10 Best Spider-Man Comics

Posted on May 24, 2023

by Eric S

While Captain America and The Fantastic Four technically appeared before Spider-Man debuted in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15, Spidey was nonetheless a huge step away from the stiff, frustratingly competent and heroic DC heroes of the 1940s and 1950s (and most of the ‘60s, if we’re being honest). As a stressed-out teenager who made mistakes while trying to balance super-heroics with normal high school life, Peter Parker brought emotional depth and relatability to a medium in which those were in very short supply. But of course, if you’ve ever watched or read anything with Spider-Man, you already know this. Today, Peter shares the spotlight with a multitude of web-slinging heroes who bring their own wrinkle to the Spider-Man formula while staying true to the core ideas that make Spider-Man such a lasting and lovable character. So with Across the Spider-Verse on the horizon, celebrate your favorite version of Marvel’s resident wall-crawler by diving into some of his greatest comic adventures—and rewatching the first film!

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If This Be My Destiny (Reprinted in Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 4) by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

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Much like The Night that Gwen Stacy Died (more on that later), If This Be My Destiny is one of those inescapable, defining moments in Spider-Man history. After a battle with Doctor Octopus, Peter finds himself in one of his most dire situations: crushed beneath a collapsed water tower. Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko brilliantly conveys a sense of urgency, anxiety, and claustrophobia in this sequence as Spider-Man fights back against the rubble. Drawing strength from the memory of Uncle Ben as well as Aunt May, who has succumbed to a life-threatening illness, Peter ultimately prevails. It’s a genuinely tense and inspiring moment, and a must-read for all Spider-Man fans.


Spider-Man: Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.


Sure, Juggernaut is typically an X-Men villain, but that doesn’t stop him from being part of one of the greatest Spider-Man stories of all time. When Juggernaut is sent to capture the powerful mutant Madame Web, she, of course, enlists Peter to protect her. While Spider-Man barely succeeds in keeping Madame Web safe, the thing that makes this story interesting is how many attempts to stop the Juggernaut end in complete failure. If you like your Spidey stories more on the superhero action side as opposed to the personal drama, Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut is just the book for you. And if you need more Spidey Vs. Juggernaut action, a sequel called “Something Can Stop the Juggernautwould be written much later during The Gauntlet event.

Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1: Power & Responsibility by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

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Here’s the thing about superhero comics: a lot of the time, they’re extremely difficult for new readers to get into. Between retcons, decades of back issues to sort through, and just the sheer fact that backstories and timelines can get extremely confusing, it’s a lot. However, Marvel decided to go back to basics in 2000 with their line of Ultimate comics, which launched with the wildly popular Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man. These books stripped away all the convoluted continuity of the mainstream Marvel Universe and retold Spidey’s origin from a much more contemporary perspective (at least, by 2000 standards). While the Ultimate line would of course develop its own messy history, the early issues are surprisingly successful at creating a more accessible comic universe. If you’re new to Spidey or superhero comics in general, this is an excellent place to start.


The Spider-Verse (Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3) by Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel

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Of course, you can’t prepare for the upcoming Across the Spider-Verse film without diving into one of Spidey’s biggest multiversal adventures. When the evil, vampiric Morlun tries to kill every possible Spider-Man, Spidey must team up with versions of himself from across the multiverse. While the comic is a lot of fun and perfect for Into the Spider-Verse fans, it’s also an interesting exploration of and tribute to some of the weirdest, nerdiest parts of Spider-Man history.



Spider-Man: Miles Morales Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli

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Speaking of Spider-People of the multiverse, few are as beloved as Miles Morales. Introduced in the wake of Peter’s death in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Miles, like Peter, was/is a relatable teen who’s trying to balance life stress with superhero stress (we’ve all been there, right?). Most importantly, he’s brought some much-needed diversity to the world of Spider-Man. After the Secret Wars event of 2015, Miles would make the leap from the Ultimate universe to the main Marvel universe, where he continues to find his way as Spider-Man—and has even teamed up with Peter a few times.

“Spider-Man No More” (collected in Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 5) by Stan Lee and John Romita

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It’s easy to be jaded by superhero comics. I mean, how many times can Jean Grey die and come back? Or Superman? Or, well, I guess almost everyone at this point? While the idea of “what if superheroes were like real people?” has been explored to the point of banality, Amazing Spider-Man #50 would address this idea in a way readers had not seen before. Determining that super heroics would always be a thankless, endless job, Peter does the unthinkable and quits, and in the process demonstrates a level of realism and psychological complexity rarely seen in superhero comics up to that point. As a bonus, this storyline also introduces New York’s most vile crime lord: Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin.

Kraven’s Last Hunt by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck

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If you thought Peter’s emergence from the rubble in “If This Be My Destiny” was impressive, wait until you see what he has to go through this time. Kraven’s whole gimmick is that he’s a big game hunter looking for the ultimate hunt, which is, needless to say, unfortunate for our web-slinging hero. After seemingly killing Spidey, Kraven adopts his persona and roams the streets of New York as Spider-Manalthough his interpretation is much more violent. Ultimately, Kraven’s Last Hunt serves as an important reminder that it’s not the costume that makes the hero. With a Kraven the Hunter movie in the works, you may want to check out this one soon. The fact that it’s one of the greatest Spider-Man stories of all time is just a bonus.

The Origin of The Hobgoblin by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.

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While books like Ultimate Spider-Man are great for new readers, this one is definitely for those nerds who love messy superhero comic continuity. Although Hobgoblin has yet to make his big screen debut, he’s been a huge part of Spidey lore for decades, most notably during Roger Stern’s iconic run during the 1980s (although, if you’re averse to the possibility of spoilers, you may not want to research Peter’s friend Ned in the MCU—unless I’ve just spoiled it?). The character may seem like an off-brand Green Goblin, but his rather creepy demeanor and mysterious identity have made him one of Spider-Man’s most terrifying threats. Go down the Hobgoblin rabbit hole with this rather stellar collection before he shows up in a future Spidey film, and if you need more zaniness, follow it up with the sort-of sequel, Hobgoblin Lives.

Spider-Island by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

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If you were at all cognizant of superhero comics in the ‘90s, you probably remember the Clone Saga crossover that took place in the various Spider-Man books. More specifically, you probably remember how terrible it was. However, that dreaded storyline is almost redeemed in the hands of all-star Spidey scribe Dan Slott, who throws Peter into conflict with the creepy, obsessive Jackel once again—and also millions of New Yorkers who have been given the powers of Spider-Man (minus the whole responsibility part). Spider-Island is a fun series that feels authentically Spider-Man while also presenting some rather clever, out-of-the-box ideas.


The Death of Gwen Stacy by Gerry Conway and Gil Kane

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If you look up lists of the top Spider-Man comics of all time, “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” is most assuredly going to be toward the top (if not the top). It’s difficult to really understand the impact of Gwen Stacy’s death today, especially as superhero comics have gone through phases of extremely cynical and/or mature storytelling. Some point to Gwen Stacy’s death as a huge shift in comics, leading the way toward more morally gray superhero landscape, resulting in antiheroes of the ‘70s, like Wolverine, The Punisher, and Ghost Rider. While the title spoils the outcome of this storyline, it’s still worth checking out to glimpse into a seminal moment in comic history—and to see why the Green Goblin is truly Peter’s greatest enemy.    

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