Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962), the first appearance and origin story of Spider-Man. Cover art by Jack Kirby (penciler) and Steve Ditko (inker).The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (March 1963). Cover art by Jack Kirby (penciler) and Steve Ditko (inker).Ben Reilly as Spider-Man, showing his version of the costume.The Black Spider-Man costumeAmazing Spider-Man #500, featuring Spider-Man along with his wife, Mary Jane Watson, surrounded by many of his numerous villains. Art by J. Scott Campbell.

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Spider-Man is a fictional character, the alter ego of Peter Benjamin Parker and a Marvel Comics superhero created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko. He first appeared in the comic book Amazing Fantasy #15 (August, 1962), with a cover drawn by Jack Kirby. more...

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He has since become one of the world's most popular superheroes.

The character expanded the dramatic potential of the fantasy and superhero subgenres by having a strong focus on a younger, more troubled character and his personal struggles. Since his creation, his popularity has led to many of the superheroes who predated him being reworked with more complex personas.

Along with Superman and Batman, Spider-Man is one of the most recognizable of all superheroes. Through the years, he has appeared in many media, including several animated series, a daily and Sunday comic strip and, recently, two very successful films, with a third one in production.

Meanwhile, Marvel has published multiple ongoing comic book series featuring the character, the flagship title being The Amazing Spider-Man. Over the last 40 years, Peter Parker has grown from a shy high-school student to a troubled college undergrad to a married man, but the core of the character has remained the same.

Publication history

Creation of character

Various accounts of the character's creation have been given.

Speaking in the 1980s, Stan Lee said the idea for the series sprang out of the apparent increased teenage interest in the new Marvel characters. He wanted to create a character that could cater to them specifically. One influence Lee has described, for the character's name at least, is the non-superpowered pulp magazine crimefighter The Spider. In the Spider-Man movie DVD extras, Stan Lee's Mutants, Monsters and Marvels and elsewhere, Lee said he was inspired by seeing a fly climb up a wall. When discussing this in documentaries, he often comments "I've told this story so many times, it may actually be true." Originally, Lee assigned Jack Kirby to illustrate the story, but after seeing sample pages, decided Kirby's style was "too 'larger than life'" for what he wanted. Lee turned to artist Steve Ditko, who found the concept particularly appealing and developed a visual motif Lee found satisfactory.

Kirby stated in a 1982 interview in Will Eisner's Spirit Magazine that Lee had minimal involvement in the creation of the character. "Spider-Man was discussed between Joe and myself. It was the last thing Joe and I had discussed. We had a strip called the, or a script, called 'The Silver Spider'. The Silver Spider was going into a magazine called Black Magic. Black Magic folded with Crestwood and we were left with the script. I believe I said this could become a thing called Spider-Man, see, a superhero character. I had a lot of faith in the superhero character that they could be brought back ... and I said Spider-Man would be a fine character to start with. But Joe had already moved on. So the idea was already there when I talked to Stan." 1

Simon, in his 1990 autobiography, disputes this account. "here were a few holes in Jack's never-dependable memory. For instance, there was no Black Magic involved at all. ... Jack brought in the Spider-Man logo that I had loaned to him before we changed the name to The Silver Spider. Kirby laid out the story to Lee about the kid who finds a ring in a spiderweb, gets his powers from the ring, and goes forth to fight crime armed with The Silver Spider's old web-spinning pistol. Stan Lee said, 'Perfect, just what I want.' Lee told Kirby to pencil-up an origin story. Kirby...using parts of an old rejected superhero named Night Fighter...revamped the old Silver Spider script, including revisions suggested by Lee. But when Kirby showed Lee the sample pages, it was Lee's turn to gripe, He had been expecting a skinny young kid who is transformed into a skinny young kid with spider powers. Kirby had had him turn into...Captain America with cobwebs. ... He turned Spider-Man over to Steve Ditko, who ... ignored Kirby's pages, tossed the character's magic ring, web-pistol and goggles ... and completely redesigned Spider-Man's costume and equipment. In this life, he became high-school student Peter Parker, who gets his spider powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. ... Lastly, the Spider-Man logo was redone and a dashing hyphen added." 2

Elsewhere, Simon gave additional details. "In the late 1950s, Archie Comics asked me to create a new line of superheroes. I gave the Silver Spider sketches to Jack Kirby and I changed the name again, this time to The Fly. Jack held onto the sketches and when Stan Lee asked Jack for new ideas, Jack brought the original Spider-Man pages to Marvel Comics. Stan handed the pages over to Steve Ditko. Ditko, on first seeing those pages, commented, 'This is Joe Simon's Fly.' Steve Ditko worked up his own version of the character's costume.

Ditko's recollections in Comic Book Artist #3 (Winter 1999) were similar. Much earlier, in a rare comtemporaenous account, Ditko specified his and Lee's contributions, in a mail interview with Gary Martin published in Comic Fan #2 (Summer 1965), and reprinted at the defunct but cached site] Excerpt:

GARY - Who originated Spider-Man?
STEVE - Stan Lee thought the name up. I did costume, web gimmick on wrist & spider signal.

When publisher Goodman was eventually presented with the concept, he was resistant to the unorthodox ideas of a teenage hero with a troubled personal life, but allowed the character to be used as a cover story for a dying anthology title, Amazing Fantasy, since content mattered little for a title slated to be cancelled. The story was published in issue #15, and months later, sales figures indicated that the cover story was unexpectedly popular. Goodman called for a regular series for the character.

Will Murray in Comic Book Marketplace #44, suggested that Lee originally might have been considering Spider-Man's debut for the anthology Tales of Suspense rather than Amazing Fantasy. Murray based this on the launch pattern of several Marvel characters at the time, including Thor (in Journey into Mystery), Ant-Man (in Tales to Astonish) and a solo Human Torch feature (in Strange Tales), as well as on the production numbers for individual stories. He speculated that Goodman's skepticism about the feature, and a possible attempt to revitalize Amazing Fantasy, led to Spider-Man appearing there. Although another issue of Amazing Fantasy was in production, he says, the title was cancelled to clear a space in the limited distribution schedule for another series.


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