Top Ten Greatest Spider-Man Stories
- Published on Monday, 16 July 2012 01:00
- Written by Kevin
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After watching and reviewing The Amazing Spider-Man a list Spider-Man stories to read started running through my head. There have been countless amounts of classic Spider-Man stories. Spider-Man is a character with a rich library of stories to collect, whether they take place in the main Amazing Spider-Man series or one of the alternate universe Spider-Man tales. So with that said there are 10 Spider-Man stories that stand out as the must read stories for any Spider-Man fan. Hit the jump to find out what makes the list.
Comics: Spider-Man/Human Torch #1-6
Creative Team: Dan Slott (Writer); Ty Templeton (Artist)
As much as I wanted to include the Spider-Man/Human Torch on this list I couldn’t because of the fact this mini-series is more of a collection of 6 different stories written and drawn by Dan Slott and Ty Templeton, respectively. Each story takes place during the different points of Spider-Man and Human Torch’s careers with the running theme of their friendship developing into best friends. Even though individually the stories don’t stand out as one of the best Spider-Man stories together this is one of the best Spider-Man collections you can get. From a pure entertainment stand point there are very few comics that have put a bigger smile on my face than this mini-series. If you haven’t read it yet I recommend fixing that by buying Spider-Man/Human Torch right away as it is one of the must have comics for any Spider-Man fan.
Comics: Amazing Spider-Man #630-633
Creative Team: Zeb Wells (Writer); Chris Bachelo (Artist)
The hero can’t win every battle and that is definitely the case with ‘Shed.’ In a story that puts the Lizard back into the spotlight, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde battle that has gone on with the character finally comes to its end. In one of the most shocking moments in recent years, writer Zeb Wells completely destroys the Curt Connor’s side of the character by having the Lizard kill William Connor, Curt’s son, with his own hands and teeth. In the process, the Curt Connor that the reader has come to sympathize with is now completely gone and only the animalistic Lizard remains which means trouble for Spider-Man.
Wells injects a lot more personality to Lizard’s character in this story as we get to see that even if the animalistic Lizard is now the dominant personality the villain is still a force to be reckoned with mentally. As much as a reader you want to see the Lizard get his comeuppance for his actions it was weirdly satisfying see Spider-Man defeated. This is because now Lizard has that one victory similar to Green Goblin and Doc Ock were as a reader can point to as why he is one of Spider-Man’s most deadly members of his Rogues Gallery.
Comics: Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21
Creative Team: Jim Shooter & David Michelinie (Writers); Paul Ryan (Artist)
With how long comics have been around we have seen plenty of marriages over the years. We even recently had our first gay marriage happen in comics back in Astonishing X-Men a few weeks ago. With all that said, the best wedding story we have had is also one of the best Spider-Man stories and that is the marriage of Peter and MJ. In this single issue story that took place in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 both Jim Shooter and David Michelinie fully explore the relationship between Peter and MJ.
Throughout the issue we get to see what makes the relationship tick. Shooter and Michelinie dedicate a lot of time on showing the positives and negatives views that Peter and MJ have from what marriage would mean for each other. Up until the wedding actually happens it could have been easy for either character to back out since the reader is given enough reason for the wedding to happen or not. In the end, we do get to see the wedding happen and even if many years later the marriage has been undone the memories of it happening cannot be. Specifically, the memories of how happy I was that Peter and MJ got married cannot be taken away and that is because of how special Shooter and Michelinie made the relationship during this issue.
Comics: Amazing Spider-Man #121-122
Creative Team: Stan Lee (Writer); Gil Kane (Artist)
When it comes to the story that is most important to Spider-Man’s history ‘The Night Gwen Stacy Died’ is without a doubt that story. Not only is it Spider-Man’s most important story but one of the most important stories we have had in comics. Up until the moment Green Goblin tosses Gwen off the bridge the hero had always saved his love interest. The hero was never supposed to fail but that all changed with this one throw. The image of Spider-Man holding a dead Gwen in his arms is one of those iconic moments that is etched in your brain. Even if Spider-Man did beat Green Goblin by the end of this story the one that would get the victory was Green Goblin. It is one of the stories that no matter when you read it has a lasting impact because of the inevitability of the end result.
Comics: Amazing Spider-Man #229-230
Creative Team: Roger Stern (Writer); John Romita Jr. (Artist)
No matter how many times we have seen the same story idea recycled as long as the creative team are able to come up with a way to make the story their own it can be brilliant. Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut is a prime example of this. Taking the basic premise of David vs. Goliath, Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. combine to tell a tale that starts with a vision from Madame Web that instantly grabs the reader’s attention and never lets it go. The suspension of disbelief runs high in this story.
