Late Nights in the Silver Age

Part One of Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) 


My, oh my, what it must be like to own a copy of this classic comic. I know that I would be in Heaven if I could just hold this precious baby in my arms. Well, I have the second best thing and that’s the mega-huge Amazing Spider-Man omnibus. It contains the first appearance of Spider-Man, a few annuals, and the first 38 issues of Amazing Spider-Man. But, tonight, I’m going to focus on the comic that started it all. 

In the omnibus, Stan Lee does an introduction about how Spider-Man started. It’s an intriguing story. Lee had the idea for Spider-Man in his head as a series, but his bosses didn’t think that Spider-Man would survive. Lee states a few of his bosses’ excuses, such as Spider-Man can’t be a teenager or Spider-Man can’t have so many problems with his life. Since Lee knew that he wasn’t going to get his wish, he and Steve Ditko decided to incorporate Spider-Man into the series, Amazing Fantasy, which was coming to an end. Lee knew that the editors wouldn’t care about what was in the book, so he introduced Ol’ Web-head and a legacy started.

Since this was Lee’s and Ditko’s perhaps only chance ever to show the world Spidey/Peter Parker, they had to establish him quickly in Amazing Fantasy #15. The first two pages show readers that he’s unpopular with his classmates as they deem him too nerdy and too quiet. He’s often bullied and left behind, which is a feeling that some of us know how it feels. Lee also introduces aunt May and uncle Ben, who show their nephew plenty of love as if they’re Peter’s parents. Although Peter enjoys his family, he really wants to be noticed by his school peers.

On the third and the fourth page, Lee and Ditko creates the iconic scene where Peter Parker is bitten by a spider, who has been zapped with radioactive rays. It doesn’t take long for Parker to develop his powers. He leaves the science exhibit where the incident occurs and immediately his reflexes are faster as he dodges an oncoming car. He is also able to scale walls, to bend metal due to enhanced strength, and to balance himself with ease on a thin cable.

The timid Parker still think that his new powers could be a joke so he decides to put them to a test a final time in a wrestling ring. Parker’s outfit is simply a long-sleeve shirt, a pair of pants, and a handkerchief as a mask. It’s better than his opponent Crusher Hogan’s outfit, which is a tight spandex underwear-type thing. Parker doesn’t necessarily wrestle Hogan, Parker just takes Hogan to an extremely high point in the air on the ring post and Hogan submits to due to fear. A tv producer watches Parker with a plan to make a buck and to take advantage of the young teenager.

Parker’s confidence grows after the event and after the producer tells him that he wants to do a show with him. Parker creates himself a device that will help him make webbing and Ditko does a fantastic job of showing Parker using the device in detail. Ditko draws an armband to Parker’s forearm and a pressure pad that Parker uses in his palm to squeeze in order to release the fluid. Parker happens to create his beautiful, legendary blue and red outfit on the same page. Ditko draws the suit thin for the small Parker. The suit is primarily red on top with black curvy lines shaping a spider’s web. A black spider sits at the heart of the top piece of the suit. The top also has blue in its section as a secondary color featured on the ribs, the back, and the underneath areas of the arms. The bottom section is all blue, with the exception of the boots, which are red with the black webbing lines. The blue is dark with many black inks featured in the suit. It gives the blue a chance to really stand out. Although Parker is a science whiz, he shows that he has a taste for art design that no one can compare to or Ditko does, but I’ll say Parker for the sake of Lee’s script. 

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