Tangled Webs: Where To Start Reading Spider-Man Part 1

essentialSince my first column was about where two great writers started reading Spider-Man, it seems appropriate to consider the question of where everyone else should start. There are two ideal ways to do it.

The first strategy is to recommend a stretch of issues, perhaps a complete creative run. There may be some questions about the backstory, but it will be much easier to follow transitions issue by issue, rather than trying to figure out how things changed from one comic to another, as enemies become friends while villains died and came back. Rather than being worried about understanding the material in the past, the reader can focus on the character’s present, following various subplots from beginning to end. We’ll cover this in the next installment.

The other strategy is to go with an assortment of the most notable stories. Since Spider-Man’s been around since 1962, appearing in at least three books a month since 1975, there are going to be a lot of choices available. Anyone interested in the comic book adventures of the character is going to have a difficult time sifting through all of that material, especially since much of it is produced by people who assume that a reader is already quite familiar with the character’s touchstones.

So the aim would be to start with those adventures. What are the Spider-Man stories that everyone interested in the character (or the comics medium or good storytelling) should definitely check out? If there were classes on these comics, this would be the reading list for the Spider-Man 101 introductory course.  The selected stories have been curated based on a combination of acclaim, significance and accessibility. This is the material that is most likely to appear on Top 10/25/50 lists and to be alluded to in subsequent storylines. In some cases, it may be that a particular story is not considered important by itself, but it is an appropriate example of something that is referenced often.

It’s where to start. If you’ve been reading for a few years, these are the stories you should know. If not, comixology is your friend, as is your local comics shop.

Trade Paperbacks and One-Shots

It’s pretty easy to offer recommendations for anyone curious about Batman comics. You give them a list of a dozen or so TPBs, and later a recommended reading order for the runs by Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder and maybe Pete Tomasi. A significant difference between Marvel and DC is that the greatest DC stories tend to be self-contained, but the majority of the greatest Spider-Man stories are pieces of larger creator runs. While there are some great single-issue stories, and a few highly recommended self-contained TPBs, the majority of the best stories are parts of larger creative runs. Most of the material exists within the classic Marvel Universe, essentially an ongoing mega-story published since 1961. The main exception is those stories that are part of the Ultimate Marvel Universe that’s been published since 2000 with 700+ issues.

There are less TPB-length stories and iconic one-shots with a complete beginning and end for Spider-Man than for Batman or Superman, but those few are worth checking out. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s mini-series Spider-Man: Blue retells the Mary Jane/ Peter Parker/ Gwen Stacy romantic triangle, covering the beginning of Peter Parker’s college days. It’s a great introduction to a character, and works well as a companion to the Lee/ Romita run. It also includes memorable battles with the Vulture, the Rhino, Kraven and the Lizard. It gives a sense of Peter Parker’s perspective during events that changed his life.

In the late 80s, Spider-Man started wearing the black costume, and starred in three tragic and dark storylines that pushed him to his limit. The first of those chronologically was “The Death of Jean Dewolff” from Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110. It pit the hero against a villain who was essentially an ordinary serial killer, although there was a nasty twist to his identity. It ended in one of the most violent battles of Spider-Man’s career. Against Daredevil.

Spider-Man VS. Wolverine is another of the major tragedies, as well as the most notable team-up between Marvel’s two most popular characters. A throwaway line about how Peter can’t really be sure how he gained his powers becomes significant decades later. The setting—East Germany in the 1980s—is anachronistic, but it is compelling to see Peter Parker getting involved in affairs way out of his league. As an aside, this may also be the most acclaimed mainstream superhero comic written by an African-American author.

The finale of this unoffifcial trilogy was Kraven’s Last Hunt. Originally appearing in Web of Spider-Man #31-32, Amazing Spider-Man #293-294 and Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132, this six-part crossover by JM Dematteis and Mike Zeck was essentially a two month long fill-in—although events in the storyline would haunt Spider-Man for some time to come. That means it has a complete beginning, middle and end, and doesn’t rely on the reader understanding earlier subplots. This story shows Spider-Man at his angriest, most traumatized, and still willing to do what is right. There are rumors that Kraven will be the villain in the next Spider-Man film, and this volume is the reason why. This story gets into his head just as well as it does Spidey’s.