From Spider-Man’s efforts to stop Juggernaut to the shocking ending to the first issue of this two part story it becomes harder and harder to see how Spider-Man can defeat much less stop Juggernaut. Even if this story only lasted two issues with each page you turn it becomes harder to imagine how Spider-Man can actually win. It almost comes to a point where as a reader you may think that this is going to be one of the times Spider-Man actually loses to the bad guy. This all makes the way Spider-Man “defeats” Juggernaut that much more satisfying and makes it an instant classic that still holds up to the test of time.
Comics: Amazing Spider-Man #298-300
Creative Team: David Michelinie (Writer); Todd McFarlane (Artist)
The longer a hero exists the harder it becomes to introduce a villain that can match some of the biggest villains in the hero’s Rogues Gallery. That is the case with Spider-Man who had already built up one of the best Rogues Gallery in comics by the 80s. The 80s already introduced one of the best Spider-Man villains in the Hobgoblin but that introduction was topped by the most loved and hated: Venom.
While my own love for Venom has faded over the years the first appearance of the character is still a special story for me. Outside of a few random Spider-Man comics, Venom was the first full story arc that spans multiple issues that I read as a kid. This three issue arc not only fully develops Venom into one of the most feared bad guys Spider-Man has ever faced but it also explores how important the relationship of Peter and MJ is to the series. While at this point Peter already lost the symbiote suit he continued to wear a black costume but because of the events with Venom he was made to change his costume back to the classic with MJ’s urging. It is a touching scene that shows how important MJ is to Peter and the fear that the black costume would carry as Venom would continue to haunt Spider-Man for years to come.
5. Power and Responsibility
Comics: Ultimate Spider-Man #1-7
Creative Team: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer); Mark Bagley (Artist)
Like most superheroes, Spider-Man’s origin story has been retold and reimagined countless amounts of times. The one origin story that stands out as the best is the very first arc of Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley’s historic run on Ultimate Spider-Man. In a series and creative team run that has had many memorable story arcs Power and Responsibility is the stand out of the run. Not only does this seven issue arc retell Peter Parker’s origin in greater detail but it fully explores Peter’s relationships before he actually puts on the Spider-Man costume.
The one relationship that gets the most fleshed out during this beginning of Ultimate Spider-Man is that of Peter’s relationship with his Uncle Ben. Instead of relying on telling us how important Uncle Ben is to Peter, Bendis spends a lot of time showing us why Ben is such an important part of Peter’s life. Bendis makes Uncle to be that cool parent that everyone wants but also an authority figure that is looking out for Peter’s best interest. The relationship is so well developed that it almost gets you believing that in the Ultimate Universe Aunt May would be the one to bite the bucket as you want to see more from the Peter/Uncle Ben dynamic. For this reason it makes it that much harder when we find out Uncle Ben is dead as we do get so much character development before that big death.
But this all propels Peter’s decision to become a hero that lives by the motto “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility” much more important. Add in how Norman Osborn’s own origin is closely tied into Peter’s origin as Spider-Man the story is made even better. The other additions of how strongly develop the rest of Peter’s supporting cast is just a plus to how well told this re-imagination of the Spider-Man world is and kick starts one of the greatest comic book runs in recent memory.
Comics: Amazing Spider-Man #617 and Amazing Spider-Man #625
Creative Team: Joe Kelly (Writer); Max Fiumara (Artist)
In a story that can be considered as one of the modern classic comic book stories, Joe Kelly is able to take not just a villain but a character that I have generally have never cared for and made him one of the most compelling villains in Spider-Man’s Rogues Gallery. While the overall story takes place in two issues that have gaps between them you cannot read one without the other. These two issues tell one tale of a man, in this case the first Rhino Aleksei Sytsevich, finding redemption as he finds the love of his life only for it to be taken away from him. It is a powerful story that gets you emotionally invested in Aleksei’s decision to be a pacifist in the first issue. Seeing a character that as a villain is known for nothing but charging straight at his targets to now being a normal person with a job and wife who does not fight was a great shift. So because of this it makes it much more tragic to see Aleksei, after turning his life around, to lose everything and become Rhino again. Playing a supporting role in this story Spider-Man is able to help play the role of the eyes of the reader of the story as we witness these changes.
