Brand Echh: Mighty Comics #45

It’s time once again for another dive into MIGHTY COMICS, Archie’s attempt to reverse-engineer the appeal of the Marvel books of the era without understanding them a whit. As before, we’re going to be focusing on my favorite of the Mighty creations, the Web. The Web wasn’t cast as a Spider-Man knock-off as you might think. Instead, he was a genuine Golden Age character who had married his girlfriend of the time and now lived a quiet life in suburbia until he’s called back to action, much to the dismay of his long-suffering wife Rosie. So the Web was like a gimmick sitcom–it could have aired in prime time alongside OCCASIONAL WIFE or MY LIVING DOLL.

This issue only features a short interstitial effort by the character’s regular creative team of Jerry Siegel and Paul Reinman. It’s a reprise of the Web’s origin, placed into the context of the revived strip, with the hero’s wife and mother-in-law pressing him to give up his life as a costumed crimefighter.

It’s a very silly origin, especially in terms of how well it stacks up against other similar origins of the era. Spider-Man this ain’t. I’m not certain offhand whether the Golden Age version of the character was ever given an origin–I know it wasn’t a part of the first Web strip, but not that it wasn’t revealed later. But if this was Siegel’s innovation, it’s pretty weak stuff.

And it’s difficult to argue with Rosie and her mom that it’s about the stupidest thing they’ve ever heard. But it’s that very ridiculousness that made this strip such a little joy. That bottom panel looks to my eye like it was added on after the fact–the lettering doesn’t match. So this may have been intended to be run elsewhere and to plug the Web’s upcoming appearances in MIGHTY COMICS, but wound up in that book by some quirk of necessity.

This issue of MIGHTY COMICS also included a letters page, which featured a missive from future DC colorist Carl Gafford.

And it also contained that year’s Statement of Ownership, which gives us a real idea as to how well the book was doing. As this issue was released in very early 1967, these sales figures must have been reflective of 1966. And they show that MIGHTY COMICS was selling 156,252 copies on a print run of 259,107, giving the book an efficiency of 60%, which is one of the highest percentage rates that we’ve seen as we’ve looked at these, for all that 150,000 copies doesn’t seem all that impressive.

10 thoughts on “Brand Echh: Mighty Comics #45

  1. I also had a stack of about a dozen of these Mighty Comics as a kid, and I agree….they are interesting due to their unintentional awkwardness and charming blandness. It would sure seem like the old MLJ characters had potential, but after numerous tries over the last several decades has anyone even had a minor success?

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    1. Twomorrow’s MLJ Companion argues that’s perversely become a strength of the line: every generation of readers since the Silver Age knows them (well, not the Bronze Age, IIRC) but there’s never been a definitive version so everyone’s free to go their own way.
      Making the Web married feels like a crib from how DC handled the JSA members when they came out of retirement — though I conceded it’s logical enough.

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    2. Esthetically, at least, the Impact line that resulted from DC’s licensing of the MLJ characters, was successful, although it didn’t sell well.

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      1. I really liked Messer-Loeb’s Jaguar.
        According to the Companion, the plan was to get these into stores outside the direct comics market where younger readers could find them. The marketing honcho who would have overseen this hated the idea and refused to cooperate, so sales flopped accordingly.

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      2. Exactly. I covered the launch of the Impact line for Comics Scene and all the plans, right down to the choice of creative teams was aimed at the newsstand market. The style of art and story was anathema to the fan market of the period.

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  2. This is a slightly abridged, almost word-for-word, retelling of the Web’s origin story from Zip Comics #28. In that one, he spends three pages telling it to Rose (who says it’s ‘fascinating’), before moving on to a completely unrelated fight with Count Berlin. Funnily enough, in the original telling Tom has red hair, John black and Rose blonde.

    It’s a seriously lame origin by golden age or silver age standards! “My brother’s a petty criminal, and his actions led to his own capture in one case, so I must become a costumed hero with a ‘web’ theme!” If he’s been telling it to Rose regularly for the last twenty years, you can understand her irritation…

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  3. The usual fan assumption writing about the ’60s Mighty Comics line is that Jerry Siegel wrote everything from start to finish — but do we *know* this? Not only is there that abrupt change from FLY-MAN #39 to MIGHTY COMICS PRESENTS #40, but there’s an announcement around then that Archie writer/artist Bob White is coming on board the Mighty line in some editorial capacity, then there are those occasional credits that read “Dick, Vic, Bob and Paul” (for editor Richard Goldwater, production guy Victor Gorelick, something Bob, and artist Paul Reinman) with no mention of Jerry. Although it’s more subjective, I have a feeling that the stories from #40 on read differently than before, the hen-pecked Web stories in particular more like comedies that an Archie humor writer would turn out. Readers still mention Siegel in the letters column, but editorially he seems to vanish from #40 on. I think there’s one mention of Siegel in an editorial reply post-#40, though. My theory is that Siegel was gone with #40 and Bob White wrote most/all of the stories after that. Siegel *possibly* contributed stories but he wasn’t the sole writer anymore. I have no idea what really went on behind the scenes, of course, and this is pure fan vaporing, but those Dick, Vick, Bob, Paul, and no Jerry credits make me think *something* happened and it wasn’t as simple as Siegel writing everything.

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  4. Dwight’s correct that the omission of “Jerry” from the irregular credits could mean that he wasn’t always the writer, though of course the mere fact that they were irregular means the editors weren’t quite willing to build up the participating raconteurs as personalities the way Stan Lee was.

    The wording of this story sounds like Siegel to me. Has anyone ever heard the slang verb “double dare” turned into the adjective “double daring?”

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