Where to Start with Spider-Man Comics: The Newbie’s Guide

Reading guides for minor characters can sometimes get boring. I realized how unhelpful this kind of approach is, especially when it comes to one of my favorite superheroes, Spider-Man. I think it’s better if we explore the best entry points of Peter Parker’s journey.

So, where to start with Spider-Man comics? There are a number of great entry points into the world of Spider-Man including The Amazing Spier-Man #1, #442, or #546 or the Ultimate Spider-Man #1.

But these are not the only places you can begin reading Spider-Man comics. Here are my thoughts on the best places you should start whether you are a die-hard purist looking to start from the very beginning, or just want to explore the most recent additions to Spider-Man saga.

Best places to start with Spider-Man comics

Earth-616

  1. Amazing Spider-Man #1 (1963) – This issue was the first exclusive copy of the Spider-Man comic. The last issue in the Amazing Spider-Man series sold more copies than the previous issues. Probably it was because Spider-Man’s character had been released a year earlier. Essentially, this issue provides a good starting point for any comic enthusiast.
  2. The Amazing Spider-Man #442 (1999) – This issue was renumbered #1, an indicator that new readers would pick up from this point. As crime rates escalated in New York City, the issue beckoned to answer the question: where is Spider-Man? Normal numbering of the issue began at #450.
  3. Amazing Spider-Man #546 (1999) – The issue highlights Parker’s new life after the Civil War. As much as everything seems different in this issue, it creates an avenue for Peter Parker to reboot as the Amazing Spider-Man. New readers are offered a great and fresh start by reading this comic. It has 3 volumes run as “Brand New Day.”
  4. Marvel Civil War – This is probably the turning point of the Spider-Man story. The issue highlights major events that had an impact on Spider-Man and the entire Marvel universe. This represents a great place for newbies to start because you are introduced to many characters. You are also able to see parallels within the comic.
  5. The Amazing Spider-Man (2000) – A lot changed in Peter Parker’s life since the Marvel Civil War. The drastic changes that take place before the release of this issue make readers suggest that this is a good starting point. The reason– it is the closest the series ever gets to a reboot.
  6. The Superior Spider-Man #1 (2013) – Vol.1 of the Superior Spider-Man contains issues #698-700 of The Amazing Spider-Man. The events that transpire in these issues leave a mad scientist, Otto Octavius living in the body of Peter Parker. This is after he lets the real Peter Parker die in his body.

Determined to be a better Spider-Man and a hero in the community, this issue highlights the separating factors between villains and heroes using a twisted character.

The Ultimate Universe or Earth-1610

Given that Spider-Man comics spur interest to many readers, most people start from the beginning. For a Spider-Man fanatic today, Stan Lee stories do not click. Despite being fun, these old comics lack a kind of sophistication that intrigues today’s readers. If you have access to the 60’s versions, you can still read them although familiarizing with modern copies offers the best route for newbies.

  1. Ultimate Spider-Man #1 (2000) – The issue presents Spider-Man in another universe to feature in the Ultimate Spider-Man series which was released in 2000. The issue recalls the familiar storyline of a teenage student who got bitten by a radioactive spider.

The same storyline has been used in the production of another issue, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Earth-1610 and Earth-616 exist in two different dimensions, although the two comics were released simultaneously by Marvel. 2015 saw both camps band together to a single universe for their protection.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man #30 (2001) – In this particular issue written by Michael Straczynski, Spider-Man is given the much-needed new life. The new mythology is a basis of great stories. If you are looking to begin here, you should realize that once the Amazing Spider-Man series approached the 500th issue, it switched back to the old numbering meaning that v.2 is no longer available.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #546 (2008) – Spider-Man got himself a reboot after one of the worst storylines that were imposed by Marvel editors. At that point, Spider-Man’s identity was disclosed, making him a target by the public and old enemies.
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Peter’s aunt was killed, and this made Memphis strike a deal with him which he gladly accepted. Now, May is alive, but the twist of the story is that the marriage of Mary Jane Watson to Harrison Osborn has been erased. Osborn is alive again. Also, Peter has regained his mechanical shooters.

The interesting aspect of this issue is that you get to understand much about Spider-Man’s life through him as he rediscovers his world and how it has changed.