Comics: Web of Spider-Man #31-32, Amazing Spider-Man #293-294 and Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132
Creative Team: J.M. DeMatteis (Writer); Mick Zeck (Artist)
As the first big crossover of all the Spider-Man books, Kraven’s Last Hunt is one of the most epic Spider-Man stories. In continuing the hunter’s game Kraven’s decision to “kill” Spider-Man and replace him is the ultimate victory a villain can gain. Just putting on Spider-Man’s costume would be enough for the villain to spit in Spider-Man’s face but not for Kraven. Instead of just taking on the role of Spider-Man, Kraven decides to show his adversary that he can be a better Spider-Man than Peter by soundly defeating a villain Peter himself could not defeat 1-on-1, Vermin. It is a story that elevated Kraven as a threat and explores in great detail what happens when the villain of the story so thoroughly defeats the hero. In reality there has never been a villain that has had a better victory as Kraven is able to show he is better and in the process has nothing else to do which leads to one of the crazier and shocking comic book moments you’ll find.
And even though ‘Kraven’s Last Hunt’ is a Kraven and Spider-Man story there are a lot of great moments that explore Peter and MJ’s relationship. As this story takes place early on in the marriage we get to see how MJ deals with Peter’s disappearance and how she would react if Peter ever died in action. It adds extra layers to marriage and makes the end of the story where Peter goes back to MJ to recover that much better.
Comics: Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110
Creative Team: Peter David (Writer); Rich Buckler (Artist)
While Spider-Man has had to deal with many deaths in his life the one that stands out to me personally is the death of Jean DeWolff. As one of the first stories I read that involved an ending with a character dying ‘The Death of Jean DeWolff’ is one story that most resonates with me. As an 8 year old kid going through the back issue bins at my local comic store looking for any Spider-Man comic I could get my hands on I was lucky enough to find these four issues. Not only was it a shocking story to read but one that left a lasting impact on how I saw comics with the epic ride that Peter David took me on.
But the impact it had on me as a kid was not the only reason ‘The Death of Jean DeWolff’ was a great story. It was the impact the story had in general. The truth is DeWolff’s death happens early on in the story and what we are left with is a story that explores Spider-Man’s own reaction to the death. The reader is equally in shock over the death and this allows the reader to truly feel the emotional ride that David takes Spider-Man on as he deals with who killed his friend.
The addition of Daredevil only makes the story better as Daredevil also deals with a loss during the story and the long time superhero friends are able to help one another out during this tragedy. So in a story that is so dark we get this fantastic friendship arc that ends with an important milestone in Spider-Man and Daredevil’s friendship.
Comics: Spider-Man: Blue #1-6
Creative Team: Jeph Loeb (Writer); Tim Sale (Artist)
While the majority of the stories on this list deal with Spider-Man fighting a bad guy and exploring how much of a hero Peter Parker is the best story is one that has Spider-Man play second fiddle so that Peter Parker’s personal life to take the spotlight. Spider-Man: Blue is a story that not only looks back on Peter’s relationship with Gwen Stacy but shows the reader exactly why there is such a great argument on who is Peter’s true love of his life: Gwen or MJ.
Through each chapter of Spider-Man: Blue we are able to see how Peter and Gwen’s relationship grows from a simple crush to an epic romance that ends in tragedy. The roller coaster ride of the relationship is made even harder with the addition of MJ to join in. But even with MJ’s addition into the cast and other wrenches that are throw in there is no questioning that Peter and Gwen should be together as the story progresses. The characters are given a lot of time to show why they love one another and that even with everything that happens they still will end up together. Even when you know how the story ends it does not take away from how in the moment you will become as the story moves forward.
The framing of the story also adds to how phenomenal the story is. In choosing to be told through a voice over from Peter in the present we are able to get an idea what went through Peter’s head during all these moments and how things progressed in the relationship he had with not just Gwen but MJ as well. The fact that Peter is retelling his life with Gwen on Valentine’s Day only makes the final moment when MJ reveals that she was listening to Peter while he recorded his thoughts a much more touching end as MJ waited for Peter to end his story to have a moment with him.
Kevin started reading comics as a kid when he watched the first episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and Spider-Man: The Animated Series. After that his parents bought him a few random Spider-Man and Batman comics and he has been hooked ever since. When he is not reading and writing about comics you can find Kevin as the destroyer of worlds, champion of fighting tournaments and ace Madden player on the PS3. You can catch up with Kevin and all his thoughts at the following links:
Twitter: KevinL007Formspring: KevinL007