Creation and development In 1962, with the success of the Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics editor and head writer Stan Lee was casting about for a new superhero idea. He said that the idea for Spider-Man arose from a surge in teenage demand for comic books, and the desire to create a character with whom teens could identify.:1 In his autobiography, Lee cites the non-superhuman pulp magazine crime fighter The Spider as a great influence,:130 and in a multitude of print and video interviews, Lee stated he was further inspired by seeing a spider climb up a wall-—adding in his autobiography that he has told that story so often he has become unsure of whether or not this is true.[note 1] Looking back on the creation of Spider-Man, 1990s Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco stated he did not believe that Spider-Man would have been given a chance in today's comics world, where new characters are vetted with test audiences and marketers.:9 At that time, however, Lee had to get only the consent of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman for the character's approval.:9 In a 1986 interview, Lee described in detail his arguments to overcome Goodman's objections.[note 2] Goodman eventually agreed to let Lee try out Spider-Man in the upcoming final issue of the canceled science-fiction and supernatural anthology series Amazing Adult Fantasy, which was renamed Amazing Fantasy for that single issue, #15 (August 1962).:95 Comics historian Greg Theakston says that Lee, after receiving Goodman's approval for the name Spider-Man and the "ordinary teen" concept, approached artist Jack Kirby. Kirby told Lee about an unpublished character on which he collaborated with Joe Simon in the 1950s, in which an orphaned boy living with an old couple finds a magic ring that granted him super-human powers. Lee and Kirby "immediately sat down for a story conference" and Lee afterward directed Kirby to flesh out the character and draw some pages. Steve Ditko would be the inker.[note 3] When Kirby showed Lee the first six pages, Lee recalled, "I hated the way he was doing it! Not that he did it badly — it just wasn't the character I wanted; it was too heroic".:12 Lee turned to Ditko, who developed a visual style Lee found satisfactory. Ditko recalled: “ "One of the first things I did was to work up a costume. A vital, visual part of the character. I had to know how he looked ... before I did any breakdowns. For example: A clinging power so he wouldn't have hard shoes or boots, a hidden wrist-shooter versus a web gun and holster, etc. ... I wasn't sure Stan would like the idea of covering the character's face but I did it because it hid an obviously boyish face. It would also add mystery to the character...." ”
Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962). Cover art by Jack Kirby (penciller) & Steve Ditko (inker). In an early recollection of the character's creation, Ditko described his and Lee's contributions in a mail interview with Gary Martin published in Comic Fan #2 (Summer 1965): "Stan Lee thought the name up. I did costume, web gimmick on wrist & spider signal." At the time, Ditko shared a Manhattan studio with noted fetish artist Eric Stanton, an art-school classmate who, in a 1988 interview with Theakston, recalled that although his contribution to Spider-Man was "almost nil", he and Ditko had "worked on storyboards together and I added a few ideas. But the whole thing was created by Steve on his own... I think I added the business about the webs coming out of his hands".:14 Kirby disputed Lee's version of the story, and claimed Lee had minimal involvement in the character's creation. According to Kirby, the idea for Spider-Man had originated with Kirby and Joe Simon, who in the 1950s had developed a character called The Silver Spider for the Crestwood comic Black Magic, who was subsequently not used.[note 4] Simon, in his 1990 autobiography, disputed Kirby's account, asserting that Black Magic was not a factor, and that he (Simon) devised the name "Spider-Man" (later changed to "The Silver Spider"), while Kirby outlined the character's story and powers. Simon later elaborated that his and Kirby's character conception became the basis for Simon's Archie Comics superhero the Fly. Artist Steve Ditko stated that Lee liked the name Hawkman from DC Comics, and that "Spider-Man" was an outgrowth of that interest. The hyphen was included in the character's name to avoid confusion with DC Comics' Superman. Simon concurred that Kirby had shown the original Spider-Man version to Lee, who liked the idea and assigned Kirby to draw sample pages of the new character but disliked the results — in Simon's description, "Captain America with cobwebs".