Just getting started on the adventures of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Here are some educated recommendations!
Our format on DFSG is simple:
One essential version of the character or team’s origin, one that will give new readers the information they need to move forward.
Three tales that not only entertain, but give the new reader a comprehensive view of character or team.
One alternate reality tale that exemplifies the character or team’s versatility.
“Spider-Man!”– Amazing Fantasy #15 (1963)
Written by Stan Lee
Art by Steve Ditko and Art Simek
Let’s face it, any character with a decent tenure in comics is going to have their origin re-told a few times. In many cases, the new versions tend to be a bit easier to read, whether it be updated technology or just attention to detail. In the case of Spider-Man, there wasn’t much to improve. The truth is that Spider-Man’s origin has its scientific flaws but time is not going to cure it all that effectively. In Amazing Fantasy, Peter Parker’s journey to superhero stardom is told masterfully, trimming the potential fat of extra issues, something that even the most experienced writers would have trouble with today. If you’ve ever wondered why Lee and Ditko are legends, look no further.
Spidey #1-12 (2016-2017)
Written by Robbie Thompson
Art by Nick Bradshaw, Jim Campbell, Rachelle Rosenberg, André Lima Araújo, Javier Tartaglia and Nathan Stockman
Spider-Man’s classic rogues’ gallery is perhaps second only to Batman and, not unlike the caped crusader, requires Spider-Man readers to know a bit about each to truly enjoy the wall-crawler’s adventures. Spidey not only provides a fun re-telling of Peter’s early days under the mask, but throws in some great art and new twists. Spidey is the type of book that reminds us that “All Ages” doesn’t mean “just for kids”.
The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122 (1973)
Written by Gerry Conway
Art by Gil Kane, John Romita, Tony Mortellaro and Art Simek
Some of you already know what this one is, and the reason I neglected to present the name of the story in the description. Once again, the original is the best, as Gerry Conway writes the most pivotal moment in Peter Parker’s early adventures. Some details will be a little vague to new readers, but Spidey will at least give audiences an idea of who these characters are and why they are pursuing ol’ webhead. They say that the best stories are told out of order anyway.
Spider-Man: Blue #1-6 (2002-2003)
Written by Jeph Loeb
Art by Tim Sale and Steve Buccalleto
After reading The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122, take a look at the events leading up to it in Spider-Man: Blue. Not only will Blue catch readers up with Peter’s home-life, but further develops villains familiar from Spidey. This progression works incredibly well as it not only gives readers multiple encounters with some villains, but amplifies the emotion of events they’ve already read. Spider-Man: Blue also serves as a wonderful transition from Peter’s teenage days as Spider-Man into his adventures as an adult.
An Alternate Universe
“Power and Responsibility” – Ultimate Spider-Man #1-7 (2000-2001)
Written by Brian Michael Bendis and Bill Jemas
Art by Mark Bagley, Art Thibert and Steve Buccalleto
While Amazing Fantasy provided a brief, perfected, period origin of its own, Ultimate Spider-Man presents a more cinematic vision. Though no longer truly contemporary, Ultimate Spider-Man has become the first origin for many readers and had a large part in making Bendis the superstar writer he is today. Ultimate Peter Parker would go on to have a very different life than his 616 counterpart, but this version of the origin proves the versatility of the narrative.
Though Spider-Man does not have as long a history as some of his contemporaries, he has one filled with important moments. Longtime readers will notice how early on in the narrative this stater guide ends, but that is by design. Without the early chapters in Spider-Man’s story, nothing carries the weight it should.
That said, to have a full understanding of Spider-Man, there is still a long way to go.
When I wrote the Starter Guide for Batman, I was able to eliminate a bunch of important stories as they would better serve guides for other characters. I found that difficult to do with Spider-Man, as most of the tales involving Peter Parker center around him. Not only that, but very specific stories are referenced in some of his greatest tales. In short, Spider-Man is inherently complicated. Add Miles Morales into this mix, and it only gets more difficult to present in one piece. So, I’m not going to do one piece.