Confused? You shouldn’t be.
As any funnybook fan should know, Stan has always partly credited Jack Kirby with the creation of Spider-Man. He has even said that Jack was originally was supposed to have been the original artist on the character, but Stan really didn’t like the over-muscled character that Jack made Peter. Stan wanted Peter to not look like the typical hero, so he turned the character designs over to Sturdy Steve Ditko. Well, Jack’s heirs have heard and, well, added a claim on Spidey to their copyright infringement suit claim.
Yep, that’s right, folks, Kirby’s heirs are claiming the rights to Spidey himself, the cornerstone character and Iconic logo to the entirety of the Marvel Universe.
It's been confirmed that that Jack Kirby's heirs are, indeed, including Spider-Man and supporting characters in their list of Marvel characters that they want the rights to. The only problem with that? Well, Kirby didn't really create the character.
According to The Hollywood Reporter:
The reasons Kirby didn't end up drawing the book [Spider-Man] are lost in the mists of comic history, with some claiming Lee didn't like Kirby's more muscular depiction and others believing Lee was just too busy. (Kirby did end up drawing the cover to Spider-Man's first appearance, "Amazing Fantasy" #15.)
According to several accounts, Kirby, with his Captain America co-creator Joe Simon, did create a character called the Silver Spider, whose alter ego was an orphaned boy living with two elderly people, and that character was morphed into Spider-Man. Other accounts have the Silver Spider becoming the Fly for another comic company.
Regardless, the Spider-Man copyright termination notice filed last week by Kirby¹s four children lists Amazing Fantasy #15 as a work that belongs to Kirby. But included on the list of possible characters and story elements that should be recaptured by Kirby¹s heirs are Aunt May, Uncle Ben, J. Jonah Jameson, Flash Thompson and the Daily Bugle, as well as villains the Chameleon, the Vulture, the Tinkerer and the Lizard. Many of those characters were not originally published until 9 to 12 months after Spider-Man's first appearance and are considered to be Lee-Ditko creations.
Anyways, Kirby’s heirs claim is based on Kirby's rejected work - which didn't resemble the character as he eventually appeared, other than the name - and a claim Kirby made in a 1982 interview with Spirit creator Will Eisner, where he stated “Spider-Man was discussed between Joe [Simon] and myself. Spider-Man was not a product of Marvel.”
Still, some of this information is a tad misleading, as the Kirby/Simon “Spider-Man” never actually saw print, but instead became the 1959 character The Fly, which was a reworking of a previous Joe Simon character (co-created with artist CC Beck) called the Silver Spider. Simon has gone on record having suggested that the discussion of a character called “Spider-Man” — or actually “Spiderman,” according to an unused logo from that time — led to Kirby suggesting the name to Stan several years later when he worked for Marvel.
According to the comicbook historian, Al Nickerson, as recently as early 2009, Lisa Kirby (Jack’s daughter) rejected the idea that her father was involved with the creation of Spider-Man.
“I had asked Lisa Kirby (daughter of Jack and Roslyn Kirby) about her father's connection to the creation of Spider-Man. Lisa told me: "Neither one of my parents ever mentioned that my father created him, in fact I have heard my mother correcting people if they alluded to that fact.”
So what does this all mean? Who knows, other than the fact that the end of this story is nowheres in sight.