[note 5] Writer Mark Evanier notes that Lee's reasoning that Kirby's character was too heroic seems unlikely — Kirby still drew the covers for the first issues of Spider-Man. Likewise, Kirby's given reason that he was "too busy" to also draw Spider-Man in addition to his other duties seems false, as Kirby was, in Evanier's words, "always busy".:127 Neither Lee's nor Kirby's explanation explains why key story elements like the magic ring were dropped; Evanier states that the most plausible explanation for the sudden change was that Goodman, or one of his assistants, decided that Spider-Man as drawn and envisioned by Kirby was too similar to the Fly.:127 Blake Bell, author and Ditko scholar, writes that it was Ditko who noted the similarities to the Fly. Ditko recalled that, "Stan called Jack about rhe Fly", adding that "[d]ays later, Stan told me I would be penciling the story panel breakdowns from Stan's synopsis". It was at this point that the nature of the strip changed. "Out went the magic ring, adult Spider-Man and whatever legend ideas that Spider-Man story would have contained". Lee gave Ditko the premise of a teenager bitten by a spider and developing powers, a premise Ditko would expand upon to the point he became what Bell describes as "the first work-for-hire artist of his generation to create and control the narrative arc of his series". On the issue of the initial creation, Ditko states, "I still don't know whose idea was Spider-Man". Kirby noted in a 1971 interview that it was Ditko who "got Spider-Man to roll, and the thing caught on because of what he did". Lee, while claiming credit for the initial idea, has acknowledged Ditko's role, stating, "If Steve wants to be called co-creator, I think he deserves [it]". Writer Al Nickerson believes "that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created the Spider-Man that we are familiar with today [but that] ultimately, Spider-Man came into existence, and prospered, through the efforts of not just one or two, but many, comic book creators".
The Amazing Spider-Man #23 (April 1965), featuring the Green Goblin. Cover art by co-creator Steve Ditko.
Commercial success Edit
A few months after Spider-Man's introduction in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962), publisher Martin Goodman reviewed the sales figures for that issue and was shocked to find it to have been one of the nascent Marvel's highest-selling comics.:97 A solo series followed, beginning with The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (March 1963). The title eventually became Marvel's top-selling series:211 with the character swiftly becoming a cultural icon; a 1965 Esquire poll of college campuses found that college students ranked Spider-Man and fellow Marvel hero the Hulk alongside Bob Dylan and Che Guevara as their favorite revolutionary icons. One interviewee selected Spider-Man because he was "beset by woes, money problems, and the question of existence. In short, he is one of us.":223 Following Ditko's departure after issue #38 (July 1966), John Romita, Sr. replaced him as artist, and would provide the pencil drawings of the character over the next several years. In 1968. Romita would also draw the character's extra-length stories in the magazine-format series The Spectacular Spider-Man, a graphic novel precursor designed to appeal to older readers but which lasted only two issues. Nonetheless, it represented the first Spider-Man spin-off publication aside from the original series' summer annuals begun in 1964. An early 1970s Spider-Man story led to the revision of the Comics Code. Previously, the Code forbade the depiction of the use of illegal drugs, even negatively. However, in 1970, the Nixon administration's Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asked Stan Lee to publish an anti-drug message in one of Marvel's top-selling titles.:239 Lee chose the top-selling The Amazing Spider-Man; issues #96–98 (May–July 1971) feature a story arc depicting the negative effects of drug use. In the story, Peter Parker's friend Harry Osborn becomes addicted to pills. When Spider-Man fights the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn, Harry's father), Spider-Man defeats the Green Goblin, by revealing Harry's drug addiction. While the story had a clear anti-drug message, the Comics Code Authority refused to issue its seal of approval. Marvel nevertheless published the three issues without the Comics Code Authority's approval or seal. The issues sold so well that the industry's self-censorship was undercut:239 and the Code was subsequently revised.