The rest of the essential Spider-Man stories tend to be parts of larger runs. With these, we start where the character did.

The Best of Lee/ Ditko

Lee and Ditko’s run lasted for 38 issues of Amazing Spider-Man, as well as the first two annuals. It’s good stuff, in a way that isn’t true of most opening runs of generations old superhero comics, but I’ll try to narrow it down to about ten issues. It all started with the origin of the wall-crawler in Amazing Fantasy #15, which defined Peter Parker as a different type of superhero, and featured one of the best twist endings from any comic book story. It was groundbreaking fifty plus years ago—I don’t think there were any superheroes who used their powers for selfish reasons before—but that’s not why it holds up today. It’s a shame that the story’s become so famous that everyone who reads it probably knows how the story ends. But it excels with the little moments. What better way is there to show how weak Peter Parker is by having his elderly uncle say to Aunt May “I can hardly outwrestle him now?” Doesn’t it make sense that someone with Spider-Man’s powers would become a media sensation? Subsequent issues have these brilliant smaller moments, in addition to some of the most iconic scenes in comic book history.

Amazing Spider-Man #1 sets the tone of the series, establishing Spider-Man’s status as a misunderstood hero, while also introducing J Jonah Jameson, and featuring the first encounter with other superheroes in the shared Marvel Universe. Issues 3 and 6 introduce Doctor Octopus and the Lizard, while also featuring Spider-Man’s first serious defeat and first trip outside of New York. Amazing Spider-Man #10 introduces the Enforcers, and features a major revelation about J Jonah Jameson, as well as a blood transfusion that becomes quite important later. Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 features a showdown with six of Spider-Man’s most dangerous enemies, just as Peter Parker has lost his powers, a plot point Sam Raimi later adapted into Spider-Man 2. Amazing Spider-Man #20 introduced the Scorpion, and featured J. Jonah Jameson’s biggest screw up.

The Master Planner saga framazingspider-man033om Issues 31-33 is the high point of the run, arguably the definitive Spider-Man story. There’s more to it than one of the most memorable sequences of Silver Age Marvel; I’m tempted to do a column about the nice things people have said about the first five pages of #33. Before that can happen, Spider-Man fights the world to save a family member, screwing up Peter Parker’s life in the process. The end of his first romantic relationship, and the introductions of two of the central supporting characters are almost an afterthought.

There really is no substitute for reading the entire Lee/ Ditko run, as plot points from every issue will be mentioned at some point in later Spider-Man comics, and the most forgettable villains will return to menace the hero. Even the Looter shows up again about seven times, and some of his later appearances are pretty good. Though there are plenty of other good comics to get to first…

The Best of Lee/ Romita

Cocreator Steve Ditko abruptly left the Spider-Man comics, but it remained one of Marvel’s top titles with John Romita Sr. taking over as the artist, and bringing a different sensibility. Peter Parker went from lonely nerd to a young man with a social life. Some comics professionals think it was a mistake for Stan Lee to ever allow Peter Parker to graduate high school, but this might be the most iconic period of the series’s history, as Peter balanced college, working for the Daily Bugle, and his responsibilites as Spider-Man. It’s been the template for most of the Spider-Man animated series, as well as the first two cinematic versions of the character. It also marked the point where Amazing Spider-Man surpassed the Lee/ Kirby Fantastic Four to become Marvel’s best-selling title.

Amazing Spider-Man #39-40 features Spider-Man’s unmasking by the Green Goblin, and is one of the few instances in which a mystery villain becomes more interesting as the truth is revealed. Amazing Spider-Man #42 introduces Mary Jane, in another of the top moments from Silver Age Marvel. First, Spidey gets accused of a bank robbery after doing the right thing, and has to fight his boss’s newly superpowered son. Amazing Spider-Man #50-52 introduce the Kingpin, and feature the Spider-Man No More! storyline, as Peter Parker ponders whether his critics may be right, and that he may doing more harm than good as a masked vigilante. Amazing Spider-Man #88-90 features the arrival of artist Gil Kane, in addition to another defining tragedy in the series. A supporting character bites the dust, but not before making a surprising confession.

