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YMMV / Lee-Ditko Spider-Man

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  • Ensemble Dark Horse: A few characters who made their short (but memorable) appearances in the run are popular with the fans:
    • The Crime Master, due to his snazzy pinstriped suit and mask as well as for being a Badass Normal villain who was involved in a memorable storyline with the other (at the time) Ensemble Darkhorse, the Green Goblin. While the original Crime Master died at the end of said story, he would be brought back years later as a Legacy Character.
    • For modern readers, Frederick Foswell stands out as a compelling three-dimensional supporting character in an era lacking in them, with his own personal dynamic arc, and a cool take on the reporter-friend trope. He finally made his television debut almost 50 years later in The Spectacular Spider-Man. Until then, he was largely forgotten after being casually killed off in the Lee-Romita era until Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy revived him as a character and clone, an reviving interest in the character.
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  • First Installment Wins: This run is still considered the high point of the series. Many later writers and artists noted that, while there were plenty of great stories which came after, things weren't quite the same after Ditko left. John Romita Sr. admitted that he was nervous of following Ditko, even viewing his early issues as just placeholding until Ditko came back.note  Luckily Romita Sr. proved more than capable of picking up the torch, creating his own classic run of Spider-Man in the process.
  • Love to Hate: Many modern audiences and a few others consider Ditko's Gwen Stacy (an almost hilariously judgmental stuck-up Alpha Bitch) the best written and most interesting version of the character and many lament how drastically her character was altered in the later run to make her likable and Peter's match which came about by entirely and repeatedly rewriting her character (who under Ditko had been written consistently at the very least). The fact that the character is now defined for codifying fridging and that Ditko presents her as the total opposite has also made many to prefer the nasty and unlikable Gwen to the saintly victim or her more recent kickass AU versions who tend to be Action Girl without any real edges.
  • My Real Daddy: Thanks to the Marvel Method and both Lee and Ditko's controversial and conflicting personalitiesnote  and the sheer cultural juggernaut that Spider-Man has become, ascribing credit to one more than the other is contentious. The general view is that Ditko did most of the heavy lifting in terms of story, action, and character design, but with Lee playing a crucial rule in giving the title its own unique voice, its earthiness, and its irreverence, making the entire run a true collaboration:
    • Alan Moore and many hardcore fans consider Ditko Spider-Man's true creator. The Marvel Method left much of the plotting and panel layout to the artists, leaving considerable room for ambiguity as to who made what. According to a 1960's interview, Lee says that Ditko was more or less fully plotting out the later Spider-Man issues, including Peter going to college, and the iconic Master Planner arc.
    • On the other hand, Lee did all the dialogue himself and many note that J. Jonah Jameson, while having an iconic design, is largely defined by his speech patterns and distinct rhythm: entirely Lee's work. Lee also came up with "With great power..." at the end of Amazing Fantasy #15. Likewise, it's hard to imagine Spider-Man without his Motor Mouth and quips, as well as Peter's overly introspective internal monologue, all of which can be credited to Lee. Ditko also confirmed that Lee at times ordered Ditko to redraw panels and scenes (which Ditko did without pay, which started his falling out with Lee and his demand for a plotting credit). Likewise, the irreverent and often-times deconstructive attitude to superheroes also stems from Lee's own frustration with the Golden and Silver Age superhero cliches and his attempt to have fun with the conventions.
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    • The exact origins of Spider-Man is quite contentious. Lee always claimed that he got the idea from seeing a spider on a wall and that the entire story and theme came out fully formed. Jack Kirby later said that Lee had the merest germ of the idea which Kirby then developed (he created the idea of Spider-Man living with his Aunt and Uncle). However, Kirby's idea for Spider-Man was for him to get his powers from a magical source, and was envisioned as a stocky looking guy with a web gun, as opposed the lanky Peter. Ditko said that while he never looked at what Kirby did, Lee did go to Jack first before coming to him. Ditko insisted that it was a co-creation between him and Lee, but that the costume design and look of Peter himself (and other details) was entirely by Ditko: Peter's appearance was patterned on Ditko's own high school yearbook photo.
  • Never Live It Down: Peter's "misanthrope" characterization. See Shallow Parody below.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: It can be hard to appreciate what an impression Spider-Man made when it came out since so many of the comics that follow were influenced by it:
    • Until Peter Parker, superheroes were generally "Dads and Uncles" and/or substitute authority/parental figures while teenagers and kids were sidekicks or mascots (Robin, Jimmy Olsen, Snapper Carr), generally clumsy? and obvious audience stand-ins for the small children reading at home. Even the Fantastic Four had Reed Richards and Ben Grimm as the older characters playing off Johnny Storm, the rebellious teen kid. In contrast, teenage Peter Parker was a three-dimensional character who actually felt like a real teenager; he was flawed, nuanced, and, unlike Robin, was the outright protagonist of his own book and got to be a superhero, a milestone in comics. note 
    • The Secret Identity before Spider-Man was generally understood to be an Excuse Plot. At the time, there was never any confusion that Superman was the real guy and Clark Kent was just something he did when he wasn't Superman, or that Batman wasn't the real guy and Bruce Wayne some boring rich dude with time and money. Spider-Man insists that Peter is the central focus, and that both are inter-related: this is near-stated outright at the end of Issue 33, where the doctor states that the Peter Parker identity is the real hero kids should look up to rather than the cool Spider-Man. Later superhero comics (Superman and Batman included) inspired by Spider-Man made their heroes into more complex figures, mining the double-life and the tension it brings for dramatic effect.
