Serials notoriously wrought havoc on comic-book heroes, altering origins and other details to suit often unclear purposes. By comparison, at least on the evidence of Chapter One, The Spider's Web is fairly faithful to its pulp source. Its major innovation is the costume The Spider (Warren Hull) wears. While the pulp character often scurried through the city in a fright wig and makeup to scarify criminals, he was shown on the magazine covers in more debonair garb and a modest domino mask. The cinematic Spider wears a full face mask with a spiderweb pattern matching that of his cape. He has his full supporting cast, though the police commish's name has been shortened arbitrarily to Kirk. Nita (Iris Meredith) makes a good first impression as co-pilot of Wentworth's private plane as they're returning home from some vacation. She actually expects to be married, since Richard has resolved to give up being The Spider. An attempt to sabotage their landing soon changes his mind, and Nita takes the disappointment like a good sport.
The sabotage was perpetrated by minions of The Octopus (??? in Chapter One), who sees Wentworth the criminologist as an obstacle to his plan to control all transportation and thus apply a stranglehold to the entire national economy. The Octopus is a classic serial mystery villain, someone whose identity under his white hood we'll be invited to guess over the remaining chapters. He walks with a limp, afflicted with a shriveled leg that's almost certainly a bit of misdirection. He speaks into a microphone and his voice is amplified (and distorted, no doubt) by speakers in his office, where black-hooded minions report and await orders.
The Spider's Web intends to highlight Richard Wentworth as a master of disguise. In the opening credits Warren Hull is introduced thrice over, as Wentworth, The Spider, and his one-eyed underworld alias Blinky McQuade. Wentworth also briefly amuses Nita with a vaudevillian Chinaman bit. While Wentworth is shown to be a quick-change artist, Hull will depend on his vocal versatility to put over his different guises. He has a charming moment in this chapter while changing into Blinky when he has a little conversation between two of his personalities. If people thought the Spider one of the nuttier pulp heroes, that moment won't dissuade them, but it does give the hero more character than the typical serial protagonist. Hull may not have the authentic Spider's cold fury, but he makes a likable action hero and, to be fair, this story is just getting started. Stay tuned for more chapters through the month of July, or get ahead of the game by watching the serial yourself at the Internet Archive.