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You Decide ’11 – What do you like better: Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four or Ditko/Lee Spider-Man?

Each day this month, I’ll be posting a different poll question – each poll will last five days, and I’ll reveal the results of the finished polls every Tuesday.

This way, for this month, we can see what our readers feel about various comic book questions. For a month, you folks will decide! Click here to see the other questions that you can answer as well as checking out the latest poll results!

Read on for the latest poll question!

For this question, I’m going to even up the playing field a bit. I want you to compare the two runs based only on Fantastic Four up through Fantastic Four #38, including Annuals #1-3. That gives both runs exactly 41 issues, so they can be compared evenly. That takes Fantastic Four right up to before the Battle for Baxter Building and before Joe Sinnott came on board (and before the Inhumans, Galactus, Silver Surfer, This Man, This Monster, Black Panther, Wyatt Wingfoot, Doctor Doom stealing the Power Cosmic, etc.). It does include the wedding of Reed and Sue and the origin of Doctor Doom (Annuals #3 and 2, respectively). So based just on the 41 issues of each title, which one do you prefer?


83 Comments

With those constraints, it has to be Spider-Man, the FF didn’t really take off until after #38 for me.

I agree with Punchy. I consider the FF to be the greatest comic ever, bar none, and the first 38 issues are masterpieces. However, Ditko’s run I think marginally has the edge, just for those 38. His is the only Spider-Man I care about, the only one who feels real to me.

This was a hard choice. I liked them both. (I’m old enough I had subscriptions to both – back when marvel would fold the comic in half to mail it out.) But Ditko’s amazing storytelling wins out, but just barely.

Hard to decide, but I agree with this constraints Spider-Man wins. After that the FF introduced Black Panther, Inhumans, Galactus and more in issue after issue.

This was a hard choice.

That was the plan! :)

I have read all of the FF and only a few select titles of the Spider-man, however, I found the hokey self aware style of the FF up to 38 to be a bit grating. No doubt that’s what separated it at the time, but I enjoyed the big ideas of Kirbys stuff later more.

I still would rather be stuck on an island with ANY run of Kirby/Lee FF then Spiderman….just my personal favourite…..still love Ditko, but I like Dr.Strange better

This was no choice at all for me. FF wins hands down. Spider-man is Stan Lee’s Hamlet: whiny and overrated.

For the early stuff, this has to go to Spider-man. If this was going into the 50s for FF, they’d win without question.

Spider-Man, without a doubt.

It always gonna be spidey for me if it was the whole 103 issues of. Ff it would be difrent but ff didn’t kick of hot until the coming of galactus in 48

FF. I’ll save my Spider-vote for the Romita Sr. run…

FF hands down, though the cut off point comes just as the series was really starting to take off.

Spider-Man.

With the constraints, it’s no contest. Lee and Kirby were still finding their foot in those first years of FF. I consider many of the stories as happening in a “proto-Marvel Universe,” still with lots of overlap with the 1950’s style of monster stories and silver age mad-science-of-the-week. Spider-Man, on the other hand, started when Lee already had the basics of his new way of writing superheroes pretty much settled.

What an evil question.

No contest. Kirby’s FF.

It’s Kirby, not Stan Lee, that makes the magic happen.

Was never a Ditko fan (although i’d love to see his issues of The Hawk & The Dove reprinted). Got give it to Kirby’s FF.

Before the Sinnott era of the FF make this choice even easier — Spider-Man.

Agree with Rene. It’s not until the soap-opera style plotting of Spider-Man gets applied on all the titles it becomes Marvel as we know it.

How can you have the wedding of Reed and Sue come BEFORE the preceeding issues that led up to it??? The awesome Id Machine trilogy (FF 41-43) where Ben joins the Frightful Four led right into the Wedding! The wedding was the one thought that got Ben back to normal and out of his hospital bed. You’re threatening the whole continuity!! bending time and space themselves to fit events into your warped, twisted agenda!!! turn back, man, turn back NOW before it’s too late!!! NOW, Sue!! NOW Johnny!! Hit him NOW while he’s distracted! And then YES BEN finish him off!! Good work, team, good work. That foolish man, I think he understands better now that there are some forces that just simply should not be tampered with.

Yes, even with your unreasonable and illogical limitations and manipulations in place, I vote FF.

How can you have the wedding of Reed and Sue come BEFORE the preceeding issues that led up to it???

It was either include the Annual or have the cut-off be after the first part of the battle for the Baxter Building. I think this way works more evenly.

