I am a gamer, an Otaku, a sci-fi and fantasy fanboy, a Planeswalker, and an avid reader of comics, novels, and manga.
Who Is Spider-Man?
If you're reading this article, chances are you already have some ideas for the answer to this question. However, movie Spidey and comic Spidey don't share continuity. So, what you learned in the first Spider-Man movie trilogy or the Amazing Spider-Man reboot may not actually apply to Spider-Man in comics. Regardless of what's brought you here, you'll find several good jumping in points regardless of your Spidey knowledge.
Ultimate Spider Man
Fans of the movie may enjoy Ultimate Spider-Man and it's continuation Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. This series takes place in an alternate universe where everything from the primary continuity (Earth 616) is similar, but slightly different. Being an alternate universe, there's no catching up needed to jump into Ultimate Spidey.
The ultimate universe bears some similarities to the movie in a few elements and its general feel.
Eventually, Ultimate Peter Parker is replaced by a new Black/Latino hero Miles Morales who has crossed over into the Earth 616 on multiple occasions!
The Timeline (616 aka. primary continuity)
If you've already read my Getting into Comics guide, then you probably know that my first recommendation is to read through Marvel's Civil War. There's some great spidey stuff going on there that's plot relevant and it leads up into our first suggestions. If you don't want to/didn't start with Civil War or you just don't care about finishing up that cliffhanger it leaves, you can go ahead and skip to Brand New Day. Spider Island is also a good starting point (my personal starting point) and may lead you to going back and reading the older stories anyway.
Back in Black/One More Day
Back in Black picks up from the cliffhanger in civil war. Peter faces some of his darkest days here leading him to make a controversial sacrifice to save someone he loves. I included this story along with One More Day to follow up on the Civil War cliffhanger for those that read it. The story itself is very controversial among fans and isn't really necessary to get a handle on Spidey's world.
The only thing really important to take away from back in black and one more day is that Aunt May is alive and Peter is no longer married to MJ.
Brand New Day
Brand New Day is a good jumping on point for its simple and carefree story telling, reminiscent of the early 60s/70s Spidey comics. It neatly provides a guide to Spidey's status quo after One More Day and introduces us to some new and old faces including: Overdrive, Mister Negative, Menace, and the debut of Jackpot!
In the extended reading section, you'll see Kraven's Last Hunt, which serves as a good prelude to this story line, but is not required to understand it.
Kraven the Hunter's widow and daughter orchestrate a massive and complicated plot to pit Spidey against classic villain after villain. This Gauntlet if heroism pushes old spidey to and beyond his breaking point setting up for the next event Grim Hunt.
In this epic confrontation Spiderman battles:
- Mr. Negative
- The Vulture
- The Scorpion (Carmilla Black)
- The Lizard
With The Gauntlet successful, Kraven's widow and daughter begin their own hunt of Spider-man and all heroes similar to him in efforts to complete a dark ritual they hope will resurrect their beloved hunter. Of course, this ritual must conclude with "the death of a Spider."
J.M. DeMatteis, author of the classic 'Kraven's Last Hunt' returned to write this story.
Big Time is all about how things are looking up for good ol' Pete.He's now an Avenger, he lands a sweet job, and has an oddly familiar looking girlfriend (fans of the cartoon might think she looks like Gwen). Some old villains return and some with new faces under the masks. Another team asks him to join and Spidey realizes that the Big Time, also means big responsibility. Not that "great power" and "great responsibility" are new concepts to old web head.
When an out break of Spider Powers hits New York, Spidey and everyone else has to deal with the consequences. This arc has some great tie-ins; Iron Fist, Hercules, Agent Venom and more respond to the out break and all I can say is it is awesome.
This was my personal jumping on point and I don't regret that decision. It lead me to several of my favorite characters that I wouldn't have expected and drove go back and catch up on not only Spider-Mans history but several other characters as well.
Ends of the Earth
Ends of the Earth is part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man's first appearance. Even though Spidey isn't with the Avengers at this point, we still see them as supporting characters.
Due to his extensive history as a villain and combat with heroes, Doctor Octopus learns that he only has a few months left to live. As a final hurrah, he builds the Octavian Lens to speed up the Greenhouse Effect, raising the Earth's temperature. Under the guise of eliminating global warming, Doc Ock becomes a hero to the world over night. Almost all world governments turn against Spidey in favor of Doc Ock's heroism turning Spider-Man into Public Enemy #1. Even in New York City, The Mayor declares martial law and mobilizes his Anti-Spider Squad patrol. Top it all off with Octobot-controlled Avengers and Spidey is in for the fight of his life with global catastrophe at stake!
Leads into Dying Wish
Continuing from Ends of the Earth, Peter confronts a dying Doc Ock who unleashes his final failsafe to defeat the Spider once and for all! By becoming the Spider himself! Now with Octavious and Peter in each others bodies, Spidey has only so long to reverse the process before Doc Ock's body gives out on him for good.
It a twisted bit of irony, Spiderman must rely on his worst villains to "defeat Spiderman" as the new leader of the Sinister Six!
Be sure to read this before Superior Spider-Man, as the following will contain spoilers for this event.