    • Peter's relationship with Betty Brant, while still largely male adolescent in perspective, was something that readers could more easily relate with than it's contemporaries; for instance, the Superman/Lois relationship of the Gold and Silver Age was downright childish by comparison (with Lois Lane often portrayed as some kind of villainess for trying to shack up with Superman, and he often playing cruel pranks on her). Peter Parker wanted to be in a relationship and had actual dating woes with Betty Brant, accepting that there is back-and-forth in their relationship and that Betty has every right to move on and find a more compatible partner even if that rejection hurts Peter.
  • Shallow Parody: The Peter Parker of this period was written as a lot harsher and more hostile than in the comics that followed, with his earliest appearances often used as prime examples (such as his resentful pre-spider bite characterization). This, alongside Ditko's Objectivist leanings, often negatively colors later interpretations of the run, sometimes mockingly called "The Misanthropic Spider-Man" or "The Amazing Objectivist". These parodies will often focus on the World of Jerkass elements, as well as the casual sexism of the character, the Wangst, and will usually give Peter a Hair-Trigger Temper; these works will also generally forget to include the optimistic and humanistic elements of those same stories. The parodies also will usually leave out one of the most defining traits of the run -- the humor.
    • Spider-Gwen's Peter Parker borrows heavily from this interpretation in his brief appearance, where a jealous and resentful Peter (who in this version did not receive the spider-bite) creates a serum in order to gain powers (possibly out of jealousy of Spider-Gwen) in order to take revenge on the bullies who picked on him.
    • One horror-themed story from Spider-Verse portrays a Peter who, upon getting his powersnote , proceeds to murder his family and love interest, playing up the misanthropic elements of the Ditko-Inspired Peter and playing him as a pseudo Columbine-shooternote . In Ditko's run, Peter's "misanthropic" attitude never extended to his family and loved ones, whom he always strived to protect and support financially, and felt guilty when he was unable to. Likewise, Peter never had any vengeful streak since on getting powers, he uses them to become famous as a performer and celebrity rather than getting back.
    • The Megalomaniacal Spider-Man, created in 2002 by underground comic artist Peter Bagge, was specifically created as a Take That! against Steve Ditko and a Deconstruction of Objectivism as a whole, with the setting and design of the main character being based on this era's Spider-Man. While the comic does try to present Ditko's tendency towards Writer on Board, the comic used Flanderized versions of Ditko's characters to make its points, making it this trope.
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  • Tough Act to Follow: Averted with John Romita Sr., who was fearful that he would become this, but admirably rose to the occasion with his instant classic "Goblin Unmasked" storyline.
    • Ditko's eye for design and character creation of Spider-Man's rogues was so iconic and unique that it's considered a major achievement for Spider-Man artists and writers to create a villain as iconic as Ditko's. Comparing the short time he worked on the book (five years) to the fifty plus years that followed, such instances are rare. Post-Ditko breakout-rogues include Rhino, Shocker and The Kingpin (Both Lee and Romita Sr., though the latter owes largely to Frank Miller), Black Cat (Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard), The Hobgoblin (Roger Stern and Romita Jr.), Venom (David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane) and most recently Mr. Negative (Dan Slott and Phil Jimenez).
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Peter's overreaction to his mask tearing open and exposing his face, leading to him fleeing from his first fight with Sandman out of fear that the villain would reveal his identity. Later comics like Ultimate Spider-Man basically made fun of this by having Peter be unmasked, but said unmaskers point out with minor disappointment that they have no clue who the hell he is. Then again, it is an overreaction.
    • Spider-Man sees a man in a green halloween costume riding around on a mechanical broomstick. Said man offers him a job starring in a movie about Spider-Man, all the way across the country (when he has school and his Aunt to worry about), involving "real" fight scenes in which former thugs whom he's met before, and said green man will try to beat him up. There's making a rookie mistake, and then there's this!
    • It's genuinely amazing how Aunt May doesn't recognize infamous criminal Doctor Octopus or the fact that she and Betty are being held hostage. Becomes even more ridiculous when Peter implies this is all a Delayed Reaction and she somehow just hadn't realized what happened yet.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: There's been a long debate as to what extent Ditko's objectivism affected his conception of Spider-Man. This led to, now discredited, rumors that Ditko quit the book after refusing to make Norman Osborn the Green Goblin (which Ditko himself refuted)note . According to Flo Steinberg, Ditko never discussed politics among co-workers and was a pretty affable guy in person, and that his Randian turn took everyone by surprisenote . Some believe that Ditko's Randian turn only came after he left Marvel, as the titles which he had more control over were also lacking in Objectivist politics. Ditko in later years kept referring to Spider-Man as a For-Hire gig and that his break with Marvel and Lee was solely about credit and pay, not his politics.


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