The Spider-Man Challenge Day 1: Amazing Fantasy #15: “Spider-Man!”

“Spider-Man!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Steve Ditko

So here it is, the first ever Spider-Man story. It’s crazy that an 11 page story featured in the last issue of a cancelled anthology book would go on to become a multi-million dollar media force, but I guess that’s how those things happen.

If you like super hero comics, you’ve read Amazing Fantasy #15. ¬†As the King-Size Spider-Man Summer Special puts it :

Image property of the amazing Chris’s Invincible Super-Blog (www.the-isb.com)

So rather than recap the specifics for you, I’m going to share some general observations.

  • First things first, the cover. Man, I can’t get enough of the cover, no matter how many times I see it. Talk about dynamic. Beyond that, I love that the whole cover is Spider-Man grabbing some dude just to tell him who he is. I didn’t notice the little guys on the building until a couple of years ago. Is that where the guy Spidey grabbed came from? Who are those guys? Are they friends with the green suited guy? So many questions…\
  • Didn’t realize until this read that the whole “Aunt May’s wheatcakes” thing came from this issue.
  • Even for what is essentially a first issue, Lee’s writing pretty sharp. The dynamic between Peter and his Aunt and Uncle is really well developed and there’s some pretty fun dialogue (“Give our regards to the atom-smashers, Peter!”).
  • Ditko’s art is kind of all over the place here. For the most part it’s good, even great in spots (The Crusher Hogan fight, the whole page where Peter lets the thief get away). The weirdness kind of sets in during the Peter/Aunt May/ Uncle Ben at home scenes, where everyone just loses detail. I chalk this up to how impossibly old Ditko draws Ben and May.
  • The three other, non-Spidey stories by Lee and Ditko in the issue range from the bizarre to the amusing. I’m not sure what the message behind “The Bell Ringer” is, but the Christian overtones on the ending are interesting. “Man In The Mummy Case” and “There Are Martians Among Us!” are perfectly capable Twilight Zone-y sci-fi/fantasy stories (I especially like how the first page of “Mummy Case” looks like dead-on EC horror stuff).

Final thoughts: Amazing Fantasy #15 is a classic. It’s a great story and, for my money, maybe the best origin comic there is. I’d love to hear what you guys think. Tomorrow: Amazing Spider-Man #1!

-Max

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