It will come as no surprise to longtime readers that I am a huge Spider-Man fan. It is the book that I have collected the longest, the character that I have always liked the most, and the one that still look forward to reading every month. The first issue that I bought was ASM 324, part of the AssassinNation Plot where the killer revealed was Sabretooth. I already knew Sabretooth from the pages of X-Men and I had some Marvel Team-Up issues, but it was that MacFarlane cover that drew me in.
Comic book creative teams are kind of like Saturday Night Live casts, you like best whatever was the first team or cast you saw. So whether it is Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey or Micheline and MacFarlane you have a soft spot in your heart for whatever first introduced you to the work you know and love. Over the years I have owned every issue of Amazing Spider-Man. I’ve sold them all now but have Omnibus Editions and Marvel Digital Unlimited to re-read at my leisure. I also owned all of Web, Sensational, Marvel Team-Up, Tangled Web, Spectacular, etc. and so I’ve read a lot of Spidey books.
There have been stories and creative teams that are my favourites and others that I forced myself to read. So many great writers and artists have worked on these web slinging tales. In no order here is my list of favourites.
- Stan Lee: Many will scoff at this answer but he created the character and wrote the first 100 issues.
- David Michelinie: Cocreated Venom. Excellent Sinister Six tale, wove supporting cast into the stories effortlessly. Great stories backed by solid collaboration with McFarlane, Larsen, and Bagley.
- Roger Stern: Created Hobgoblin, great gang stories.
- Dan Slott: Has revitalized Spidey by giving him a fresh update that eliminates dated elements and keeps the great core of the character. Fantastic at making single issues that makes sense on their own but add to a larger narrative.
- Paul Jenkins: His Peter Parker run was great and he the most underrated Spidey scribe ever. Solid stories, great use of villains, and a deep understanding of the character. Completely overshadowed by JMS run on ASM.
- Honourable mentions should also go to Zeb Wells and Len Wein who can craft a great Spidey tale.
- Todd McFarlane: Co-created Venom, made the eyes crazy big, his Spidey look was the defining look of the generation.
- John Romita: If this list were ranked he would be #1, when people think of Spider-Man it is the Romita SR Spidey that they think of.
- Mark Bagley: He has penciled almost 200 issues of the character and had huge shoes to fill following Larsen.
- Marcos Martin: Brilliant style that reminds me of a Steve Ditko/ Tim Sale hybrid that is at the same time unique and his own. Some of the most moving moments of Spidey’s recent years have come from Martin.
- Steve Ditko: Many feel that he is THE spider artist but I have never loved his stuff beyond appreciating his role in creating the universe and characters. His Dr. Strange stuff though is amazing.
- Eric Larsen: A great Spidey artist no matter what Pete says.
- John Romita Jr: So familiar with the character and able to really bring a unique look and style. Does a great beaten up Spidey.
- Anti drug issues: Run without the comics code authority these issues help emphasize that the medium could be used for social commentary.
- Death of Captain Stacy: A great reveal at the end and the sad death of another of Peter’s surrogate father figures.
- Death of Gwen Stacy: Iconic. Heartbreaking. That tiny snap.
- Kid Who Collected Spider-Man: A single issue story that will tug on your heartstrings.
- Black Costume Saga: Spider-Man gets his new threads that eventually will be Venom.
- Gang War: The Kingpin’s disappearance leaves a power vacuum in the criminal underworld. Hilarity ensues.
- Hobgoblin Arc: The Hobgoblin/Rose storylines through the 200s of ASM are classic long form storytelling at its best.
- Cosmic Spider-Man: This is it! Spidey goes cosmic! Spider-Man takes on heavy hitters like Magneto and Hulk and uses his new powers to crush them.
- Death of Aunt May: Issue #400 has since been retconned so Aunt May didn’t die, but this was a moving issue about the most consistent supporting character in the book. A shame its message of family and loss ended up being meaningless.
- Spider-Island: One of the best crossovers in the character’s history. In a summer where everyone was talking about Fear Itself and Flashpoint this gem flew under the radar.
- Kraven’s Last Hunt: For many this is THE Spider-Man story. A grittier tale about what makes Peter a hero.