeal were things like “bad art”, and so they’d deliberately set out to make their artwork look crude as well. This splash page above, but Paul Reinman, was initially intended to be used as a cover, but was switched over to a splash page for some reason.
This meant that this story wound up carrying two splash pages. This second one, and the remainder of the story, was inked not by Reinman but rather by Frank Giacoia, an inker well familiar with the Marvel approach. Additionally, it looks to my eye as though Mike Sekowsky lent a hand at some point, as there are a number of figures and panels that strongly resemble his work. Sekowsky was a super-fast artist and he was often called upon to help out his fellow freelancers when they got in a deadline jam on a job.
Like so much of the appeal of this series, this encounter between the Web and his mailman reads like a skewed interpretation of a Spider-Man bit. Siegel knew what he was trying to emulate, he just didn’t have the skill set to pull it off.
I must admit, I got a chuckle out of, “It’s as much a part of me as the very air I breathe, and my desire for those noodles I didn’t get to eat…”
That’s right, this is the story in which the Web’s wife Rosie adopts her own costumed identity as the comically-named Pow-Girl in order to convince her husband to take his mask off for good.
This utterly magnificent house ad for the Web ran in the previous issue of MIGHTY COMICS, #42.