Amazing Fantasy #15, 1962 - Continuing the numbering from the Amazing Adult Fantasy series, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko unknowingly begin the Marvel age with this historic issue. The Amazing Spiderman makes his first appearance with Steve Ditko at the artistic helm. Longtime veteran Jack Kirby illustrates this familiar cover (with Ditko inks) after Ditko's original was rejected.
This version is simpler, cleaner and admittedly more iconic, but still far from Kirby's best covers. The background perspective is drawn from below and yet we see the hero at eye level, not implausible but a stretch nonetheless. The "speed lines" of Spider-man and the cloud shape above appear to have been added by the colorist but don't detract from the overall effect. Kirby fits the building on the right comfortably within the negative space of Spider-man's figure, a deft move to counter-balance the composition. Ironically, the series was slated to end with this issue, yet the blurb on the lower right suggests a continuation. Curiously, in his very first appearance, the web-slinger has no qualms about mentioning his secret identity out loud to his captive.
Ditko does a capable, but not extraordinary job with Spider-man's origin story. The artistic high point is the opening splash of Peter Parker in high school. Ridiculed and humiliated, his shadow metaphorically hints at his upcoming transformation. This tale has been reprinted frequently over the years, but glossy and computer-colored reproductions pale compared to their newsprint counterparts. This origin was reprinted in Marvel Tales #1 (1964) but a more recent and affordable version exists in Marvel Tales #137 (1982).
Most people are unaware that three more Ditko stories reside in the same issue. They follow the same sci-fi/mystery format that filled many Atlas titles in the 1960s. "The Bell-Ringer" has generally weak visuals, but the "Man In The Mummy Case" and "There Are Martians Among Us" rate among his better silver age works. This is the only Amazing Fantasy issue with Ditko art. See today's posts or more Ditko, Kirby or Amazing Spider-Man issues. See also this blog's Ditko checklist.
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Kirby cover pencils /Ditko inks = **
"Spider-Man" Ditko story pencils and inks 11 pages = ***
"The Bell-Ringer" Ditko story pencils and inks 3 pages = **
"Man In The Mummy Case" Ditko story pencils and inks 5 pages = ***
"There Are Martians Among Us" Ditko story pencils and inks 5 pages = ***
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