With The Amazing Spider-Man about to be released, I thought let's ask some wall-crawling questions:

  • If Peter was sixteen when he became Spider-Man, how old was Betty Brant, his first girl-friend? She never seemed like a teenager to me!
  • Was Peter known to be a genius? Not just smart but brillant because you would think someone would make a big deal about him!
  • Did Aunt May ever tell Peter about his mermaid "cousin"? Yes, I'm being silly but still, what if...?
  • If his webbing stuck to everything, why not to his hands? And don't say it's the gloves because he swung bare-handed, too.
  • What was actually wrong with Aunt May? Was it just her heart?
  • Did Joe Robinson ever suspect Peter? He did discuss Spider-Man with Captain Stacy who figured it out.
  • Why didn't J. Jonah Jameson ever get in trouble for all those Spider-Slayers? Isn't that being as much of a vigilante as he accuse the Web-Head of being?
  • And did The Daily Bugle decree the other Marvel heroes as "menaces"?
  • There were a LOT of crimebosses and would-be crimebosses in that book over the 60s and 70s (The Big Man, Crimemaster, Doctor Octopus, the Green Goblin, Silvermane, Hammerhead, the Disrupter and, of course, the Kingpin). How much territory was divided up in NYC? And why were they largely ignored by the other heroes?
  • Was Norman Osbourne ever a good man? Even in non-Goblin stories, he seemed cold and harsh? Poor Harry!

Well, there you go! Compliments of Your Friendly Neighborhood Fan of Bronze! With hopefully more to follow!

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I'm pretty sure the stand-in imposter was Robbie's son, "The Prowler"...  so it makes sense that Robbie wouldn't be there to either be bluffer or to cry "B.S." on the charade.   As I recall, those present include Gwen, MJ, Harry, Capt. Stacy, and maybe Flash Thompson, but I think he returns to the series as a guesstar after issue #104 or so.  How accurate is my list in the GCD?

Luke Blanchard said:

In Amazing Spider-Man #87 (major spoilers warning) Peter, zonked by illness, confessed he was Spider-Man at a gathering at Gwen's. He covered up for this later by getting another character to double for him as Spidey. I can't remember if Robbie was present on either occasion, but I suppose probably not (the GCD doesn't list him as having appeared in the issue). Those who were present were given reason to believe Peter and Spider-Man were different people, but apparently this didn't fool Capt. Stacy permanently. In principle Robbie could have learned about the events from Stacy and been deceived.

(Amazing Spider-Man #87 spoilers warning.) It was the (retired) Prowler, but he was a different character to Robbie's son. The GCD doesn't list Flash as having appeared in the issue, but the others are all in it (and present when zonked Peter declares his secret; that image is easy to find online).

Oh yes, I recall this. 

It was a suspension of disbelief because of the lack of claws sticking through the spider-man gloves... and cause a black kid from the inner city just sounds SO much like a wise-cracking Spider-man who was raise in Forest Hills!  But who cares...if DD can impersonate Spidey and Spidey can double for DD, then why not...

Hobie Brown was the Prowler, not Randy Robertson.  Spider-Man convinced Hobie to go straight, and Hobie owed him a favor for not turning him over to the police.

I read an article in today's Daily Bugle News that once more reiterates Spidey's publishing history but what's real and what's not....so:

  • Was Amazing Fantasy #15 designed to be the last issue as legend (and Stan) led us to believe? Then why change the title from Amazing Adult Fantasy? Why commission two covers?
  • Research seems to prove that the Chameleon story from Amazing Spider-Man #1 and the Tinkerer story from ASM #2 were meant for the never published Amazing Fantasy #16 and #17. That's why with #3 there are mostly full-length stories.
  • Jack Kirby always claimed that he created/co-created/designed the Wall-Crawler but Steve Ditko says that he created the true Spider-Man and that Kirby's version looked like a cross between Captain America and Ant-Man plus a web-gun and an origin similar to the Fly.
  • Did any of Kirby's original pages survive?
  • Did Martin Goodman truly hate the entire concept of Spider-Man that he deliberately cancelled the book before it even went on sale? Or did he just rather have published The Two-Gun Kid?

Spidey debuted the same month as Thor and Ant-Man's series, and a month before the beginning of the Torch's series in Strange Tales. I take this to be evidence he was created as part of a plan to expand Marvel's superhero line.


The late Joe Simon argued that Marvel's character was drawn from an unused character called Spiderman that he created, which was subsequently remodelled into the also-unused Silver Spider and then into the Fly. As I recall, Simon thought Kirby brought this version of Spider-Man in for Lee when Lee was looking for new characters. I read Simon's argument in materials that were posted at his website, but it's been remodelled and those don't seem to be there now. According to this article on Spidey's creation Simon also made the case in The Comic Book Makers.


