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You Decide ’11 – What do you like better: Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four or Ditko/Lee Spider-Man? (Part 2)

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!

Yesterday, I asked you to choose between the first 41 issues of Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s Spider-Man versus the first 41 issues of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s Fantastic Four. So now let’s just see what you think about each individual run as a whole!

38 Comments

Didn’t Ditko only do 30-some-odd issues of Amazing Spider-Man?

Didn’t Ditko only do 30-some-odd issues of Amazing Spider-Man?

41 (counting Amazing Fantasy #15 and the first two annuals).

FF is great, and probably a lot more influential, but Spider-Man is better.

Then what are we comparing exactly? What other Ditko stuff is there?

Then what are we comparing exactly? What other Ditko stuff is there?

Yesterday was just the first 41 issues of FF against Ditko/Lee Spider-Man. Now it is the whole run compared against the Ditko/Lee Spider-Man.

It is kind of ill-defined. Not on the Ditko end–it seems like those are the same 41 ASM issues we were voting on in the other poll–but on the FF side. The intro says “as a whole,” but the poll says Lee & Kirby’s “later FF run,” which I guess would be from #38-102.

but the poll says Lee & Kirby’s “later FF run,”

Typo! Fixed now.

Still have to go with the Spidey.

Lee & Kirby’s FF is great stuff, but still going with Lee & Ditko’s Spidey.

Hmmm.

I love the Ditko run, but as someone said on the other poll, it seemed apparent that Ditko was coasting by the end, and the last dozen or so issues are…less good, let’s say.

FF really kicks into gear after that batch that we voted on yesterday, with Galactus, This Man This Monster, Inhumans, Black Panther, the Doom with the Power Cosmic. But I’m not as familiar with FF from say, issue 80 on.

Hmmm.

I had to give it to Spidey in the last poll, but for my money the best of the Lee/Kirby FF run is practically synonymous with the best of Marvel, so this one’s an easy call for me.

All Lee/Kirby Fantastic 4 beats Lee/Ditko Spidey

HOWEVER

Lee/ Ditko/ Romita Sr. Spidey beats Lee/ Kirby Fantastic Four

I want to vote in these polls, but I wonder if they will end up like the Cover Theme Games and we’ll never actually see the results of the last couple.

Life is indeed full of heartbreak and uncertainty. It’s safest to do nothing at all.

I love the Ditko run, but as someone said on the other poll, it seemed apparent that Ditko was coasting by the end, and the last dozen or so issues are…less good, let’s say.

The Master Planner Saga was in that last 12 issues. That one’s a classic. Personally I really liked Ditko’s last issues and thought he was improving all the way to the end and finished at his peak. His Peter Parker was becoming increasingly deranged, confrontational and unhinged, which I really liked.

There’s so much introduced in the FF as compared to ASM that still is a big factor in the MU….Inhumans, Kree, Galactus, Silver Surfer, Annihilus that I have to go with the FF. I guess it all depends on what you like though. Most of the Ditko/Lee ASM was dealing with street level menaces and Peter’s personal life. The FF went cosmic.

I love that Stan and Jack created the foundation for all the comics I knew and loved growing up, but more often than not I find reading their actual work just a huge struggle to get through. I think the corniness of Stan Lee’s writing, while charming in small doses, just gets to me after a while.

For some reason, that corniness doesn’t bother me as much with his Spider-Man stuff. The soap operatic aspect seems to suit Peter Parker’s more mundane life better than the cosmic Fantastic Four stuff (with some exceptions, like “This Man, This Monster”, which I did enjoy very much), and the charming quality comes through. Plus I’d rather read a scene with a cranky J. Jonah Jameson than with a chauvinist arrogant Reed Richards any day (although Reed’s dated sexism can be pretty funny to look at now).

Wow, very hard question. I will take a few more days to think it over.

Ditko’s Spidey run is more regular, IMO. Yes, Ditko was tapped out by the last couple of issues, but the overall quality of most issues is pretty high. Kirby’s FF has more rough spots; I’m not a big fan of the last 20 issues or so (The Living Totem, the Monster from the Black Lagoon, the Gangster Skrulls…).

The FF introduced (or re-introduced) tons of great concepts (Sub-Mariner, Doom, Galactus, Silver Surfer, Super-Apes, Kree, Skrulls, Black Panther, the Watcher, Adam Warlock, Inhumans, Negative Zone, Microverse). But there is one magnificent concept introduced in Spider-Man, the “hero that could be you”, that is more influential than anything ever introduced in the FF.

Spider-Man is a big and brilliant subversion of the superhero model. This dude explains it a lot better than I why Spider-Man is the symbolic hero of his decade: http://www.fortunecity.com/tatooine/niven/142/profiles/pro27.html

“There’s so much introduced in the FF as compared to ASM that still is a big factor in the MU”

Yeah, and, on the other hand, the Ditko/Lee run introduced the current #1-all-time bad guy running the entire Marvel Universe and the biggest superhero Marvel has ever or will ever create.

