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've read and re-read and re-read different permutations of the above so many times it seems old hat by now. However...

The only point I've read multiple times which disagrees with any of the above is, Jack Kirby did several pages of the 1st story, at which point, STEVE DITKO saw the pages, and HE pointed out to Stan, "That's Archie's THE FLY".

Archie (as MLJ) had actually threatened Martin Goodman with legal action once before-- when the 1st issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA came out!  CAP was Marvel's variation on MLJ's THE SHIELD. Although THE SHIELD did not actually carry a shield, CAP's triangular shield resembled THE SHIELD's costume. So, with the 2nd issue, CAP's shield became round. (Which looks much better anyway!)

Jack regularly recycled and modified his old ideas for new characters and stories.  A lot of CHALLENGERS found its way into FANTASTIC FOUR. He'd done several THOR-related stories long before Marvel's. IRON MAN's actual origin story borrows elements from the GREEN ARROW origin Jack did several years earlier. So it is, THE FLY evolved from a string of similarly-named (and all unpublished) characters developed by Joe Simon, C.C. Beck, and eventually Jack Kirby. When Stan asked for more ideas, Jack did a new version of THE FLY. Stan didn't realize this, but Steve did. Perhaps Jack was over-worked, or perhaps Stan considered giving the project to Steve to see if HE could do something different with it. Steve contributed a LOT, including costume and several character designs (and later, an whole army of villains). But several elements of Jack's unpublished story remained, making SPIDER-MAN really a "creation by committee" by the time he finally saw publication.

If somebody else could look this up, WHICH magazine actually replaced AMAZING FANTASY on the schedule? It seems to me it was a western that had been previously cancelled, and was being revived. And it seems to me THAT would have been Martin Goodman's decision. So AMAZING FANTASY may have been destined to end anyway, and Goodman already had something in mind. Perhaps Stan just didn't want to wait on SPIDER-MAN-- and so, shoved it into the last issue of AF. Simple. So, while Stan wasn't able to do a SPIDER-MAN comic right then, 7 months later, the next time a hole opened in the schedule (when something else got cancelled), AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 finally appeared.

You could be right that it was Ditko who recognised the similarity to the Fly. I'd modify my previous post to remove the statement that it was Stan if the board allowed this. I can't double-check if I read the story in Simon's account as the piece I read is no longer online. If not I might have gotten it from one of your own posts.

 

I'm really convinced that the John Jameson story was created to be part of the same issue as the origin. The issue will have had a structure a lot like Fantastic Four #1 - essentially an origin followed by an adventure, but further broken into parts with each part carrying its own title. (The structure of the first The Incredible Hulk is similar but the distinction between the origin and the adventure is a bit less sharp there.) The origin and John Jameson stories are similar in tone: very intense, and focused on Peter's struggles and frustrations. Note that the John Jameson story ends with Spider-Man's being declared wanted by the FBI, and this wasn't followed up on in subsequent early Amazing Spider-Man stories. If I'm right this was originally going to be the end of the first issue. Also note that in this case JJJ wasn't a belated addition to the series. He may have been conceived essentially as Spider-Man's Thunderbolt Ross - the guy who relentlessly hounds the hero.

 

If Spidey's origin wasn't originally intended for Amazing Fantasy #15 it may be that he was created a bit ahead of Thor and Ant-Man. The Incredible Hulk #1 came out in the month between Fantastic Four #4 and #5, and Spider-Man, Thor and Ant-Man debuted the month Fantastic Four #6 appeared.

 

I wrote a post here last year for which I tried to work out which titles replaced which at early Marvel. (I neglected to list the cancellation of the second version of My Girl Pearl. The last issue appeared in Jan. 1961.) It looked to me like Amazing Fantasy was replaced by Two-Gun Kid.

The John Jameson story thing sounds right. Something that struck me when I re-read all of these a few years ago was, I really hated ASM #1-- even including the origin in AF #15, the lead story in ASM #1 was really the most needlessly mean-spirited, nasty episode in that entire part of Spider-Man's history.  I didn't enjoy it at all.  Who knows?  Perhaps THAT is what Goodman objected to-- not the "spider" or "teen" thing, but just the dark, negative tone of it all?

