Top 10 Best Spider-Man Comic Book Stories

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There are really only three superheroes that have reached iconic status: Batman, Superman & Spider-man (with the hyphen). And while all three have universal appeal, Spider-man elicits sympathy and empathy more than any other superhero. Batman and Superman both have wonderful and rich origins that have shaped their lives, in the heroic sense as well as their moral values and belief system. So you certainly can feel for Bruce Wayne at the loss of his parents and you can sympathize with Clark Kent for being strange visitor abandoned on Earth by his parents, but to understand Peter Parker as Spider-man you have to enter a whole different world.

Peter became Spider-man out of three strong feelings: guilt, a sense of responsibility and love. He felt guilty for allowing a criminal to escape, who would kill his Uncle Ben only hours later. How does a teenager deal with that? You must also remember that Peter Parker was a kid in high school with no parents and only his elderly, albeit loving, Aunt May to care for him. This young kid was secluded and isolated from the world except for his Aunt and Uncle. Being Spider-man became his real life and he used his powers because he was given them for a reason…to help his fellow man. And when he feels he can’t go on and his will has faded he uses his love for others to give him renewed strength.

I share this so you can understand why these stories were chosen here as the top ten Spider-man stories. You can see where he came from and what drives him. “With great power comes great responsibility.” That is Spider-man’s mantra; it is what makes him put on that crazy suit everyday and risk his life for strangers. Every story selected grows from that one ideal and that is why he will never give up, he will never quit and even in the face of impossible odds Spider-man will always persevere. He is the ultimate superhero and here are the ten best Spider-man stories. I encourage you to find them and read them all. They may not change your life, but then again…they may.

The Reason is Karma10. The Reason is Karma

Issue: Marvel Team-Up #100

Creators: Chris Claremont, Frank Miller, and John Byrne

Three comic legends team-up to bring you the greatest Spider-Man team-up book of all-time. This isn’t your typical Spidey story, it’s a solemn tale, and an emotional journey into the life of Karma, and all the pain she’s had to endure. This book is classic Frank Miller, on par with his work on Daredevil. Truly one of Marvel’s hidden gems.

Reprinted in: Marvel Tales #250, Spider-Man’s Greatest Team-Ups (TPB)

Buy it: Spider-Man’s Greatest Team-Ups (TPB)

Venom9. Venom

Issue: Amazing Spider-man #300, 315-317 Marvel Comics

Creators: David Michelinie, Todd McFarlane

Never before had Spider-Man fought a villain like this, Venom had all of his same powers, was stronger and didn’t set off his spider sense. Fortunately, Peter has a brilliant mind along with those amazing spider-powers and he used that to defeat Venom. Todd McFarlane became a superstar artist, and celebrity during his run on Spider-Man.

Reprinted in: Marvel Collectible Classics #1, Spider-Man vs. Venom (TPB), Spider-Man: Visionaries – Todd McFarlane (TPB)

Buy it: Spider-man vs. Venom (TPB)

Ezekiel & Morlun8. Ezekiel & Morlun

Issues: Amazing Spider-man #30-35, Marvel Comics

Creators: J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita, Jr.

Prior to Straczynski taking over writing duties on ASM #30, Spidey actually had quite a few years of mostly mediocre stories. Thankfully JMS came along to not only breath fresh air into Spidey’s life, but he also crafted one of the best Spider-Man stories of all-time on his first ever story arc. He introduces us to two brand new characters, Ezekiel, who has the same powers as Peter and the villain Morlun, who wants to feed on their life force. In a welcomed change of pace, JSM also takes Peter back to school, this time as a science teacher at Midtown High.

Reprinted in: Marvel Must Haves #13, Marvel Tales Flip Magazine #1, Amazing Spider-Man Vol.2 Collected Edition, Spider-Man TPB (Amazing) #1

Buy it: Amazing Spider-man, Vol. 1

Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut7. Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut

Issues: Amazing Spider-man #229-230, Marvel Comics

Creators: Roger Stern, John Romita, Jr.

