A week ago, I posted a feature in which writer Jerry Siegel and artist Paul Reinman revealed the secret origin of the Web, that 1960s-era costumed crusader who was “hen-pecked” by his wife Rosie and her mother to give up the super hero business and settle down to a regular life.
I mentioned that I wasn’t sure whether the earlier Golden Age incarnation of the character was ever given an origin or if this was something new that Siegel and Reinman came up with. Fortunately, reader Zoomy knew the answer and was willing to share it–that retelling of the Web’s origin was an almost word-for-word pick-up from this issue of ZIP COMICS, #28, published in 1942. So let’s take a look.
The author of this story is lost to the pages of history, but the artwork appears to have been done by Irv Novick, who was MLJ’s star artist during this period. Novick would remain in the industry for decades, drawing a bevy of war tales for editor Robert Kanigher and eventually becoming associated with both Batman and the Flash, both of whose adventures he illustrated for years.
It’s an unfortunate aspect of the Web as a character, especially once you get to the 1960s incarnation, that his eventual wife Rose started out as his student in his civilian identity as Professor John Raymond. Dating one’s students is generally frowned upon, but that didn’t stop the fearless Web!
It’s easy to see the effect the team of Simon & Kirby had had on the industry. They had innovated these sort of irregular panel shapes and borders, with stretching figures in action often breaking right out of the panels, in CAPTAIN AMERICA. At MLJ in particular, Novick and his fellow artists were encouraged to follow that trend.
The origin of the Web only takes up a few pages of this story, so the remainder is devoted to a typical Web adventure of the period. It’s a far cry from the quasi-comedic escapades the hero would engage in throughout the 1960s.