Simon's evidence included a logo and image of the first version of Spiderman. The image was Kirbyish but my memory won't confirm whether Simon credited it to Kirby or himself. I think Simon did refer to Kirby's having drawing this version. I don't recall there being any indication in Simon's account that a Spiderman story was produced. (Silver Spider story pages were - this post at Harry Mendryk's Simon and Kirby blog has images - but that's another matter. Harry has also posted an image of a page from an unused "Silver Spider" script here. Harry notes that the previously unpublished materials published at his website are under copyright and asks that images not be reproduced from his blog.)


The Kirby Spider-Man with a gun may have been simply Simon's, or Simon's in a modified costume. When Kirby said he created Spider-Man he may have been referring to the version he did with Simon: in fact, the P.I.C. News article (first link above) has a quote in which he speaks of working out the character with Simon. (I think in Simon's account Kirby's contribution had only to do with drawing.) Incidentally, Mark Evanier says here that Kirby did not mean to take credit for the Marvel Spider-Man's costume.


I don't know if Lee or Ditko has been clear that Kirby actually drew story-pages with gun-Spidey, or just designs. This page on a hoax image of Kirby's version (I found the page reseaching this post; I like the hoax version, but must condemn in strong terms actually trying to hoax people, if that's what its creator meant to do) has an image of a drawing by Ditko's of Kirby's version. The image is likely from a copyrighted work but I'm linking to the post in the belief that its use of Ditko's image is fair use.


It may be that Kirby bought the character in, and Lee liked the idea of a Spider-themed superhero and tried to work out with Kirby a version of the character that would work (as he saw it). And then, when this didn't version work out, that Lee took the elements of the initial proposal that appealed to him to Ditko and worked an alternative version of the character out with him. But I suppose it could be e.g. that Lee came up with the idea of a spider-themed superhero independently, and when he talked about it to Kirby the latter brought Simon's character in.


(corrected; reposted)

As I recall, the Spiderman in Simon's image - the one I mentioned, that was either by Simon or Kirby - was shown clinging to a wall. I think he was armed with a gun, but it was holstered and he was holding a web-net. I think his use of a net implies the gun was not a web-gun. The Fly's gun was a tranquilizer.


Also, as I recall according to Simon when Kirby brought Spiderman in to Marvel Lee said "This is Joe Simon's fly character". But this could be part of the reason why he didn't go with Kirby's version. (Archie was still publishing The Adventures of the Fly at the time, although Simon had not been involved with it since the fourth issue.)


If Simon's Spiderman didn't use a web-gun, the most significant resemblance between the Kirby Spider-Man and Simon's is that both carried guns, and the most significant resemblance between the Ditko version and Simon's is that both could cling to walls.


Now, I believe Lee wrote in Origins of Marvel Comics that his creation of Spider-Man was influenced by the pulp character the Spider. The Spider did not use a web-gun, but the kind that goes bang. The pulp version did not use a spider costume (even on covers, where the character was not usually portrayed as he appeared in the stories), but he did wear one in two serials featuring the character.


I've been thinking that we can assume Simon's version influenced Kirby's Marvel version since both carried guns, this being unusual for a Lee superhero and not something the "spider superhero" concept obviously suggests. But it could be that the Kirby Spider-Man's gun was a web-gun, and that his use of one was inspired by the Golden Age Tarantula's (scroll down; I forget where I found the reference to the Tarantula in relation to the creation of Spidey that inspired this point). I can't recall if there were other characters who used web-guns in the Golden Age, but if so they could have been the inspiration also. Alternatively, it could be that Kirby Spider-Man's use of one was Lee's suggestion and inspired by the Spider's, as he was prominently a user of guns.


If an alternative explanation of the gun is to be accepted the resemblances case for Simon's argument that Marvel's character derives from his comes down to Spider-Man's ability to stick to walls, since obviously Lee could have come up with the "Spider-Man" name independently. The boots of the Kirby Spider-Man as drawn by Ditko don't suggest a character who could stick to walls, but I don't know they make it impossible he could do so. (I can't remember what Simon's Spiderman's boots were like.)


Incidentally, the Golden Age Spider Queen, who Fox's The Eagle ##2-4, made use of a "spider-web fluid" that she could use for various purposes ("My word! It sticks like glue--and it's actually strong enough to wing on!") and released from special bracelets. The issues in which she appeared can be found at the Digital Comic Museum. I believe Ditko has claimed credit for the parallel aspect of Spidey, but Ditko's then studio-mate Eric Stanton, an erotic artist, has said that he thinks he may have suggested this (see the "creation and development" section of Spider-Man's Wikipedia page for his statement).