I am a hardcore FF fan, but The FF didn’t take off for me until #40. Those first Spidey stories are still the benchmark for the series today.

Hmm. Like some others, I’d pick later Lee-Kirby FF over either of these, but with these two it’s Spidey.

I have to say based on the origins, among other reasons, I had to vote for Fantastic Four. I mean Spider-Man was okay back then, but If you dissect his origin it’s not good. I mean no safeguards are in place for the experiment that radiated the spider. No scientist has concern about Parker’s safety, let alone their own. The Fantastic Four at least thought about consequences to radiation exposure.

Just not that huge a fan of Kirby. Please don’t burn me at the stake.

The Fantastic Four at least thought about consequences to radiation exposure.

And yet still brought his girlfriend and her teenaged brother on his illegal space flight. I don’t know how much Reed was really thinking, consequences-wise.

Agh! My first thought was, wow, what an unfair choice to have to make, but it would have to be FF. But then when I saw that the cutoff was pre-Galactus, I had to go with Spidey by a nose.

I can’t believe people find this so hard. I love Lee/Kirby FF but NO superhero run in human history comes close to Lee/Ditko Spider-Man.

I think I agree with a lot of folks here that FF didn’t really take off until around ’65 or ’66, so it’s gotta be ASM for me.

Looking back at how FF evolved over the first five years, I really wonder what would have happened had Ditko stuck with Stan a little longer.

Without a doubt Spider-Man. I like the Fantastic Four, but anything compared to the beginning of Spider-Man? Not even close.

Reed was the mission commander. Ben was his pilot. Johnny and Sue were guinea pigs. A male and a female, as genetically similar as possible, so Reed could study the effects of space travel on human subjects.

Maybe he knew or hoped the cosmic rays would mutate them. He just failed to predict that Ben’s mutation would be so horrible.

The Mutt:
That idea was brought up in the X-Men/FF mini in the 80s.

I voted Spider-Man, and I think Ditko will win handily the way it’s set up. If your main misgiving concerns pitting a small run against a long run, why not choose the more beloved issues of FF (say, #40-#80) and make it a real bout? I don’t think if you do the match one vs one, you’ll necessarily get the same result as in the Top 100 Run contest.

I have to say based on the origins, among other reasons, I had to vote for Fantastic Four. I mean Spider-Man was okay back then, but If you dissect his origin it’s not good. I mean no safeguards are in place for the experiment that radiated the spider. No scientist has concern about Parker’s safety, let alone their own. The Fantastic Four at least thought about consequences to radiation exposure.

These consequences are addressed in the classic “If This Be My Destiny” storyline. Peter had given Aunt May a blood transfusion in ASM #9, causing her to contract radiation poisoning. In ASM #31-#33, Spider-Man has to recover a stolen isotope from Dr. Octopus to counteract the poison, and in the process is trapped under a giant machine as water floods the room through cracks in the doctor’s undersea facility (I’m sure you’ve seen the sequence before). As for why the scientists were unconcerned when Peter was first bit, it’s because no one knew the spider was irradiated. In fact, if you read a reprint of Amazing Fantasy 15, you’ll see that no one was aware that Peter was even bitten. All of that stuff where Flash and others ridicule Peter for overreating to a spider bite was retconned in later on.

If your main misgiving concerns pitting a small run against a long run, why not choose the more beloved issues of FF (say, #40-#80) and make it a real bout? I don’t think if you do the match one vs one, you’ll necessarily get the same result as in the Top 100 Run contest.

I think it’s more interesting to see what each book did with their first 41 issues.

That said, I agree that it would be interesting ALSO to see #39-80 vs. the Amazing issues. I was thinking about that for tomorrow, and now I think I’ll definitely do it!

Actually, I had to pause a second to consider (having developed a greater appreciation for Ditko’s work as I’ve gotten older).

Pope Matthew Paul

February 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

This is a hard decision – Kirby is one of my favorite artists of all time, but Ditko’s Spider-Man is my favorite of the early stories. You’ve really got me spinning on this one!

I prefer the Lee/Romita Spider-Man to the Lee/Ditko version, so this isn’t a tough question for me at all – Lee/Kirby FF!

I have to go with the Lee/Ditko Amazing Spider-Man stories. Because as good as the first few years of the Fantastic Four by Lee & Kirby were, it was right after the period in question that the book really caught fire, and Kirby introduced in rapid succession the Inhumans, Silver Surfer, Galactus, Black Panther, Klaw, Franklin Richards, Blastaar, Annihilus, Psycho-Man, and probably a few I’m forgetting. The stories were amazing, and we got such classics as “This Man, This Monster!” in FF #51.

