Hi, can you point me in the direction of some Spider-man titles are really excellent? Also ones that include lots of lovely MJ/Peter romance? I don't know a lot about Marvel, I thought you could help, thank you!
Sure thing, anon!
Just to clarify, my Spider-man obsession is relatively contained to the 80s-00s stuff before Marvel: Civil War. If you like PeterMJ, I suggest that you don’t read anything past Civil War either, because *spoiler* their marriage gets ripped apart in one of the worst comic arcs of all time.
Here we go!
To start yourself off:
- Ultimate Spider-man series: This is a long series, with about 30 or so story arcs to collect, so I’d recommend skipping around to the ones with the best reviews. But the first arc, Power and Responsibility, is considered one of the best Spider-man comics ever, so definitely pick that up. Given, this series is NOT CANON in the 616 (aka the main Marvel Universe) and centers around a teenaged Peter Parker, whose story reads more like a teen drama on the CW (with lots of angsty romance between Peter and Mary Jane). Nonetheless, it’s easy reading, and really introduces you to a lot of characters in a very palatable format. My favorite arcs are: Power and Responsibility, Legacy, Venom, Cats and Kings, Ultimate Six, Carnage, Hobgobln, Clone Saga, and Death of a Goblin.
- I’m usually not the type of person to recommend a tv show or movie first, but check out Spider-man: The Animated Series (1990s). It makes so many villain origins very understandable. That way, when you jump into the comic series, you’re a little less lost. I watched this show as a kid all the time, and it really helped me when I was introduced to the comics.
The overarching stuff (aka the comics, which are MOSTLY MODERN, so I’ll probably skip a lot of chronology):
- Amazing Spider-man #1: Read it just for history’s sake.
- Amazing Spider-Man #42: MJ is introduced.
- The Night Gwen Stacy Died: I’m not a big fan of vintage comics, because they tend to be a bit ridiculous, but this one is an exception. Reading it will give you footing in the rich nature of Peter and MJ’s relationship during the epilogue. Gwen is not the amazing character tasm made her out to be, so if you’re like me, you won’t be too broken up about it.
- Spider-man Parallel Lives: Exploring MJ and Peter’s connection.
- The Wedding!: When Peter and MJ finally tie the knot!
- Spider-man: Birth of Venom - Whether or not you read the “alien costume” arc before this to get background is up to you. Personally, I think the alien symbiote thing is pretty self-explanatory once you read the wikipedia article on it. But this one has PeterMJ in it, so I’m including it.
- Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt - Arguably one of the best Spidey comics (I disagree). But the strength of Peter and MJ’s relationship really shines in this story, as does Peter’s incredible will and character.
- Spider-man: Cosmic Adventures - How does Peter Parker deal with godlike abilities on top of his regular powers? Read this to find out! (Yes, and there’s PeterMJ inside).
- Spider-man: Maximum Carnage: Just a really famous and well-written storyline that involves a lot of MJ in it. I know I haven’t recommended the Carnage origin, but once again, read a wikipedia article on this villain, and you should be just fine.
- (I will only reluctantly say to read the Clone Saga, but it’s such a long event, over many issues, that it may be hard to buy them all, but you can always try. I’m not fitting it into my chronology here, though, if my chronology is even accurate time-wise, which it probably isn’t)
MY FAVORITES (that people probably don’t agree with):
- SPIDER-MAN: REVENGE OF THE GREEN GOBLIN - my absolute favorite Spider-Man comic, which is a little on the obscure side. It really explores the Spider-man vs Green Goblin dynamic, and Peter’s heroic side. Unfortunately, Mary Jane is believed dead during this point in comic continuity, but by God is this comic great.
- Spider-Man: Coming Home - I didn’t like Spider-Verse, but I did love Morlun and Ezekiel’s initial introductions in this book. Still no MJ, unfortunately!
- Spider-man: the Hunger - Interesting take on Venom. (No Mj)
- Spider-Man: JMS Collection Vol 2 - Lemme just say that J. Michael Stracynski was actually a great Spider-man writer before he released the garbage that was One More Day, which I will never recommend to anyone. The stories contained in this collection, however, are absolutely fantastic, and Peter and MJ’s reunion is heartwarming.
- Spider-Man: Book of Ezekiel - Continues from Coming Home and the previously mentioned comic, once again dealing with mystical spider-totem stuff, but still good. Also has a great story involving Loki.
- Marvel Knights: Spider-man: The art in this series is really gorgeous, and lots of PeterMJ, if that’s what you’re after!
- Spider-Man: the Other - This story is weird, but still oddly good. It once again involves all the mystical stuff from the other comics, so here ya go.
Other things to check out with my stamp of approval:
- Mary Jane, Mary Jane: Homecoming, and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane: These are Manga-styled teenage-romance comics centered around, you guessed it, Mary Jane and Peter Parker/Spider-Man. I don’t think these are canon.
- Spider-Man: Blue: Famous for characterizing both Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy in depth. In fact, it saves Gwen’s character a bit, and makes MJ even better than she already is. I’m not sure where this fits into chronology.
- Spider-man: Big Time: One of the only post-One More Day stories I enjoyed.
- Spider-Man: Spider-Island: The only other post-One More Day Spider-Man comic that I actually enjoyed, in all honesty. It’s got lots of PeterMJ hints. Here’s the catch though – you may have to read Spider-man: Disassembled to understand it fully, and have a wikipedia-induced background in the One More Day continuity. Disassembled is so, so weird, it’s inexplicable. Read it at your own risk.
- Spectacular Spider-man TV Series: It’s amazing. End of story. Josh Keaton will probably come to define Spider-man’s voice as you read.
Phew! That was a lot! Hope I helped! Feel free to skip around this list, especially if you get enough background via online encyclopedias and such.