Examining the best Spider-Man comic book titles and why they matter.
Since his debut in “Amazing Fantasy #15” in August 1962, Spider-Man has gone on to become Marvel Comics’ flagship character and one of the most ubiquitous presences in its vast fictional universe. With literally dozens of titles devoted to the wall crawler over the years, we’ve spotlighted the five that took Peter Parker’s limber alter ego in new directions and helped establish him as everyone’s favorite neighborhood wall crawler.
01 “Amazing Spider-Man” (March 1963-present)
The wellspring, the core, the home of all that is webbed and wondrous! After his one appearance in the final issue of the “Amazing Fantasy” anthology, Spidey was given his first and permanent home with this series, which continues to this day. If something big and bold is going to happen to poor ol’ Parker, it’s going to happen here.
02 “Marvel Team-Up” (March 1972-February 1985)
The series that did more to make Spidey the definitive hero of the Marvel Universe than any other, this one teamed him with a different character in almost every one of its 150 issues (apart from a few non-Spidey team-up adventures). Some got along with him and some didn’t, but there were few Marvel heroes who didn’t get a chance to battle alongside the webbed one.
03 “Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man” (December 1976-November 1998)
The first spin-off series to last more than a couple issues, “Peter Parker” was initially introduced with the intention of focusing more on Parker’s personal life and friends while “Amazing” kept up with his crime-fighting. That distinction didn’t last long, and it soon became just a companion title to increase Spider-Man’s already extensive schedule.
04 “Spider-Man” (August 1990-November 1998)
Artist Todd McFarlane’s early work on “Amazing” was so popular and groundbreaking (for some — I always thought it was awful) that he was gifted with his very own Spider title to do with as he pleased. The art-heavy, plot-light experiment lasted a little while before growing beyond McFarlane’s mandate. How much adventure can one web-head handle?
05 “Ultimate Spider-Man” (October 2000-July 2009) and “Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man” (August 2009-present)
In these series, a younger Peter Parker has an updated origin story and a whole new universe in which to face many of the same, as well as a few new, challenges. The “Ultimate” line gave Marvel the chance to restart its continuity, build an alternate reality and tweak some of its most famous characters. This incarnation of Parker recently died at the hands of the Green Goblin and has been replaced by Miles Morales, an event that garnered press coverage and some controversy. We think it’s one to watch.
— Arnold T. Blumberg