There’s no rest for Marvel’s famous web-slinger. Spider-Man is, perhaps, the most popular superhero across the entire pantheon of Marvel heroes. For decades, the spunky young hero has been pummeling criminals with both his fists and comical wit. He’s moved from the pages of comic books to headline several TV series and blockbusting cinematic adventures. Spider-Man’s presence in the pop culture fandom simply can’t be understated. And with recent storyline innovations and animated adaptations like Across the Spider-Verse, Peter Parker is just one of countless wall-crawlers who dons the title. Each Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, or uh, Spider-Rex (that’s right, there’s a T-Rex with spider powers) has their own story and individual capabilities.
Whether we’re viewing the world from the Peter Parker lens or any of his countless inter-dimensional compadres, there’s a wealth of Spider-Man stories at our fingertips across multiple mediums. In our multimedia age, Spider-Man is everywhere and some of the best stories featuring the iconic hero aren’t always within the pages of comic books. So, if you’re looking for a Spider-Man story oozing with thrills, character-centric story arcs, and enthralling conflicts, look no further than our handy list featuring Spider-Man at his best.
10. The Amazing Spider-Man 31-33: The Master Planner Saga
It doesn’t get much better than a story that is the quintessential “day in the life” of Spider-Man. Perhaps the best representation of that comes directly from Stan Lee and Steven Ditko, whose work on The Amazing Spider-Man issues 31 to 33 is now considered to be one of the definitive Spider-Man stories. If you’re angling for a modernized (hard copy) publication, these can be found within The Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Great Responsibility. This story puts everything into focus for a basic, yet thrilling Spider-Man narrative. We’re introduced to staple characters in Peter Parker’s world such as Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy that come as a result of Peter’s entrance into Empire State University.
Spider-Man tangles with Green Goblin and there’s even a gripping threat to Aunt May’s life. J. Jonah Jameson also receives a bit of attention here being the obnoxious and cantankerous soul that he is. Essentially, this is a storyline that has inspired plenty of future Spider-Man projects including films like Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
9. Miles Morales: Spider-Man 1-5: Trial by Spider
Miles Morales has only been around for just over a decade, but his influence on the comic book medium is potent becoming an ever-popular character in the modern age of comics. After being introduced in the Ultimate Universe, he is no longer separated in his own separate world. His universe has collided with the mainline canon and he currently shares New York City with a living, breathing Peter Parker. In fact, Miles is often distinguished as being known as the Spider-Man of Brooklyn. In the trade collection Trial By Spider, which collects Miles Morales: Spider-Man 1-5 from his recent ongoing series that began in 2022, Miles demonstrates why he’s more than just “another Spider-Man” swinging around New York City.
Written by Cody Ziglar, this storyline establishes Miles’ own personal nemesis in a climactic clash layered with history and heartache. While he often confronts other notable Spider-Man baddies like the Scorpion, he now has to contend with a newcomer to villainy named Rabble, and this fight is a personal one. She is a technical wizard with mastery over gadgetry. She cleverly mobilizes drones in her fight against Miles. You might be wondering why she hates Miles so much. Well, you’ll have to read the story and find out for yourself.
8. Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018 Video Game)
Do you remember how we said some of the best stories don’t necessarily happen in comic books? Well, video game developer Insomniac Studios crafted a rich and vibrant Spider world for gaming fans to explore as the web-slinging hero glides across Manhattan. Spider-Man’s video game story is one to remember as it introduces us to a Spider-Man who’s been knee-deep in his heroic career for years. There are some villains he already knows well and others that are soon to be introduced. The story initially revolves around Spider-Man contending with the nefarious masked gang known as the Demons. Their leader, Mr. Negative has a personal relationship with Peter and his Aunt May. Furthermore, Peter works side-by-side with Dr. Otto Octavius developing robotics. The two are close and Peter reveres Otto as a confidant and mentor.
Things go sideways, however, when the technology that Peter and Dr. Octavius had been working on corrupts Otto’s mind and sends him into a maniacal spiral. Contending with both the Demons and the Sinister Six proves to be an overwhelming task for Spider-Man. It’s a journey that must be experienced personally to truly appreciate the narrative. Miles Morales is introduced in a big way and both the current and future Spider-Men face tragedies in their lives during the events that play out.
7. The Amazing Spider-Man 300 – The introduction of Venom
Spider-fans will instantly recognize this seminal issue as the one that introduced the world to Venom as we know him. It takes place sometime after Peter donned the symbiote suit during the Secret Wars crossover event. Having shed the alien suit by use of the church bells, the alien symbiote finds a new host in Eddie Brock and stalks Spider-Man. There’s a feeling of trepidation and anxiousness as Peter attempts to deduce who his stalker could possibly be.
When he is finally confronted with the terrifying reality that the symbiotic suit has bonded to a new host and is seeking revenge, Spider-Man has to put up a fight. But he must be careful as he understands that destroying the symbiote also means killing Eddie Brock, an act he refuses to commit.
6. The Superior Spider-Man storyline
This entire 33-issue series is a Spider-Man story for the ages. It offers an intriguing twist on the world of the wall-crawler. At the “first” conclusion of The Amazing Spider-Man which occurred with issue #700, Dr. Otto Octavius perished due to cancer. Well, his body did. He actually managed to implant his mind into Peter’s body and vice versa. Peter Parker then perishes along with Otto’s former body and Doc Ock became the new Spider-Man.
