What are the best Spider-Man graphic novels? Well, we like the list below, and have tried to select books that can be read independently even if within an ongoing run.
Spider-Man: Blue – The story of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy retold as if still in the 1960s, the period beatufully recreated. Classic yet distinctly modern, elegantly beautiful and well told, this is well worth the time. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.
The Book of Ezekiel – We consider this the best of J. Michael Straczynski’s landmark run on Spider-Man, featuring three very different stories with Spider-Man out of his depth in each. His origin is tinkered with, he meets Loki and social problems feature. J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr.
Dying Wish – Doctor Octopus switches his mind into Spider-Man’s, leaving Peter Parker’s personality trapped in a dying body. Can he reverse the transformation before he dies, or before Doc Ock, now privy to all his secrets, targets his loved ones? Dan Slott, Richard Elson and Humberto Ramos.
Marvel Masterworks vol 4 – This slips slightly below four stars overall, but includes the first Spider-Man masterpiece, a tightly-plotted, intricate crime drama with Spider-Man in dire straits. The most iconic sequence has been much imitated, yet is still powerful and moving. Steve Ditko and Stan Lee.
Marvel Masterworks vol 5 – In 1966 John Romita gave Peter Parker’s social circle a new glamour while also providing dynamism to Spider-Man’s action sequences. Classic encounters with Kraven, the Kingpin (introduced here), the Lizard and the Vulture. Stan Lee and John Romita.
One More Day – Not well loved by continuity buffs, but as a standalone piece of drama this is excellent. Aunt May is dying, and Peter Parker’s desperation is absolute as he consults assorted superhero friends attempting to save her. Maybe he can, but there’s a price. J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada.
Renew Your Vows – Surely the highlight of the Warzones experiment, we have an alternate universe in which Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson are married with a young daughter, yet this is a fearful place, twisting the great power and great responsibility adage. Dan Slott and Adam Kubert.
Spider-Man’s Tangeld Web vol 3 – Best of four engaging anthologies permitting interpretations of Spider-Man at odds with established continuity. Creative individuality is paramount. Brian Azzarello, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Duncan Fegredo, Leandro Fernandez, Sean Phillips, Paul Pope and Zeb Wells
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man – An unlikely premise takes half a dozen of Spider-Man’s more obscure and inept foes and follows them through a series of hilarious schemes as they backbite and double-cross each other. Yet also touching. Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber.
The Superior Spider-Man: My Own Worst Enemy – Doctor Octopus is now Spider-Man, and in a great piece of plotting determines to do the job better than Peter Parker, so proving himself superior. It’s not as easy as he thinks. Dan Slott, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Ryan Stegman.