August 1st is celebrated as Spider-Man Day because Spider-Man made his debut in Amazing Fantasy #15, which was given an August, 1962 cover date despite hitting newstands in June. Though Amazing Fantasy ceased publication after the 15th issue, Spider-Man was a hit as a character and was on his way to becoming one of the iconic figures of the Marvel universe.
Spider-Man himself would not get his comic book until March, 1963 with the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. The majority of that issue featured Marvel’s newest hero battling the Chameleon, a Russian criminal who was committing crimes while disguised as Spider-Man! Of course, Spider-Man’s bad reputation didn’t start with the Chameleon. Especially in the early days of his career, people often assumed that Spider-Man was up to no good. (Having J. Jonah Jameson as an enemy didn’t help.) While all the other heroes were celebrated by the public, Spider-Man was always misunderstood. That’s one reason why readers identified with him.
Before battling the Chameleon, the continually cash-strapped Spider-Man tried to improve his situation by getting a job with the Fantastic Four.
It didn’t go well. Spider-Man’s idea of a job interview was breaking into the Baxter Building and proving that he could hold his own in battle with each member of the group. Spider-Man proved that he could fight but Mr. Fantastic was not impressed, telling Spider-Man that the Fantastic Four were a non-profit organization and that picking a fight was not the way to get a job. Offended, Spider-Man announced that he didn’t need the Fantastic Four and left. Because Mr. Fantastic and the rest of the Fantastic Four always came across as being full of themselves, I am sure many readers agreed with Spider-Man. By swinging out of there, Spider-Man let his readers know that he didn’t need anyone’s approval.
Not only did this moment establish who Spider-Man was as a character but it also started a long Marvel cross-over tradition. Heroes would frequently meet each other, crossing over from book to book. They would often team up but, before they could do that, they always had to fight over a misunderstanding and trade insults. The moment that Spider-Man told off Mr. Fantastic was also the moment that the Marvel Universe first truly came to life.
Later, of course, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four made up. Spider-Man and the Human Torch co-starred in several issues of Marvel Team-Up. But most readers will always prefer to remember Spider-Man telling Mr. Fantastic to get bent.
Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:
- Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance”
- The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
- Crisis on Campus
- “Even in Death”
- The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
- Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
- Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
- Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
- The Death of Dr. Druid
- To All A Good Night
- The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
- The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
- Captain America Punches Hitler
- Spider-Man No More!
- Alex Ross Captures Galactus
- Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
- Goliath Towers Over New York
- NFL SuperPro is Here!
- Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window
- Captain America For President
- Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man
- J. Jonah Jameson Is Elected Mayor of New York City
- Captain America Quits
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