Comics: Current Title Summary
One of the questions we often get asked is "I'm thinking about starting (or restarting) reading Spider-Man comics, but I don't understand all these different Spider-Man comics..."
Well, here's a quick summary to the current Spider-Man titles. You can find a complete listing and detailed reviews in the Comics Index.
Spider-Man Core Titles
Ongoing mainstream titles in which Spider-Man is a headline character.
- Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1):
Amazing Spider-Man is the original Spider-Man title, launched in 1963 under Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and it's still going strong. From January 1999 to December 2003 it was renumbered Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2), which is why there are no issues #442-499 listed here. Obviously, there's been a few creative changes since Stan and Steve's day. Currently it is published twice-monthly, with a single writer and an alternating group of artists on different story arcs. It is the core Spidey title in the mainstream Marvel Universe, and an absolute must for even the casual Spidey fan.
- Avenging Spider-Man:
Avenging Spider-Man is a title that just does what it wants to do, and refuses to stick to any rules.
It originally featured team-ups between Spider-Man and fellow Avengers, with story arcs sometimes a single issue, and sometimes stretching across two or even three issues.
However, Avenging Spider-Man #11 featured a standalone story centred on Peter Parker, Aunt May, and the legacy of Ben Parker. Later issues have featured cross-overs with non-Avengers such as Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur, and also Wolverine and the X-Men.
Often quirky, nearly always entertaining, I guess we should just enjoy this "extra" Spider-Man title for whatever it decides to give us.
- Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2):
This title features the adventures of Kaine, the Spider-Man clone. Some people would say that it is possible to have "too much Spider-Man", but the marketing team at Marvel would like to disagree.
- Superior Spider-Man:
Peter Parker, is dead. In the final few issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus orchestrated his final plan and swapped minds with Peter Parker/Spider-Man! With Peter trapped inside Ock’s dying body, he desperately tried to defeat Otto, swinging around as Spider-Man and reaping the benefits of Peter Parker’s life, and swap their minds back… but to no avail. Before he died, Peter was successful in beaming his experiences and philosophy into Otto, meaning that Otto understood the lesson of great power and great responsibility. Otto vowed to Peter, as he died, to continue as Spider-Man.
Otto now begins a new life as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, a better Peter Parker/Spider-Man… a “superior” one!
Spin-Off titles for characters that clearly leveraged Spider-Man in mainstream Marvel continuity.
- Alpha: Big Time:
We all remember the tale of Alpha from ASM #692. Andy Maguire, an average, immature teenager attended a field trip to Horizon Labs. While Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man was testing out his new "Parker Particles," his demonstration was sabotaged and malfunctioned, ultimately zapping Andy Maguire. From that day on, Andy Maguire became...Alpha!
Alpha's abilities were stronger than any other super-hero in the universe! But the fame and power went to his head. Andy became terribly irresponsible, almost killing millions of people, including Peter Parker's Aunt May. In the end, Peter had to discharge Alpha, leaving him a laughing stock at his school with only a small fraction of his power left.
Now, Doctor Octopus has taken over Peter Parker's body, and in his quest to be a Spider-Man that is superior to Peter, he intends on correcting Parker's greatest mistake of all. he intends on manipulating Alpha to his every use.
- Morbius The Living Vampire:
Morbius has escaped prison (as of ASM 699.1) and is on the run from the police. As part of the recent wave of new Marvel NOW! titles, Morbius has been given a new series with a street level status quo. As the first vampire of science, Morbius just wants to do good, but will be having a tough time at that in his new location, Brownsville...
- Venom (Vol. 2):
The Venom Symbiote once attached to Eddie Brock, then Mac Gargon (The Scorpion), has been weaponized by the US Military, and now it has been attached to Flash Thompson, Peter Parker's old High School nemesis.
Spider-Man Ultimate Universe
Spider-Man and others from the Ultimate Marvel Universe.
- Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Vol. 2):
This is the new "Ultimate Spider-Man" title which caused a stir among the mainstream media by introducing the young Hispanic/African American Miles Morales as the replacement for the deceased Peter Parker as the new Ultimate Spider-Man.
Spider-Man Other Universes
Spider-Man in non-mainstream universes that have no dedicated section.
- Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine):
While sharing the same name as the long-running main continuity title, this Spectacular Spider-Man is in fact a Kids Magazine produced in the UK once every three weeks. Aimed at the pre-teen market, each issue features an 11-page Spidey story, plus a centrefold wall poster, puzzles, games, villain profiles and all sorts of other goodies. As an extra incentive, each issue also ships with a plastic Spider-Man toy or giveaway cellotaped to the front cover. The "Spider-Man" of these stories is a generic cartoon version, essentially based on the popular 90's TV cartoon. You probably won't find this in the U.S., but for UK collectors it's a nice little bonus.