This story is a true David and Goliath tale, and a very fun story to read. It also has some of the best action scenes ever to grace the pages of a Spider-Man book. The Juggernaut is nigh unstoppable, invulnerable and a monstrous powerhouse. He supremely outclasses Spider-Man in almost every way possible. Yet despite repeated failures and not being able to even phase Juggernaut, Spider-Man never gives up. This is a classic tale of persevering in the face of adversity, and Spidey shows us why he is the hero we all love, even if it’s his “Parker luck” that eventually saves the day.

Reprinted in: Marvel Visionaries, John Romita, Jr., Spider-Man Megazine #3, Murder By Spider (TPB), Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut (TPB)

Buy it: Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut (TPB)

Introducing SPIDERMAN6. Introducing SPIDERMAN!

Issue: Amazing Fantasy #15, Marvel Comics

Creators: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby (cover)

This is it, the story that started it all. The first appearance and origin of our beloved hero Spider-Man. If you don’t know why this issue is so great, you shouldn’t be reading this list. With the cancellation of Amazing Fantasy with issue #15, the publisher Martin Goodman let Stan Lee create a story about a teenager who wasn’t a sidekick and had ordinary problems. At the time, this was unheard of, and the only reason they let Stan lee create the story was they felt they had nothing to lose since the title was being canceled anyway. As it turned out The Amazing Spider-Man story was one of their biggest sellers! This issues is also responsible for Spider-Man and Stan Lee’s single greatest quote, “With Great Power There Must Also Come — Great Responsibility,” also known as, “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.”

Reprinted in: Amazing Fantasy Omnibus #1 , Marvel Masterworks #1 , Marvel Tales #1, 137, Essential Spider-Man #1, 100 Greatest Marvels Of All Time #1, Origins Of Marvel Comics, Marvel Visionaries, Stan Lee and about a dozen more issues and TPBs

Buy it: Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks

The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man5. The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man

Issue: Amazing Spider-man #248, Marvel Comics

Creators: Roger Stern, Ron Frenz

This is merely the back-up story to the main story where Spider-man fights Thunderball, yet it contains the second most emotional Spidey story ever crafted (You’ll have to wait for our #1 story to see the most emotional story). Spider-Man goes to visit his biggest fan. In an interview with Roger Stern, he said, “Partly, I’m sure that it sprang from a desire on my part to do a short human-interest story in the style of Will Eisner — that’s why the story is partially advanced through newspaper clippings… I was trying to be Eisneresque.” Nothing else needs to be said about this story so as not to spoil anything. If you don’t own ASM #248, you should, or at least the Wizard Hardcover reprint.

Reprinted in: Wizard Best of Spider-Man Limited Deluxe Hardcover

Buy it: Amazing Spider-man #248

Sin-Eater and the Death of Jean DeWolff4. Sin-Eater and the Death of Jean DeWolff

Issues: Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110, Marvel Comics

Creators: Peter David, Rich Buckler

What kind of superhero saves himself only to let an innocent bystander get shot? What kind of superhero almost beats a man to death? Find out in these issues as Peter David unravels the second best murder mystery story in comics (behind only Watchmen, DC Comics), staring Spider-Man, Daredevil, Captain Jean DeWolff and the zealous psychopathic killer Sin-Eater. This is a mature, bone chilling tale, the likes of which has never been seen in a Spider-Man book before or since. Peter David made Spectacular Spider-Man, (not Amazing Spider-Man) THE book to buy during his run. And as an added bonus, you get a glimpse into Venom’s origin.