But of course all this happened AFTER Fantastic Four #38. Which is why i had to pick Amazing Spider-Man. But, oh, if you had asked to compare ASM #1-38 with the entire 102 issue plus annuals Lee/Kirby FF run, well, I think my head would have exploded trying to reach a decision!

If the question is which did you like best? I liked the FF best because as a kid I didn’t like Ditko.
If the question had been which do you like best? I’d switch it.

Nice question, and I can see why Brian wanted to balance the issue numbers between the two to make it a more interesting contest… BUT if you look at this chronologically (ie from cover date Aug 62, the first appearance of Dikto’s Spiderman in Amazing Fantasy, to his departure in July 1966), the equivalent FF issues would be issues 5 or 6 (the first Doc Doom stories) though issue 52 (introduction of the Black Panther)… and I think, as many people of noted, that last year of FF (‘Battle of the Baxter Building’, Inhumans, Galactus / Watcher / Surfer, This Man, This Monster’ and the Black Panther) would tip the scales back to FF for many.

(NB I think my Maths is right but stand corrected if they’re out by a month or so – I dont have any issues to hand so am going by Wikipedia cover dates (rather than actual publication dates) for intro of BP and Departure of Dikto / Arrival of Romita on Amazing).

Great question, but I have to agree with many others here: the total Lee/Kirby run of FF beats the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man, but the FF didn’t really hit their stride until after this, while the first 38 issues of Spider-Man have never been topped, as good as so much later Spidey has been. So with the constraints, this is alot easier. A contest between FF 40-80 and Spider-Man 1-38: now that would be a really hard choice.

Spidey wins. Kirby is the better artist by far. But Spidey is the better book.

Spider-Man without question. Not a fan of Lee/Kirby FF. Spidey was way more interesting to me.

Cronin – If the timing of this question wasn’t coincidence, thanks!

As good as some of the early FF where, this openning run of Spidey beats them for sure in my mind.

Spider-Man. By a thread.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 13, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I was struggling, until I noticed I’d missed the paragraph explaining which issues of FF it was.
If it included the Sinnot issues, it would have been tough, but without, Dikto’s Spider-Man gets it.
The FF was still evolving pre-Sinnot, it’s all working, but it still had a few more steps to go, where as the Dikto Spider-Man hits it’s groove much earlier.

@entzauberung

I never read that comic, but I’m glad somebody else saw it that way. It’s the only way that makes any sense to me.

I’m sure I’ve read at least 2 dozen versions of the FF origin story. They try their best to make it make sense. It simply doesn’t, if we are supposed to believe Reed is a genius. Stan Lee loved the idea of Genius Characters, but he was not a genius, so he could only write them to the limit of his abilities.

Maybe my my favorite tropes of FF is when Reed does something stupid because he thinks it will be awesome and his friends have to dodge death to save the day.

If not for Reed, would any of the Negative Zone people ever have known about our world?

I don’t like the Fantastic 4. None of the characters appeal to me and the only stories I liked of what I read had Namor or Dr. Doom. So this was easy, Spider-Man.

within these specifications: Spidey

Kirby all alone at the tape and looking back. His art got better while Ditko’s remained the same.

I’ll go with FF but overall they were both classics. Still too much of the MU as a whole owes a lot to the creations and the tone forged from Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four run.

I voted for the FF, but I admit openly that it’s based purely on personal tastes- I just like Kirby’s art better than Ditko’s, and the more fantastic stories in FF than the ones in Spider-Man. But otherwise they’re both classic runs and I can see anyone preferring either.

Definitely Fantastic Four for me.
But everyone else is right. The series didn’t take off until after the restraints.

And while both are excellent, Kirby is a superb artist.

I hate my decision, it’s Spider-man.
While it seems like it’s sacrilegious to vote against Kirby cause he’s KIRBY.
But the earlier F.F. issue’s are uneven, as Lee and him were still finding their way.
Ditko was in a similar situation but was able to bring together sooner.
Art wise Ditko also wins since he did it mostly himself, as where Jack had a number of different inkers.
Some decent, some okay, some horrible.
Eventually J.Sinnott arrived to tighten it up as the stories reach there now classic status.
But Spidey wins although he wasn’t the flag ship title at the time.
The Fantastic Four was, hard to believe that.
But it’s true.

