Answer: A longer version of the same story!
Amazing Spider-Man #1 proudly features the fight on the front cover of the first issue, but only gives us a paltry three pages (packed, of course, but still only three). This you know. This is you are familiar with.
What you may not know is that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revisited that same fight and expanded it to twice the length just a few months later. Interested? Then read on for the Spider-Man versus Fantastic Four Extended Edition!
Or should it be Director’s Cut? How about Special Edition? Who cares? We have classic Spidey and FF to read!
We’ll need the TARDIS to make two stops this post. Both are in 1963. Amazing Spider-Man #1 hit the shelves with a cover date of March 1963 (putting probably in January). As soon as kids grew tired of playing with their Etch-a-Sketch and wood burning kits (hottest Christmas toys of 1962), they tore in the now famous first fight between Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, which in classic Spider-Man Friday Nights Fight tradition, he comes in and beats the crap out of the first family in comics. If you need a refresher, click on these to see the pages:
Even after all these decades, the story is pretty cool, although there are some silly moments I always thought it was odd that Reed is so concerned with the cost of his plexi-glass (should be plexiglass, but who am I to criticize Johnny Dee’s lettering skills?) cage defense system instead of how the defense system isn’t doing its job.
This fighting between heroes has been a staple of Marvel all the way to the original Human Torch and the Submariner fighting each other (and destroying New York in the process) back in the Golden Age. It is one of the things that separates Marvel from the Distinguished Competition.
Four months later, the Fantastic Four Annual #1 is released. Not the first Marvel annual to be produced, but close. That distinction belongs to Millie the Model Annual #1, which, according to Marvel Database, was published in January of 1962. The annual has a Submariner story *yawn*, but has this intriguing image on the bottom of the cover:
After flipping past the main story and hidden in pages of Kirby pinups, we find Spidey. Scaling the walls with this editor’s note:
Note that fans were more polite in the 1960s and merely requested stories rather than demanded them as they do now.
So here we get the same Lee/Ditko story, but now told by Lee/Kirby with Ditko inks and with more panels. The original was 3 pages (despite Lee’s instance that it is only 2) and this version doubles it. Read the new and improved version here (click to see larger version):
If you were not aware of this, then this is just plain awesome! Plus, thanks to the magic of photo editing, we can see the styles of Ditko and Kirby side by side. In each of these the Ditko version is first.
Then we have this weird scene where Spider-Man seems to have control over his webbing and can make it slither along the floor. I’m thinking we’ll be seeing this soon enough in the current issues. “Web cartridge 3 – Slither Webbing! Thanks to the keen minds at Parker Industries!”
Of you can’t get enough of this fight and want to see it from a different artist, then fire up your Marvel Unlimited and pull up What If? #1. We see the original Lee/Ditko tale, but drawn instead by Dave Cockrum?
In this tale, everything happens the way it did in the original, but as Spidey swings off embarrassed, Sue decides to stop him and give him a chance. He soon become friends with the Torch, gets tolerated by the Thing, and earns the respect of Reed because of his science ability. This quickly makes Sue the fifth wheel and she is more open to Submariner’s courting than before. It’s a good read and I encourage you to find it. The issue was such a success that we get a few more What If? stories that continue their exploits (well, until the Inheritors come and kill them all…).
Since I did not wish to pay the $2,800 needed to get my own copy of the FF Annual, I relied on my subscription to Marvel Unlimited. If you are a Marvel comics fan, I highly encourage you to try this service out. It’s buggy and it will take you several frustrating attempts to find what works best for you (Firefox browser for me if I want to read anything), but once you get it worked out, the sheer amount of comics available and becoming available is outstanding. Plus you give you get a chance to read series that you would never have given a shot otherwise or that you just missed altogether (like Irredeemable Ant Man). Just thought I’d pass that along if you were thinking of trying it, but not sure if it was worth it.
Anyone else out there using Marvel Unlimited? What are your views? Also, how many of you knew about this extended version?
“1962 Vintage Toys from the Sixties.” The People History. N.p., 2016. Web. 8 Feb. 2016.
“Fantastic Four Annual #1.” Go Collect. N.p., 2016. Web. 8 Feb. 2016.
Huddleston, Mike. “Marvel 1960s Annuals: Reprints.” Comic Book Daily. N.p., 2015. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.
“Millie the Model Annual Vol 1 1.” Marvel Database. Wikia, N.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.
Sjoerdsma, Al, and Stuart Vandal. The Amazing Spider-Man: Official Index to the Marvel Universe. New York: Marvel Worldwide, 2010. Print.
All scans from Marvel Unlimited