Was Spider-Man’s Origin Inspired by an ‘Archie’ Comic?
Did you know that for a brief time in the early 1960s, Riverdale High student Archie Andrews, following an accidental brush with radiation, was possessed of powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men? Did you know that Archie described the sensation as tingling? Neither did we, but we do now thanks to the prodigious efforts of Copacetic Comics' Bill Boichel, who unearthed an ancient issue of Archie that has some compelling similarities to the superhero Spider-Man, who was to make his first appearance some months later.
Does this old issue of Archie contain the true inspiration for Spider-Man?
Hitting newsstands in August of 1962 (five or six months ahead of Spider-Man's first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15), Archie #126 featured a story where Archie loses a basketball in a radioactivity lab. Upon retrieving the ball, which had been contaminated by the oh-so-useful radiation, Archie remarked that fingers were "tingling," which as Boichel points out is the word most associated with Peter Parker's "spider-sense." Having been "charged" by the radioactive ball, Archie finds himself with an unnatural control over its movements, which he goes on to exploit in a school basketball game with some unruly bullies. Unfortunately, Archie's newfound talents will later play havoc with his love life.
Drawn by Harry Lucey, the story is reminiscent of the Spidey fundamentals for obvious reasons, although it seems unlikely that a throwaway short story in a random issue of Archie could have inspired Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's most famous creation.
Zeitgeist? Coincidence? Or, perhaps, this story was read by Stan and/or Steve during a lunchbreak, leading to the conscious or unconscious sparking of an idea. The timing is just right. We'll never know, of course, but it's something to ponder. Now's your chance to read it for yourself, and see what you think.
Hmmm.... Why don't you go read the story at Copacetic Comics and get back to us.