Reprinted in: The Death of Capt. Jean DeWolff (TPB)

Buy it: Amazing Spider-Man: The Death of Jean DeWolff

Kraven's Last Hunt3. Kraven’s Last Hunt

Issues: Amazing Spider-man #293-294, Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132, Web of Spider-Man #32-33 , Marvel Comics

Creators: J.M. DeMatteis, Mike Zeck

DeMatteis takes the once laughable villain, Kraven the Hunter and crafts one of the best Spider-Man stories ever told. We’re taken deep inside Kraven’s mind an shown what madness lies within. Kraven, having hunted every other prey on earth, hunts Spider-Man down and defeats him in the worst way imaginable, burying Spider-Man alive. Throughout the tale, Peter has to come to grips with his own mortality, Mary Jane has to show impeccable inner strength while her newlywed husband is missing and Kraven takes on a villain Spider-Man couldn’t defeat alone. The ending is so memorable, it helps propel this story to the top of our list, with only two stories remaining.

Reprinted in: Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt (TPB)

Buy it: Kraven’s Last Hunt

If This Be My Destiny2. If This Be My Destiny…!

Issues: Amazing Spider-man #31-33, Marvel Comics

Creators: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Another Stan Lee, Steve Ditko classic. This story is the basis for much of the Spider-Man 2 movie. It contains one of the most iconic and memorable moments in all of comic book history, not just Spider-Man’s history. It can be argued that Doctor Octopus is the quintessential Spider-man villain and this tale helps propel that argument as Doc Ock pushes Spidey to his absolute limits. If ever there was a moment, while reading a comic book, to jump out of your chair cheering for Spider-Man with your arms held high, this is it! This is the ultimate “feel good” Spider-Man story. It certainly doesn’t hurt that these issues also contain the first appearances of Harry Osborne and Gwen Stacy, the latter of whom is immediately smitten by Peter when she meets him. And Peter starts his first day at Empire State University. All of this ads up to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s magnum opus. If you want to read a story that tells you exactly who Spider-Man is and what he’s capable of, this story is the one to read.

Reprinted in: Marvel Masterworks #16, Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus #1, Marvel Tales #24-26, 170-172, Marvel Visionaries, Steve Ditko, Essential Spider-Man #2

Buy it: Marvel Visionaries, Steve Ditko

Death of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn1. The Death of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn

Issues: Amazing Spider-man #121-122, Marvel Comics

Creators: Gerry Conway, Gil Kane, John Romita Sr. (covers)

This story was so revolutionary and important that it is one of the markers of the end of the Silver Age of comics. Never before had a character so popular, so important, and so integral been killed. The damsel in distress plot had been used throughout comic book history, but the hero always arrived just in the nick of time… but not this time, and nobody saw it coming. For those of us who loved Gwen as much as Peter did, it was a heart wrenching ordeal to watch, and easily makes this the most emotional Spider-Man story ever told. Gwen Stacy was the love of Spider-man’s life, and as far as I’m concerned, his one true love (Sorry M.J.). She is one of the few comic book characters to have died and remain dead, Uncle Ben and Batman’s parents are others that instantly spring to mind. The death of Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, is included here mainly because it takes place within Gwen’s story, although it helps make this the epic story that it is. This issue also marks the first time we see Mary Jane’s passionate caring side, and becomes the first step in what will eventually lead to Peter and M.J.’s marriage. Lastly, there is an air of controversy surrounding the story about whether or not Gwen died from the “shock” of the fall, or from having her neck broken when Spider-Man’s web snagged her. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how she died, her death marks the top Spider-Man story of all-time.

Note: Also read Marvels #4, where you can get the story from the perspective of photographer Phil Sheldon, as he witnessed the event.

Reprinted in: Marvel Tales #98-99, 192-193, Essential Spider-Man #6, Death of Gwen Stacy (TPB), Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin (TPB)

Buy it: Death of the Staceys (TPB)

Honorable Mentions

Shop Related Products

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 – First battle with the Sinister Six!
Amazing Spider-Man #238-239, 244, 249-251 – First Hobgoblin story arc
Spider-Man vs Wolverine 1-shot – The second greatest Spidey team-up
Spectacular Spider-Man #134-136 – Return of the Sin-Eater and the best Electro story
Amazing Spider-Man #50 – Spider-Man No More!


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27 Comments

  1. I think Death of Gwen Stacy was a no-brainer so good choice there. All the choices are good but I might have bumped the Miller story for spider-man #50, but that is just picking nits.

