Amazing Fantasy

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Amazing Fantasy was a comic book anthology series published by Marvel Comics. It is best known as the title that introduced the popular character Spider-Man in issue #15. Other Marvel anthology series during the same time period include Tales of Suspense and Strange Tales.

Publication history

Amazing Fantasy originally began under the name Amazing Adventures in June 1961. The title was an anthology that ran monster, science fiction and suspense stories and introduced then fledgling Marvel Comics' first continuing character, the paranormal adventurer "Doctor Droom" (later renamed "Doctor Druid" when brought back in the 1970s as a supporting character). Doctor Droom was phased out when the book's title was changed to Amazing Adult Fantasy with issue #7 (Dec. 1961). The new title was intended to reflect the more "sophisticated" nature of its new exclusive content: the quick, quirky, twist-ending tales of writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko. The cover of the comic carried the motto "The magazine that respects your intelligence."

With issue #15 (August 1962) Amazing Adult Fantasy was renamed Amazing Fantasy and slated for cancellation. With nothing to lose, publisher Martin Goodman agreed to allow Lee 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. Sales for Amazing Fantasy #15 proved to be one of Marvel's highest at the time and The Amazing Spider-Man was quickly launched to capitalize on the new character's apparent popularity.

Amazing Fantasy #15, as the debut issue of Marvel's most popular character, is among fans and collectors one of the most important and valued comic books in the history of the medium.

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 a 10-issue series called The 100 Greatest Marvels of All Time, and Amazing Fantasy #15 topped the list at #1.

Although publishing decisions were responsible for the termination of the original Amazing Fantasy series, for decades no attempts were made to relaunch the title or continue 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 Amazing Fantasy #16-18, each written by Kurt Busiek and painted chiefly by Paul Lee.

In September 2000, a prominent comic book dealership brought the only known CGC graded 9.6 (near mint plus) copy to market and sold it for $140,000. [1] In October 2007, a near mint copy was sold for $227,000 in an online auction on [2] This was the highest price ever realized at auction for a comic book published after 1950.

Volume 2

Amazing Fantasy #16 (Dec. 1995). Painted cover by Paul Lee.

The title was restarted for a period in 2003, as a means of introducing new characters for a younger audience.

The first arc ran through issues #1-6, and featured a new teenaged heroine, Araña. The second arc (#7-12), published after a short hiatus, featured a revamped female Scorpion and a back-up story featuring the character called Vampire by Night (a re-imagining of the Werewolf by Night concept and a lead-up to Nick Fury's Howling Commandos).

In issues #13-14, there were two features once more. The main feature was a two-part story featuring a new hero, Vegas, with western themes in a modern setting, while the back-up story re-introduced Captain Universe, which led to a series of one-shots co-starring Marvel characters Invisible Woman, Daredevil, Hulk, Silver Surfer, and X-23, and was set to lead to a Captain Universe mini-series in early 2006 which has been either delayed or cancelled.

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, Positron and "the guy in Spider-Man's armpit" (who was on the original 1962 cover). As of 2007, only Mastermind Excello and Monstro have appeared in another comic book, appearing in World War Hulk and The Irredeemable Ant-Man respectively. Mastermind Excello also regularly appears in the series The Incredible Hercules. In addition, the cover to #15 was a "revamped" version of the original Amazing Fantasy #15, complete with Spider-Man swinging through a modern-day New York City, while the new heroes watched in awe in the background.

The final arc, in issues #16-20 introduced Death's Head 3.0, a revamp of the Marvel UK character, written by the original version's creator Simon Furman.

In addition, issues #18-19 contained two Tales of the New Universe stories as back-up features, while #20 featured a Western-themed backup.

List of Titles

Marvel Comics

  • Amazing Adventures #1-6 (June - November 1961)
  • Amazing Adult Fantasy #7-14 (December 1961 - July 1962)
  • Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)
  • Amazing Fantasy #16-18 (December 1995 - March 1996)
  • Amazing Fantasy Vol. 2, #1-20 (August 2004- April 2006)

Collected editions

  • Araña: The Heart of the Spider: Vol. 1: Heart of The Spider Digest (Amazing Fantasy #1-6)
  • Scorpion: Poison Tomorrow Digest (Amazing Fantasy #7-12)
  • Death's Head 3.0: Unnatural Selection (Amazing Fantasy #16-20)



  • 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

External links