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What Purpose Did Spider-Man’s Underarm Webbing Serve?

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
What Purpose Did Spider-Man’s Underarm Webbing Serve?

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com).

Reader Larry C. wrote in to ask if there was any functional purpose to the underarm webbing that Spider-Man wore on his original Steve Ditko-designed costume?

Spider-Man debuted in “Amazing Fantasy” #15 with a costume designed by Steve Ditko (the cover here, though, is by Jack Kirby)…

amazingfantasy15a

In the issue, we actually see Spider-Man design his costume. You see, he decided to become a professional wrestler and determined that he needed a nice costume for the gig…

amazingfantasy15b

That’s all Spider-Man’s original costume was meant to be, a wrestling costume. Thus, it appears clear that the underarm webbing is meant as just decorative.

This is made clearer in the first “Amazing Spider-Man Annual”, where there is a back-up giving a lot of details about Spider-Man’s costume and his gadgets…

annual1b

Note that there is no mention of the underarm webbing, since there was nothing to say about it but that it was, well, undearm webbing.

In that same back-up, we also saw different uses for Spider-Man’s webs…

annual1a

You’ll note that one of them is a parachute. So obviously Ditko did not think that Spider-Man could use the undearm webbing to glide or as a parachute.

Once you add in that no one has ever tried to explain it any other way post-Ditko, and I guess I’m going with a general no to the question, Larry!

Recently, by the way, Alex Ross re-designed Spider-Man’s costume for the current “Spider-Man” series and he brought the underarm webbing back (it had been appearing on and off for decades since Ditko left, basically whenever any given artist felt like drawing it). Here is Jimmy Cheung drawing it in the recent “Clone Conspiracy” #1…

cloneconspiracy

Thanks for the question, Larry! If anyone else has a question they’d like to see answered, just drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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