  • The Relaunch of the Amazing Spider-Man (2014) – The dramatic relaunch of the Amazing Spider-Man series comprises a six-issue story revolving around the theme, “Lucky to be alive.” In this series, Spider-Man re-appears and immediately launches an immediate mission to bring together all Spidermen in a bid to protect their existence. Peter Parker leads this movement as the reincarnated Spider-Man of Earth-616.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #1 vol.3 (2014) – This issue released in November 2014, featured a new start for Peter Parker. It is Amazing again, as in this spirit, new enthusiasts or readers can access and understand the story. Moreover, it leads you to all Marvel Spider-Man characters in the series.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2015) – This issue follows Peter Parker into the Marvel universe. He is presented to the reader as a businessman running a worldwide corporation. He is assisted in his operations by a bodyguard.
  • Spider-Man #1 (2016) – In the pre-Secret Wars, Miles Morales replaces the old Spider-Man after the untimely demise of Peter Parker. Miles Morales also experiences a similar storyline as Peter Parker after he is bitten by a radioactive spider. He sees it as his duty to replace Spider-Man.

Flash forward to the All-New, Marvel Universe, and you will find Miles on the ranks of a bodyguard to the Earth-616 Peter Parker. This comic explores their characters and allows you to know the new Spider-Man better.

  • Spider-Man: Blue – For those that are not interested in going through and reading all the comics about Spider-Man but who still would like to learn about the superhero, this copy is a standalone place to begin.  This is a 6-issue storyline begins after the death of Spider-Man’s true love, Gwen.  Despite being a nostalgic piece, it allows you to explore Peter Parker’s soul.

Essentially, for anyone who missed the debut of the Spider-Man comics decades ago, there is plenty of hope to get you in line. You only need to find the best place to start.

Reading About Spider-Man in Comics

With over 50 years of Spider-Man comics across two universes, where should one start reading about Spider-Man? Approximately six decades ago, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was brought in the limelight through the fifteenth issue of the “Amazing Fantasy” series. The issue received overwhelming reception until it was ended. The series that followed, “Amazing Spider-Man,” debuted in 1963 through its first issue “The Chameleon Strikes.”

Since this transition, there have been many spoilers and spin-offs of the original Spider-Man comic. Not to mention what related cartoons and devoted Wikipedia pages post on television and websites respectively. In other words, reading Spider-Man comics for newbies is an intimidating task that requires clear guidelines.

The Marvel’s Ultimate Universe is a re-invention of the Prime Universe. It is a modern retelling of the Marvel characters using younger and edgier heroes.

That said, the history of earth-1610 is completely independent and self-contained although the same characters are involved in specific events. The new universe which was brought up in 2000 is called The Ultimate Universe or universe-1610 while the old version was denoted universe-616.

Essentially, the Spider-Man comic which began in 1963 as the ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ continued to Ultimate Universe from Universe-616. Under the Ultimate title, Spider-Man exists in the same world as other comics like Ultimate X-Men. In 2015, a comic book event called Secret Wars destroyed both of these universes and created a new, single Marvel universe with characters from both.

Who is Spider-Man?

First thing first, who is Spider-Man? I don’t assume that there is a comic lover out there who could be asking this question. However, if you have been living in a cave for the past century, Spider-Man is a superhero in the Marvel universe.

Created in 1962 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man was first brought into light through the fifteenth publication of the “Amazing Fantasy” comic book. The face behind the mask is Peter Parker, who was a student being raised by Uncle Ben and Aunt May in New York City.

Peter acquired great agility, arachnid-like abilities after he was bitten by a radioactive spider during a science exhibit. He also developed a sixth sense which detected danger wherever it emanated.  With such powers, Peter engaged in activities that gained him more money.

With great powers, comes great responsibilities. Peter Parker had to learn this lesson the hard way after his uncle was murdered by a criminal he had not sopped when he had the chance. Since then, Peter Parker started fighting crime as he helped his aunt with her job at the Daily Bugle.

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What to look forward to after the “Thrilling Secret Wars” Spider-Man Comic

The Secret Wars were made in the Marvel universe. The avid followers of Spider-Man comics had the time of their lives in 2015 as they got to experience the 616 and 1610 together. As Spider-Man’s knowledge of the universe grows, he discovers a whole set of adventures best captured in the following series.

  • Amazing Spider-Man#1- 2015
  • Spider-Man #1- 2016

What many found appealing about these two is the clear storyline that generates a series of unprecedented events that cast Spider-Man in a whole new set of adventures. The roles for Spider-Man starting from 2015 were monumental, but when it all came together, the experience for a reader was exhilarating!

