Amazing Fantasy #15
Issue(s): Amazing Fantasy #15
Review/plot: Stan Lee goes a lot further with his "super-heroes with ordinary problems" theme here with his story of a teen-age loser who gets super-powers. As we'll see here and in future issues, getting super-powers doesn't suddenly make Peter Parker's life a whole lot better - at least not for long.
The issue starts out with a caption that says "Like costume heroes? Confidentially, we in the comic mag business refer to them as "long underwear characters"! And, as you know, they're a dime a dozen! But, we think you may find our Spider-Man just a bit... different!" That's as much a mission statement as you're going to get to describe the major innovations that were going on at Marvel at this time. It's hard for a modern reader to grasp since the writing is corny and the art is somewhat simple, but it was definitely something very different at the time.
Peter Parker is a real nerdy kid. He's got a a great relationship with his Aunt and Uncle, but the other kids won't bring him along to the dance (He doesn't know a cha-cha from a waltz.). Instead he goes to a science fair where they are performing radioactive experiments (!), something no one seems to concerned about.
In the experiment, a spider gets blasted with radioactivity, and before it dies, Parker gets bitten. He feels strange, and walks in front of a moving car, but suddenly manages to jump out of the way... and half way up a building.
He finds he can climb walls and has super-strength. On the way home he passes a contest where anyone who can stay in the ring for three minutes with Crusher Hogan receives $100. He runs home, takes off his glasses and puts on a netted mask, and then returns to defeat Hogan.
His feats earn him the attention of a TV Producer, who gets him a gig on the Ed Sullivan show. Peter goes home and makes himself the classic red and blue Spider-Man costume, and designs his web shooters
They stick to the ceiling because there is "strong liquid cement at the end". Spidey is a smash on the Ed Sullivan show, but he lets a thief being chased by a cop pass him without making an effort to stop him because he's "thru being pushed around -- by anyone! From now on I just look out for number-one -- that means -- me!"
At home, Peter receives a microscope he's always wanted from Aunt May and Uncle Ben. He amends his new philosophy to include his Aunt and Uncle in the people he will look out for. Some time later, after receiving some press, he comes home to find his Uncle has been shot dead by a burglar. He rushes to the warehouse where the burglar is hiding out and defeats him, only to find that the burglar is the thief he refused to stop.
Distraught, he wanders the streets while the narrator intones the famous "with great power there must also come -- great responsibility!" line.
It's definitely dated but it's still draws you in. I've read it so many times it is hard to comment on.
Because this is such a seminal issue, many of the unnamed background characters here have been retconned into some importance by later stories, especially in Untold Tales of Spider-Man.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Based on a newspaper seen in Inner Demons, Spider-Man is getting press in the Daily Bugle at the same time that the FF is fighting Miracle Man in FF #3. Therefore, this issue needs to take place concurrently with early FF issues.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #137
Inbound References (19): show
he manages to dodge the oncoming car and leap halfway up a building without the driver of that car noticing.
the driver says, "That was one egghead who won't daydream any more when he crosses a street!" with absolutely no concern that he almost hit a person. shouldn't they at least wonder what happened to the body?
if this occurs concurrently with early FF, what is the age difference bet peter parker and the members of the FF? seems like reed and sue were fairly young at the time they first got their powers. but in more recent marvel stories, there definitely seems to be at least 10+ years between peter and reed. i suppose this might work. peter parker's about 15 when he gets bit. reed richards is about 25-30 when they get hit by the cosmic rays?
Peter is the same age as Johnny. Sue is a few years older. At this point (pre-sliding time scale), Reed and Ben are World War II veterans, which i estimate puts them in their late 30s (~20 in 1944 makes them ~38 in 1962). At the time that their ages are 'frozen' i would estimate that Peter and Johnny are in their mid-20s, Sue is early 30s, and Reed and Ben are mid-40s.
Fred Hembeck pointed out on his website that Liz Allan's head on the first page appeared to be redrawn by somebody else.
The Marvel Masterworks reprint of this issue attributes the redrawing to Al Hartley, long-time romance artist.
Spidey suffers an early case of Northstar/Aurora syndrome: his costume is meant to be red and black, but the use of blue highlights ultimately makes his costume a less spider-lke red and blue. (Something similar would happen to Nightcrawler, of course.)
Ditko's original rejected cover was first published on the back of Marvelmania #2.
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