There’s nothing quite like the unbreakable, youthful zeal exuding from Marvel’s many iterations of the web-slinging hero, Spider-Man, that attracts audiences far and wide. Ever since Sony began producing big-budget Spider-Man movies over two decades ago, the quippy, yet charming wall-crawler has entertained countless audiences and raked in mountains of cash doing it. But in the modern age of superheroes, the tried and true mainstays of the past have evolved. Endless variations of Peter Parker are no longer the standard. Fresh, new characters to don the tights and web cartridges like Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales have entered the spotlight. And not only do they web-sling and kick butt like the rest of them, but their personal histories and stories are also endearing and often relatable.
Of course, if you aren’t well-versed in comic books, you should know that Miles Morales has actually been around since 2011. The biracial Brooklyn teen first appeared in issue No. 4 of Ultimate Fallout. Miles isn’t just another alliterative name and face to affix to a facsimile hero of what came before. He also has additional abilities including camouflaging himself against any surface and focused energy attacks referred to as “venom blasts.” But Miles is far from the only Spider-Man in the latest film. With the multitude of Spider-people populating the latest animated adventure, there’s plenty of comic book lore that informed the basis of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. So, if you’re looking to dive beyond the film further into the world of Miles, Gwen, or even the Spider-Man of 2099, Miguel O’Hara, look no further than our guide below to some must-read adventures.
1. Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man
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This recommendation is only for the most committed readers. Still, it’s important to pair Ultimate Spider-Man with Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man since the latter acts as a sequel. Ultimate Spider-Man ran for 160 issues from September 2000 through June 2011. The series is a grand look at the life of Peter Parker from an alternate universe. While the basic tenants of his persona and background largely remain the same, the series tells original and thrilling stories that ultimately sent the Ultimate Spider-Man skyrocketing in popularity among comic book readers at the time of publication. The series culminates in Peter’s death at the hands of Green Goblin as we all witnessed in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man depicts the rise of Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man to take Peter’s place following the events of Ultimate Spider-Man. Just like Into the Spider-Verseyou can witness Miles’ journey into superheroism as he eventually discovers his Uncle Aaron is the villainous Prowler. There’s plenty to love from both these series including magnificent artwork and original storytelling.
2. Spider-Verse (2014)
While the general basis of a multiverse filled with Spider-people came from this crossover collection, it doesn’t exactly share the same narrative as Into the Spider-Verse or the sequel Across the Spider-Verse. Still, it’s a must-read for those who simply want to have a working knowledge of one of the film’s major inspirations. Written by Dan Slott, the collected edition of this storyline covers a lot of ground including Gwen Stacy’s introduction as Spider-Woman of Earth-65. Other Spider-folk who have notable roles in Across the Spider-Verse also appear in this comic book storyline including Miles Morales, Jessica Drew, Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099), Scarlet Spider, and plenty more.
Across the Spider-Verse centers around Miguel O’Hara’s team of interdimensional Spider-people attempting to protect any element of the Spider-Verse from collapsing. The comic book storyline also focuses on a band of interdimensional Spider-people, but they come together to thwart a threat to their existence: the Inheritors. These bad guys are looking to erase any hero with “Spider” in their name from history. In terms of quality storytelling, Spider-Verse doesn’t match the gravitas and depth of Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man on any level. Spider-Verse is a very by-the-books crossover event. Still, it’s worth seeing the comic book foundation of the animated films.
3. Spider-Man 2099 (2015)
After the events of Spider-VerseMiguel O’Hara finds himself as Spider-Man out of his own time now living in the past but also content with life. In Peter David and Will Sliney’s run on the futuristic Spider-Man, the conflicted hero decides he’s done with his life as Spider-Man. Now living in an era where Peter Parker is alive and well and knowing there are countless iterations of the hero out in the multiverse, he simply doesn’t see the need to contribute any further to the cause.
However, after tragedy strikes killing someone close to Miguel in an actual attempt on his life, he swears to end the lives of those involved and dons the suit once again. As Spider-Man 2099, Miguel is a tad more ruthless than other iterations of the character, something Across the Spider-Verse also depicts. However, this thrilling story, while not directly related to interdimensional traveling, is a perfect snapshot of the character. Not to mention, it’ll undoubtedly keep your eyes glued to its pages with its riveting storytelling.
4. Spider-Punk (2022)
Hobie Brown’s punk rock, stick-it-to-the-man mantra will undoubtedly make him a popular addition to the cast in Across the Spider-Verse. In fact, he plays a pivotal role in the high-stakes conflict at play in the film. There’s no doubt that fans will walk away from this movie wanting to know more about the slick Spider-Punk. While having appeared in Spider-VerseSpider-Punk recently obtained his own miniseries in 2022. Penned by comic book writer Cody Ziglar, Spider-Punk introduces you to Hobie’s world and the other heroes he associates with.
This 5-issue miniseries will see Hobie and his Spider-Band take on variants of Kraven the Hunter, Taskmaster, and Kingpin. And by the way, the Spider-Band consists of deliciously wild new versions of other heroes including Riri Williams as Riot Heart, Karl Morningdew as Captain Anarchy, and Mattea Mudrock as “the Daredevil Drummer of Philly” among others. The series is a killer new look at Hobie Brown’s Earth-138.
Spider-Gwen Vol. 1
Gwen Stacy can’t ever catch a break across the Spider-Verse. It’s a fact she laments in the latest animated film knowing all too well what happens to her in other universes. In Earth-65, she becomes the Spider-Woman of note after assuming the heroic role following the fated spider bite. In the Spider-Verse storyline, we learn that her beau, Peter Parker became the lizard and was inadvertently killed during a battle with Gwen as Spider-Woman. Unfortunately, she only learned the villain’s identity as he lay dying morphing back into his human form. From that point forward, she is marked by the authorities as a murderer and her own father is the detective put in charge of bringing her down.
This volume which collects the first in an official series headlining Gwen Stacy as the titular Spider-Woman picks up where that origin story left off. She is still running from the law while attempting to do some good in her city. The story gets even more interesting as another lizard threat emerges bringing everything she knows into question. One of the most exquisite aspects of this series is the striking artwork and character designs from artist Robbi Rodriguez. This isn’t a Spider-series you’ll want to miss.