Monday, July 02, 2007

The Worst Spider-Marriage in Comics

Spider-Man and Mary Jane, step aside! Your marriage has been a breeze compared to the woeful wedlock of the Web! From Super Heroes Versus Super-Villains #1, (1966) we take a look at the horrible, horrible life of The Web. This was from a period when Mighty Comics was trying to mimic the popular Marvel style by giving their heroes "real-life" problems. In the Web's case, he was cast as a schlubby middle-aged guy trying to come out of superhero retirement, only now he has an awful, nagging wife to chide and berate him.
Click images to enlarge

The Web flatfoots his way through the whole story like this, his brow eternally glistening with flop sweat, his stomach clenched in fear of his nagging, shrewish wife, Rosie. Notice too, how professional henchmen were back in the olden days of comics. Here, Acro-Bat#1 politely explains the Acro-Bat' s purpose, affiliation, and consternation at being foiled all in one word balloon. Finally, how about that lisping sound effect?
We've all seen the Incredibles - we know capes are probably ill-advised at best, but the Web's cape is the Absolute Worst. That thing should be getting snagged on every stray nail and doorknob he runs past. It would be really easy for him to hang himself by accident, or even on purpose. I'm sure he thinks about it, in his darkest hours. Of which there are many.

The Web fails the hero test in so, so many ways, not the least of which is the failure to say "Time to take out the trash!" or something equally witty while taking out the bad guys with a trash basket. Yes, Web, you're a winner. (sigh)
"And as minutes drag by into an hour, then several hours..." Note that from this point on, everything that happens to scholarly Professor Raymond/the Web in this story happens not because he fought crime in the morning, but because he locked himself into a closet for the rest of the day. He's not so much a kook as a moron, ma'am.

Note how in the first panel, Web is stuttering in his thought balloon. It turns out Rosie nagged him into going out in the first place, now he's terrified she'll be pissed at him for taking too long to return. (MAKES WHIPPING NOISE) Reaching the door, he begins to fumble together a cover story, when he's blindsided by a stone golem! Worse than a golem! His Mother-in-law! Someone call the South Pacific, because Easter Island's missing a Moai.

You know, I can't imagine the Web being any kid's favorite superhero, but he must have been somebody's. Such a hypothetical world's-biggest-Web-fan would have gotten a pretty twisted, women-hatey view of married life. I have the feeling someone was working out some issues while writing these stories.

Wait, what's the nebbish saying? Oh got him started on his glory days.

"Uh, yeah, thanks Web for dropping this freak off at my penthouse party, you damned showboating lunatic!" Joyful gratitude, annoyed disgust; same difference. Next the Web starts boasting...boasting about wrestling with and tickling a fat man called...FATMAN. Remember that classic scene from Amazing Spider-Man #33, where Spidey is buried under the machinery, and he's totally pinned, and Aunt May needs medicine, and he gathers aaaalll his strength and hefts the impossible weight? I think this is supposed to be the Web's version of that. Which is just so, so very sad. The look on Mother's face in the third panel says it all...

By the way, for maximum enjoyment, Mother's lines should be read in a snooty Margaret Dumont voice.

And so the women finish the fight before the doughy defender can even get dressed. And John? I'm pretty sure the sight of your sweating, pasty form squished into an undersized lime green and canary yellow body stocking like a badly stuffed sausage is not going to win points with Mama. Just a hunch.

He's some sort of queen, lady. Luckily, his mind is shattered so he won't remember your son-in-law's precious secret identity. Crap like this is what killed Sue Dibney, you know. Speaking of killing wives, that hangdog look on the Web's face in the last panel tells us all we need to know. Doomed, damned and reminded in the most ludicrous manner possible of his own uselessness, the Web can only look forward to a lifetime of misery.

Or, there's always that cape.


googum said...

I found a Web story in a digest last year, and it's up the same alley: he's supposed to be retired, and his wife is coming down on him for trying to get back into the superhero game.

Fudd. I may have to re-read that digest now. Most of the stories seemed to want to be the Marvel mold of heroes with problems, but always took things too far, into sad-sack territory.

Brian Hughes said...

I think The Sheild's schtick was that he couldn't hold down a job because of his crimefighting career. Sad-sack indeed.

coco67 said...

For maximum enjoyment ALL dialog should be read in a snooty Margaret Dumont voice!!

Brian Hughes said...

And the Madman should be read in a Paul Lynde voice.

Blockade Boy said...

Man, that was beautiful. It just blows my mind that the Web's mother-in-law knows about his secret identity, and that it's just one more thing she can nag him about.

"...the Web can only look forward to a lifetime of misery." Ah, so the Web was Geoff Johns' favorite superhero. It all makes sense now!

Brian Hughes said...

Maybe Frank Miller, too.