Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


So You Want To Get Into Comics : Spider-Man

Why so Collectable?
The reason spider-man is so collectable is because unlike all other heroes, he has a very consistent chronology. Issues 1- 700 are continuous for the most part (check the “To Be Avoided” section below) and later issues build from previous issues. For instance, the side character Ned Leeds from Amazing Spider-man 18 eventually gets tied up in the Hobgoblin story starting in Amazing Spider-man 238. The fact that everything is connected in some loose way makes fans want to collect the whole story. What also helps the connectivity of the issues is the fact that unlike other heroes, writers usually stay on Spider-man for a long time. Thus they have time to create their own epic stories which are more cohesive than various writers coming in and out of the title writing stories that begin and end in the same issue. The fact that some of the best villains (Doc Ock, Venom, Green Goblin etc) and important Marvel characters like Kingpin and Punisher are introduced in Amazing Spider-man add to the collectability of the title. Usually, the way a Spider-man comic run (when an author stays on the book for a long period of time) works best is when Peter is given a villain of the week (or the month, since comics are monthly) to fight that one issue, along with ongoing struggles taking place in the background. If you guys think Aunt May looks like she’s about to die any second now, well it’s been that way since the first few issues in 1963, where Peter needed money for her medication. There’s also Peter Parker’s quest to finding a job and maintaining a love life, and that is a continuous thread that connects all the issues of a run together. The runs in Amazing Spider-man which fit this mold best are the original Stan Lee issues from the 60s (with artists Steve Ditko and John Romita), the David Michelinie issues from the late 80s early 90s (with artists Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen and Mark Bagley) and the recent Dan Slott run that is still going on at the time this article is written. I will let you know how to get into these runs shortly.

So do I start reading at Issue 1 (The Stan Lee Run)?

Stan Lee’s formula of having Spider-man fight a different villain every issue or so while also keeping an ongoing story thread of Peter’s life in the background was ingenious to keep kids hooked on the story and deliver on the action. BUT, like you will see from our video reviews up on the site, a lot of these stories are dated due to the fact that writers were writing for a younger audience and due to the older printing technology. A lot of people who started at issue 1 have gotten turned off from comics because of that, so for new readers, I always recommend starting with more recent stuff. It’s also way more expensive to start further back because of all the trades, hardcovers or comics you have to buy. The good news is Stan Lee’s winning formula has been used in two other awesome runs I will talk about now. Also, just so you know, Stan Lee’s run begins in Final Fantasy 15 and then goes to Amazing Spider-man 1- 100.

The David Michelinie run

This is it, boys and girls, what you have always wanted in a Spider-man comic. Spider-man’s greatest villains (there is no Venom or Carnage in Stan Lee’s run) drawn by the great Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen and Mark Bagley. Mcfarlane’s time on the title is especially memorable because it really looks like a retelling of the Stan Lee era with the most detailed art you will ever find in a Spider-man book. In just a few issues, Spider-man confronts Mysterio, Venom, Scorpion and the very best looking version of the Lizard. They even found a way to work in both the Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin in issue 312 (flashbacks help). I mean seriously, just look at the covers for Amazing Spider-man 313 or 316 and tell me you dot want to read that book. This is like all the best parts of that 90s Spider-man show put together.Marvel has released a big hardcover book containing all these issues simply called Amazing Spider-man by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane and it’s worth every penny.
If you want to collect the issues (fair warning, issue 300 is the first appearance of Venom and can be insanely expensive) or you want to get the run in different trades, here is a breakdown of how to get into this run. In the Amazing Spider-man, the first issue David Michelinie writes as part of his run is actually issue 290, but he only becomes uninterrupted starting issue 296. It doesn’t mean you can’t read what’s in between, actually I would recommend you do. Issus 293 and 294 are part of one of the best Spider-man stories ever called Kraven’s Last Hunt and they explain why you don’t see Kraven throughout the rest of the run (the story is told throughWeb of Spider-Man #31-32, The Amazing Spider-Man #293-294, and The Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132, but get the trade, it’s less of a hassle).


Todd McFarlane comes on in issue 298 where Eddie Brock (Venom) is in the shadows and finally confronts Spidey in the fabled issue 300. Erick Larsen takes over from McFarlane in Amazing Spider-man 351 when Spidey confronts the Trisentinel (it’s a Sentinel with three heads) and from then on, the issues are much more affordable. There is a lot of fun to be had with this part of the run, with the Secret Six returning and Venom giving Spidey hell. Actually, even though McFarlane came up with Venom’s initial visual style, it was Erick Larsen who gave him that crazy tongue that has become common place. Funny enough, Mark Bagley takes over the art duties from Erick Larsen in Amazing Spider-man 351 where Spidey fights the Tri Sentinel once again. Ten issues later, in Amazing Spider-man 361, Carnage appears and that would be the only issue which would be costly post McFarlane (if ever you are thinking of buying it, make sure you look at what the comic book price guide says in order not to be ripped off). David Michelinie’s run keeps going until issue 388 and that’s when I suggest you stop as well unless you want to collect all the issues. If you wonder why, just check the “To be avoided” section. In short, Amazing Spider-man 290-388 is an awesome run that everyone who likes Spider-man would enjoy.