After issue 700 in 2012, Marvel NOW! became the relaunch for many of the comic giant’s main series. The Superior Spider-Man is the continuation of The Amazing Spider-Man that was a part of that initiative and chronicles a period where Spider-Man is far more methodical, aggressive, and categorically different than the Peter Parker we knew. As such, he’s often more successful (hence, superior). This is a result, of course, of Dr. Octavius truly being the new genius behind the web-slinger. But the character still seeks to carry on the superhero legacy, only in a very different manner. It’s an intriguing narrative all 33 issues are recommended reading to truly appreciate the era of Superior Spider-Man.
5. Ultimate Spider-Man 156-160 – Death of Spider-Man
The Peter Parker of the Ultimate Universe had a lengthy tenure from September 2000 through June 2011. The Ultimate Spider-Man series is comprised of 160 issues that detail Peter Parker’s life as Spider-Man. While technically set in a different universe from the core series, Peter’s life as Spider-Man wasn’t all that different from what we had known of his mainline counterpart. The only major difference is that this Peter Parker eventually dies. He is tragically killed in issue# 160 in an explosive battle with Green Goblin. The Death of Spider-Man storyline is comprised of issues 156 to 160.
It’s an epic, yet heart-wrenching end to a lengthy journey for the hero. Superheroes are often depicted as unstoppable, yet Spider-Man’s death comes in the wake of a daring sacrifice to protect his loved ones. It’s a poignant reminder that nothing lasts forever, even if we’ll continue to see Spider-Man web-slinging his way through other universes and comic book storylines. This also acts as a set-up for Miles Morales to take on the mantle of Spider-Man in the Ultimate Fallout series.
4. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021 movie)
The MCU has been a constant source of entertainment for superhero and comic fans across the globe since 2008. Spider-Man (Tom Holland) eventually made his introduction into the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Civil War in 2016. Since then, he’s headlined his own films combating well-known Spider-Man villains. However, in Spider-Man: No Way Home, fans got a taste of the past mixed in with the present as Peter Parker convinces Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to erase his identity from the minds of the public. Only, after interfering with the spell, does a multiversal collision occur. Villains from past Spider-Man films outside of MCU canon like Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Lizard (Rhys Ifans), and Electro (Jamie Foxx) come into play and Peter Parker must figure out where these villainous characters came from.
Of course, the big promise of the film is that we get to see Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield suited up as Spider-Man alongside Tom Holland’s version of the character battling these foes. It’s a wild ride that ultimately has a major impact on Spider-Man’s life. This isn’t one Spider-Man story you should sleep on.
3. The Amazing Spider-Man 121-122 – The Night Gwen Stacy Died
Spider-Man is a hero who has suffered multiple tragedies throughout the course of his heroic endeavors. Uncle Ben was just the start. But, perhaps, one of Peter Parker’s greatest losses is that of his then-romantic interest, Gwen Stacy. At the time of this storyline’s publication in 1973, failure for a superhero was an anomaly in the comic book world. But like any ordinary human, heroes don’t always succeed in saving the day. And it’s their failures that they must ultimately learn from to become better.
This story culminates in Norman Osborn’s Green Goblin abducting Gwen Stacy and tossing her off the George Washington Bridge. Spider-Man makes a rescue attempt with his webbing, but once he catches her, he finds that she died during the event likely due to a fatal rebound of whiplash. This event sends Spider-Man spiraling into grief, regret, and anger, another hurdle that he must overcome.
2. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (2023 movie)
While based on the comic book that grants the film’s namesake, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse manages to outdo the source material at every turn. The original event, while containing a story about inter-dimensional Spider-people coming together for a cause, is largely different than the major plot points that unfold on screen. As such, the film caters more greatly to the character development of Miles Morales, Gwen Stacy, and even the antagonistic character of Spider-Man 2099.
The exposition mixed with an eclectic and beautiful assortment of animation styles is riveting. It’s impossible to walk away from the film not caring about the characters involved and their individual plights. Ultimately, it’s a story about Miles and his own personal convictions. He’s given an impossible choice in order to save the multiverse. Across the Spider-Verse is a grand animated achievement that will ultimately leave you clamoring for more by the time the credits roll.
1. Kraven’s Last Hunt
This epic tale is one that is more focused on a surprisingly sympathetic villain than Spider-Man, himself. Kraven the Hunter is exactly what his moniker implies. He hunts big game, and Kraven has established a bitter conflict with Spider-Man and intends to display his prowess over the wall-crawler. Taking place shortly after Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson are married, Kraven pursues Spider-Man and seemingly kills him. He then dons the Spider-tights and becomes a brutal and merciless version of the once charming hero.
Of course, Spider-Man makes a recovery and an eventual conflict with Kraven becomes imminent. But nothing from this point forward plays out exactly like you’d expect. There’s far more to Kraven than meets the eye. With video game developer Insomniac releasing Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 on PlayStation consoles in the fall of 2023 and the film Kraven the Hunter hitting theaters around the same time, the tortured villain is sure to pique the interest of many. Written by J. M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck, you can find this storyline as a collected edition entitled Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Kraven’s Last Hunt which combines the necessary issues from The Amazing Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man that cover this storyline. Without spoiling the narrative, this may very well be the greatest Spider-Man story ever told.