What comes immediately after the suspense created by Amazing Spider #1- 2015

Events recorded by the current series:

  • Peter Parker is still moving up in the world, or should we say the universe. Peter Parker Industries is a multinational enterprise with bases US- New York, San Francisco, London, and even China-Shanghai.
  • Peter and a trusted bodyguard can go international with the strategic resources they have access to.
  • The prints for Spider-Man comics in the first Worldwide Vol. 1 start with the 2016 series Spider-Man #1.    

2016 series Spider-Man #1

  • This features the heroic character from the ultimate Universe 1610 starring Miles Morales. The character resonated perfectly with Miles’ persona giving the audience a surreal experience of the comic.
  • It also features the 616 Spider-Man where Peter Parker finds his true purpose in the Marvel universe’s Post-Secret wars. This is a ruthless version of Spider-Man that gradually developed in the new series. Why this account stands out is its ability to captivate a new reader.

The key features in 2016 series Spider-Man #1 series:

  • Peter Parker has secured his place at Marvel’s universe as a force to reckon with after his role in post-secret Wars. A well-deserved honor if you ask me.
  • It shares the same battleground with the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, the Mighty Thor, and the incredible Avenger team. 
  • New York’s good old Peter Parker, however, has one hell of a time through the next eight months. For a newbie, the comic at this point guarantees a nail-biting experience.

Important Facts to Have In Mind When Reading Spider-Man Comics

There are several different storylines presented across a variety of media about Spider-Man. They do not share a common storyline, but they let you see Peter Parker for the charming character that he is. Whether it is the universal adventures in the comics or the heroic stunts in the movie, it all narrows down to neurotic personalities that most of us can relate to.

Keep In Mind:

  • There is no continuity between the Spider-Man movie and Spider-Man comic.
  • Some of the aspects featured in past accounts like the early Spider-Man trilogy have no relevance in the most recent volumes.
  • Regardless of the motivation behind your newly found interest in following Spider-Man comics, having an open mind when reviewing the different volumes lets you experience all possible sides to Peter Parker.
  • Almost every Spider-Man comic released back in the day offers a good jumping point to a newbie. This is not to say that you will not enjoy the most recent volumes, but it is always better to get a good hooked from the past adventures of the original Peter Parker.

The Best Way to Cover the Ultimate Spider-Man Volume

The ultimate Spider-Man movie took the fan base by storm, especially after the release of the movie. The scenes that set up the movie will have you at the edge of your seat as it all starts in an ultimate universe. What is even more fun about this account is that you do not need to have a background of the previous versions to enjoy the storyline once you read this issue.

For new readers following its guide, they will have already experienced the Earth 616 version of Spider-Man and the complexities of the alternate universe. The Ultimate Spider-Man Movie and the comics have a distinctive element about them and share a certain mood that makes them unique.

The highlight features of the ultimate Spider-Man series:

  • Replacement of ultimate Spider-Man who we all are accustomed to by the character Mile Morales who has a Latino/ Black descent.
  • This new character is a cross over from another dimension and has developed a reliable way to crossover to Earth at will.

Primary Continuity as Expressed in the 616 Spider-Man Comic Timeline

For the smart comic reader, they will want to develop a certain advantage when it comes to covering the entire story of Spider-Man. We highly recommend the Civil War volume as this is the breaking point for Spider-Man, where he gets to showcase his dominance over formidable Marvel characters.

The good old Spidey is a natural even in the most heated fight scenes. The buildup of the Spider-Man comic or movie series all narrows down to specific moments in the ultimate Spider-Man. 

Other suggestions for a new Spider-Man comic enthusiast after the ultimate Spider-Man series:

  • Brand New Day
  • Spider-Island
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The amazing thing about these two suggestions is that they all are cliffhangers that will leave you even more excited to learn Spider-Man’s background stories in earlier comics.

In the following the two comics, you get to escape from the nerve ending suspense created by the exciting Civil War series ending.

Unveiling the Back in Black Spider-Man Comic Series after the Civil War

The Back in Black volume is simply a bombshell that acts as a follow up to the unnerving suspense from the Civil War. When the times get dark and desperate with all chances of survival for Peter Parker and his loved ones as slim as they can get, it takes a true hero to step in.

This is exactly what Peter Parker does in the Back in Black!

The highlight features for the Back in Black Spider-Man comic:

  • Peter Parker is forced to make dire sacrifices to save his loved ones.
  • Sparks off one of the biggest controversies among all Spider-Man volumes  

Back in Black Major Spoiler: Precious Aunt May is alive and well in this volume, but unfortunately MJ is no longer in the picture to capture Peter’s heart as their marriage is in shambles.