The Amazing Spider-Man #96 (May 1971), the first of three non-Comics Code issues that prompted the Code's first update, allowing comics to show the negative effects of illegal-drug use. Note cover-blurb reference to "The last fatal trip!" Cover art by Gil Kane In 1972, a second monthly ongoing series starring Spider-Man began: Marvel Team-Up, in which Spider-Man was paired with other superheroes and villains. In 1976, his second solo series, The Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 2, began, running parallel to the main series. A third series featuring Spider-Man, Web Of Spider-Man, launched in 1985, replacing Marvel Team-Up. The launch of a fourth monthly title in 1990, written and drawn by popular artist Todd McFarlane, debuted with several different covers, all with the same interior content. The various versions combined sold over 3 million copies, an industry record at the time.:279 There have generally been at least two ongoing Spider-Man series at any time. Several limited series, one-shots and loosely related comics have also been published, and Spider-Man makes frequent cameos and guest appearances in other comic series. The original Amazing Spider-Man ran through issue #441 (November 1998). Writer-artist John Byrne then revamped the origin of Spider-Man in the 13-issue miniseries Spider-Man: Chapter One (December 1998 - October 1999, with an issue #0 midway through and some months containing two issues), similar to Byrne's adding details and some revisions to Superman's origin in DC Comics' The Man of Steel. Running concurrently, The Amazing Spider-Man was restarted with vol. 2, #1 (Jan, 1999). With what would have been vol. 2, #59, Marvel reintroduced the original numbering, starting with #500 (December 2003). By the end of 2007, Spider-Man regularly appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man, New Avengers, Spider-Man Family and various limited series in mainstream Marvel Comics continuity, as well as in the alternate-universe series The Amazing Spider-Girl, the Ultimate Universe title Ultimate Spider-Man, the alternate-universe tween series Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and the alternate-universe children's series Marvel Adventures Spider-Man and Marvel Adventures: The Avengers. When primary series The Amazing Spider-Man reached issue #545 (December 2007), Marvel dropped its spin-off ongoing series and instead began publishing The Amazing Spider-Man three times monthly, beginning with #546-549 (each January 2008).
Fictional character biography Edit
Main article: Fictional history of Spider-Man In his first appearance, Peter Parker is introduced as an orphaned science whiz teenager living with his aunt and uncle in the Forest Hills section of New York City. He is a brilliant student but the subject of mockery by his peers who regard him as a bookworm, and perpetual victim of bullying by Eugene "Flash" Thompson, who would call him "Puny Parker" and humiliate him daily. One day, he is bitten by a radioactive spider during a science demonstration. As a result, he gains spider-like powers such as super-strength, the ability to climb walls, and a phenomenal jumping skill. Peter's own intelligence allows him to develop gadgets which fire adhesive webbing.
The fateful spider bite that gave Peter Parker his powers. Amazing Fantasy #15, art by Steve Ditko. As Spider-Man, he becomes a successful TV star. One day at a studio he refuses to stop a thief, saying that it is the job of the police, not that of a number one star. Minutes later his beloved guardian, Uncle Ben, is murdered and an angry Spider-Man sets off to capture the killer. When he does, he is horrified to find that the man is none other than the burglar he refused to subdue. Learning that with great power comes great responsibility, Spider-Man becomes a vigilante. After his uncle's death, Peter and his Aunt May become desperate for money, so he gets a job as a photographer at the New York Daily Bugle selling photos to J. Jonah Jameson, who proves to be jealous of Spider-Man and has begun to vilify Spider-Man in the paper. As he battles his enemies for the first time, Parker finds juggling his personal life and costumed adventures difficult. In time, Peter graduates from high school, and enrolls at Empire State University, where he meets roommate and best friend Harry Osborn and his second girlfriend (having been romantically involved with Betty Brant before) Gwen Stacy, and Aunt May introduces him to Mary Jane Watson. As Peter deals with Harry's drug problems, and Harry's father is revealed to be Spider-Man's nemesis the Green Goblin, Peter even attempts to give up his costumed identity. In the course of his adventures Spider-Man has made a wide variety of friends and contacts within the superhero community, who often come to his aid when he faces problems that he cannot solve on his own. Enemies frequently endanger his loved ones, with the Green Goblin managing to cause the death of Gwen Stacy. Though haunted by the death of Gwen, he begins to date Mary Jane Watson. Peter discovers what he thinks is a black version of his Spider-Man costume, which turns out to be an alien symbiote; Peter is able to reject the symbiote after a difficult struggle, though the symbiote returns several times as Venom for revenge. Peter eventually marries Mary Jane Watson. In a controversial storyline, Peter becomes convinced that Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider (a clone of Peter created by his college professor Miles Warren) is the real Peter Parker, and that he, Peter, is the clone. Peter gives up the Spider-Man identity to Reilly for a time, until Reilly is killed by the returning Green Goblin and revealed to be the clone after all. In stories published in 2005 and 2006 (such as "The Other"), he develops additional spider-like abilities including biological web-shooters, toxic stingers that extend from his forearms, the ability to stick individuals to his back, enhanced Spider-sense and night vision, and increased strength and speed. Peter later becomes a member of the New Avengers, and reveals his civilian identity to the world, furthering his already numerous problems. His marriage to Mary Jane and public unmasking are later erased due to a deal made with the demon Mephisto, resulting in several adjustments to the timeline, such as the resurrection of Harry Osborn and the return of Peter's mechanical web-shooters and loss of his additional spider-like abilities. After months of the new status quo in the Marvel Universe where nobody but Peter himself knew the identity of Spider-Man, he unmasks to his teammates on the New Avengers at the request of Ronin, the team's new leader, in order to earn the team's trust. Around this time he also unmasks for the Fantastic Four.