The Best of Gerry Conway

Gerry Conway and Gil Kane’s Amazing Spider-Man #121-122 has been reprinted a lot of times. It may be the defining tragedy of the Spider-Man mythos, the end of the Silver Age of comics, and the most suspenseful comic ever written, as Spider-Man fights to save his kidnapped girlfriend from a villain who knows his secrey identity. It’s the comic book equivalent of Psycho. You know what’s coming up next, but it’s still terrifying. Spider-Man has his best battles against the Green Goblin in both chapters of this issue, although they may just be elevated by the quality of the rest of the issue. There’s still a controversy over what was responsible for the death in the first issue, all because of a single sound effect that writer Gerry Conway didn’t even realize that he left into the script. And the next part includes another of the best death scenes in comics.

Conway’s place as one of the top Spider-Man writers is cemented with two more stories. Amazing Spider-Man #129 introduced the Jackal. Much more importantly, it’s the first appearance of the Punisher, a dangerous antihero (one of the first in Marvel comics) who is convinced that Spider-Man has to be brought in dead or alive. In that early appearance, we see the things that make him the most popular spinoff character of the Spider-Man comics: a moral code, and a willingness to go further than other street heroes. Amazing Spider-Man #136-137 featured the fall of Harry Osborn, as Peter’s best friend becomes one of his most dangerous enemies, a plot point borrowed for two of the films. We see how dangerous the Green Goblin’s weapons are in the hands of someone who doesn’t have an agenda, and just wants to cause as much harm as possible to Peter Parker. Both stories feature pencils by Ross Andru, an “artist’s artist” whose work exemplified Spider-Man in the 1970s, especially with the attention to detail in the depictions of New York City.

The Best of Roger Stern’s Amazing Spider-Man

The entirety of Roger Stern and John Romita Jr’s stint of Amazing Spider-Man comes highly recommended. But you may want to stick to the highlights at first. “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut” from Amazing Spider-Man #229-230 is widely considered one of the most impressive fight scenes of any comic book. It showcases one of the ways Roger Stern stood out as a writer: Rather than pit Spider-Man against Electro for the tenth time, Stern chose to send the wallcrawler against villains he hadn’t fought before.  If you’ve never read the story, you would imagine that Spider-Man against a guy would could beat up the X-Men was going to be a very one-sided battle, and you’d be pretty much right. This is two issues of Spider-Man doing whatever he can to hurt the Juggernaut, and for the most part failing. It’s a great example of his grit and resolve.

“The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man”  from Amazing Spider-Man #248 is the simple story of a hero visiting a fan. A boy who idolizes Spider-Man comes to learn what he’s really like. The ending is going to hit like a freight train. It’s probably the best conversation issue in comics, and the lack of conventional trappings of superhero comics (no fight scenes, no melodramatic subplots) means you can give to anyone as an introduction to the medium. I’d almost say that it should be included in English textbooks, but comics are supposed to be more subversive than that.

Finally, the Hobgoblin Saga from Amazing Spider-Man #238-239, 244-245 and 249-251 is generally considered one of the greatest extended arcs of the series. This was the story that established the Goblins as legacy villains apart from the Osborns, and showed just how dangerous those weapons can be in the hands of a sane and rational master manipulator. There are several nasty twists in the mystery before Spider-Man and the Hobgoblin get into a fight where only one of them walks away.

Amazing Spider-Man 299 Venom CameoVenom (Or The Best of Michelinie/ McFarlane)

While the Hobgoblin was probably the best new Spider-Man character to appear in over a hundred issues, he would be surpassed witihn a few years. It took a generation for someone to create the definitive an evil version of Spider-Man, but once that happened, Venom quickly became an indelible part of the series. There was more to it than just having a villain with Spider-Man’s powers. He has a reason for hating the wallcrawler. He could sneak past Peter’s spider-sense. And he also knew Peter’s secret identity. And where he lived.

