A Guide to the Spider-Man Comics

If you missed the debut of The Amazing Spider-Man 54 years ago, there is still plenty of hope to get into the comics–you just have to start at the right place. We have you covered with this guide to where to start the Spider-Man comics.

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Maddy Moriarty

Posted on July 19, 2017

55 years ago, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was introduced to the comic world through Amazing Fantasy #15 (August, 1962).  Following the success of the issue and the end of the Amazing Fantasy series, The Amazing Spider-Man series made its debut in March of 1963 with its first issue “The Chameleon Strikes!” 

Since then, there have been enough comic series and spin-offs of the original Spider-Man to devote an entire Wikipedia page to, not to mention Spider-Man cartoons and movies based on the issues. In other words, tackling the Spider-Man comics can seem like an intimidating feat. 

Luckily, there is a way–more than one, in fact–to start the series cold turkey. First things first, let’s get familiar with the two “main” universes Spider-Man is featured in: Earth-616 and Earth-1610 (or Ultimate Universe). 

Earth-616, the primary universe for the Spider-Man comics including The Amazing Spider-Man, is our world with a twist. Marvel’s history of Earth-616 tells of a mighty Galactus creating the universe, which becomes home to mysterious God-like beings in its earliest days. Moving along a historical timeline nearly identical to Earth’s, Earth-616 is an almost-parallel universe with identical countries, celebrities, and historical events (with the exception of a few extra countries and organizations). 

Earth-1610, or “Ultimate Universe,” was created in 2000 for the series Ultimate Spider-Man, which tells the universally known tale of high school geek, Peter Parker, turned superhero by a radioactive spider bite. The universe has a similar set-up to Earth-616, but maintains less contact with extraterrestrial forces throughout its history. 

If the whole two-universe thing confuses you, we have some good news. In 2015, Marvel released a comic book storyline, “Secret Wars,” in which the two universes collide and mutually destruct, creating a single universe for both Spider-Man characters to coexist in. If you’re dying to find out what might happen, here is our list of good places to start the Spider-Man comics, by universe:

Earth-616

🕷️ The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (1963) 

As mentioned above, this issue is the first exclusive Spider-Man comic, which is an obvious start for anyone with plenty of time on their hands. Spider-Man’s character had been introduced a year before the release of the Amazing Spider-Man series in one of the final issues of Amazing Fantasy–an issue that sold more copies than any previous issues. 

🕷️ The Amazing Spider-Man #442 (renumbered as #1 in 1999)

In 1999, Marvel renumbered issues #442 – #449 to #1 – #9 to signal it was a good time for new readers to start the series. As street crime rates ascend in New York City, this issue begins to answer the question: where is Spider-Man? The issues returned to original numbering at issue #450. 

🕷️ The Amazing Spider-Man #546 (2008)

Post-Marvel Civil War, a lot has changed–especially in Peter Parker’s life. The amount of drastic changes that occur before this issue leads many fans to suggest this as a great starting point, as it’s the closest the series ever got to a reboot. 

🕷️ The Superior Spider-Man #1 (2013)

Vol. 1 of The Superior Spider-Man includes issues #698-700, the final issues of The Amazing Spider-Man series (at the time). Following the dramatic events in The Amazing Spider-Man, a mad scientist named Otto Octavius is living in the body of Peter Parker after letting the real Peter Parker die in Otto Octavius’ body. Determined to be a better Spider-Man than Parker and a better man than he once was, this series deals with the line between heroes and villains with this twisted character. 

🕷️ The Amazing Spider-Man #1 Relaunch (2014)

In a dramatic relaunch of The Amazing Spider-Man series, issue #1 is a part of a six issue story-arc called “Lucky to be Alive,” in which Peter Parker returns as Spider-Man. The series immediately launches into an elaborate mission that involves Spider-Men across every dimension to band together in order to protect their existence. Their leader is Peter Parker, Spider-Man of Earth-616. 

Earth-1610

🕷️ Ultimate Spider-Man #1 (2000) 

Marvel reimagines the original Spider-Man in a brand new universe with the release of the Ultimate Spider-Man series in 2000. This series tells the familiar story of a teenage nerd, Peter Parker, who is turned into a super hero through a radioactive spider bite–a storyline the popular Spider-Man movie saga is based on and used for inspiration in the recent Spider-Man: Homecoming

Earth-1610 exists separately from the Earth-616 that The Amazing Spider-Man takes place in while the two comic series were being released simultaneously by Marvel. In 2015, however, the two universes meet destruction–merging the two Spider-Men into a single universe. 

All New, All Different Marvel 

After the Secret Wars reshaped the Marvel Universe, the two modern Spider-Man comics were born. 

🕷️ Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2015) 

This current series follows Earth 616’s Peter Parker in the new Marvel universe. Parker runs a worldwide corporation, Parker Industries, with the help of his “trusty bodyguard” who happens to be…

🕷️ Spider-Man #1 (2016)

Back in Earth-1610 pre-Secret Wars, the original Peter Parker Spider-Man was replaced by a new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, after his untimely demise. Miles Morales had the similar experience as a high school student randomly bitten by a radioactive spider, and he sees it as his duty to replace Spider-Man. 

Flash-forward to the All New, All Different Marvel Universe, where Miles is now serving as the bodyguard to Earth-616’s Peter Parker Spider-Man. This comic takes you on their journeys and allows you to get to know the new Spider-Man’s character. 

For some of Spider-Man’s earliest comics, check out our site!


Further Reading

  • Our Favorite Duos in Pop Culture

    Partners, side-kicks, family, and crew–best friend duos are at the heart of any good story. Here is our short list of some of our favorite pairs in pop culture that remind us we can take any challenge with our besties by our side:

  • The Comics that Inspired DuckTales

    Scrooge, Donald, and his nephews have brought laughs to generations of comic book lovers. The television cartoon is reborn this year so that it too can continue to delight audiences. Here is a look back at the history of Ducktales and the comics that helped launch this fun loving family of ducks.

  • Iconic Film Props on the Auction Block At Prop Store

    Prop Store is home to some of pop culture’s rarest and most iconic memorabilia, from Indiana Jones’ whip to C-3PO’s head. This year, Prop Store will be hosting its fourth annual auction for some of its biggest items–and you don’t want to miss it!

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