Things got better by #2.

Thanks, I thought it was one of those westerns. They all seem interchangeable to me, so it's good to know which one it was.

There's a long line of masked western heroes/western heroes with secret identities in comics. I think they all ultimately derive from the Lone Ranger, although he didn't maintain a double identity. Masked western heroes could be considered a sixth Golden Age superhero type, with superpowered guys, costumed crusaders, patriotic heroes, magicians and ghosts. Solo kid heroes might be a seventh type - I can think of a couple (including the bizarre Tomboy from Captain Flash, who is just this girl who fights crime). There's overlap between the types, of course.

 

When you consider how important humour became to Spidey's series the lack of humour in his opening stories is striking.

An eighth class could be comedic heroes, including heroes who are supposed to be funny (e.g. Beau Brummel, Siegel and Shuster's Funnyman), parodies (e.g. Captain Milksop, Supersnipe, if that's the right way to describe him), and heroes based around zany premises played straight or semi-straight (e.g. Tomboy, Ed Winiarski's the Vagabond [a hobo who was a "super crime fighter", who appeared in Golden Age Marvel comics].)

Luke Blanchard:

"When you consider how important humour became to Spidey's series the lack of humour in his opening stories is striking."

I never made the connection until last night, after I typed that post... As has been pointed out to me by several people, Stan's best talent as a writer is "smartass adolescent humor". He did it for ages in the 50's, and when he revived superheroes in the 60's, he added it to the superhero books as well. ESPECIALLY in SPIDER-MAN. Where would Spidey be without all the smartass comments?

So... when Stan tries to be "serious"... it really comes off BAD. BAAAAAAAAD. Which explains the whole damn SILVER SURFER run. Well, truthfully, that run had a LOT of problems, lack of humor was only one of them. About the only thing it had going for it was John Buscema's art-- but without decent stories, it's just about unreadable. By rights, John Buscema should never have been yanked off THE AVENGERS. With Roy Thomas (plus George Klein or Tom Palmer), Buscema did some of his best work ever over there.

Anyway, when Grantray-Lawrence did their 20 episodes of the SPIDER-MAN cartoon show (1967-68), one of many things they got right was the humor. Together with the incredibly cool jazz music, it made it stand out from anything else that was being done on Saturday mornings at the time... even Hanna-Barbera's FANTASTIC FOUR, which actually tended to have better stories (many of which were adapted from the original comics). It's a damn shame G-L went bankrupt one episode into the 2nd season...

I must say I loved (and still love) Stan's seriousness.  Especially when I was 10 in 1968, and one felt one was growing up into a truly crazy world -- and not the good crazy, but the war-racism-pollution-corruption crazy.  The Silver Surfer and Thor were deeply resonant, as were the talk-talk-punch battles between Captain America and the Red Skull.  Horse races and mileage, perhaps, but I felt it was grand stuff.  And I happened to love the first, third and fifth issues of the Silver Surfer.  It lost something when it went back to normal size.  I think the thing it suffered from, after a bit,   Interestingly, the Surfer was one of a host of Fantastic Four guest-stars that had fans clamoring for their own series, but couldn't sustain an ongoing magazine.  (Inhumans, Black Panther).  Part of it was the lack of humor, but Thor and the Hulk did pretty well without cracking jokes; a lot of it was the lack of private lives and supporting casts.  Thor became a great strip when he started accumulating all those Asgardians around him.  (This lack of private lives and supporting characters is what I think finished off the original X-Men, but that's a separate post, one of these days.)  Part of it was the essential stasis of the situations.  What do the Inhumans do once they break out of the Great Refuge?  What does the incredibly powerful Silver Surfer do after a certain amount of bumming around Earth?  It took decades for the Black Panther to have some sort of successful take.

Oh, and as the webbing not sticking to Peter...I don't remember a lot of cases where that happened; anyway, how does he stick to walls?  Apparently, we don't really truly know how real spiders do it!

