Comic Recommendations: Spider-Man

With Spider-Man: Homecoming on the way I thought I’d recommend some Spider-Man comics. This isn’t a definitive list, these aren’t ranked at all, these are just some stories I quite enjoy and ones that sit in the front of my brain when I think about Spider-Man for whatever reason.

(Also these comics are all available on Marvel Unlimited)

New Ways to Die

Amazing Spider-Man 568-573

Written by Dan Slott

Art by John Romita JR.

New Ways to Die was manily about reintroducing Norman Osborn into Peter Parker’s life. Brand New Day had just happened as a kind of soft reset for the character, and while that reset came out of a terrible story, the comics that came in it’s wake were frankly some of the best the character’s ever had. And much of that has to do with the creative teams they put on the book. I put Spider-Man/Human Torch on my first list of recommendations on Burning Barrel because it was a good early showcase for Slott’s understanding of the character, but this was the first time Slott stretched his muscles on a really big Spider-Man story. You’ve got Norman leading the Thunderbolts (Basically Marvel’s Suicide Squad), Norman putting on the Green Goblin Suit, Mac Gargan (The original Scorpion) as the current Venom, the return of Eddie Brock who then becomes Anti-Venom, and Gargan donning new Scorpion armor to fight Anti-Venom.

This was a story that got me back into Spider-Man comics after years of disinterest because of the stories that were being told. As a huge Venom fan the return of Eddie Brock was not a small part of that. This is a comic that delivered on all my fanboy desires.

Old Huntin’ Buddies

Amazing Spider-Man 577

Written by Zeb Wells

Art by Paolo Rivera

There are plenty of great comics from this stretch of Amazing Spider-Man but this single issue featuring Punisher is one of the best. There’s so much to like here, Peter’s haplessness, the punisher’s brutality, J. Jonah Jameson’s haunting mantra of “I will not die before Spider-Man” and Paolo Rivera’s art made this an instant classic.

Avenging Spider-Man

Avenging Spider-Man 1-3

Written by Zeb Wells

Art by Joe Madureira

Another Zeb Wells story worth checking out is this 3 issue story that’s ostensibly a team-up between the Red Hulk and Spider-Man. The joke is basically that they don’t really work together. A big draw here is the stuff with Jonah here. This is a fun simple story.

Unscheduled Stop

Amazing Spider-Man 578-9

Written by Mark Waid

Art by Marcos Martin

So many great Spider-Man stories involve him holding up heavy stuff and this is one of those. This is also an example of how a restrictive setting can benefit a story. Peter is on a subway train that gets derailed in what seems like an earthquake (Which New York doesn’t get) and turns out to be the work of the Shocker. Spidey and the Shocker have a close quarters fight and damage in integrity of the tunnel, so he has to work get everyone (including Shocker) out before they all suffocate or drown. This story also introduced Jonah’s father. Marcos Martin is also killing it on the art side.

Last Legs

Amazing Spider-Man 600

Written by Dan Slott

Art by John Romita JR.

Doctor Octopus learns that because of repeated head trauma he’s suffered over the years he only has months left to live. He does not take the news very well. He hooks his brain up to every electronic device in New York, with the goal being to make sure it will all run perfectly under his guidance in perpetuity. The problem is that his subconscious desires make the city go haywire, trying to kill Spider-Man and to disrupt the wedding of Aunt May (Whom he once tried to marry) and Jonah’s father. This story set the direction for Doc Ock going forward, but frankly this single issue story already got to core of the conflict between Spidey and Ock.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane

Mary Jane 1-4, Mary Jane: Homecoming 1-4. Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane 1-20

Written by Sean McKeaver

Art by Takeshi Miyazawa, David Hahn

Taking place in it’s own continuity this series focus more on the teenage romance drama using Mary Jane as it’s main character. It’s really great. The action takes a backseat here, as this book is more focused on the character drama, but the Spider-Man action we do get is all great. This is one of the best Spider-Man books even though Spider-Man is only a supporting character in it.

Paul Tobin’s Run on Marvel Adventures Spider-Man

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man (2005) 53-61, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man (2010) 1-24

Written by Paul Tobin

Art by Matteo Lolli

Another separate continuity I have a lot of affection for, the Marvel Adventures line were All Ages books that used more iconic forms of the Marvel heroes and villains than whatever weird look they happened to have at the time in comics. But fro what I’ve read the series didn’t really find a strong voice until Paul Tobin took over. These are comics kids can read but they don’t feel like they’re being written down for kids. Tobin established more of an ongoing continuity, with a strong supporting cast (The most notable part of that supporting cast is Sophia “Chat” Sanduval, a mutant who can talk to animals who is Peter’s main romantic interest and then girlfriend for the run) that helped to support the episodic adventures that each issue was. Basically he got to the core of what made Spider-Man work in the first place.

Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut

Amazing Spider-Man 229-230

Written by Roger Stern

Art by John Romita JR

Nothing can stop the Juggernaut is kind of a perfect Spider-Man story in that the Juggernaut is basically the personification of a heavy thing Spider-Man has to hold. Also this is an earlier work by Romita JR before he had settled into his own style, instead doing Marvel’s house style of the time which, closer to an imitation of his dad’s art. I only pointthat out becauseeven though he’s aping the style of someone else he’s still doing amazing work here.

The Original Clone Saga

Amazing Spider-Man 139-150 (With an epilogue in 151)

Written by Gerry Conway (139-149) Archie Goodwin (150)

Art by Ross Andru (139-149, 151), Gil Kane (150)

I really started getting into comics right around the time of the 90s Clone Saga so I have a lot of affection for those comics, but I can’t recommend them. They’re a mess and largely bad, mostly for editorial reasons (Marvel was going through bankruptcy at the time, it was a thing). But the original story is an easy recommend. It’s got that great mix of flipping so quickly from incredibly goofy to overwhelmingly angsty. It’s got The Grizzly, the Spider-Mobile, a bunch of great fights against classic Spidey villains like Mysterio and Scorpion, but most importantly it has the greatest moment in comics: Jonah throwing his shoe out the window at Spider-Man.

Spider-Island

Amazing Spider-Man 667-672 (Plus bookends in 666 and 673, and a lot of Tie-ins)

Written by Dan Slott

Art by Humberto Ramos

Spider-Island is a move of pure arrogance by Dan Slott in that it’s basically his version of the clone saga. There are so many moving parts here, and so many of them are direct references to past stories that are generally bad, but Slott pulls out the parts of them that worked and ties it all together into something new. I’m a sucker for stories that take bad ideas and make them work, or stories that distill out what was good of stories others have written off as unsalvageable. This is a great giant messy story, and the kind of story you really couldn’t tell anywhere else. The tie-ins are good too (there’s a checklist for them at the back of each issue) and point to some other books well worth checking out like Rick Remender’s Venom and Paul Tobin’s Spider-Girl.

Thank You For Your Time.

Iam3DHomer

Hank has been a sponge for all kinds of media his whole life, but mostly kept his thoughts to himself until he started writing for Burning Barrel in 2014.