I mean, you can add up all the characters you listed, add in The Mole Man and The Wingless Wizard, and they still don’t seem to have the influence of even Norman Osborn alone, let alone when you add Spider-Man himself to the equation.

The Fantastic Four work well as a team, but they’re pretty terrible whenever they’re removed from the team and given individual guest spots. It’s basically, “What one word summarizes why you need a guest star this month? Please pick one and only one: “Intelligence & long reach, strength, young-guy-where-the-important-bit-of-the-guest-spot-is-actually-the-pep-talk-and-not-the-heroics”. And, yes, that’s only three; Invisible Woman has never been a viable guest star in anything, ever. Spider-Man, on the other hand, can be fitted into literally any issue of any comic. Any Marvel comic that lasts more than year is guaranteed to include an appearance by Spider-Man and, more amazingly, Spider-Man has a more consistent voice than any other character in comics.

Or, to put it simply, SM is such an important factor in the MU that he’s actually a member of the FF — and it’s not even his most prominent team membership!

My vote was instant and predictable, although I’ll quickly concede that there were stretches at the end of the FF run that were extremely weak. The energy changed dramatically after #66 and the “Beehive” conflict between Jack and Stan, several stretches were very weak, and the final sequence from #94-102 is excruciating to read. Kirby waited too long to leave.

And I’ll quickly concede too that there is a unique and startling character, style and and storyline to Ditko’s Spider-Man that has never been duplicated. I read the classic FFs in my early teens and the Ditko Spideys in my 20s, If the sequence had been reversed maybe I’d be voting otherwise today(?). I’ve never understood people who prefer Romita’s Spidey to Ditko’s.

The only other run that rivals the best of the FF and Sider-Man is Kirby’s Thor, especially from about 113-137. Kirby’s bombast and Lee’s dramatics combined to find their ultimate home and purest expression there.

The Green Goblin did indeed become ridiculously ubiquitous in the last few years after not being relevant even in the Spidey titles for decades. It’s as if Dr. Bong suddenly became President of the United States. But Dr. Doom has been the Big Bad of the Marvel villains consistently since his introduction, and Galactus is still the biggest cosmic badass around, no matter how many supposedly more powerful beings Marvel introduces.

I appreciate the Spidey boosterism, but there actually have been a bunch of good Sue stories over the years, and just because you haven’t read them doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. It took way too long for her to come into her own, but in recent years she’s often been portrayed as the most formidable member of the team.

Ugh, two of my favorite all time runs in competition with one another! I think it’s a little unfair though, to compare 41 issues of one book o 102 issues of another. The last year-18 months of FF was terrible, but they started out of the gate so strong.

ASM on the other hand had a rocky start, lots of memorable characters but really awful sci-fi/horror stories that had been the signature of the previous decade. But around issue 9-10 there is a shift into high gear that keeps going till the end of their run.

I’m going to have to go with the one that went out on top. Lee/Ditko by a hair.

I think it’s a little unfair though, to compare 41 issues of one book o 102 issues of another.

If only there were some sort of poll to compare just the first 41 issues of each book…

Or just the best 41-issue run of each, snarkmeister.

All Lee/Kirby Fantastic 4 beats Lee/Ditko Spidey

HOWEVER

Lee/ Ditko/ Romita Sr. Spidey beats Lee/ Kirby Fantastic Four

What he said

All Lee/Kirby Fantastic 4 beats Lee/Ditko Spidey

HOWEVER

Lee/ Ditko/ Romita Sr. Spidey beats Lee/ Kirby Fantastic Four

I feel the opposite. Lee/Ditko Spidey beats all Lee/Kirby Fantastic 4

HOWEVER

Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four beats Lee/Ditko/Romita Sr. Spidey.

I love Romita Sr., but if you throw him into the equation the overall quality drops to the point where Lee/Kirby FF takes the leads.

T: That’s led to me to suggest that Lord Cronin should do a ‘which is best: Lee-Ditko or Lee-Romita snr?’ poll! How about it, Brian?

I’ve never been in to Norman Osborn as a poor man’s Lex Luthor. I’m switching from yesterday and going with the FF. From issues 40-60 or so, it’s the best super comics I’ve ever read.

Thing is, since we did the Top Runs poll a couple of years ago, we pretty much already know how it would turn out. Just like how I knew how this poll would turn out beforehand, I just figured I’d give it a shot to test my presumption.

I’ve never been in to Norman Osborn as a poor man’s Lex Luthor. I’m switching from yesterday and going with the FF. From issues 40-60 or so, it’s the best super comics I’ve ever read.