The only question is which of the first two storylines is best. Amazing Spider-Man #300 introduced Venom, as Spider-Man had to figure out a maniac who had his powers, was stronger, and had just scared the hell out of his wife. The rematch in Amazing Spider-Man #315-317 features Venom targetting Peter Parker’s loved ones, and highlighted one of the things that was most remarkable about the villain. He was going to have a lot of fun before he put Spider-Man into the ground. Both stories also feature art by Todd Mcfarlane, known for his contortionist take on the character and his webbing. These are the stories that made him the most popular artist in comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man Year One

The last of the essential Spider-Man stories doesn’t even feature the classic Peter Parker, although it has come to inform the understanding of the character. The first 13 issues of Bendis/ Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man were a 21st Century take on a superhero who started out as a teenager. There’s stuff here that can only be done in the Ultimate Universe, and the story may also be responsible for the entire trend of writing for the trade, as Bendis and Bagley spend several issues establishing their version of Peter Parker before he even puts on the Spider-Man costume. My brothers, and college room-mate can attest to the utility of Ultimate Spider-Man #1-13 as an introduction to the character.

The second TPB features an education for Peter Parker, as he decides to pick a fight with the city’s top crimelord, and wonders whether he should tell the girl he loves his secret. It sets the Ultimate books in a new direction, different from what happened to the original Spider-Man.

I hestitated a bit about including this one, since it is set in a different universe than the other Spider-Man stories, which might be confusing to some newer readers, and anathema to long-time fans. But I think anyone who can understand that the Tom Holland Peter Parker popping up in Captain America: Civil War is a different character than the Tobey Maguire Peter Parker from the Raimi trilogy should be able to manage.

Spoiler Warnings

In many cases, the order in which stories are read doesn’t matter. However, some will reveal key plot points of other arcs. The Death of Jean Dewolfe reveals how “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” ended. The first Venom appearance reveals a few twists in the Death of Jean Dewolfe. A death in Spider-Man VS Wolverine is significant for Kraven’s Last Hunt.

Events in Amazing Spider-Man #10 lead directly into the Master Planner Saga. Something J. Jonah Jameson does in Amazing Spider-Man #20 is relevant to the Hobgoblin’s blackmail efforts in Amazing Spider-Man #249-251.

Best of Spider-Man Watch

Most of the included issues tend to appear on the lists of the top Spider-Man stories. Anyone interested in how the the recommended stories fit the conventional wisdom can check out the various links to confirm that other people really like the material too.

Reprinted in “The Very Best of Spider-Man” (Circa 1994)

  • Amazing Fantasy #15
  • “The Final Chapter” Amazing Spider-Man #33
  • “Spider-Man No More” Amazing Spider-Man #50
  • “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” Amazing Spider-Man #248
  • “The Sand and the Fury” Amazing Spider-Man #317

A few of the longer stories had been reprinted in trade paperbacks by that point, including “The Death of Jean Dewolffe,” the first appearances of Venom (in Spider-Man VS. Venom), Kraven’s Last Hunt, Spider-Man VS. Wolverine, Roger Stern’s Hobgoblin saga (as Origin of the Hobgoblin) and “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut.” The first 50 issues of Amazing Spider-Man had been collected in the Marvel Masterworks hardcover series by December 1992.

From the 75 Greatest Marvel Comics of All Time Reader’s Poll…

  • 57. Amazing Spider-Man #129
  • 43. Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #50
  • 35. Amazing Spider-Man #31-33
  • 28. Spider-Man Blue
  • 17. The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man
  • 10. Amazing Fantasy #15
  • 3. Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt
  • 1. Spider-Man: The Night Gwen Stacy Died

From the Comic Book Resources Amazing Spider-Man 238list of the 50 greatest Spider-Man stories….

