Essential Reading From the World of Spider-Man

By Tom Pritchard on at

Spider-Man: Homecoming hits cinemas today, and while it might seem extreme to have another reboot of the franchise the film is very good. Everyone seems to think so, and it's certainly one of the best MCU films so far. Whether you've seen the film or not, you might want to read up on Spidey's comic adventures. So, with that in mind, here are some bits you can't afford to ignore.

Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 1, £15

Back in the '00s Marvel launched the Ultimate imprint, designed to modernise the continuity of many of its heroes and taking some inspiration from the early Marvel movies like X-Men and Spider-Man. Spider-Man was one of the earliest Ultimate creations, and one of the most long-lived. If you can;t go back to the '60s to read all of the mainstream Peter Parker stories, you can at least start here. [Buy it here]

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man Vol 1, £17

Peter Parker isn't the only Spider-Man, and after his death in the Ultimate universe the mantle was taken up by Miles Morales - a half black, half hispanic teenager with a similar powerset. While fans may not have liked the changes when they were first announced, Miles has grown to be a fan favourite character - and with good reason. Given his recent transition into the mainstream universe, and the upcoming animated movie, it's well worth reading. [Buy it here]

Civil War, £7.14

Spider-Man plays a very big part of the Civil War comic, even though his role was significantly reduced in the film. It made some big, and controversial changes to the character, including having him reveal the secret identity he'd worked so hard to keep for many years. I won't go into plot specifics, but outside of Iron Man and Captain America, Spider-Man is probably the arc's most important character. [Buy it here]

Spider-Man: The Gauntlet

Spider-Man's villains have a tendency to team up to try and take him down, but what happens when they don't, but go after him anyway? The Gauntlet was an ongoing story arc featuring notable Spidey rogues coming back into life, but not at the same time. Instead they just happen to turn up one after the other, which really doesn't make life easy. These are all stand-alone stories, so you don't need to read one to understand the others, but if you like Spider-Man then they're all well worth it. [Buy Vol 1 here | Buy Vol 2 here | Buy Vol 3 here | Buy Vol 4 here | Buy Vol 5 here]

Spider-Island, £14.88

New York is ground zero for a new outbreak, and it's one that's imbued every single person in Manhattan with spider powers. But that's not a good thing, because those eight million spider-powered people are just a precursor to something greater, with his long-time foe The Jackal working behind the scenes. [Buy it here]

Kraven's Last Hunt, £22.78

Kraven has spent years hunting Spider-Man, trying to prove himself as the ultimate hunter, but after Peter proposes to Mary Jane Kraven decides this is the best time to finally put the wallcrawler six feet under. But that's not all, once he's taken out Spider-man he plans on assuming his identity and fighting crime. [Buy it here]

Maximum Carnage, £20

What happens when a psychotic, alien-powered self-proclaimed agent of chaos ends up with a group of insane followers dedicated to his message? Maximum Carnage is what happens. So much trouble do they pose to Spider-Man that he has to recruit his own team of heroes and anti-heroes to try and take Carnage down. But those heroes have different opinions on how to do that, leading to a dilemma: does Spidey stick to his code of no killing, or put down one of the most evil villains in the world? [Buy it here]

The Night Gwen Stacey Died, £5

One of the most pivotal moments in Spider-Man history, which saw Peter's girlfriend Gwen Stacey die at the hands of both the Green Goblin and technically Spider-Man himself. Like the death of Uncle Ben, this was one of those life-changing moments that defined Spider-Man comics for years to come. [Buy it here]

Spider-Man: Blue, £11

This one is a companion piece to Peter's whole relationship with Gwen Stacey, showing how the two ended up falling in love and how Peter coped in the aftermath of her death. It's not just a duo focus, however, since the story also covers the side characters in early Spider-Man stories and their relationship with Peter - like Flash Thompson, Mary Jane, Harry Osborn, and others. [Buy it here]

Spider-Man No More, £10.19

The path of a hero isn't always easy, and Peter Parker has given up the mantle of Spider-Man on more than one occasion. Spider-Man No More is the most famous example, including that iconic cover of his costume abandoned in a bin. It's only a single issue, but it shows that even the most noble people have their limits when people do nothing but criticise their actions. [Buy it here]

Marvel Knights: Spider-Man Vol 1, from £2.50

Marvel Knights is the imprint that helped Joe Quesada land the editor-in-chief job at Marvel, designed to offer great stand-alone stories that he believed fans deserved. Spider-Man's Knights series would eventually be rebranded The Spectacular Spider-Man, and the first arc focuses on the webslinger having to deal with the fact one of his villains has uncovered his secret identity - and the consequences for the people he loves. [Buy it here]

The Death of Jean DeWolff, £17

Despite the title, Jean DeWolff barely features in this classic story, with her death acting as a catalyst. The killer is only known as the 'Sin Eater', determined to kill all the people he deems as sinful, which is virtually everyone. But he made a mistake in killing a close friend of Spider-Man, and the wallcrawler is determined to track him down. Also features Daredevil. [Buy it here]

The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man, £1.49

Another single-issue story, The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man features Spidey bonding with a child fan who collects all the clippings about the hero from The Daily Bugle - even the retractions and the smear pieces. It's worth reading even for the fact it re-covers Spider-Man's origin story, and why he does what he does in the first place. [Buy it here]

Clone Saga Omnibus Vol 1, £68

Do you hate yourself and want to read one of the most confusing and decisive story arcs in Spider-Man history? Good news! The Clone Saga is here for you, making you wonder whether or not Spidey is really Spidey and confusing you with the introduction of these new characters that are suspiciously similar to Peter Parker. It's not an easy read, granted, and it'll ever get adapted in its pure form, but hey, it's worth reading anyway. Did I mention it's not even the original story arc to bear the name Clone Saga?

It helps to show that despite being the publisher's flagship character, Marvel and able and willing to mess things up from time to time. See also: Brand New Day. [Buy it here]

Superior Spider-Man Vol 1, £11

Another controversial storyline, that saw Doc Ock take control of Peter Parker's body and becoming Spider-Man in his own right. Cue a more violent, arrogant version of the wall crawler determined to prove that he is the better hero than his predecessor. It's worth reading just for the ending, as well as the fact that it's an interesting look on what Spider-Man should and shouldn't do as a hero. [Buy it here]

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