Since post-Crisis Lex Luthor is nothing but a poor man’s Kingpin himself, let’s just cut out the middleman and call current Norman Osborn a poor man’s Kingpin. I hate to give post-Crisis Lex Luthor credit for creating that characterization.

As I commented on a Marvel poll question on Facebook earlier tonight, Norman Osborn should be three things: The Green Goblin, not sleeping with Gwen Stacy, and DEAD.

I agree with John on the first 2 things about Norman, but I thought he was used pretty well in Ellis’s Thunderbolts.

Kirby against Ditko at all anywhere is no contest. Kirby.

Pretty much all of Ditko’s stuff after the Spidey & Doc Strange glory days looked, to me, awkwardly posed, not fully rendered or anachronistic with lots of pillbox hats and bow ties, compared with most other Marvel artists in the 70′s and 80′s. Going from Michael Golden’s early “Micronauts” work to Ditko’s ‘Nauts annuals, or from Kirby’s “Machine Man” to Ditko’s much stiffer version were both quite jarring experiences in my youth. The old Spideys were great, but he was working in a much older art style more suited to the early Silver Age, while Kirby changed and grew hugely during the 60′s and 70′s.

Pretty much all of Ditko’s stuff after the Spidey & Doc Strange glory days looked, to me, awkwardly posed, not fully rendered or anachronistic with lots of pillbox hats and bow ties, compared with most other Marvel artists in the 70?s and 80?s. Going from Michael Golden’s early “Micronauts” work to Ditko’s ‘Nauts annuals, or from Kirby’s “Machine Man” to Ditko’s much stiffer version were both quite jarring experiences in my youth. The old Spideys were great, but he was working in a much older art style more suited to the early Silver Age, while Kirby changed and grew hugely during the 60?s and 70?s.

How is the quality of Ditko’s post-Spidey work vs. the quality of Kirby’s post-FF work in any way relevant when comparing Ditko’s Spidey vs. Kirby’s FF?

Now, you could narrow the field down to a vote between the best ten-issue sequence of each title.
For the FF I’d say that would be #43-51, with Annual #3.
For Spidey, I’m not sure where the cutoffs should fall, but I’d want the sequence to include the hiding behind the garbage cans until he found his confidence moment.

sean says: “Yeah, and, on the other hand, the Ditko/Lee run introduced the current #1-all-time bad guy running the entire Marvel Universe and the biggest superhero Marvel has ever or will ever create.

I mean, you can add up all the characters you listed, add in The Mole Man and The Wingless Wizard, and they still don’t seem to have the influence of even Norman Osborn alone, let alone when you add Spider-Man himself to the equation.

The Fantastic Four work well as a team, but they’re pretty terrible whenever they’re removed from the team and given individual guest spots. It’s basically, “What one word summarizes why you need a guest star this month? Please pick one and only one: “Intelligence & long reach, strength, young-guy-where-the-important-bit-of-the-guest-spot-is-actually-the-pep-talk-and-not-the-heroics”. And, yes, that’s only three; Invisible Woman has never been a viable guest star in anything, ever. Spider-Man, on the other hand, can be fitted into literally any issue of any comic. Any Marvel comic that lasts more than year is guaranteed to include an appearance by Spider-Man and, more amazingly, Spider-Man has a more consistent voice than any other character in comics.

Or, to put it simply, SM is such an important factor in the MU that he’s actually a member of the FF — and it’s not even his most prominent team membership!”

But that is really not relevant to the poll because you’re talking about stories decades after Lee/Kirby and Lee/Ditko.

When we are “in the moment” of those two runs, Spider-Man basically exists in his own little universe of high school, the Daily Bugle and mostly street level villains. The Fantastic Four is where Lee and Kirby built what we know as the Marvel Universe. It was in the FF that the reader is introduced to the Microverse, Latveria, Atlantis, Wakanda, the Hidden Land and Attilan, the Watcher, time travel. The FF broke the fourth wall and answered questions from the fans. Or you’d have Reed talking about going to a meeting with Stan and Jack about what the next story will be about. The FF went public almost right off the bat , giving us the novel concept of the superhero as celebrity.

Guest appearances? Just about any major character guested in the FF first, Spider-Man himself for one, the Avengers and the Hulk, the X-Men, Nick Fury, etc. . If memory serves, you had the first Marvel crossovers in the FF as when the Avengers and the FF were tasked to track down the rebellious Hulk and then you had the DD/FF crossover.

As for comparing Doom and Osborn, his ascent is a recent development and his reign was a short one.

Oops, that reply above to Sean was mine

No contest, especially once you add in Galactus through to the Negative Zone. Amazing stuff. Especially “This Man, This Monster” and the one where Doom stole The Surfer’s powers.

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