Spider-Man's creator has been largely debated over the years by passionate fans of the character. Most mainstream accounts credit Stan Lee as the principal creator. However, a large amount of credit for Spider-Man must go to Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and Joe Simon. These men came up with the initial concepts and look of the character dating back into the 1950s.
To commemorate Stan Lee's 65 years at Marvel, the company has put out a series of one-shots of characters Stan has had a hand in creating. This is a review of the second story contained in the issue by superstar writer Joss Whedon. For those seeking a review of the main story, written by Lee, please peruse Adam Chapman's review.
Middle-aged Steve Rennitz meets himself at an Inter-Dimensional Comicon. His doppelganger is a seller for retailer Cosmic Comics. Hilarity ensues as they meet another Rennitz. The trio then compares their latest purchases (which I won't give away). Suffice it to say the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the Punisher are all cleverly lampooned.
The Rennitz trio gets into a healthy debate about each dimension's version of Spider-Man. One version posits that superheroes such as Spider-Man thrive because it is all a fantasy. Another Rennitz argues that what is needed is pain. Spider-Man needs to have consequences and trials, which humanize him in the reader's mind.
As they meet yet another dimension's Rennitz, one of the trio brings up the subject of Stan Lee. Apparently, Lee is unknown to other dimensions. The one and only Stan the Man break up Rennitz's dismay. Lee is able to go around anonymously because he is the one and only Stan Lee writing comic books. Several humorous jokes abound as Lee and Rennitz go to check out another booth.
Whedon does a nice job of honoring Stan Lee's legacy in this short vignette. Let me just say that the story had me laughing out loud several times at some of the jokes Whedon included. The atmosphere of a comicon is captured precisely. You'll know what I'm talking about if you've ever been to one yourself.
The story is not "filler" material. Whedon uses his love for 1960s Marvel to produce an above average Stan Lee tale. 'Nuff Said.
For a detailed and fascinating look at the initial origins of Spider-Man check out Joe Simon's (with Jim Simon) memoir The Comic Book Makers. Simon's fond remembrance of the "Golden Age of Comics" shows the passion, humor, and obstacles of making comic books in a time before the Marvel Age of Heroes.