Powers and equipment Edit
Main article: Spider-Man's powers and equipment A bite from a radioactive spider on a school field trip causes a variety of changes in the body of Peter Parker and gives him superpowers. In the original Lee-Ditko stories, Spider-Man has the ability to cling to walls, superhuman strength, a sixth sense ("spider-sense") that alerts him to danger, perfect balance and equilibrium, as well as superhuman speed and agility. Some of his comic series have him shooting webs from his wrists. Brilliant, Parker excels in applied science, chemistry and physics. The character was originally conceived by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as intellectually gifted, but not a genius. However, later writers have depicted the character as a genius. With his talents, he sews his own costume to conceal his identity, and constructs many devices that complement his powers, most notably mechanical web-shooters. (This mechanism ejects an advanced adhesive, releasing web-fluid in a variety of configurations, including a single rope-like strand to swing from, a net to bind enemies, a single strand for yanking opponents into objects, strands for whipping foreign objects at enemies, and a simple glob to foul machinery or blind an opponent. He can also weave the web material into simple forms like a shield, a spherical protection or hemispherical barrier, a club, or a hang-glider wing.) Other equipment include spider-tracers (spider-shaped adhesive homing beacons keyed to his own spider-sense), a light beacon which can either be used as a flashlight or project a "Spider-Signal" design, and a specially modified camera that can take pictures automatically.
Main article: List of Spider-Man enemies
The many villains of Spider-Man. Art by Sean Chen. Writers and artists over many years have managed to establish an exciting and notable rogues gallery of villains to face Spider-Man.[note 6] The three most infamous and dangerous enemies as voted by fans are the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus (both 1960s Lee-Ditko creations) and Venom, a later addition introduced in 1988. Other characters include the Lizard, the Chameleon, the Hobgoblin, Kraven the Hunter, Carnage, the Scorpion, the Sandman, the Rhino, Mysterio, the Vulture, Electro, the Kingpin, Hydro-Man, the Shocker, and Morlun. As with Spider-Man, the majority of these villains' powers originate with scientific accidents or the misuse of scientific technology, and they tend to have animal-themed costumes or powers, and many have green costumes. At times these villains have formed groups such as the Sinister Six to oppose Spider-Man. It is revealed that Spider-Man has new enemies in New Avengers.
Supporting characters Edit
Main article: Spider-Man supporting characters Spider-Man was conceived as an ordinary person given great power. The comics detail his civilian life and family, friends, and his romances. Spider-Man is most famous for; however, his super-heroic adventures. Peter was raised by his loving aunt, May Parker, and his uncle and father figure, Ben Parker (usually referred to simply as Aunt May and Uncle Ben), after his parents died. Uncle Ben is tragically murdered by a burglar that Peter had allowed to escape before. Peter believes that his uncle's death was morally his fault, and he decides to use his powers responsibly and become a super-hero. After the murder of her husband, Aunt May is virtually Peter's only family, and she and Peter are very close. Peter's first love interest is his college girlfriend Gwen Stacy, who is later tragically killed by the Green Goblin. It is later revealed in the comics that she refused to give custody of her children to their biological father Norman Osborn, (the Goblin's true identity), with whom she had had an intimate relationship behind Peter's back. Originally merely Gwen Stacy's competition, Mary Jane Watson (or, 'MJ') eventually became Peter's best friend and then became his wife. Her marriage to Peter was later erased due to a deal made with Mephisto to save Aunt May's life. Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, is a reformed cat burglar who was Spider-Man's girlfriend and partner at one point, but rejected him when he revealed his identity to her, as she was only interested in his costumed persona. She eventually learned to love Peter on his own merit, but never on the level at which she loved Spider-Man. Eugene "Flash" Thompson was originally Peter Parker's high school tormentor, and later one of his closest friends. Due to brain damage, he suffered amnesia and regressed to his bullying personality, though he eventually recovered from this. Harry Osborn, son of Norman Osborn, was Peter's best friend in college, who eventually follows his father's footsteps and becomes the second Green Goblin, ultimately resulting in Harry's death. He was resurrected due to the erasure of Peter's marriage to Mary Jane, and all related events, from history. J. Jonah Jameson, the irascible publisher of the Daily Bugle newspaper, is Peter's first employer. While he employs Peter Parker as a photographer, he is also Spider-Man's greatest critic by dint of being jealous of Spider-Man, and hence, he is largely responsible for public distrust of the hero. Joseph "Robbie" Robertson was the Editor-in-chief at the Daily Bugle, a moderating influence on Jameson, and a father figure to Peter after Uncle Ben's death. Betty Brant was the secretary at the Daily Bugle, and was once in love with Peter.
