Where To Start Reading Spider-Man Comics: The Beginner’s Guide
Spider-Man comics are among the most popular superhero comic books of all time.
In 1962, Marvel published the Amazing Fantasy #15 comic book and introduced Peter Parker’s character to the world.
The story of a shy teenager from New York who was bitten by a radioactive spider and consequently gained superhuman powers continues to fascinate audiences to this day. In fact, Spider-Man is currently the #1 superhero in the world.
If you wish to explore Spider-Man comics and immerse yourself into the adventure-filled illustrated universe but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
We looked at hundreds of comic books starring the beloved character and organized our list according to the universe and the era the comics belong to, including Earth-616, Ultimate Universe, the 2099 era and the comics created in the post-Secret Wars period.
Why Should Movie Fans Read Spider-Man Comics?
Since the early 2000’s, Spider-Man movies have been a huge hit. Stunning special effects made Spider-Man’s adventures more realistic, helping to further popularize the heroic character.
While movies provide you with an immersive audiovisual experience, reading comics allows you to experience the unique creativity and beauty of both illustrations and text.
Spider-Man comics include the terrific work of genius artists such as Steve Ditko, who created Spider-Man’s character with the legendary writer Stan Lee, along with Mark Bagley, who illustrated 56 comics, and Todd McFarlane, known for his exquisite detail.
Aside from allowing you to enjoy the immersive art of these creatives, Spider-Man comics also let you become a part of Spidey’s world in a way movies can’t.
Reading comics one at a time allows you to grow as Spider-Man’s character grows. You can learn more about his life and loves, discover the challenges he faces on a day-to-day basis and experience other aspects that make Spider-Man the most relatable character of them all.
Comics also provide more variety in terms of storylines. This year marks exactly 60 years since the first Spider-Man comic was published, so can you imagine how many fun and thrilling stories featuring this character exist?!
Where Should You Start Reading Spider-Man Comics?
Marvel Comics created several universes to tell the stories of their characters.
The principal universe in which most Marvel characters exist and operate is known as Earth-616 or Marvel Universe. This is also the universe in which Spider-Man’s powerful character was created.
In 2000, Marvel introduced a new universe to its audience and called it Earth-1610 or Ultimate Marvel. This universe presented the Marvel Universe and its popular characters, such as Spider-Man, with a modern twist.
And while Marvel created several other universes in which Spider-Man’s character appears, we will focus on Earth-616 and Ultimate Marvel universes because these two are the biggest universes in Marvel Comics.
We’re also going to discuss some Spider-Man 2099 stories, which belong to the Marvel 2099 universe — the future of the Earth-616.
Last but not least, we’ll share the Spider-Man comics created in the post-Secret Wars era. Secret Wars is an event that took place in 2015, marking the end of the Marvel Universe. But we’ll talk more about it soon!
Let’s start with the comics from the Earth-616 universe!
1. Spider-Man Earth-616 Comics
1. Amazing Fantasy #15
Published: August 1962
Written by: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Art: Steve Ditko and Stan GoldbergThe world first got to know Spider-Man in August 1962 when the 15th and final issue of Marvel’s comic anthology Amazing Fantasy comic was released.
Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created the character of Peter Parker, a smart teenager who got bitten by a radioactive spider and gained superhuman powers, such as wall climbing and shooting web from his wrists.
The story about Spider-Man’s origins and how he navigated his transformation remains interesting to read to this day. It is also the best starting point for anyone who wants to immerse themselves into the world of Spider-Man comics.
2. The Amazing Spider-Man #1
Published: March 1963
Written by: Stan Lee
Art: Steve Ditko and Sol BrodskyThe first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man series is the first comic book in which Spider-Man has the starring role. It was published in 1963, following the immense success of the final Amazing Fantasy issue.
The first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man tells the story of how this superhero handled some of his first missions after his beloved Uncle Ben was murdered when a burglar attempted to rob their house.
It also provides a great overview of Peter Parker’s character and the way he balances typical teenage problems, such as school and love, with the career of a superhero.
