Tuesday, 20 September 2016


Images copyright relevant owners

Once, in an alternate universe, JACK KIRBY showed a
SPIDERMAN (no hyphen) logo by JOE SIMON to STAN LEE,
and pitched to him the idea for a superhero who'd been rechristened
The SILVER SPIDER before metamorphosing into The FLY.  In
this alternate universe, STEVE DITKO did not advise Stan of the
similarity of Spiderman to The Fly, and MARVEL's newest char-
acter got his wings clipped, either by poor sales or a plagiarism
lawsuit from rivals RED CIRCLE/ARCHIE COMICS.

At least, that's what could've happened if we're to believe
a dissenting account of the events that led to SPIDER-MAN's
creation.  We'll never know for sure whether it's true, but imagine
PETER PARKER as a teenager who rubs a magic ring to trans-
form into his alter-ego and you have an idea just how different
things might've been in the Marvel Universe of the '60s.

Which brings me to this softcover book from 2004 which
a friend very kindly gifted to me recently.  It contains the first
four issues of The Fly, produced by Simon & Kirby (with others)
before the duo quit the title.  The tales are simple, unsophisticated
fare from an era when comicbooks were aimed squarely at kids, but
they have their own distinct charm that makes the collection worth
owning.  Though after reading the book, it reminded me just what
an immense contribution Stan Lee made to the comicbook biz,
something for which we should all be eternally grateful.

Some of the art and lettering restoration is a little dodgy,
with at least one story appearing more like a tracing than a
reprinting, but that aside, it's still an interesting look back at an
earlier time in four-colour comicbook history.  I imagine you'd
be able to track down a copy on eBay or Amazon without
too much difficulty or too great an expense.  Get hunting!

Ah, yes - how different things could have been indeed!

No 'Wide Angle Scream' in this ish apparently

Why no lettering?  Is it a reprint oversight or how it first appeared?


TC said...

Archie Comics tried reviving their superheroes in the 1960's, and again in the early 1980's. The 1980's Red Circle/Archie Adventure Series line included a new Fly title, with art by Ditko, and (on the first two issues) cover art by Steranko.

They also reprinted some of the earlier Fly stuff in their Blue Ribbon anthology title. The Kirby art style would look very familiar to anyone who had read early Silver Age Marvel (or 1950's Atlas) comics.

Today's comic book fans would find them corny and simplistic, but they were what they were intended to be: unpretentious entertainment for preteen kids.

Kid said...

Apparently The Fly was also called Jason Troy in one of those later revivals, TC, and was even an adult in his civilian identity in another. And, at some stage in the '60s, he was renamed Fly-Man. If they'd only got it right the first time, eh?

John Pitt said...

Yeah, the Fly wasn't a bad little, Marvelesque comic book in the 60's. Most of the stories I only read in Alan Class reprints and I recall there was even a touch of the Batman/Commissioner Gordon relationship between him and his police chief. I say they weren't bad, bearing in mind I was only a kid at the time, but even so, I felt that the comic had lost its way when he became Fly-Man as part of the "Mighty Comics" group. It was such a wasted opportunity, as all those Mighty Comics characters showed such potential and could have been very successful if only Marvel had had hold of them! The artwork was fine, it was the stories that were their downfall. Having said that, I would still find a feature about the Archie/Mighty back catalogue very interesting!

Kid said...

I think the Bats/Gordon type relationship between The Fly and the Police Chief must have happened after Simon & Kirby left the title, JP, as there's no sign of it that I recall in the first four issues. I have the The Mighty Crusaders #1 in my collection, so I'll do a post on that when I can. Can you imagine how good Tower's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents would've been if Marvel had done them? What if, eh?

John Pitt said...

Look forward to that, Kid!
Exactly, the THUNDER Agents had the same potential as the Avengers. I used to buy them though as the covers looked appealing and they were thick!
Plus, I always wanted to try every different comic publisher.
Here's another "if only Marvel had had...." - Charlton's Captain Atom!

Kid said...

It's a shame that nobody ever thought to ask Stan Lee to re-dialogue some of those other publishers' mags as a special project. Can you imagine reading New Gods, Forever People, and Mr. Miracle (and others) scripted by Stan? What a blast that would be!

Originally posted 20 September 2016 at 15:07.

Phil S said...

I really wanted to like the Fly. Covers by Steranko Art by Ditko. It just didn't take off. These comics are now sold by weight they're so worthless. On the other hand if you haven't read them they're new to you! And they left so little of an impression on me they might as well be new to me.

The Simon/Kirby stuff is a bit odd because you can see the Fly is drawn in the exact same poses as Cap and the Sandman from a few years earlier.

Originally posted 21 September 2016 at 20:04.

Kid said...

The cover of #2 looks like someone has copied The Fly figure from a Captain America cover, Phil. Not comics at their finest by any means, but still nice to have.

Originally posted 21 September 2016 at 22:21.

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