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Amazing Fantasy

Amazing Fantasy
Amazing Adult Fantasy #7 (Dec. 1961). First issue following title change from Amazing Adventures. Cover art by Steve Ditko
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing
Publication date Amazing Adventures #1–6 (June 1961-Nov. 1961)
Amazing Adult Fantasy #7–14 (Dec. 1961 – July 1962)
Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962)
Amazing Fantasy #16–18 (Dec. 1995-Mar. 1996)
Amazing Fantasy (vol 2) (Aug. 2004-Apr. 2006)
Main character(s) Spider-Man debuted in AF #15 (Aug. 1962)
Creative team
Writer(s) (1961–62): Stan Lee, et al.
(1995): Kurt Busiek
(2004): Fiona Avery, Fred Van Lente, Simon Furman, et al.
Artist(s) (1961–62): Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Don Heck, Paul Reinman, et al.
(1995):Paul Lee
(2004): Various.
Inker(s) (1961–62): Dick Ayers, et al.

Amazing Adult Fantasy and its retitled final issue, Amazing Fantasy, is an American comic book anthology series published by Marvel Comics from 1961 through 1962, with the latter title revived with superhero features in 1995 and in the 2000s. The final 1960s issue, Amazing Fantasy #15 (cover-dated Aug. 1962), is the title that introduced the popular superhero character Spider-Man. Amazing Adult Fantasy premiered with issue #7, taking over the numbering from Amazing Adventures.

Publication history

File:Amazing Fantasy 15.jpg
Spider-Man debuts: Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962). Cover art by Jack Kirby (penciler) and Steve Ditko (inker).

The science fiction-fantasy anthology Amazing Adult Fantasy began with issue #7 (cover-dated Dec. 1961), having taken over the number of the similar anthology Amazing Adventures. The earlier issues before the title change featured stories drawn by a number of artists including Jack Kirby, Don Heck and Steve Ditko. Amazing Adult Fantasy featured exclusively the quick, quirky, twist-ending tales of artist Ditko and writer-editor Stan Lee that had appeared in Amazing Adventures and sister titles primarily featuring rampaging monsters. The cover of the comic carried the motto "The magazine that respects your intelligence."[1]

Lee in 2009 described these "short, five-page filler strips that Steve and I did together", originally "placed in any of our comics that had a few extra pages to fill", as "odd fantasy tales that I'd dream up with O. Henry-type [twist] endings." Giving an early example of what would later be known as the "Marvel Method" of writer-artist collaboration, Lee said, "All I had to do was give Steve a one-line description of the plot and he'd be off and running. He'd take those skeleton outlines I had given him and turn them into classic little works of art that ended up being far cooler than I had any right to expect."[2]

With issue #15 (Aug. 1962) Amazing Adult Fantasy was retitled Amazing Fantasy.[3] This issue's lead feature introduced the superhero Spider-Man, written by Lee and drawn by Ditko, although Lee rejected Ditko's cover art and commissioned Jack Kirby to pencil a cover that Ditko inked.[3] As Lee explained in 2010, "I think I had Jack sketch out a cover for it because I always had a lot of confidence in Jack's covers."[4] In numerous interviews Lee has recalled how the title had been slated for cancellation, and so with nothing to lose, publisher Martin Goodman reluctantly agreed to allow him to introduce Spider-Man, a new kind of superhero – one who would be a teenager, but not a sidekick, and one who would have everyman doubts, neuroses and money problems.[5] However, while this was indeed the final issue, its editorial page anticipated the comic continuing and that "The Spiderman [sic] ... will appear every month in Amazing."[3][6]

Regardless, sales for Amazing Fantasy #15 proved to be one of Marvel's highest at the time,[7] so the company launched the series The Amazing Spider-Man seven months later.[8]

The DVD release of the collector's edition of the Spider-Man movie included an electronic copy of Amazing Fantasy #15. In 2001, Marvel published the 10-issue historical overview The 100 Greatest Marvels of All Time, with Amazing Fantasy #15 topping the list.

In 2008, an anonymous donor bequeathed the Library of Congress the original 24 pages of Ditko art for Amazing Fantasy #15, including Spider-Man's debut and the stories "The Bell-Ringer", "Man in the Mummy Case", and "There Are Martians Among Us".[9][10]

In September 2000, Metropolis Comics in New York City brought the only known CGC-graded 9.6 (near-mint plus) copy to market and sold it for $140,000.[11] In October 2007, a near-mint copy sold for $210,000 in an online auction on[12] A near-mint CGC-graded 9.6 copy sold for $1.1 million to an unnamed collector on March 7, 2011, making the issue one of only three comic books to have broken the million-dollar mark (the others being the debut of Superman in Action Comics #1, of which three copies have sold for more than $1 million each; and the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics #27).[13]

Continuation in 1995

For decades, no attempts were made to relaunch the title or to continue it with a #16. However, in 1995, Marvel editor Danny Fingeroth decided a story gap existed between Amazing Fantasy #15 and The Amazing Spider-Man #1. In an attempt to fill that gap, Marvel published three flashback Spider-Man stories in Amazing Fantasy #16–18 (Dec. 1995 – March 1996), each written by Kurt Busiek and painted chiefly by Paul Lee.[14]

