The 15 Best Spider-Man Comics You Need To Read

It's a great time to be a Spider-Man fan. Not only did "Spider-Man: No Way Home" bring together all three live-action Spider-Men, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland, into a spectacular crowd-pleasing film, Sony has some big plans for their own "Spider-Man" cinematic universe of supporting characters, including Miles Morales, Venom, Morbius, Kraven the Hunter, and others. With all of the Spider-Man content currently available and the promise of even more to come, it's safe to say that the appetite for everyone's favorite wall-crawler is at an all-time high.

However, as great as the cinematic versions of Spider-Man and his world are, it's easy to forget that the character is bolstered by nearly 60 years of terrific stories in the comics. Ever since Spidey first swung into the pages of "Amazing Fantasy" #15 in August 1962, he went on to appear in a seemingly infinite number of secondary titles, spin-offs, and crossovers. Because the character has such a long history in the comics, it can be a daunting task for anyone to simply pick up an issue of "Spider-Man" and immediately grasp the years of continuity. We understand how complicated comic book canon can get for new readers, which is why we've created this guide of the 15 best "Spider-Man" comics that best exemplify what makes the character so great.

The Wedding!

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 Annual #21

Because Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson made such a wonderful couple, fans were constantly waiting for the two to tie the knot. They got their wish with 1987's "The Wedding!" However, like all things in Peter Parker's life, getting married to the woman of his dreams is not without its complications. The issue sees the two struggle with their worries about getting married, as Peter contemplates how he'll be able to support a family with his meager job as a Daily Bugle photographer and MJ being tempted to pursue a more extravagant lifestyle. However, theirs is a love that's not so easily broken (at least until the controversial 2007 storyline, "One More Day," that is).

"The Wedding!" does a terrific job of treating such a momentous event in Spider-Man's life with maturity and complexity. Peter is well aware of the danger he puts MJ in, and MJ knows that her career as a model often clashes with Peter's relatively simple lifestyle (when he's not Spider-Man, of course), and yet, the two are willing to overcome these obstacles and devote themselves to each other.

The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #248

"The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man" sees Spider-Man visiting a young boy in a hospital who's a huge fan. He demonstrates this with his massive collection of Spider-Man memorabilia. The story takes a surprising twist when Spider-Man reveals his secret identity as Peter Parker to the boy, something that he's spent most of his life as a crimefighter protecting. However, it's soon revealed why Spider-Man did what he did. The child has cancer and is not expected to live for very long.

This story is a heartbreaking reminder that even Spider-Man can't save everyone, as he finally encounters a villain that cannot be punched or subdued. Despite being only a few pages long (it's the backup story in a single issue), "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man" hits as hard as any full-length story and tackles its uncomfortable subject matter with maturity and grace.

Ultimate Fallout: Spider-Man No More

Ultimate Comics Fallout #1

The Ultimate Universe takes place outside of mainstream Marvel canon and features different takes on classic characters. Like his mainstream counterpart, the Ultimate version of Spider-Man is not exactly popular with the masses and is often seen as more of a villain than a hero. However, when he's killed in a battle against Ultimate Green Goblin, the world finally realizes how much of a hero he really was and is given a proper funeral funded by Tony Stark.

While it may be tempting to dismiss the events in the Ultimate Universe as meaningless because of its tenuous connection to the primary Marvel Comics universe, the aftermath of Spider-Man's death is given considerable dramatic weight and gives readers a peek at a world that doesn't appreciate its heroes until it's too late. In addition to just being a great tribute to a different version of a beloved character, it also paved the way for another beloved superhero, Miles Morales.

The Original Clone Saga

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #139 — 150

The "Clone Saga" (no, not the controversial "Clone Saga" from the '90s) follows Spider-Man as he contends with a clone of himself as well as that of Gwen Stacey, the recently deceased love of his life. The clones were created by a villain called the Jackal, who is revealed to be Miles Warren, a biology professor who taught both Peter Parker and Gwen. It turns out that Miles had a secret obsession with Gwen, and he blames Spider-Man for her death, prompting him to create the clones to torment the object of his resentment.

While this tale would be revisited many years later in a much-maligned storyline, this "Clone Saga" is a near-perfect Spider-Man story, as it truly forces him to confront the reality that anyone who becomes close to Peter Parker is at risk because of his double life as a superhero. Even though Peter is very much in love with Mary Jane Watson at this point in his life, his confrontation with Gwen Stacey's clone proves that he still hasn't gotten over the death that he was partially responsible for.