  • 30. Learning Curve (Ultimate Spider-Man #8-12)
  • 25. Confessions (Ultimate Spider-Man #13)
  • 22. Power and Responsibility (Ultimate Spider-Man #1-7)
  • 21. Venom! (Amazing Spider-Man #300)
  • 20. The Sinister Six (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1)
  • 18. The Death of Captain Stacy (Amazing Spider-Man #88-90)
  • 16. Spider-Man Blue #1-6
  • 11. The Goblin Unmasked (Amazing Spider-Man #39-40)
  • 9. Spider-Man No More! (Amazing Spider-Man #50-52)
  • 8. The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man! (Amazing Spider-Man #248)
  • 7. Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut (Amazing Spider-Man #229-230)
  • 6. The Original Hobgoblin Saga (Amazing Spider-Man #238-239, 244-245, 249-251)
  • 5. Spider-Man! (Amazing Fantasy #15)
  • 4. The Death of Jean Dewolfe (Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110)
  • 3. The Night Gwen Stacy Died (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122)
  • 2. If This Be My Destiny (Amazing Spider-Man #31-33)
  • 1. Kraven’s Last Hunt

From Spiderfan.org’s Top Ten list in Official Playstation Magazine #56 (Circa 2002)

  • 10. The Goblin Unmasked (Amazing Spider-Man #39-40)
  • 8. The Return of Venom (Amazing Spider-Man #315-317)
  • 6. The Master Planner Saga (Amazing Spider-Man #31-33)
  • 5. Spider-Man (Amazing Fantasy #15)
  • 4. The Death of Jean Dewolfe (Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110)
  • 3. Kraven’s Last Hunt
  • 2. The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man
  • 1. The Night Gwen Stacy Died (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122)

From IGN’s list of the 25 greatest Spider-Man stories…

  • 22. The Goblin Unmasked (Amazing Spider-Man #39-40)
  • 15.  And Death Shall Come (Amazing Spider-Man #90)
  • 11.  Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut (Amazing Spider-Man #229-230)
  • 10. Spider-Man! (Amazing Fantasy #15)
  • 9.  If This Be My Destiny (Amazing Spider-Man #31-33)
  • 7.  Spider-Man No More! (Amazing Spider-Man #50-52)
  • 6. Kraven’s Last Hunt
  • 4. The Death of Jean Dewolfe (Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110)
  • 3.  The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man! (Amazing Spider-Man #248)
  • 2. Spider-Man Blue #1-6
  • 1. The Night Gwen Stacy Died (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122)

From Wizard‘s 1998 list of the ten greatest Spider-Man stories…spider-manjuggernaut

  • 10. Spider-Man VS. Wolverine
  • 9. If This Be My Destiny (Amazing Spider-Man #31-33)
  • 8. Shadows of Evil Past! (Amazing Spider-Man #238-239)
  • 7. Venom! (Amazing Spider-Man #300)
  • 6. The Death of Jean Dewolfe (Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110)
  • 5. The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man! (Amazing Spider-Man #248)
  • 4. Spider-Man! (Amazing Fantasy #15)
  • 2. The Night Gwen Stacy Died (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122)
  • 1. Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut (Amazing Spider-Man #229-230)

The Top 40 Comic Books All-time list from Wizard #105 would include Amazing Spider-Man #248 at 29th place, Amazing Fantasy #15 at ninth place, and Amazing Spider-Man #229-230 at seventh place. The Top 100 Trade Paperbacks list from Wizard #127 included Spider-Man VS Venom (reprinting Amazing Spider-Man #300, 315-317) in 97th place, “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut” in 27th place, and the Ultimate Spider-Man oversized hardcover (reprinting Amazing Fantasy #15 and Ultimate Spider-Man #1-13) in fifth place.

