Contrary to popular belief, the character of Spider-man, aka Peter Parker, didn’t debut in Spider-man Issue #1 or Amazing Spider-man #1. Instead, his first appearance was in Amazing Fantasy issue #15 in August 1962, sold to children everywhere at the cover price of 12 cents. Thanks to my subscription to the Marvel site, I was able to sit down today and read the issue itself where Peter initially donned the webbed duds and swung off into the night.
What an issue! The entire story is told in 12 pages, broken up into 2 parts. Peter Parker’s transformation into Uncle Spidey is established in part 1, and the whole story where he becomes a wrestler then finds out Uncle Ben was murdered by a man he let get away is told in part 2. In the Spider-man movie it takes forever for the hero to swing into action. In more recent years, his origin has been retold countless times, but I prefer the original. It doesn’t feel as drawn out and melodramatic as later renderings.
Here’s some other noteworthy trivia about Spiderman’s origin. First off, there was no hyphen. Today it’s Spider-man, and back then it was simply Spiderman. I think most people forget the hyphen, and I think it’s better that way (we don’t say Super-Man or Bat-Man for instance). Also, neither Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy appear at all. Instead, there’s a black haired girl named Sally that disappeared from the Spiderman story entirely for all I know. A lot of people argue to this day that Gwen Stacy was the girl Peter was meant for, others say it was always meant to be MJ. Out of defiance (and annoyance), I’ll take the stance that it should have been Sally all along. Reboot!
Kidding aside, there’s one last interesting tidbit I want to share. Uncle Ben never says to Peter Parker “With great power comes great responsiblility.” Instead, that’s tacked on by Stan Lee at the very end as a moral coda to the whole story. I always thought it was Ben who told him that, and it seemed like a big plot hole to me. Why in the world would Uncle Ben say “With great power comes great responsibility” to Peter? Was Ben an armchair philosopher during his down time?
I’d highly recommend reading Amazing Fantasy issue #15 for the reasons given, plus because Steve Ditko’s art is excellent. You have to give the guy credit after all, he did create the most annoyingly complex superhero costume out there. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to draw the webs on Spiderman’s costume over and over (that’s got to be worse than animating the spikes on Bart Simpson‘s hair).
I’ve written a book titled The Madness of Art: Short Stories available on Amazon in paperback and as an ebook.
If you enjoyed reading about the origin of Spiderman, you might also like to read my top 5 pieces of superhero trivia.