June 5, 1962
- Credit where it's due: Having encountered success with his first innovation (a super-team that doesn't always get along), it would have been easy for Stan Lee to simply repeat that twist again and again - but he keeps coming up with fresh takes on the superhero concept. Case in point: A comic where the teenager isn't the sidekick - he's the protagonist. One where the hero isn't a charming and brawny stud, but a lonely and bookish outcast. One who, far from having everything turn right at the end of every adventure, would be the first superhero to be perpetually down on his luck.
- In fact, that's largely why this is the first addition to the Marvel canon not to be drawn by Jack Kirby. Stan first gave the assignment to Jack, explaining that this character was to be far more nebbish than strongman ... but as the pages started to churn out, he found that Peter Parker still looked far too godlike and muscle-bound for his liking; after all, figures of power and the idealized form were such hallmarks of Jack Kirby's artwork that they were present even when toned down. So instead he gave the story to Steve Ditko, whose style was grounded in realism, but with an slightly eccentric twist.
- Still, untangling the history here is more complicated than most. Just as the Fantastic Four was Stan's last-ditch effort at "doing superheroes right", so too does the story hold that Stan's publisher, Martin Goodman, was so appalled by the concept ("People HATE spiders!") that he stonewalled it until declining sales of their anthology comic, Amazing Fantasy, warranted its cancellation - saying Stan could just throw the 11-pager into the final issue if he wanted. But what no one ever brings up is that bit on the cover about "the NEW Amazing!", and that the final page of the comic ends with "Be sure to see the next issue of Amazing Fantasy for the further amazing exploits of America's most DIFFERENT new teen-age idol -- Spiderman!" Maybe they thought if sales were through the roof, they could keep the mag going (which didn't happen). Or they could spin the one feature off into his own comic and leave the anthology mag on the floor (which did). But what is certain is that Stan conceived this as the beginning of a brand-new hero, and not just a done-in-one; compare Spider-Man, who by story's end has origin, costume and super-name, with Henry Pym, who by the end of his 7-page story was never meant to be seen again.
- Everyone knows the phrase which sums up the Spider-Man concept, supposedly handed down by his uncle Ben - that "With great power there must also come -- great responsibility!" What most readers won't catch is that this isn't spoken by Ben at any time before his murder in this story; it's simply part of the closing narration, retroactively assigned to Ben later on. Of course, given Spider-Man's disregard for the fleeing burglar, a more appropriate phrase might have been: "A moment of arrogance -- a lifetime of regret!" But not only is that not nearly as catchy, as a character slogan it would have been a downer to boot...!