Out of all of Marvel‘s characters, there’s one that has constantly stood the test of time as one of the greatest comic book heroes of all time. For over 50 years, Spider-Man has been bringing joy to readers with his unique powers, terrible jokes, and incredible stories. Choosing only ten was a hard task, but here are the Spider-Man stories that you need to read.
#10 Venom (Ultimate Spider-Man #33)
Venom was a great villain back when he was first introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #299 in the 80s. In the 90s however, Venom became more of a boring, one-dimensional villain that was constantly trying to do more and more “edgy” things.
The villain got a much-needed reboot in Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man series. Weaving the creation of Venom into Peter’s parents gave subtle hints that their deaths may or may not have been an accident. Venom himself was also written better. Bendis decided to focus more on the similarities between Venom and Spider-Man, instead of the differences, which made Venom feel like a deeper character and a darker mirror image to Spidey.
#9 The Green Goblin Unmasked (Amazing Spider-Man #39-40)
One of Peter Parker’s worst fears came true in Amazing Spider-Man #39. The Green Goblin had figured out his secret identity not by some overly complicated and unnecessary plan, but by disabling his Spider-sense following him home.
After the Goblin captures Peter and brings him back to his lair to kill him, he reveals himself to be Norman Osborne.
This and the following issue changed the dynamic between not only Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, but also for all superheroes and super villains. Before then, no one had explored heroes and villains knowing each other’s identities.
#8 If This Be My Destiny (Amazing Spider-Man #31-33)
The first of Spider-Man’s story arcs is also one of his most classic tales.
Peter while starting college, and worrying about a sick Aunt May in the hospital, also must track down a nuclear arms dealer.
Eventually Peter finds out that May is dying and it might be because of him. This makes him go on a rampage in order to find a cure, leading to the Master Planner’s underwater base. This leads to one of the most iconic Spider-Man images, him buried under tons of metal with the cure to Aunt May’s sickness just out of reach as water slowly enters in the room.
If This Be My Destiny is also noteworthy as it has the first appearances of his soon to be best friend Harry Osborne, and first love Gwen Stacy.
Superhero vigilantes are usually shown in a bright way. In a world of black and white, they’re always shown to be in the right.
The Death of Jean DeWolff took this ideal that readers had about Spider-Man and turned it on its head.
A new villain known as Sin Eater has murdered one of Spidey’s friends on the NYPD and Spidey goes on a rampage to find the killer. Eventually Daredevil teams up with him to help in his investigation.
The Death of Dewolff is only the beginning of this four-part murder mystery story arch. It shows that even a bright and comical hero such as Spider-Man can sometimes be incapable of handling his emotions when pushed too far.
The story also deepens the friendship between Spider-Man and Daredevil by having them reveal their secret identities to each other.
#6 Spider-Man Blue (Spider-Man Blue #1-6)
Jeph Loeb did a series of Marvel titles named after colours that depicted early moments in their superhero “careers.”
Spider-Man Blue takes place on Valentine’s Day and has Peter Parker reminiscing on his relationship with Gwen Stacy. While recording his memories of their history together, he recounts how they met and how he slowly fell in love with her.
The story is incredibly emotional and still shows that even after all this time that Peter still cares for his first love.
Comics often romanticize the idea of being a super hero. Having super powers, saving citizens and being adored by the public are just a few of the tropes that most heroes have.
Stan Lee instead twisted the idea and made Peter Parker’s social life suffer while he was off being Spider-Man. Things also got worse as J. Jonah Jameson’s smear campaign against him really effected the public’s opinion of the wall crawler.
Eventually Peter Parker had enough of saving people who didn’t respect him and for letting his grades, and family suffer, so he gave up being Spider-Man. Eventually Peter comes to his senses and picks up the iconic red, blue, and black suit again.
Though not the last time Peter would try and give up being a superhero, this was the only time that it’s been done so well.
#4 The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man (The Amazing Spider-Man #248)
The Amazing Spider-Man #248 tells the story of Tim Harrison, a young boy who the Daily Bugle has dubbed “The Ultimate Fan of Spider-Man.” He has clipping from every single Spider-Man story, including all of the retractions.
One night, Spider-Man arrives in his room and the two of them talk about his history as Spider-Man.
The boy eventually asks if Spider-Man could reveal his secret identity to him, and much to the shock of readers he does. He also tells Tim the story of how he became Spider-Man.
As Spider-Man swings away, it is shown that Tim is in a centre for terminally ill patients and the article from the Daily Bugle reveals that his last wish is to meet Spider-Man before he succumbs to leukaemia in a few days.
The Boy Who Collects Spider-Man is a fantastic and heartbreaking story. It shows that even with all of his powers and all of the people he’s saved, he can’t do a single thing to save someone who believes so much in him.
#3 Kraven’s Last Hunt
(Web of Spider-Man #31-32, The Amazing Spider-Man #293-294, Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132)
One of the darkest Spider-Man stories ever is Kraven’s Last Hunt. Tired of constantly being bested by Spider-Man, Kraven the Hunter tries one final time to defeat the “ultimate prey.” Instead of coming up with a typically elaborate and unnecessary plan, he simply shoots Spider-Man with a tranquilizer, and buries him alive.
Spider-Man awakens two weeks later and finds out that Kraven has been dressing up as him and brutally fighting criminals. He then goes to confront Kraven in his home to which he doesn’t fight back as he’s already won. He’s proven that he is the better Spider-Man and that he had defeated him.
Kraven then lets loose the C-list villain Vermin for Spider-Man to chase after. What follows next is one of the most shocking and unexpected scenes in all of comics.
Kraven’s Last Hunt is an incredibly dark tale that explores the idea of what a villain would do once they’ve defeated their biggest enemy.
#2 Amazing Fantasy #15
Yes, the original story that started the long legacy of Spider-Man is still one of the best.
Originally forgotten after his story in Amazing Fantasy #15, sales figures soon rose for it and fan outcry led Stan Lee’s editor to make him give Spider-Man his own title.
In only a few pages at the end of the book, Lee told one of the most iconic, heart filled, and tragic backstories about a nerdy teenager that would become of the greatest superheroes of all time.
#1 The Night Gwen Stacy Died (The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122)
This two issue Spider-Man story was the turning point in comics. It started the end of the Silver Age, and was the catalyst for other comics to get darker towards the Bronze Age.
Norman Osborne forgot Spider-Man’s identity following the events of The Green Goblin Unmasked, but soon regained his memory and kidnapped Gwen Stacy.
When Spider-Man arrived to the meeting point on the top of Brooklyn Bridge, The Green Goblin threw her off of it. In order to save her in time, Spider-Man shot a web out that caught her before she hit the water, but the force was so great that he accidentally snapped her neck.
Spider-Man then tracks the Goblin down again and savagely beats him in complete rage, but can’t kill him. The Goblin then triggers his glider to impale Spider-Man, but he dodges it at the last moment, having it kill The Goblin instead.
Gwen Stacy’s death was absolutely shocking to readers at the time it came out. Until then, no huge characters in comics really died. It showed that absolutely no one was safe in comics. It also forever impacted Peter Parker’s life as it made him more aware of his actions as Spider-Man and what repercussions it could cause towards his loved ones.