Non-Marvel versions and parodies Edit
Marvel made its own parodies of Spider-Man in such comics as Not Brand Echh, which was published in the late 1960s and featured such characters as Peter Pooper alias Spidey-Man; and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham who appeared in the 1980s. Japanese artist Ryoichi Ikegami drew a manga version of Spider-Man for the Japanese market between 1970 and late 1971. Peter Parker was renamed Yu Komori and various other Marvel characters, such as Electro and the Lizard, also featured but with different backgrounds. Another Japanese manga was Hideshi Hino's The Bug Boy, which has been cited as inspired by Spider-Man. Like Peter Parker, Sanpei Hiromoto is bitten by a strange and tiny creature which turns him into a being with powers — in this case, a huge, poisonous bug. Unlike Parker, the bullying Sanpei experienced at school has not been balanced by a loving family home, and thus he becomes a supervillain rather than a hero. The French comic Télé-Junior published strips based on popular TV series. In the late 1970s, the publisher also produced original Spider-Man adventures. Artists included Gérald Forton, who later moved to America and worked for Marvel. These strips were short stories of approximately six pages each, with little or no continuity among them. Télé-Junior's version included regular characters from the comics like J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson and Flash Thompson, who is at the friendly stage of his relationship with Peter Parker. Villains including the Vulture and Electro also appeared. In the 1973 Turkish film 3 Dev Adam (known in English as Three Mighty Men or Turkish Spider-Man vs. Captain Turkish America) Spider-Man is portrayed as the villain of the film, confronted by Captain America and Santo (a Mexican wrestler character). He has no spider powers in the film, however. The Indian version of Spider-Man, Spider-Man: India was created by Sharad Devarajan, Suresh Seetharaman and Jeevan J. Kang along with Marvel Comics.
In other media Edit
Main article: Spider-Man in other media
The theatrical poster for Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002). Spider-Man has appeared in comics, cartoons, movies, coloring books, novels, records, and children's books. On television, he appeared as the main character in the animated series Spider-Man, which aired from 1967–1970 on ABC, the live-action series The Amazing Spider-Man (1978-1979), starring Nicholas Hammond, the syndicated cartoon series Spider-Man (1981-1982), Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981-1983), Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994-1998), Spider-Man Unlimited (1999-2000), Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003) and The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008-present). A tokusatsu show featuring Spider-Man was produced by Toei and aired in Japan. It is commonly referred to by its Japanese pronunciation "Supaidā-Man". Spider-Man also appeared in other print forms besides the comics, including novels, children's books, and the daily newspaper comic strip The Amazing Spider-Man, which debuted in January 1977, with the earliest installments written by Stan Lee and drawn by John Romita, Sr. Spider-Man has been adapted to other media including games, toys, collectibles, and miscellaneous memorabilia, and has appeared as the main character in numerous computer and video games on over 15 gaming platforms. Spider-Man was also the subject of a series of films directed by Sam Raimi and starring actor Tobey Maguire as the title character. The original Spider-Man film was released May 3, 2002, its first sequel, Spider-Man 2, premiered June 30, 2004, and the next sequel, Spider-Man 3, premiered on May 4, 2007. Spider-Man 4 is scheduled to be released May 6, 2011. A Broadway musical, Spider-Man: Turn Out the Dark, is slated for production in 2010. The score and lyrics were written by Bono and The Edge of U2.