  2. George Perry on

    I was a big fan of The Other storyline with Morlun "killing" Spider-Man and him embracing the Spider to really take his powers to the next level. Also, Spider-Man in Civil War was big since he finally revealed to the world who he was after protecting his secret identity for so long.

  3. I must agree with Spidey Fan above, Amazing spider-man #50 should have cracked the top ten. Of course I'm not sure what to remove, they are all classics.

  4. How could you have NOT put Amazing Spiderman #200? This is the issue where he finally confronts the man who murdered Uncle Ben, in a storyline that segues back about 10 issues. Coming off the death of the black cat and the apparent death of Aunt May, and a second away from being killed off by the Kingpin, Spider-man's world has collapsed. It's also notable his spidey powers were rendered useless by Mysterio leading into this issue. So now he must seek vengence with only the strength of Peter Parker. The ending of issue #200 is classic.

  5. Old School Spidey on

    George, I'm surprised that you would pick The Other as a top 10 best Spider-man stories, I would personally choose it as a top 10 worst story.

  6. The top 9 were easy, but the last spot was hard to fill. Amazing Spider-man #50 was on my honorable mentions list, and probably could replace Team-Up #100 and fit in. However I went with Karma's story since it was very unique and also a book that probably not a lot of people knew about, thus giving it an edge up on the other honorable mentions.

  7. I have to agree with you. The Death of Gwen Stacy is still my favorite story line out of all the Spiderman issues.

  8. Those are all good stories but nobody read spiderman blue and spiderman reigh? those two are great! if you havent you should check those.

  9. I like to look back at older lists such as this spider-man top 10 stories list and then see if I still feel the same. And I must admit that this list holds up rather well. My favorite spider-man story is still “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut”. It was the first spider-man comic I read where I was actually inspired by the story and art.

  10. From Wikipedia:

    In The Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 1) #125 (October 1973), Roy Thomas wrote in the letters column that "it saddens us to have to say that the whiplash effect she underwent when Spidey's webbing stopped her so suddenly was, in fact, what killed her. In short, it was impossible for Peter to save her. He couldn't have swung down in time; the action he did take resulted in her death; if he had done nothing, she still would certainly have perished. There was no way out." They also explained that Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, and Stan Lee had decided that she had to die because Peter Parker wasn't ready for marriage, and the relationship was too often off and on again.

    *sniffles*

  11. Isn't "One More Day" universally loathed as one of the worst stories. The ending being so bad that JMS wanted his name taken off of it?

  12. One more story that should be included here (although it isn't really a "Spider-Man" story), is the 9/11 tribute from ASM #36 (new series).

    The issue shows the Marvel heroes coming together at Ground Zero to assist in the cleanup of the World Trade Center. It was a moving tribute to those who served and died on that day.

  13. I'm gonna throw in Spectacular Spider-Man 78-79 "The Long Goodbye" into the hat. It is the conclusion of the Doc Oct/Owl Gang War story line. In these issues Doc Oct tries to kill Black Cat in the hospital and the only one standing in the way is Spider-Man.

    There is so much to love in these two issues: the buildup to Dr. Octopus' arrival, the scenes of Peter making secret farewell's to his loved ones because he isn't sure he'll survive, the scene with Felicity which makes us understand why Peter fell in love with her, and the way they handled Dr. Octopus – treating him with the respect that a man who is arguably Spider-Man's greatest foe deserves.

  14. Arachnid Adventures on

    I'd have to go along with those who would've included Amazing Spider-Man #50. Lee and Romita broke the mould when they did that one.

  15. I agree with Rob … ASM v2 #36 should have been included. I expected it to be at least in the top 5. The fact that it is absent and ASM #248 ("The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man", #5 on the list) isn't higher makes this list a fail.

    I'm not one who easily cries at movies, tv shows, or other things. There are maybe three comics that have brought tears to my eyes, and these stories are two of them. And I'm primarily a DC fan, believe it or not.