Henry R. Kujawa said:

Luke Blanchard:

"When you consider how important humour became to Spidey's series the lack of humour in his opening stories is striking."

I never made the connection until last night, after I typed that post... As has been pointed out to me by several people, Stan's best talent as a writer is "smartass adolescent humor". He did it for ages in the 50's, and when he revived superheroes in the 60's, he added it to the superhero books as well. ESPECIALLY in SPIDER-MAN. Where would Spidey be without all the smartass comments?

So... when Stan tries to be "serious"... it really comes off BAD. BAAAAAAAAD. Which explains the whole damn SILVER SURFER run. Well, truthfully, that run had a LOT of problems, lack of humor was only one of them. About the only thing it had going for it was John Buscema's art-- but without decent stories, it's just about unreadable. By rights, John Buscema should never have been yanked off THE AVENGERS. With Roy Thomas (plus George Klein or Tom Palmer), Buscema did some of his best work ever over there.

Anyway, when Grantray-Lawrence did their 20 episodes of the SPIDER-MAN cartoon show (1967-68), one of many things they got right was the humor. Together with the incredibly cool jazz music, it made it stand out from anything else that was being done on Saturday mornings at the time... even Hanna-Barbera's FANTASTIC FOUR, which actually tended to have better stories (many of which were adapted from the original comics). It's a damn shame G-L went bankrupt one episode into the 2nd season...

As a thought experiment I sometimes imagine Lee and Kirby doing the first Inhumans storyline with Giant-Man and the Wasp instead of the Fantastic Four. I think if Lee and Kirby had brought the same style and stories to Giant-Man's strip that they brought to the FF's from about the beginning of the Inhumans' debut it would have been successful. But while I like Lee's characterisation of Hank and Jan, it wouldn't have been Fantastic Four; the central characters of that title just had an extra something, particularly the Thing.

 

Many characters owe their success to how strongly readers identify with them. I think this identification has two aspects. Firstly, the reader may recognise an aspect of himself in the character; perhaps he suffers from self-hatred like the Thing, or is alienated from his peers like Peter Parker. Secondly, the character may offer a satisfactory identification fantasy; perhaps the reader feels he would like to be Batman, or she would like to be a princess. At one level Hulk stories make being the Hulk seem terrible; Banner is always on the run, ragged etc. But at another level the fantasy of being the Hulk is deeply satisfactory; the Hulk gets to lose his temper and smash whatever bothers him.

 

Possibly the Inhumans' and the Black Panther's feature outings didn't catch on because they failed to make a strong connection between the characters and the readers. But I've always liked the original X-Men, so in their case I'd wonder if the problem was just that the adventures and storytelling, for much of the feature's run, weren't quite exciting enough - as it were, more like what was actually done with Hank and Jan than what was done with Fantastic Four from about #45.

 

It's impossible to know whether the Surfer's series might have lasted longer if it had not initially been published in a giant format. Perhaps the problem with the stories wasn't just that they were static, but that they were static in a downbeat way: the Surfer suffered and lost, he was denied satisfaction and triumph.

 

When this board was established it had departments devoted to particular characters/franchises. These were eliminated a while ago, but I have a copy of the Classic X-Men Memories thread you started, JGG, if you should want it.

I think one of the reasons why you say the Silver Surfer lost something when it went from giant size down to more traditional size is because that was exactly the mandate from the publisher.  "Either make him into a more traditional Marvel superhero with lots of guestars, or pull the plug.  It's not selling."

So I think that's what Stan did, and that's why he lost interest in it... it failed.

Presumably a title does build up an audience over time, so those titles introduced when the market is strong have an advantage over newer titles when the market turns down. The market apparently did turn down around the end of the 60s or early 70s, killing off some long-run titles (X-Men, Aquaman). So perhaps we should judge how well Silver Surfer did against other titles introduced in the same time period. Iron Man, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk went on to long runs, and Sub-Mariner went on to a decent one, but Dr Strange, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD and Captain Marvel (before its first cancellation) only lasted about as long as the Surfer's title.