Lee/Ditko by a hair… The tiniest hair

Amazing Fantasy 15 is my favorite comic cover in existence. I seriously based my decision off that.

Spidey.

As people are saying, with the restraints, it’s Stan and Steve for the win.

And although I love Ditko, thank god that he was gone by the time Mary Jane was shown. A Ditko drawing of MJ would NOT have created the same reaction as Jazzy Johnny’s did.

And I also have to say, with this poll and other things this week, Cronin is SOOOO evil! You think he’s nice, but MAN!

Ah, he’s watching Bob Dylan on the Grammys, he’s not paying attention to me right now :)

Spider-Man, pretty easily. Blending soap-opera and super-heroics, the Lee/Ditko run laid down the template for every great Spidey story for years to come. The early Lee/Kirby FF was very hit-and-miss, for every Dr Doom there was a Puppet Master and a Kurrgo, Master of Planet X.

What a crappy poll. The reason Lee and Kirby’s FF kicked ass was because Kirby DIDN’T wander off after 38 issues. Everything cool about Spider-Man is in those first 38-issues. Everything cool about the FF is in its first 102 issues. If you chop it down to 38-issues Spider-Man wins, hands down, but we all know that Lee & KIrby’s FF is the better book because of the length and depth of its run.

And SageShini–if Amazing Fantasy 15 really is your favorite comic cover in existence and you seriously based your decision on that–remember Jack Kirby drew that cover–Ditko only inked it.

While we’re sorta on the subject, how about Lee/Romita’s Fantastic Four circa 103-106? (with Sinnott inking especially). It worked for me…Romita always had that firm structure and punch, that, as much as I liked Buscema, his rather fluid style wasn’t FF enough for me. (I always feel a difference between Bridgman and Hogarth, too..)

Also, since we’re on the subject, did Kirby layout the cover that Romita drew on FF 102?

FF because Kirby is the greatest. I love my FF Omnibuses.

This is a tough one for me, but I went with Spidey. While FF 1-38 are excellent, but I feel like Lee and Kirby really hit their stride with issues 40-87 — Inhumans, Galactus, Surfer, Black Panther Adam Warlock and so on.. Lee and Ditko’s Spidey run was really landmark in creating the super-hero with woes, which was unique at the time. Plus I have to give it to Spidey on the J. Jonah Jameson factor. JJJ may be the best supporting character in comics next to Robin. yes, the character has grown to be stale over the years in comics, but think about the Spider-Man movies and how scenes just light up when J.K. Simmons is on the screen. The Spidey villains Lee/Ditko created rank along with Batman’s as the best in comics — Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus,Scorpion, Kravan, Lizard, Mystero, Sand-Man, Electro and others.

Interesting that during the Kirby FF series you feel him continually growing in scope, in ideas, in confidence and ambition, finishing # 38 still a year or so away from his peaking.
Whereas in the later issues of Ditko’s 38 you can sense his interest and energy fading.
So by #38 you see that Kirby’s just about ready to build a new universe, and Ditko’s just about ready to leave.

For me, it’s the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man, hands down. I was first exposed to the Lee, Ditko, and Kirby stories through collections at the library in my pre-teen days. I had a much stronger response to the Lee/Ditko stuff, both Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, then I did the Lee/Kirby stuff. This preference has only grown over the years. I don’t know if it’s a product of Ditko’s style, the focus on individual characters vs. groups, or the weirdness of the characters, but the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man and Dr. Strange seemed like these intimate and exotic worlds. The combination of Lee’s dialogue and Kirby’s art in titles like Fantastic Four and Thor seemed like too much bluster and bombast.

It’s an easy choice until you use the later issues of FF. That’ll be like choosing which son dies. Until then it’s Spidey.

The Lee-Ditko Spider-Man run is easily the most technically polished of the early Marvel series, but the FF was always my favourite.

Hmmm… BOTH bore Marvel’s benchmark signature’s, but if I have to choose, then it’s Kirby-No Ditko! Waitaminute!-It’s KIRBY! NO DITKO! No Kirby! DITKO! KIRBY! AaRRRGAHHH! Help Me! HELP MEEE -Somebody Help MEEE……AAHHHHHHH!!!

What a crappy poll. The reason Lee and Kirby’s FF kicked ass was because Kirby DIDN’T wander off after 38 issues. Everything cool about Spider-Man is in those first 38-issues. Everything cool about the FF is in its first 102 issues. If you chop it down to 38-issues Spider-Man wins, hands down, but we all know that Lee & KIrby’s FF is the better book because of the length and depth of its run.

