In "Our Lives Together," I spotlight some of the more interesting examples of shared comic book universes. You know, crossovers that aren't exactly crossovers.
What's fascinating about this installment is that, in part, has to do with the very INTRODUCTION of the shared universe into the Marvel Universe! Yes, while there were certainly some mentions of the existence of other Marvel Comics books in the pages of the Fantastic Four (for instance, we see Johnny Storm reading a Hulk comic book as early as Fantastic Four #5 and heck, the victory over the Skrulls in Fantastic Four #2 was based on Reed Richards cutting out pages from Marvel's earlier monster comic book stories), the first time that there was an honest-to-goodness MEETING of characters from two different books occurred in the twelfth issue of the Fantastic Four's comic (where they meet the Incredible Hulk) and the first issue of Spider-Man's comic book, where he meets the Fantastic Four.
Spider-Man's meeting with the Fantastic Four was a perfect distillation of Stan Lee's view of Spider-Man as a character. Lee saw Spidey as the "everyman," the superhero who couldn't catch a break, who would need help getting by, etc. Therefore, it made perfect sense for Spider-Man to try to get a job from the Fantastic Four, who were presumably noteworthy at that point in time for having some money (after all, there was already specifically a story about them very publicly losing their fortune and getting it back in an issue of Fantastic Four a few months before this story).
So he breaks into their headquarters to try to impress them enough for the team to hire him...
As you can see, it is a very brief encounter. This was par for the course for the early days of Marvel. When characters showed up in other people's books, they tended to be sort of fleeting appearances. Just enough to get the reader to think, "Wow, those characters are cool!" and not so much that you're not left wanting more.
Spidey goes right off to the rest of his story (which is a fight with his first supervillain, the Chameleon) and that's that.
However, what if that WASN'T the first meeting between Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four?