No, I'm not just thankful that Spider-Man is one of the bestest characters ever.
No, I'm thankful because maybe, just maybe, we were lucky to get Spider-man at all.
Yes, we all know Amazing Fantasy #15 introduced Webhead, and was wildly popular, and featured one of the greatest, most iconic story ever.
But people forget, that was only one of the Lee/Ditko stories from AF #15!! Stories with big old splash pages establishing a high concept and ending in a patented Lee/Ditko sad irony. These stories could have caught fire just as easily as Spider-Man, couldn't they? And, as the "Fan Page" makes clear, what stories they ran in AF were all about doing what the fans wanted:
So, as the Watcher tells us, had a few more people written letters praising other stories, Marvel history could have been very different.
For example, a few more letters, and we soon could have been treated to a new series starring The Amazing Bell-Ringer:
This could have been a Phantom Stranger type situation...the mysterious Bell-Ringer who appears at times of trouble, helping out the frightened townspeople and tolling against evil!
Or, perhaps, The Spectacular Man In The Mummy Case:
A series set in the past? Certainly DC had no qualms about that type of thing. The Adventures of A Connecticut Crook In Ramses Court, say, as a 20th century man struggles to survive, and eventually rise to power, in ancient Egypt. Let's just this guy has also memorized the dates of eclipses in the ancient world!
Or, finally, we could have had your Friendly Neighborhood Martian:
I can see a Lee/Ditko continuing series about a Martian, posing as human, as he tries to free his wife from government activity in Area 51 even as he is pursued by other Marvel heroes, and he meets the Hulk, and...
Yeah, OK, none of these other stories were much more than the standard late 50s/early 60s Twilight Zone-lite knock-offs, and none were particularly likely to catch on better than Spider-Man. But then again, if the Post Office loses a few letters, if a whole bunch of Bell-Ringer fans suddenly find themselves motivated to write, if The Man In The Mummy Case decides to bargain with Mephisto to become more prominent...
Oh, never mind. Go watch the Lions lose.