Finally got round to Avengers #1 on my read through and was struck by the absence of Spider-Man.
If the idea handed down from management was to do a JLA style book with all of the companies stars he should surely be there. You can tell from the first few issues of spider-man that they immediately see him as a big star character.
While I don't think Spider-man would have fitted on the team I'm not sure stan was really sat there thinking all that carefully about matters of tone at the time and the slight to spider-man of not being included could possibly cause people to skip his own book (not sure if it would but presumably that cross promotion was the whole idea behind having a team book)
The inclusion of the Hulk who doesn't even have his own book and doesn't really fit in the avengers at all suggests they were just including everyone. (although avengers 1 is actually one of the better Hulk stories to that point) but still no spidey, he isn't even shown in a throwaway panel like the FF.
Maybe it was a Kirby/Ditko thing.
I'd forgotten how much I liked #1 by the way, it's got a great loki/Thor battle. I've never read it fresh on the heels of the earlier Thor stories before and it actually holds up much better than a lot of them.
You have to keep in mind that Avengers 1 was published the same month as Spider-man 4 so Spidey was still pretty new. If it was published that month, it had to have been written a couple of months earlier. The characters who appeared there, including the FF, had been around longer and were more established (Except for the Wasp who was pretty much created so that the Avengers would have a token female). I have no doubt that if Avengers had been published a few months later, Stan would have included Spidey.
I'm wondering if it might be that either he was overlooked (maybe being too new), or that his "feel" was wrong for the book (angst-y teen loner/loser). Now granted, the Hulk is an even less likely team-player, but he had no book at the time, and was almost constantly being re-tooled, issue to issue, to find a successful formula. Putting him in the "Thing" role in Avengers (bad tempered muscle guy with tragic overtones) probably made more sense than Spider-man, at the time. I also wonder if they maybe thought that nobody except Ditko could consistently draw Spidey at that point. His look was very distinctive, and the webbed costume would be a pain in a book already crowded with characters.
There's definitely something in the idea that nobody but ditko could draw spider-man.
the human torch (strange tales) annual spidey team up and the back up story of the FF annual expanding on spidey's meeting with the team both feature Ditko art and i've always wondered about the back up story to Spider-man 8 which is a Kirby drawn, ditko inked human torch team up that comes along after the title has largely done away with back up stories and with a bit of tinkering could easily have appeared in strange tales. There is one Dick Ayers drawn guest appearance in Strange Tales but otherwise Stan seems to have made sure spidey got drawn by ditko
you guys are right about the fact that his title hadn't been around all that long, although with the bi-monthly publication it is 6 months since spider-man 1 (and much longer since AF15) compared with 3 months since the wasps debut they presumably were able to consider having him onboard. Maybe Stan really did care about the dramatic connotations of Peter joining after all,
The idea of Spidey's absence boiling down to a "Kirby/Ditko thing" (as owen put it) actually fits in with something I read just the other day. According to Tom Brevoort, the Avengers was a fill-in comic thrown together at the last moment, in order to take advantage of an open slot that was created by virtue of the production of another book being late--the proposed Daredevil comic. Brevoort's explanation is here:
If what Brevoort says is true, and Avengers #1 was created as a late replacement, then IMO it would not be surprising given the short notice that Kirby would fill the comic with his most frequently-drawn characters including the Hulk and Loki.
Interesting reading there thanks for passing it along, I always liked the little titbits like that that tom supplied on the old Avengers Mailing List, he's a guy with a real interest in the history of it all.