The Gauntlet

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #612 — 633

As powerful and resourceful as Spider-Man is, even he has his limits, and in "The Gauntlet," we get to see just how far those limits can be pushed. This storyline is a bit hard to describe, as it's not really a storyline in the strict sense. It's more a collection of smaller stories that are thematically tied together, featuring the web-crawler going up against his most dangerous foes. However, with each ensuing battle, he ends up in an increasingly worse condition as someone in the shadows watches him deteriorate both physically and mentally.

"The Gauntlet" sees the return of many of Spider-Man's classic villains, including Electro, the Sandman, the Rhino, Mister Negative, and others. However, it's more than just a way to see Spidey beaten worse than any time before in the comics. "The Gauntlet" also shows us the more tragic side of his villains as they deal with their own life struggles.

Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut

The Amazing Spider-Man #229 — 230

In "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut," Black Tom Cassidy and the Juggernaut hatch a plan to kidnap Madame Web as part of a larger scheme to take down the X-Men. Through her clairvoyant abilities, Madame Web learns of their plot and calls on Spider-Man to do the impossible: stop the Juggernaut. Even with Spider-Man's enhanced strength, he can't take on a villain who's fueled by the power of an entire mystical army, forcing him to rely more on guile than brute force.

While "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut" doesn't drastically change the status quo of Peter Parker's world, it's characterized by a deep understanding of what makes these characters work. It's a gem in the Roger Stern era of "Spider-Man" comics. Stern was able to take a straightforward tale of good vs. evil and raise it to something more than the sum of its parts in its depiction of a hero doing everything he can to surmount an insurmountable obstacle and deliver a hard-hitting action story along the way.

Kraven's Last Hunt

Web of Spider-Man #31 — 32, The Amazing Spider-Man #293 — 294, Spectacular Spider-Man #131 — 132

In this fan-favorite storyline, Kraven the Hunter overpowers Spider-Man in battle and buries him in a grave so he can take his suit and become the new Spider-Man. While the real Spider-Man lies incapacitated in a grave, Kraven violently beats up criminals around New York City and proves, at least in his own mind, that he's the superior Spider-Man. When the real Spider-Man eventually digs his way out of his grave to confront Kraven, he doesn't put up a fight, believing that his point has already been made.

"Kraven's Last Hunt" is not only the best Kraven the Hunter story, it's one of the best Spider-Man stories ever. It's a brutal tale that sees Spidey defeated in a way that's rarely depicted and proves that there's more to being a hero than simply wearing a costume. Taking place right after the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, "Kraven's Last Hunt" is also a stark reminder of the rough days the two will experience as a married couple.


Amazing Fantasy Vol. 1 #15

Spider-Man exploded into comic book history in this fun little tale from 1962 that gave us the origin story that's almost as familiar to fans around the world as that of Batman. While on a field trip, awkward teenager Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider that imbues him with superhuman powers. Instead of using them to help others, he uses them to help himself and inadvertently causes the death of his Uncle Ben. From then on, Peter decides to use his powers for the benefit of mankind, and Spider-Man is born.

While this story is not even the length of a standard comic book and is quite dated in parts, it's still an amazing feat that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were able to so perfectly and succinctly tell a tale that not only introduced countless elements that continue to inform Spider-Man stories today but also introduced the idea of a hero born not out of nobility but out of guilt. This iconic comic also gave us the equally iconic phrase, "With great power, there must also come great responsibility."

Best of Enemies

Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1 #200

"Best of Enemies" is a bittersweet farewell to the long and tumultuous friendship between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn. During this era, Harry is the new Green Goblin and is on a mission to kill Spider-Man. However, in his quest to end the life of his enemy, Harry puts the lives of his young son and his longtime friend Mary Jane Watson at risk. With Spider-Man incapacitated, Harry comes to his senses just long enough to save their lives but at the cost of his life.

The tragedy of "Best of Enemies" is heightened by MJ's reminders of the good times the three of them had together in their youth. Harry always struggled to prove that he was better than his dead father, Norman, even when he took up his mantle as a supervillain. While Harry died before he could finally bury the hatchet with Peter, at least he was able to carry out one truly heroic act before the end.

Spider-Man No More

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #50

"Spider-Man No More" sees Peter Parker give up the superhero life and quit his role as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Despite the countless times he's saved lives and brought down bad guys, he believes that he never gets the recognition he deserves and that it's better to go back to simply being Peter. However, with the rise of a new villain, the Kingpin, in town rising to prominence, Peter's retirement doesn't last long — especially when he's reminded of Uncle Ben with the encouragement of a security guard.