The Dan Slott run

There was a lot of inferior Spider-man stories after David Michelinie left. Sure, some stuff was good, but we never got another run where everything connected so well. Not until Amazing Spider-man 546, which was the beginning of a new era for Spidey where a few writers, one being Dan Slott, would rotate writing a few issues at a time. You could start from that issue and read everything until the latest issue to be caught up if you wanted. There are a few more starting points after 546 if you don’t want to read that far back. Eddie Brock makes a return in issue 568 while Norman Osborne attacks Spider-man in a story-line called New Ways to Die. It being an event of sorts, the authors try to catch the readers up to what’s been happening since 546.
You can also start reading from issue 600, the return of Doctor Octopus, which I see as the beginning to the big underlying thread of Dan Slott’s run (that’s where I started). You can also start from issue 648, which is the first issue where Dan Slott becomes the only writer on Spider-man. You’ll notice that every issue after that becomes even more cohesive. Lastly, the most recent issue to begin reading Spider-man would be issue 666, the first part of a storyline called Spider-Island. Starting with any number beyond that would leave out some much needed info. It’s not to say you can’t, but odds are if you start later, you’ll want to eventually read this storyline since it is addressed later in the run. Dan Slott’s run continues until Amazing Spider-man 700 where the book becomes The Superior Spider-man, and starts at number 1.

Does Continuity Matter to you?

If continuity doesn’t matter, then I suggest you just read Ultimate Spider-man starting at issue 1. Sure, it’s an alternate take on the character and the villains don’t have their classic looks, but it’s a great continuous Spider-man story that requires no additional knowledge or reading. It’s the easiest Spider-man story to get into.And not only is it the same writer all throughout, Brian Michael Bendis, but it’s also our good friend Mark Bagley (the guy who created Carnage) on the art for over 100 issues. Since it’s recent enough, the whole story has been collected in trades and hardcovers that are easy to get. Here is a list
Also, it ends. Yes, you read that right, the story of Peter Parker as Spider-man actually ends in this alternate take.

Trouble :

The untold true origin of Peter Parker by Mark Millar and Terry Dodson, sounds great right? Well, the guy who came up with this miniseries was Joe Quesada, the same guy behind One More Day, so there’s a red flag for you. It’s actually a romance comic about Aunt May, Uncle Ben, and Peter’s “parents”, Mary and Richard, as teens. I will deliberately spoil this for you so you never have to read it. I use quotation marks on the word “parents” because this story tells us that May was secretly cheating on Ben with Richard which resulted in a pregnancy and her giving birth to a child called Peter which is then given to Richard and Mary to take care of and raise together. Now, aunt May being revealed to be Spider-man’s real mom might be hard to swallow, along with the ridiculous covers Marvel making this book look like Clueless, but the pat I don’t get is how aunt may could turn from a teen to a 70 year old woman in 15 years between the birth of Peter and him getting bitten by that radioactive spider. This book was removed from cannon for obvious reasons.

To Be Avoided

I mentioned this section a few times and here it is. If you like Spider-man from any media you might have seen, then picking up a comic of his from any era will give you what you expect to a certain extent. My recommendations above are just to get you started, there is a lot more fun after that. There is also stuff that you never need to read. One of those things is the Clone Saga of the 90s. It begins in Amazing Spider-man 394, soon after David Michelinie leaves the title. Hence why I suggest, you leave it with him. The storyline actually lasts for over a year and avoiding it all together is a smart choice because Marvel itself seems to be doing the same thing. >
Amazing Spider-man 546 was intended by Marvel as a new starting point, and it is. However, for it to be a good starting point, a lot of continuity had to be changed right before, clearing a lot of ongoing threads and changing the status quo. Before this issue, Peter was married to Mary Jane and in 546 he is not. What happened? A story line called One More Day. Its purpose is solely to create a new starting point for readers and it feels forced. It is the best example someone could come up with to show people how immature and dumb comics can be. So to that I say, enjoy the starting point that is 546 without ever giving credit to the mess that came before. It is not worthy of your attention.

You May Also Like


Thor is the least Marvel-like character of the entire  Marvel Universe. That’s actually because, as we all know,   he wasn’t created by Stan Lee...


Dear intrepid readers, If you get really into comics, there will come a time when you might think of taking this passion to the...


From my experience working in a comic store and at comiccons, listening to comic podcasts, and reading message boards, the question that keeps popping...


Secret Wars by Brian Michael Bendis You may not care, but this book obviously wins the best art award from all the books on...