Volume 2

File:Amazing Fantasy (2004) issue 1.jpg
Amazing Fantasy #1 (Aug. 2004), featuring Araña. Cover by Mark Brooks and Jamie Mendoza

The second volume of the series ran 20 issues (cover-dated Aug. 2004 – June 2006).[15]

The first arc ran through vol. 2, #1–6 and featured a new teenaged heroine, Araña. The second arc, in vol. 2, #7–12, published after a short hiatus, featured a revamped, female version of the supervillain the Scorpion. A back-up feature in vol. 2, #10–12 (Sept.-Nov. 2005) starred the character Nina Price, Vampire by Night.[15] Vol. 2, #13–14 (both Dec. 2005) led with the modern-West feature "Vegas", backed up by "Captain Universe". In an attempt to replicate history, Marvel announced that the new issue #15 would introduce a new generation of heroes in a 48-page standalone issue, in the hopes that they would become as popular as Spider-Man. These heroes included Mastermind Excello, Blackjack, the Great Video, Monstro, Heartbreak Kid, and Positron. The cover to #15 was a revamped version of the original Amazing Fantasy #15 cover, complete with Spider-Man swinging through a modern-day New York City, while the new heroes watch in awe in the background.[15]

The final arc, in vol. 2, #16–20 (Feb.-June 2006), introduced Death's Head 3.0, a revamp of the Marvel UK character, written by the original version's creator, Simon Furman. Issues #18–19 contain two "Tales of the New Universe" stories as backup features, while #20 featured a Western backup, "Steamrider".[15]

Reprints and collected editions

Amazing Fantasy Omnibus (September 2007) ISBN 0-7851-2458-6

  • Collects Amazing Adventures #1–6, Amazing Adult Fantasy #7–14, Amazing Fantasy #15 (1961–1962)

Amazing Fantasy #15 has been reprinted many times, sometimes just reprinting the Spider-Man story. Some of the reprints include:

  • Marvel Milestone Edition (March 1992): Comic-book-size reprint of the entire comic with the original ads. Front and back cover are bordered by silver. Featured different coloring.
  • The Birth Of Spider-Man (Applewood Books, 1997): Comic-book-size hardcover reprint of the entire comic with the original ads and indicia. Printed on "aged" paper. Front and back covers appear twice, on the outer covers and inside. "Covers" of interior reprint are printed on the same "aged" paper stock as the rest of the book.
  • Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 (Barnes & Noble 2003) ISBN 0-7607-3793-2
    • Barnes & Noble exclusive restored and recolored collection. **Collects Amazing Fantasy #15 & Amazing Spider-Man #1–10 (1962–1964)


  1. ^ Amazing Adult Fantasy at the Grand Comics Database. Accessed September 2, 2008
  2. ^ Lee, Stan, "Introduction", in Yoe Craig, The Art of Ditko (Idea & Design Works, January 2010), ISBN 1-60010-542-4, ISBN 978-1-60010-542-5, p. 9
  3. ^ a b c Amazing Fantasy (Marvel, 1962 series) at the Grand Comics Database. "[T]he decision to cancel the series had not been made when it went to print, since it is announced that future issues will include a Spider-Man feature."
  4. ^ "Videotaped Deposition of Stan Lee". United States District Court, Southern District of New York: "Marvel Worldwide, Inc., et al., vs. Lisa R. Kirby, et al.". p. 37. 
  5. ^ Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 95. ISBN 0-8109-3821-9. 
  6. ^ "Important Announcement from the Editor!", Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962), reprinted at Sedlmeier, Cory, ed. (2007). Amazing Fantasy Omnibus. Marvel Publishing. p. 394. ISBN 978-0785124580. 
  7. ^ Daniels, p. 97
  8. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man at the Grand Comics Database
  9. ^ "Library of Congress Receives Original Drawings for the First Spider-Man Story, 'Amazing Fantasy' #15". Library of Congress press release. April 30, 2008. Archived from the original on May 31, 2010. 
  10. ^ Raymond, Matt (April 30, 2008). "Library of Congress Acquires Spider-Man's 'Birth Certificate'". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on May 31, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Metropolis Sets Record for Amazing Fantasy #15!". Scoop. Gemstone Publishing/Diamond International Galleries. May 29, 2004. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Spidey's Huge at ComicLink". Scoop. Gemstone Publishing/Diamond International Galleries. June 23, 2007. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011. 
  13. ^ Moore, Matt (March 8, 2011). "Spider-Man Debut Sells for $1.1 million". Associated Press via The Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011. 
  14. ^ Amazing Fantasy (Marvel, 1995 series) at the Grand Comics Database.
  15. ^ a b c d Amazing Fantasy (Marvel, 2004 series) at the Grand Comics Database

External links

Further reading

  • Lee, Stan. Origins of Marvel Comics (Marvel Entertainment Group reissue, 1997) ISBN 0-7851-0551-4
  • Lee, Stan, and George Mair. Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee (Fireside, 2002) ISBN 0-684-87305-2
  • Raphael, Jordan and Tom Spurgeon. Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book (Chicago Review Press, 2003) ISBN 1-55652-506-0