Spider-Man’s First Iconic Image Was Created by Jack Kirby, Not Steve Ditko


Marvel’s Spider-Man was famously the creation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, but the famous artist Jack Kirby – Stan Lee’s longtime writing partner – made one very important contribution to the Spider-Man mythos. Ditko contributed much more than simple art, and was responsible for many aspects of the character (even as both he and Lee had major differences of opinion when it came to Peter Parker). But Kirby’s creation of the most famous Spider-Man image in history mustn’t be forgotten.

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Born Jacob Kurtzberg, Jack “The King” Kirby is the second-most important creative in Marvel history, and is responsible for dozens of comic creations. One of two creatives responsible for making Captain America, Kirby would go on to co-create the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, Ant-Man, Black Panther and dozens of other memorable characters. Even today, fans debate exactly how much input Kirby had alongside Stan Lee: some even insist that Kirby was the driving force and Lee later received credit for Kirby’s many contributions.

While Spider-Man is – officially – the creation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby contributed one essential aspect to the character’s debut: the cover of the anthology series Amazing Fantasy #15 released in 1963. Kirby indeed penciled the Spider-Man cover, depicting Peter Parker swinging through the New York City skyline while holding a terrified civilian. “Though the world may mock Peter Parker, the timid teenager,” Peter announces to the reader. “It will soon marvel at the awesome might of Spider-Man!”

Amazing Fantasy 15 cover with Spider-Man

Supposedly, Stan Lee decided to give Steve Ditko the job of co-creating Spider-Man because Jack Kirby would routinely argue with Lee over minor details and major plot points. Ditko ended up creating the character’s costume, along with Spider-Man’s signature webshooters (Jack Kirby, while on the job for the first few days, conceptualized the idea of the character using a web-gun instead), and the Spider-Signal (a rarely-used item even back then, and is forgotten by many contemporary writers today). Ditko also frequently depicted Peter’s Spider-Sense activating through a split image – Peter’s face on one side and the Spider-Man mask on the other.

Ditko was a notoriously private individual who nevertheless argued that he created more elements of the Spider-Man character than Lee. His controversial Objectivist ideology would occasionally appear in Marvel comics (leading to many jokes about Spider-Man reading Ayn Rand) and he never saw eye-to-eye with Stan Lee, eventually leaving Marvel for DC. Sadly, Steve Ditko died at 90 years of age, and while hewas instrumental in creating the Spider-Man character and would go on to produce memorable sequences (especially in If This Be My Destiny…), Jack Kirby’s cover graces an issue that is currently worth over one million dollars in good condition and is beloved by the Marvel faithful even today.

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