3. The Amazing Spider-Man #442
Published: January 1999
Written by: Howard Mackie
Art: John Byrne, Scott Hanna and Gregory WrightIn 1999, Marvel re-launched The Amazing Spider-Man series and renumbered the comics. The #1 issue was released in January.
With the volume 2 series of Spider-Man comics, Marvel wanted to attract modern audiences and lure them into Spider-Man’s adventure-filled world.
We don’t want to give away too much and spoil the comic for you, but it’s enough to say that this issue portrays Peter Parker as a young man who wants to dedicate his time to taking care of his family instead of fighting crime. But of course, things don’t go as planned.
If you prefer a more modern take on Spider-Man’s story, we encourage you to purchase this issue and enjoy exploring his journey.
4. Marvel Civil War
Published: May 2006
Written by: Mark Millar
Art: Steve McNivenCivil War is a seven-part comic series that marks an interesting era in Marvel’s universe.
The storyline explores the conflict between Iron Man and Captain America — two of Marvel’s popular superheroes. The rift between the two friends occurs after the American government passes a Superhero Registration Act that demands all individuals with superhuman powers register with the government.
Captain America and his supporters oppose the act while Iron Man supports it.
Spider-Man is caught somewhere in the middle between the two teams.
This fantastic comic book series provides a great introduction to some of Marvel’s most popular superheroes who fight against wrongdoers alongside Spider-Man.
The Civil War series is a fantastic read in which you find out how Spider-Man navigated the conflict, how the rift between the two fractions impacted the Marvel universe and how the dynamic between other Marvel’s superheroes and Spider-Man evolves!
5. The Amazing Spider-Man #546, Brand New Day
Published: January 2008
Written by: Dan Slott
Art: Steve McNivenAs the subtitle “It starts here” suggests, the Brand New Day comic book is a great place to start reading Spider-Man comics.
The storyline follows the events that occur after the Civil War when Spider-Man removed his mask and revealed his true identity to the world. He also stepped away from fighting crime.
The story offers Spider-Man a fresh start, which makes it a great place to either start reading Spider-Man comics or continue your reading after the Civil War era.
6. The Superior Spider-Man
Published: January 2013
Written by: Dan Slott
Art: Ryan StegmanThe Superior Spider-Man series represents the continuation of The Amazing Spider-Man comics.
After the #700 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel introduced readers to the new version of Spider-Man.
This storyline is exciting to read as you get to know a different Spider-Man. Again, we don’t want to give away too much, but we have to say that in The Superior Spider-Man comics, Spider-Man’s nemesis, Doctor Octopus, starts living in Peter Parker’s body!
This comic book series explores how Doc Oc behaves as Spider-Man, New York City’s favorite protector.
In The Superior Spider-Man series, Marvel created a great storyline that slowly introduces you to the Spider-Verse, a place where multiple male and female versions of Spider-Man from different alternate realities meet!
2. Spider-Man Ultimate Universe a.k.a. Earth-1610 Comics
The Ultimate Spider-Man #1
Published: September 2000
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis and Bill Jemas
Art: Mark BagleyIn 2000, Marvel decided to re-imagine its superheroes and make them more appealing to modern audiences. They modernized the Fantastic Four team, the X-Men, Iron Man, and Spider-Man, to name a few.
If for whatever reason you can’t relate to the Spider-Man comics created over half a century ago, the Ultimate Spider-Man series is for you.
The series introduces you to Peter Parker’s story and Spider-Man’s origins in a familiar yet completely redesigned way.
3. Spider-Man Ultimate Fallout Comics
1. Ultimate Fallout #1
Published: July 2011
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Mark BagleyThe Ultimate Fallout series is a part of Marvel’s mission to re-launch the Ultimate Universe.
The first issue is the continuation of the storyline in which Spider-Man died. It explores the effect of Spider-Man’s death on his Aunt May, Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy, Peter’s first love, and other important supporting characters.
The Ultimate Fallout series introduces you to a specific storyline in which Peter Parker is no more. No matter how unexpected or saddening that plot twist is, it made room for a new character that will go on to proudly wear Spider-Man’s costume — a biracial boy named Miles Morales.