 

Doctor Strange went on to have a good run when his feature was revived in the 70s, initially in Marvel Premiere in 1972, then his own title. Captain Marvel was remodelled in the latter issues of his original run. This was briefly revived in 1970 and then more lastingly revived in 1972.

I always had the impression that Captain Marvel was like a sputtering engine... it would go for about 6 issues, then be reformated or change of artist...another six issues, a change of direction...another six issues and a dramatic revamp...three issues, then suspended...another two, and cancelled.   revived, another six issues, then a change of direction... missed deadlines, fill in issue, resume schedule... 

If ever there was an example of a title circling the drain...

 

You may have something about characters introduced when the market is strong vs weak... If the audience is large, a new character is known by many and has wide exposure before being spun off...or even after...

But if the character is introduced in a down turn, the cards and odds are already stacked against them.

 

When a series or a character's series is cancelled, I don't get the impression that it is the fans who cancel the book, so much as the publisher, who's looking for dead wood and places to cut expenses... so that review occurs about every six months or so... and I can see just when that occurs in some series, as there's a change in direction, artists, or premise at this point.

 

In the case of X-men, I think the final year with Neal Adams artwork and RoyThomas writing was going strong... there was just a case of mis-reporting comic book returns that made the numbers look bad...  For example, if you were told to cut the titles off the books and return them to the distributor...where to you record this?  "Oh, just lump them at the bottom... you know, that's what the X- in X-men means... that you cut the top off.  So list all the books in total there."

That sort of uninformed reasoning may have lead to gross misrepresentation of how popular or success that individual series was, and so, "chop-chop".    Frankly, I don't know why they would have reintroduced Professor X in 65, and then had a radical change in artwork that looks like a fill in issue to me in #66 before they killed it.  I can't figure why Neal Adams didn't draw that last issue, unless he'd already been warned that it was over.

Luke Blanchard said:

Presumably a title does build up an audience over time, so those titles introduced when the market is strong have an advantage over newer titles when the market turns down. The market apparently did turn down around the end of the 60s or early 70s, killing off some long-run titles (X-Men, Aquaman). So perhaps we should judge how well Silver Surfer did against other titles introduced in the same time period. Iron Man, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk went on to long runs, and Sub-Mariner went on to a decent one, but Dr Strange, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD and Captain Marvel (before its first cancellation) only lasted about as long as the Surfer's title.

 

Doctor Strange went on to have a good run when his feature was revived in the 70s, initially in Marvel Premiere in 1972, then his own title. Captain Marvel was remodelled in the latter issues of his original run. This was briefly revived in 1970 and then more lastingly revived in 1972.

I talk about Captain Marvel a bit in this thread:

http://captaincomics.ning.com/forum/topics/so-about-the-60s-70s-c-a...

His title was cancelled with #62, the May '79 issue.  Since the revival in 1972 Luke mentioned, the book had been a bi-monthly title.  5 more episodes are published in Marvel Spotlight (Vol 2), in issues #1-4 and #8.  MS #1 had a cover date of July '79, so had there been a CM #63, it would have showed up on stands in the same month.  There are a few examples of titles being cancelled and the story being concluded elsewhere, usually several months later -  sometimes in Marvel Team-Up or Two-In-One, but always with a noticeable gap.  Marvel Spotlight just more-or-less took CM's place on the schedule.

Marvel may have gotten a bit of a sales boost out of having a new issue #1 instead of an issue #63, but it wasn't enough to save the CM series.  The creative team of Doug Moench and Pat Broderick worked on the last few issues of CM's series, and did the first 3 issues of Marvel Spotlight.  MS #4 was by Marv Wolfman and Steve Ditko, and MS #8 was by Dick Riley (who?), Mike W. Barr, and Frank Miller (!).  This is one of Mar-Vell's last appearances (possibly the last) until his death in the early 80s graphic novel.

Kirk's description of a "sputtering engine" is perfect.

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