(reposted; corrected and extended)

Regarding whether Spider-Man was slipped into Amazing (Adult) Fantasy because it was going to be cancelled, the points you cite against this claim are strong. Here's what I came up with thinking about them.


The cover could have been redrawn before Goodman decided he wasn't willing to go with the feature or after. The unused cover here was already for an issue of Amazing Fantasy (its logo doesn't correspond to one actually on the comic, so I take it it's there in the original art). So if it was redrawn before, the feature was apparently always going to appear in Amazing Fantasy. If it was redrawn after, it could be that Lee was hoping the issue would do well enough that he'd be able to have another go with the feature and wanted to give it the best chance.


When the cover was redrawn the logo was also changed. That implies when the cover was redrawn Lee was still thinking in terms of the success of the title. However, it could be that Lee was hoping not only to revive the feature, but the title and feature, the concept of putting Spidey into his own title not at that point being on the radar. If this is plausible it needn't be that he didn't know the title had been cancelled when the final cover was prepared. Marvel did revive titles sometimes (e.g. My Girl Pearl and Two-Gun Kid, but to be fair they both came back in transformed forms - Pearl was a ditzy young woman in her title's first version and a ditzy teen in its second, the new Two-Gun Kid was a different character).


I'm not on top of the job-number evidence at all, but in principle it could be that the back-up story in Amazing Spider-Man #1 was created for a future issue of Amazing Fantasy before the title was cancelled, and the one in #2 wasn't. A two-story format was used for several issues of The Incredible Hulk, so it may have been used in Amazing Spider-Man #2 simply because Marvel hadn't decided to do book-length stories by preference yet.


If so, the #1 back-up story could have been created before Goodman decided he wasn't going to go with the feature, but Lee probably had a berth lined up for it somewhere. Now, Amazing Fantasy #15 was the only issue of the series to bear exactly that title. For the first six issues the comic was Amazing Adventures. From ##7-14 it was Amazing Adult Fantasy (but "adult" was smaller than the rest of the logo). The Amazing Adventures issues had Kirby covers/lead stories, but the Amazing Adult Fantasy ones had Ditko covers and were wholly composed of Ditko stories.


The superhero features which debuted at the same time debuted as new lead features in anthology titles. Since Amazing [Adult] Fantasy was Ditko's title, that was probably the natural place to put "Spider-Man", esp. given that we know from its cancellation that they weren't thinking "We'll put it Strange Tales or Tales of Suspense, because Amazing Adult Fantasy is just too darn successful".


Arguably, Amazing Adult Fantasy wasn't an ordinary anthology title but a title with a more particular concept ("a surprise stories anthology comic wholly by Steve Ditko marketed as adult").


My guess is Tales of Suspense was the last of the anthology comics to get a superhero as it was the most successful of them rather than the reverse, the one most capable of succeeding without a superhero.


So the right way to look at it might be that Amazing Adult Fantasy had already failed by #14 and changing the title and putting Spidey's feature into it was a way of partly keeping the concept around which it was based alive, the three stories behind Spidey's in #15 being all Ditko's too. In this case it would be true that Spider-Man appeared in Amazing Fantasy because it was headed for cancellation but not in the sense in which I've always understood this claim.

Lee spoke about putting Spider-Man into Amazing Fantasy in this conversation with Roy Thomas. What he says, and he seems to have a very strong recollection of this, is that he wanted to start the feature off in his own title from the beginning, but Goodman wouldn't let him do it. So perhaps the Chameleon story was created before Goodman had fully stomped on the idea of doing a Spider-Man title, and Lee took the Spider-Man origin and put it into Amazing Fantasy. That could explain why Spidey debuted with an 11 page story backed by three other stories, while Thor, Ant-Man, the Human Torch (in his solo series) and Iron Man all debuted in 13 page stories backed by two others. The traditional account of Spidey's first appearance could be correct - Lee thinks it is, although he seems to be partly inferring - and his hope might have been that Goodman would let him revive Amazing Fantasy if the issue succeeded, but this is my speculation. The argument with which I started, that he was created in conjunction with Thor and Ant-Man, might be incorrect but the launch of their features could be connected to Lee's Amazing Fantasy strategem.


I had to take the first version of this post down because I'd misremembered the conversation completely. I also swore that that was the last post but now I'll swear this is.

But I never said I'd never talk about the subject again and it's now tomorrow so here are some further thoughts. Lee's statement that he really wanted to start Spider-Man off as the hero of his own title from the very beginning makes a lot of sense, because (i) that's what he had earlier done with the Hulk's feature (ii) he wrote Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk and the Spider-Man story in Amazing Fantasy #15 himself, and not the first instalments of Thor's, Ant-Man's, the Human Torch's or Iron Man's, which is plausibly an indication that he was less invested in them. I've tended to assume Spider-Man's feature was better than the Torch's series in Strange Tales because it just happened to come together better, but it now looks to me like the difference was Lee put more effort into setting it up. Note that the Hulk had a supporting cast from the beginning but not so Thor (other than Jane), Ant-Man, the Torch (in his own feature, other than Sue perhaps) and Iron Man.