A Review of Brand New Day Spider-Man Comic

This is an equally important jumping point for a new reader just as the Back in Black. The defining aspect of the new series is the carefree expression of the heroic storyline. Be ready for a trip back in time to the classical 1960s and 70’s Spider-Man.

This account reveals it all, the true identity of Peter Parker even before the hype of Spider-Man. It illustrates his resilient nature and the normalcy of the life he was accustomed to in his formative years.

Exciting comebacks and first appearances in the Brand New Day volume:

  • Mister Negative- a comeback
  • Menace- a comeback
  • Overdrive- a comeback
  • Jackpot- a new appearance

Understanding the Gauntlet Series of Spider-Man Comics

The Gauntlet Series acts as the best prelude to the series described above.

A sneak preview to the Gauntlet: 

  • Kraven, the conceited hunter, leaves behind a spiteful window and a bitter daughter who are on a mission of vengeance.
  • The Gauntlet Series plots a twisted plan to get Spider-Man to turn against another powerful character and a motivated villain in the comic’s storyline.  

Our beloved Spidey always stands up to the occasion, and when its time to face it off bare knuckles, Peter Parker never fails to excite.

Epic battles to look forward to in Spider-Man comics:

  1. Battle with juggernaut
  2. Carmilla black/ the scorpion fight
  3. Battle with electro
  4. Rhino’s fight scene
  5. Electro’s standoff
  6. The sandman fight scene
  7. The lizard’s fight scene
  8. Mysterio standoff
  9. The epic fight with Mr. Negative
  10. The Vulture’s final stand

The Spirited Spider-Man Search Launched by the Widow and Kraven’s Daughter

This is one of the most exciting scenes in Gaunlet. The two outdo themselves with an elaborate plan that almost succeeds to bring Spider-Man down.

  • First, they launch a search to lure Spider-Man and a couple of heroes with similar traits to Spidey.
  • After bringing them together, they try to perform a strange resurrection ritual to bring back their beloved Gaunlet.
  • If the strange ritual is performed with success, it should lead to Spider-Man’s demise, substituting it for their loved one’s second chance at life.

Understanding the Big Time Spider-Man Comics Series

After a long series of Peter Parker’s misfortunes in the alternate universe and his experience joining the highly decorated Avengers team, the Big Time volume represents the good times, after all, is said and done.

This is particularly exhilarating for a new reader as it invokes an authentic emotional response.

Events in the Big Time Spider-Man Comics:

  • Peter Parker is still proud, tried and tested member of Avengers
  • He is back to a more normal routine and even lands a job
  • There is a new girl in town turning Spidey’s into an emotional wreck
  • The new girl, as many fans think, has a striking resemblance to Gwen 
  • Some old bad guys are back in the picture masquerading in masks

Understanding the End of the Earth Spider-Man Comic Series

This is also another important volume you cannot afford to miss out on when binge-reading through the exciting Spider-Man comics. 

As the name would suggest, this is the final stand for any superhero on Warth, and good old Spidey can never be left behind when it matters the most. This series was monumental for Marvel Universe as it marked its 50th anniversary since Peter Parker’s story begun.

Highlight features for the End of the Earth comic series:

  • The storyline focuses on Spider-Man before being an important member of the Avengers
  • The Avengers are featured in the comic but only as supporting characters
  • One of the fan’s favorite villains, Dr. Octopus, learns that he has a limited amount of time to live
  • Motivated by the news, he spends sleepless nights developing the dangerous Octavian lens that will accelerate global warming
  • Dock Ock emerges as a hero in the story after countering Dr. Octopus’ devious plan
  • Spider-Man emerges as a public enemy when everything is said and done
  • The mayor of New York, Spider-Man’s hometown, takes extreme measures with a declaration of martial law enforced by a special unit to hunt down our beloved Spidey

The End of the Earth Comic series is one of the most exciting comics. It leaves every fan looking forward to the next complete volume of Spider-Man comics.

The Bottom Line

The Spider-Man comic books are one of the longest-running comic series that has ever been written. Starting with all the volumes recorded over the decades is simply unrealistic and will remove all the fun in your beginner experience.

The secret is sampling the volumes that had a greater impact on how we understand Peter Parker’s story today. You will find that some incredible writers did their best work in shaping the evolution of Spider-Man from a scrawny boy to an astute young man handling the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Some of the best Spider-Man comic works feature outstanding writers like:

  1. Stan Lee
  2. Paul Jenkins
  3. Kurt Busiek
  4. Gerry Conway
  5. Roger Stern
  6. Dan Slot
  7. J.M Dematteis
  8. Brian Michael Bendis and so much more!