    My top 10 list would be this —

    1. Death of Gwen Stacy

    2. "If This Be My Destiny" — both of these have withstood the test of time and are classics.

    3. "Kid Who Collected Spider-Man"

    4. ASM v2 #36 — The other one is higher because it is older and definitely a classic. I don't know how many consider this one at that status, but it definitely is strong emotionally.

    5. Amazing Fantasy #15 — an iconic origin

    6. ASM #96-98 — the drug story where Marvel dropped the CCA stamp, another one I'm surprised wasn't on the list

    7. Kraven's Last Hunt

    8. The Sin-Eater

    9. "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut"

    10. Marvel Team-Up #100 — yes, Karma's intro over Venom's. She's become a fairly minor character but still an emotional story.

    Yes, quite a bit of overlap between my list and the submitters. I know things like this are entirely subjective, but there were a couple of stories left off that are so strong and so important that I'm shocked they didn't even make the honorable mentions.

  16. It DISGUSTS me how far Spider-Man comics has fallen….I'm talking about the writing AND the character of Spider-Man….the guy is no longer the everyman Peter Parker that we know…..he's just an idiot now with the stuff that he's pulling.

    ugh..

  17. gwen stacy SUCKS and mary jane is better. How someone who cheats on him and has babies with peters worst enemy and then EXPECTS PETER TO FORGIVE HER JUST LIKE THAT AFTERWARDS.

  18. Biff Fearless on

    To be fair, my Spider-man experience began in the eighties with Roger Stern and JRJR so any number of their collaborations would make a top ten list for me. I read the old Marvel Tales to catch up on “classic” spider-man and the clone saga pretty much ended my keeping up with Spidey’s new adventures (Then Civil War came along and that was THE END). Still read back issues though.
    I would like to second ASM 196-200 with Aunt may, the Burglar and Mysterio. . Also liked the run-up to #200 in Spectacular Spider-man with Harry’s return as the Green Goblin. Also really liked JM DeMatteis run on Marvel Team-up. As for the Gwen Stacy hater, well anything after the clone series pretty much sucks. Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy should be dead and the HORRIBLE backstory about Gwen’s pregnancy? YUCKKK!!!!!

  19. what happened to the Maximum Carnage series. Almost any of those would do given dagger died, kasady died, venom almost died(twice), more villians than any spiderman i ever read, more heroes teamed up, etc etc etc. Some square made this list but its cool just saying that yall should read the Maximum Carnage series, it was great material and good fun as a child and i still love that series years later. fyi it was published in 1993

  20. I absolutely HATED “Maximum Carnage”! In so many ways this story arc represented what I disliked about how comics were in the 1990s. The story started in an issue of the quarterly Spider-Man series at the time, stretched through the other Spider-titles for three months, and concluded in the next issue of the quarterly series.

    It was unnecessarily long. Fourteen issues?? Ten years earlier this story would have been told in 6 issues. Twenty years earlier, done in 3.

    To get the entire story you had to buy titles you might not otherwise buy. This happened with a lot of these crossover storylines. I couldn’t afford everything, so if I were buying Amazing Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man, but not Web of Spider-Man, all of a sudden I had to buy a few issues of Web to keep up.

    It interrupted other running subplots. This was a biggie for me. There might be a cool subplot going with a supporting character that looked like it was building to something, but all of a sudden it gets shoved aside for this big multi-title crossover.

    Besides, there got to be so many of those multi-title crossovers that they ceased to be special events.

  21. Call me new school, but the arc with Ezekiel and Morlun would top my list. All the others are great of course but I saw someone give up and somehow essentially come back from the dead to defeat his polar opposite. Against a man who never ate, slept, or stopped chasing him, Peter was completely and utterly alone in that fight. The fact that Morlun was so nonchalant and “it’s business not personal” through the whole thing added a refreshing dimension I’d never really seen in such an enemy. Peter actually had to reassess what his powers meant and question whether or not getting them was really an accident.

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