The right way to look at Spidey's debut might be that since Amazing Adult Fantasy was going to be cancelled anyway Lee converted the final issue into a try-out for a replacement Amazing Fantasy title, but the issue did so well Goodman allowed Lee to go with his plan A of doing Amazing Spider-Man instead of his plan B of doing "Spider-Man" as the lead feature in a revived Amazing Fantasy. But the notion that Lee was hoping Amazing Fantasy would be revived is entirely my speculation; I have no evidence of it. Alternatively, Lee just wanted to run the prepared "Spider-Man" origin somewhere to give the feature a chance and the "Adult" had to be dropped from the title because Spider-Man was a teen hero designed to appeal to teens. It might not be possible that he ran the story behind Goodman's back; possibly Goodman was prepared to accept his doing it since the title was being cancelled.


If an entire first Spider-Man issue was prepared before Goodman's definitive veto came down, the second story intended for the issue need not have been one of the back-ups from the eventual #1 and #2. In fact, they're too short since I think the issue would most likely have been 24 pages long,(1) the origin is 11, and they're both only 10. Now, the intention might have been to fill the issue out some other way, but the origin and the first story from #1 are also broken into chapters (like the first issues of Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk), while the other early Spidey stories are not, and that is plausibly an indication it was originally created with the first story and the others in Amazing Spider-Man ##1-2 were created later, after the hiatus resulting from Goodman's veto. The hiatus is presumably why Peter has the right surname in the first story in #1 and the wrong one in the back-up.


Now, the lead story from #1 is 14 pages, but the first page is a splash with what could be padding at the top and the second recapitulates Spidey's origin in some of its panels. My best guess is the splash was originally the splash panel of a chapter, the first and last panels from page 2 were originally a tier below it (comp. the first page of the second part of the origin), and the story was therefore originally 13 pages, in which case the planned issue (origin and rescue of John Jameson story together) will have had 24 pages. (Alternatively, the original bottom tier could have been the bottom tier of page 2, but the image of Peter throwing his costume strikes me as a more plausible opening for a chapter/story than the shot of him going down the stairs. If I'm right captions and dialogue on the two pages have been altered.)


I should note that Peter's surname is given correctly on page 2, although I've argued it is substantially an addition and one would suppose it was prepared close to the preparation of the back-up story from Amazing Spider-Man #1. On the other hand, it only appears in the first panel, which I've argued could be from the original version of the story. On the other hand again, that particular caption may be one of the one that was revised as it's a "this is the opening of a new story" caption.


It might be objected that if I'm right one might have expected the first page of the John Jameson story to have had, in its original form, a "Spider-Man" banner above the splash panel, as the first pages of parts 2 and 3 of the story do, and that then there couldn't have been a final tier on the first page as there wouldn't have been room for it. My solution to this problem is that the chapters in early issues of Fantastic Four usually have individual titles, and the space now occupied by the "Spider-Man" banners over the splash panels of parts two and three of the John Jameson were likely originally intended for the same. (This layout is sometimes used in early Fantastic Four issues.) The first page of the John Jameson story, before alteration, may have been laid out in a way that accomodated its title without the need for as much empty space at the top of the page. Note that the opening page of the second part of the origin has an oddly sparse look; plausibly there was originally going to be a chapter title there too.


(1) I found this a bit difficult to check as even the GCD's indexers don't always list filler pages (some even note ads and letters pages, but others only do the stories). I think the first two issues of Fantastic Four had 25 pages and 24 was then the norm for a while.

I still find it strange that Stan did Amazing Fantasy #15 at all instead of a straight-on Spider-Man #1. The FF, Hulk, Daredevil, Sgt. Fury, Avengers and X-Men had #1 issue immediately and Thor, Ant-Man, Human Torch and Iron Man stayed in their anthologies. For much of the classic Silver Age Marvel until they expanded the line in 1968, no character was promoted from an anthology to their own title. Journey Into Mystery was simply retitled Thor. The Hulk was "demoted" to Tales To Astonish!

But now I understand why there are so many myths attached to how Spidey got published!

In the interview with Roy Thomas I linked to Lee's very clear as to why he couldn't launch Spider-Man in his own title; Goodman simply wouldn't let him. Regarding whether doing Spider-Man in an ongoing Amazing Fantasy was Lee's plan B, it's still just my speculation but it would explain the "Also in this issue: an important message to you, from the editor--about the new Amazing!" blurb on the cover. I don't know what the message from the editor actually says.

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