Can’t get enough Spider-Man? Check out more adventures from everyone’s favorite wall-crawler!
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.
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1-12 (1984-1985)
Written by Jim Shooter
Art by Mike Zeck, Bob Layton, John R. Beatty and Max Scheele
Widely regarded as one of the finest cross-over events in comics history, Secret Wars never finds itself hindered by its Action Figure origins. In fact, readers will find the introduction of one of the most important moments in Spider-Man lore, the advent of the symbiote suit. This stirring change would not only help advance Peter Parker’s image into a more mature hero, but began an era of incredibly strong storytelling for the character. In fact, many would argue that it lead to the rise of his greatest nemesis.
“The Sinister Secret of Spider-Man’s New Costume” , “All My Pasts Remembered” & “Till Death Do Us Part” – The Amazing Spider-Man #258-259 and Web of Spider-Man #1 (1984-1985)
Written by Tom DeFalco and Louise Simonson
Art by Ron Frenz, Greg LaRocque, Josef Rubenstein, Jim Mooney, Bob Sharen and George Roussos
Things have been just a little different since Spidey returned from the Secret Wars, and it’s going to take a little help from his friends to figure it out. Though there are certainly issues prior to this that lead into “The Sinister Secret“, new readers will find most of the good stuff in these three issues, while getting a nice taste of the rogues Spider-Man was contending with around that time. This evolution of villainy is a trademark of good Spider-Storytelling, and that’s no clearer than in this era. DeFalco and Simonson would go on to tell many epics, and there are touches of those coming triumphs here.
“The Hobgoblin Revealed” & “The Big Question” – The Amazing Spider-Man #289-290 (1987)
Written by Peter David and Dave Michelinie
Art by Alan Kupperberg, John Romita Jr., Tom Morgan, Jim Fern, Vince Colletta, Bob Sharen and George Roussos
1987 proved to be one of the finest years in Spider-Man history and here, two of the biggest moments for the character take place back to back. First, readers are finally given the background on The Hobgoblin’s and his identity in a blockbuster double-issue. With that sorted out, Peter is finally able to ask a question that fans’ had been waiting for.
“Kraven’s Last Hunt” – Web of Spider-Man #31-32, The Amazing Spider-Man #293-294 and The Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132 (1987)
Written by J.M DeMatteis
Art by Mike Zeck, Bob McLeod and Janet Jackson (no, not that one)
There is a brutality to Kraven The Hunter rare amongst supervillains. Driven by pride, he seeks Spider-Man as prey; not strictly as a rival. Because of this, his losses only wound him deeper. DeMatteis crafts one of the most adult Spider-Man epics over six gorgeous issues. Zeck, the innovator of the black costume, perfects the design here and both on cover and interior, really defines the era’s art style. This is the Peter Parker who has grown-up under the mask and, like the mask itself, has grown a little more serious over the years. Though many great spider-tales have been published since, I’m not sure this one has been, or ever will be, equaled.
An Alternate Universe
“Brave New World” – What If? #114 (1998)
Written by Jay Faeber
Art by Greg Schigiel, Jose Marzan Jr. and Paul Tutrone
This time around, What If? asks the question “What if The Secret Wars had never ended and, twenty-five years later, the heroes still remained there?” Faeber actually broke into the industry with this issue and it would end this particular volume of the series. This one-and-done has a ton of cool concepts, and even some new heroes and villains, but what stands out most is the fate of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Let’s just say, without that aforementioned help of his friends, the Sinister Secret becomes a bit more apparent.
Yup, there’s going to be at least a third volume of these. Spider-Man’s history is so dense, and so focused on Peter Parker, that it’s just impossible to get readers really rolling without introducing many ideas into their repertoire. Plus, it’s super fun to go back over. That said, there were some sacrifices made on this list. The Hobgoblin Saga probably doesn’t get the attention the character deserves, but that’s one where I hope the recommendations spark new readers’ interest in going back and forward with the orange creep. The same can be said for Black Cat, who really is never as cool as she was in this era. The eighties were a formative moment for the character and feature some of the most contemplative stories. It is really the decade where Spider-Man grows up.
But The Nineties? Oh, that’s a whole lot of fun!