He appears in the #4 issue of the Ultimate Fallout series. The fact that Marvel made a 13-year-old boy of color a superhero had a huge impact on children of color, which helped popularize Miles’ character.
In fact, the reprint of the Ultimate Fallout #4 issue in 2021 was one of Marvel’s top-selling comics in September last year.
4. Spider-Man 2099 Comics
Spider-Man 2099 #1
Published: November 1992
Written by: Peter David
Art: Rick LeonardiMarvel’s 2099 comic book line depicts Spider-Man and other superheroes in the future. Marvel’s artists created a futuristic universe placed in the year 2099.
In this rendition, Peter Parker is gone. There’s no Miles Morales either. Instead, the man wearing the Spider-Man costume is Miguel O’Hara!
Miguel works as a geneticist. He is a brilliant scientist who attempts to recreate Spider-Man’s powers and abilities and give them to other people. However, he ends up getting the powers himself after an incident where his DNA splices with the genes of a spider.
The entire comic book series is fun to read as it provides a beautiful and imaginative look into what creatives pictured the future would be like, one hundred years from the time when they created these comics.
5. Spider-Man Post-Secret Wars Comics
1. The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 4 #1
Published: October 2015
Written by: Dan Slott
Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith and Marte GarciaSecret Wars is an event that shaped the future of Marvel’s comics.
In the Secret Wars comic book series, Marvel destroyed the Ultimate Universe-1610 and Universe-616 and created the new, single Marvel Universe.
Following the creation of the single universe, Marvel re-launched some of Spider-Man’s issues, including The Amazing Spider-Man.
In the fourth volume, you get to meet Peter Parker as a businessman at the head of Parker Industries. The company was founded by Doctor Octopus while he was commanding Peter’s body during the Superior Spider-Man era.
Once Doc Oc gave back control of Peter’s body, Peter started managing the company. So, in the 2015 relaunch series, Peter Parker is no longer Spider-Man but a wealthy businessman who can afford to hire Spider-Man as his bodyguard!
2. The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 #1
Published: July 2018
Written by: Nick Spencer
Art: Ryan Ottley and Humberto RamosThe latest re-launch of The Amazing Spider-Man series follows the adventures of Peter Parker after Parker Industries falls apart.
Peter is working an ordinary job as a science editor, but when New York City is hit with an alien invasion, it becomes clear that Spider-Man needs to return to protect the city and innocent victims.
This comic book series beautifully depicts Peter’s life as an ordinary man and his return to the Spider-Man’s costume.
3. Spider-Man #1
Published: July 2018
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Sara PichelliThe Spider-Man series published in 2016 stars Miles Morales as Spider-Man. Peter Parker is there as well, but he’s not the one keeping New York City safe this time.
Even if you haven’t read the Ultimate Fallout series, you can grab the first issue of the Spider-Man series and slowly get to know Morales’ character. It’s fun exploring the way he and Peter Parker navigate the world and seeing Peter in the role of an ordinary human.
Time to Start Reading Spider-Man Comics!
Spider-Man comics allow you to truly get to know this superhero and his character.
The movies are entertaining and immersive, but they often lack the depth and the details we’re used to seeing in Spider-Man comics.
For instance, in the comics, Peter Parker is a pure genius. He often makes his own equipment, does impressive research, publishes papers, and more. In the movies, he is smart but nowhere near as genius as in the comics.
On the other hand, movies sometimes twist the initial story to make it more engaging by including villains that originally have nothing to do with Spider-Man, such as Venom.
Our guide helps you understand where to start reading Spider-Man comics without missing out on some major storylines.
You can start from the Amazing Fantasy #15 and The Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 issues. If you’re finding it hard to relate to the story and adventures created 60 years ago, feel free to jump to the comics from the Ultimate Universe era.
Alternatively, you can explore the re-launched The Amazing Spider-Man volumes created in the last decade and see how Peter Parker and Miles Morales live in the modern world.
And after you finish reading the Spider-Man comics listed in this post, we suggest you start exploring our Batman reading order!
Did you read any of the issues mentioned in this article? Which one did you like best? Let us know in the comments!