From the spidermanreviews.com Top 50 (as a minor note, I was involved in the composition of that one, as was Mike “Stillanerd” McNulty)…

  • 49. Secrets, Confessions and Endings (Amazing Spider-Man #249-251)
  • 43. The Death of Captain Stacy (Amazing Spider-Man #88-90)
  • 40. Face to Face With the Lizard (Amazing Spider-Man #6)
  • 33. Spider-Man Blue #1-6
  • 31. Venom! (Amazing Spider-Man #300)
  • 23. Spider-Man VS. Wolverine
  • 22. Spider-Man No More! (Amazing Spider-Man #50-52)
  • 16. The Goblin Unmasked (Amazing Spider-Man #39-40)
  • 10. The Death of Jean Dewolfe (Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110)
  • 8. Learning Curve (Ultimate Spider-Man #8-12)web_of_spider-man_vol_1_32
  • 7. The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man! (Amazing Spider-Man #248)
  • 5. If This Be My Destiny (Amazing Spider-Man #31-33)
  • 4. Spider-Man! (Amazing Fantasy #15)
  • 3. Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut (Amazing Spider-Man #229-230)
  • 2. Kraven’s Last Hunt
  • 1. The Night Gwen Stacy Died (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122)

Finally, Complex.Com’s Top 25…

  • 15. Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 1 (#1-7)
  • 11. The Death of Jean Dewolff (Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110)
  • 9. Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut (Amazing Spider-Man #229-230)
  • 8. If This Be My Destiny (Amazing Spider-Man #31-33)
  • 7. Spider-Man Blue #1-6
  • 6. The Goblin Unmasked (Amazing Spider-Man #39-40)
  • 5. Kraven’s Last Hunt
  • 4. Spider-Man No More! (Amazing Spider-Man #50-52)
  • 3. The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man! (Amazing Spider-Man #248)
  • 2.  Spider-Man! (Amazing Fantasy #15)
  • 1. The Night Gwen Stacy Died (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122)

There are a few really well-regarded Spider-Man stories that didn’t appear on this list, so an explanation may be merited. In some cases, I thought that a story might be redundant. Stan Lee and John Romita Sr’s Doctor Octopus epic from Amazing Spider-Man #53-56 was really good and reasonably acclaimed, but I had already recommended other stories with that villain, or by that creative team.

A few stories, such as JM Dematteis and Sal Buscema’s Harry Osborn saga, or Mark Millar’s Marvel Knights Spider-Man run, were kinda long to include in an introductory list, and also built on a few of the storylines covered in this article. There was a similar problem with Dan Slott and Ty Templeton’s Spider-Man/ Human Torch mini-series. A few other tales were really good, but just haven’t been referenced, which suggests it’s not particularly important to understanding the character or later stories. Finally, some of the material is just too inaccessible to a new reader. It can require too much explanation, as well as familiarity with stories that just aren’t as good.

We’ll see a few of these stories pop up in the next lists, as we cover the recommended reading for the Spider-Man 102 and 103 classes. 

(9) Comments

  1. ac

    In my opinion, the only thing I would iadd is the Spider-man Firelord fight from 269/270. I know its similar to the juggernaut story, but it shows off in two issues exactly what peter parker is all about, and it shows just how powerful Spider-Man can and should be. And you get a satisfying victory at the end.

  2. Thomas Mets - Post author

    I didn't include the drug trilogy since we already had a Gil Kane Green Goblin story. But it does set up ASM 121-122 pretty nicely. The next edition is going to be an argument for reading the first 150 issues of Amazing Spider-Man. The edition after is going to cover the honorable mentions/ good Spider-Man stories that build on the foundations... - The Alien Costume Saga - Marv Wolfman's Amazing Spider-Man 191-200 - The Wedding - Return of the Sinister Six - First Appearance of Carnage - Notable Ultimate Spider-Man stories (The Imposter/ Venom/ Clone Saga/ Death of Spider-Man/ Spider-Men/ Origin of Miles Morales) - The rest of Roger Stern's Amazing Spider-Man run - More Peter David (The Commuter, Return of the Sin-Eater, Spider-Man 2099 #1-3/ Spider-Man Meets Spider-Man 2099) - Mark Millar's Marvel Knights Spider-Man - Spider-Man/ Human Torch - JMS's First Nine Issues (Coming Home, 9/11, The Conversation) - Best of Brand New Day/ Big Time/ Superior Spider-Man - What If? #105 - Edge of Spider-Verse #2 - Single Issues: Amazing Spider-Man Annual #14/ Whatever Happened to Crusher Hogan?/ First Silver Sable - Best of Untold Tales - Best of Tangled Web There are a few stories I'm wavering on. Civil War is likely to impact the MCU Spider-Man's debut, and MJ's appearance in Iron Man. Torment got the best sales on any Spider-Man book ever, and exemplified an interesting run (as the series was turned into a monster book). The Carrion saga included Frank Miller's debut on Daredevil, and set up some Clone Saga stuff. Amazing Spider-Man #400 and Spider-Man #75 are well-received, but major parts of the Clone Saga. If anyone has any further recommendations, I'd be eager to hear it.