Speak for yourself rather than presuming to speak for everyone else; we don’t “all know that Lee & Kirby’s FF is the better book.” Even if you compare Spider-Man’s first 38 issues to the whole first 102 issues of the FF, Spider-Man still wins handily in my personal opinion. I don’t think one can claim there’s some universal consensus on the issue.

Later today I’ll let people vote on the full runs of each!

Personally, I liked Erik Larsen’s comment best because we found out that a central criterion for him is “length and depth”.

Boy, I’m juvenile. :) I think I better buy an issue of Savage Dragon to make up for it.

If you chop it down to 38-issues Spider-Man wins, hands down, but we all know that Lee & KIrby’s FF is the better book because of the length and depth of its run.

That to me was what was so interesting about this poll. A lot of people would contest this statement, but I basically agree with it. I like Spidey just fine, but FF is much more my speed–which was why it was so disorienting to find that in this case Spidey was the clear choice.

That to me was what was so interesting about this poll. A lot of people would contest this statement, but I basically agree with it.

My problem with the statement wasn’t his saying that he likes Lee&Kirby’s full run more. That’s his preference; we’re all going to have different opinions. And you totally have a right to agree or disagree with it. My problem with it was how we stated the “we all know” part, as if it was an immutable law or that it was blatantly obvious no-brainer that everyone would overwhelmingly agree to the point he was justified in calling Brian’s poll “crappy.”

That was the part that bugged me. It seemed presumptuous and arrogant.

Well, sure. That’s what I was saying — that I found the poll interesting (and sneaky in a good way) for the same reasons that Larsen found it “crappy.”

buttler: Argh, I just reread your post and saw my error. That’s the second comment I misread today. I need to step away from the computer!

I feel like I need to post a sneery “neither” here, like those that end up in all the more recent questions, just to remind people that not everyone thinks comics peaked five decades ago.

I feel like I need to post a sneery “neither” here, like those that end up in all the more recent questions, just to remind people that not everyone thinks comics peaked five decades ago.

Yeah, no Liefeld X-Force option? Wotta revoltin’ development.

Tough, tough choice. You’re an evil li’l bastard aren’t you Brian? ;)

While Fantastic Four kicked into high gear just around the end of your cutoff (including longer continued stories and bigger and bigger concepts), there are so many brilliant things they did prior to that.

In Amazing Spider-Man, Ditko brought in the longer story-arcs sooner (well, issue-to-issue; I think Kirby started this before as far as the calendar is concerned, though I’d have to go home and pull out my omnibi to be certain.

Coolness factor: complete Ditko run in one Omnibus volume!

Low Marvel printing standards strike again: I really wish my copy of FF Omnibus #2 didn’t have a large number of pages glued together, making them unreadable (or that I’d read it sooner, early enough to exchange my copy before it went OP…)

Has to be Spidey, just: hit the ground running earlier.
Lee-Kirby early F.F. WAS hit-and-miss. Too much reliance on Doom & Sub-Mariner (they’d already teamed up by #6!). Doom got 5 appearances in the first 17 issues; 6 in the 1st 23; Namor got 4 in the 1st 14.

Contrast: by #20, Lee-Ditko had created Vulture, Sandman, Electro, Doc Ock, Goblin, Mysterio, Terrible Tinkerer (OK he was crap), Chameleon, Scorpion, Kraven, Lizard,, Big Man/Enforcers, Beetle (or did he debut elsewhere?) AND had Spidey tangle with Doom, Torch, Daredevil, Hulk & F.F.! Sure, they started doing the Goblin & Ock re-appearances like the Dooms over at F.F., but overall it was more consistent with Spidey early doors.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Later today I’ll let people vote on the full runs of each!

You Sadist!

I thought you’d done it this way to give us an easy out, so we didn’t feel like we were being unfaithful to one or the other… now… now I’ve got some thinking to do.

Has to be Fantastic Four as much as I love classic Spidey, the FF were my gateway into the Marvel U.

Agree with the multitude of people who said FF 40+ is where it’s at! Voted Spidey, but FF would get my vote if it went beyond what’s in the first Omnibuses.

Definitely the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man for me — one of the best comics runs ever, IMO. Of course, so is the Lee/Kirby FF run, although the best of that was from about issues 35 through 70. Of somewhat lesser stature, but still great were Lee/Ditko’s Dr. Strange, particularly from the first Dormammu story on, and Lee/Kirby’s Thor.

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