Superior Spider-Man (Spoilers If You Haven't Read Dying Wish)
The concept of this series is one that I originally wanted to hate. I thought that the idea of Doc Ock being Spider-Man was ridiculous at best. As I read through, however, I found that Superior Spider-Man was not only an excellent comic (much to my chagrin) but it became one of my favorite Marvel titles.
Watching Ock try to assimilate to Peter's life and juggle his new "great responsibility" is actually really entertaining. He does things for Peter (himself) that Peter never could work up the nerve to do. (Doc Ock getting pissed off because Parker never got his PhD is hilarious.)
The old bastard even finds love!
Skeptics heed my words. Give SpOck a chance!
The Amazing Spider-Man
This was the flagship Spider-Man title right up until the start of the Secret Wars event. In here we see Petey back under the mask and dealing with everything that happened to his life while he was "away." From his new PHD and owning his own company, to damaged relationships with friends/loved ones and foes with even greater "hate-ons" than ever before. Even a "new girlfriend"!
Leave it to Peter Parker to be flexible and handle everything being thrown at him with quips and a smile (figuratively speaking). But the old "Parker Luck" proves to be as much a negative as a positive as he learns more and more about Doc Ock's tenure as Spider-Man.
Spider-Man Blue is a retelling of a pivotal time in Peter's history. His relationship with his first love, Gwen Stacy. Movie fans were introduced to Mary Jane, who also makes an appearance in this comic, in the spider-man trilogy and later Gwen Stacy in Sony's Amazing Spider-Man reboot. So, many movie fans may think of Mary Jane as Peter's original romance. But, old school comic fans know that it was Gwen who broke their hearts along with Peter's. Definitely a must read.
Kraven's Last Hunt is a classic story regarded as not only Kraven's best story but one of the best Spider-Man story arcs ever written. It also serves a prequel to the later story lines The Gauntlet and Grim Hunt which are written by the same author.
There are a number of characters inspired by or directly spinning off of spider-man and many of them are just as interesting and fun to read has web head himself. Below are brief introductions to those characters and titles. As individual guides become completed, their names will become click-able and will link you to those guides. Updates will be posted at the bottom of the page.
Venom (Flash Thompson)
Originally Peter Parker's highschool bully, Flash Thompson became a massive fan of Spider-Man and unaware of his true identity, he eventually befriended Peter himself. Inspired by Spider-Man's civic duty, Flash joined the military where he eventually lost his legs in combat. He later is approached by the military for a program called Agent Venom.
Spider Girl (Anya)
Originally Anya Corazón used the codename Araña as a teenaged crime fighter. Eventually she would done the identity Spider-Girl and fight crime alongside other teenage heroes. Her previous mentors include Ms. Marvel and her current mentor is Spider-Woman.
Spider Girl (Mayday Parker)
In the Earth-982 aka. MC2 Universe, Mayday Parker is the super powered daughter of Peter and Mary Jane Parker. In this universe, she carries on the mantel of her father as Spider-Girl.
Scarlet Spider (Kaine)
A clone of Peter Parker and sometimes villain, Kaine now spends his time as a vigilante along side the New Warriors as the Scarlet Spider. Kaine joins the team after a brief tenure as a vigilante in Texas.
Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O'Hara)
Miguel O'Hara is the Spider-Man from the year 2099. Currently trapped in the present day and scheduled to get a new ongoing.
Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales)
Micheal Bendis describes him best: "He's like 13. He's a kid. His mother's Puerto Rican. And for some reason the borough seems to be an issue for everybody, too: the borough is Brooklyn. Where he's going to school, and his own cast of characters, and his parents, and his family — you're going to meet them all in the first issue, and it's all pretty interesting stuff. They live in a world that's been pummeled by Magneto. It's a different world for them than it was for Peter. These elements are just important, too. A kid on a discovery, trying to figure out why to be Spider-Man. It's a big journey for him. It's a character going almost against his entire personality to do this, so a lot has to be discovered."
Where to get your Spider-Family Comics
In case you haven't read my Getting into Comics guide, I'll list here a few different ways you can get a hold of these comics.
- Your Local Comic Book Shop (If you have one, SUPPORT THEM)
- Your Local Book Store (IE. Books a Million, Barnes & Noble, Etc.)
- Amazon.com (Or other online bookstores) [Links provided]
- Your Local Library (Seriously, you'd be surprised just how many comics you can get there and save your wallet some heartache)
Nathan Kiehn on October 09, 2017:
You started at my favorite point in Amazing Spider-Man. I know One More Day was controversial, but I've always loved the Brand New Day/Gauntlet/Big Time era, second only to the Straczynski run. I actually recently began writing reviews on issues within that time frame, so yeah, it's always been huge for me.
I've also enjoyed Peter David's work on Spider-Man 2099 (his 90s work) as well as Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale on Spider-Man: Blue. Brian Michael Bendis' stuff has been fun too.
Thanks for collecting some great stories. There's a couple on here I have yet to read, so I'll be sure to check those out.
Jonas Rodrigo on July 26, 2015:
Spiderman was always my favorite superhero. Superman was too perfect and self-absorbed and Batman was always hateful. Spiderman, on the other hand, is just a normal human with normal emotions who just happened to be contract spider powers.
Ammon Beardmore on February 13, 2015:
Great reference for keeping characters sorted out for beginner readers.
Projectlazy on October 19, 2014:
I loved Spider-man blue I always suggest it to newbies