  3. Captain Frugal

    #3- I agree 100% with the Superior Foes, that series was amazing. I will be posting video reviews of every issue on my website. I like to review books that have been out for a while in case others may have missed them. I also on occasion review new books as well.

  4. Al

    I think Spider-Man: Blue is a good story but the problem with it is how revisionist it is. MJ and Gwen’s interactions weren’t like that in the Lee/Romita run and nor were Peter’s relationships with them. Spider-Man: Blue also exaggerates the nature of Gwen’s character and her relationship with Peter in a way which has led to massive misconceptions throughout the series history and within the minds of fandom. That and it technically is not canon. I was surprised the Drug Trilogy wasn’t included. I actually disagree that ASM #121-122 was Peter’s best battle with Norman. A Death in the Family, Revelations and Revenge fo the Green Goblin were very, very, very powerful. I think the 1970s Clone Saga should be included since it was both a major turing point for Peter and MJ’s relationship which was relevant to many stories thereafter but also depicted Peter moving on from Gwen’s death to an important degree. ASM #200 would also be worth mentioning.

  5. Nick MB

    If you wanted an ideal jump-on for the current run, it would probably have be when Slott came on with Big Time. I guess you could start with BND but TBH hardly any of it matters to the current stories except maybe the intro of Carlie Cooper and ASM #600, and Slott usually gives exposition on past stuff when he brings it in anyway. But if I was giving a Spidey book to someone who'd never read it before and wanted a recommendation, it would be Ultimate Spidey every time. The Lee/Ditko stuff is kinda dated, Chapter One is kinda shit and there aren't many other runs which really start from a strong beginning and sustain it. The lack of confusing multi-title continuity (compared to most 616 Spider-Books) is a bonus.

  6. 666andahalf

    "The Very Best of Spider-Man" trade was my second ever trade of Spidey growing up. ("Greatest Villains" being the first.) Still some of the best stories in there, and the reprint of ASM 317 cemented my love of Venom.

  7. Thomas Mets - Post author

    @#1- A list of recent recommendations is going to be Slott heavy since he's written so many recent Spider-Man comics. Aside from that, the first volume of Avenging Spider-Man has some fun action and decent art. Very quick read, though. Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine is quite good, with gorgeous art by Andy Kubert as Spider-Man and Wolverine are sent through space and time. The recently completed Gerry Conway story Spiral is probably his best work since the 70s, balancing a crime war with many different figures with Spider-Man's quest to save an ally's soul. The best comic with Spider-Man characters might be Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber's Superior Foes of Spider-Man. It's formally interesting, and pretty good as a parody of overly serious TV antiheroes. @#2- I'm new at this. Takes me longer to figure out these newfangled tools. But it's been edited.

  8. hornacek

    Somehow I think there is a "Read the rest of this entry" link missing from the front page preview of this article.

  9. Captain Frugal

    Great article! One issue I have with recommending anything Slott has written on Spider-Man is that it seems that he does not write Peter in character, and in my opinion he has the same issue with the supporting cast as well. It seems that many new readers that like the current run are not as familiar with the characters so they do not understand long time reader’s frustration. One might argue that the new direction is the way they are now, but the regression does not make sense to many long term readers. Characterization seems to be a weak point over the past few years for example Silk was dreadful in Slott’s hands but the character seems enjoyable when in other hands. With that said could you recommend any issues that are less than 5 years old that would be a good introduction to the character?

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