WEB WOMANMedium: TV animation
Produced by: Filmation
First Appeared: 1978
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By the late 1970s, the superhero genre, such as Hanna-Barbera's Birdman and DePatie-Freleng's Super President, was well-established in Saturday morning cartoons. So well, that when Filmation's series Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle was starting to look a little tired, the first thing they thought of was to beef it up with superheroes. First, they packaged him with an animated version of DC Comics' Batman in 1977, then they
added a whole crowd of their own long-underwear guys. Tarzan & the Super Seven debuted on CBS September 9, 1978.
Seven actually understated the show's super population. Not only did the Batman segment include Robin — two others, Manta & Moray and Superstretch & Microwoman, starred dual heroes; and one, The Freedom Force, had five, including the previously seen (but not previously animated) Isis. In fact, the only animated superhero in a segment alone was Web Woman.
Web Woman was a farm dweller named Kelly Webster, until she saved an insect-like alien named Scarab (no relation) from drowning in a river. Grateful, he gave her several super-gifts, including a ring that conferred all the powers of insects — just like the one young Tommy Troy found in an attic in The Fly #1. All she had to do was utter the words, "Insects of the world, small creatures of the cosmos lend me your powers — now!" Then she was all set to clobber evildoers, at least if they hadn't clobbered her first during the time it took her to get through that mouthful.
The ring was also capable of emitting energy beams which would solidify into webbing like the chemicals in Spider-Man's web shooters, despite the fact that insects don't make webs. Another gift from Scarab was a utility belt containing such useful items as capsules of sleeping gas. Yet another was a spider-shaped airborne vehicle named Webtrac, reminiscent of The Blue Beetle's bug-shaped airship. Finally, he gave her an alien sidekick/pet/comedy relief named Spinner. Afterward, Scarab made himself available for sage advice from his orbiting headquarters, Citadel Seven.
Even with an hour and a half (which the half-hour Tarzan had been expanded to after the addition of all these heroes), there wasn't time for all segments to appear in every show. Web Woman had only ten, altogether. Still, she generated enough advance industry buzz to prod Marvel Comics into publishing (and trademarking) Spider-Woman, just to make sure she didn't trade on the popularity of any of their properties by choosing the "wrong" name.
But triggering Spider-Woman's creation was the extent of her impact on the world. After running her course on Saturday morning TV, she was gone.