This story marks the first appearance of the Kingpin, who would go on to become one of Daredevil's most dangerous villains as well as one of the most prominent baddies in Marvel Comics. It's also a wonderful depiction of a theme that would recur in many future "Spider-Man" comics: doing the right thing even when the world hates you for it. As a bonus for movie fans, "Spider-Man 2" lifted some story elements from this issue and even faithfully recreated a panel in which Peter Parker walks away from a garbage can that he stuffed his suit into.

Spider-Man: Blue

Spider-Man: Blue #1 — 6

This miniseries is a retelling of the early years of Peter Parker's life, with a special particular focus on his relationship with his first true love, Gwen Stacey. The premise of the story revolves around a present-day Peter feeling down on Valentine's Day and recounting into a tape recorder his time with Gwen. Of course, he revisits some Silver Age fights with classic villains, but it's the time when Gwen asked him to be her Valentine that Peter wants to revisit, all while a compassionate Mary Jane eavesdrops on his trip down memory lane.

These sorts of retellings are often a lot of fun, adding some context to events fans are familiar with and shedding some light on their importance in current continuity. "Spider-Man: Blue" does all that and more, as it gives readers a more profound sense of the ways that Peter Parker's tragic past continues to haunt him and motivate him to always do the right thing.

The Night Gwen Stacy Died

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #121 — 122

Because of recent life troubles and an already unstable mind, Norman Osborn returns to his identity as Green Goblin and resumes his quest to torment Spider-Man by going after those closest to him, including Gwen Stacey. During a fight with Spider-Man, Green Goblin throws Gwen off a bridge. Spider-Man dives after her and manages to launch a web rope to catch her, but she dies from the whiplash. Spider-Man vows to kill Green Goblin in retaliation, and even though he beats him to a pulp, he realizes that revenge won't save Gwen and spares him.

While Uncle Ben's death may be the single most tragic event in Peter Parker's life, Gwen Stacey's death is a close second. Her death will haunt him for the rest of his days as a horrible reminder of the risk he poses to those he cares most about, even when he develops a relationship with Mary Jane Watson. "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" is so important to the Spider-Man mythos that elements of this story appeared in 2002's "Spider-Man" and in 2014's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."


The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #9 — 15 (2014-2015)

Spider-Man has participated in plenty of major crossovers with other Marvel heroes over the years, but one of the most entertaining and memorable crossovers he starred in was with — himself?! That's right. The 2014 — 2015 crossover, "Spider-Verse," sees Spidey take on the vampiric Morlun and his family, the Inheritors. To fight this multidimensional clan of life-force-draining villains, Spider-Man must team up with various versions of himself from across the multiverse, including Spider-Woman, Spider-Man 1602, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Monkey, and others.

"Spider-Verse" is, in many ways, a love letter to the various incarnations of the character and is packed with surprise appearances we'd prefer not to spoil here. This storyline is also a great jumping-on point for fans of the movies, as it was the inspiration for 2018's "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" and 2021's "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Of course, "Spider-Verse" isn't just fan service. It's a compelling plot that perfectly balances action, humor, and deeper themes of responsibility, all of which add up to a modern "Spider-Man" classic.

The Death Of Jean DeWolff

Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1 #107 — 110

Police Capt. Jean DeWolff, a close friend of Spider-Man's, is killed by the Sin-Eater, who also murders someone with close ties to Daredevil. The two heroes team up to track down the Sin-Eater, but things immediately get complicated when it's revealed that the Sin-Eater is actually NYPD officer Stan Carter, who was driven mad by experimental drugs and therefore, not as responsible for his murderous actions as they initially thought. However, that's not good enough for the mob who demands justice for Jean's needless murder.

While "The Death of Jean DeWolff" is only four issues long, it's surprisingly layered and delves deep into such themes as revenge and the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. The storyline is one of the first major cases that Spider-Man and Daredevil worked on together, and seeing their respective approaches to fighting crime makes for some powerful revelations about them. This storyline is begging to be adapted to the big screen.


The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #298 — 300

The "Secret Wars" storyline saw Spider-Man get a new black and white costume of alien origin that imbues him with new abilities. However, after a while, the new suit begins to alter his personality, making him more erratic and violent than usual, which prompts Spider-Man to get rid of it. Then, it fuses with Eddie Brock, a Daily Globe reporter who blames Spider-Man for his shattered career. Brock sets out to get revenge on him with a living alien symbiote suit that shares his hatred of Spider-Man.

"Spider-Man" had been slowly planting the seeds for Venom for several years, and it pays off in grand fashion in these three issues. It's the perfect introduction for one of Spider-Man's most dangerous villains (although Venom would go on to become more of an antihero later on), serving as a sort of representation of the dark side of Spidey. Venom made his live-action debut in "Spider-Man 3," which adopted numerous elements from this storyline, and has had two solo films.