With the release of Amazing Spider-Man #18 on September 21, writer Dan Slott has now officially created 20 percent of all Spider-Man comic book stories. Since 2007, Dan's name has been synonymous with the wall-crawler. He was initially one of a team of writers who were tasked with writing Spider-Man's adventures, but it very quickly became obvious that his work stood out over the others — and in November 2010, he became the sole writer of the series.
Just Call Him 'The Amazing Spider-Dan'
Slott's writing has been hugely successful and he has arguably singlehandedly revitalized Spider-Man in the comics medium. Asked about the secret of his success on Twitter, he responded:
Many of Slott's decisions have led to Peter Parker growing up from the down-on-his-luck photographer who could barely make ends meet to the international businessman he is today. But one thing that has always remained is the very essence of Peter Parker.
Slott truly understands the character, possibly more than anyone else, and this allows him to create stories that deeply resonate with readers. Ultimately, he is a fan and writing Spider-Man is all he has ever wanted to do, and this is so obvious from his writing.
So, without further ado, here is a list of his greatest ever Spider-Man issues.
7. 'Amazing Spider-Man' #600
If there is one thing Slott enjoys writing, it is big event stories, and Amazing Spider-Man #600 is certainly that. The big event this time is the wedding of Aunt May to Jay Jameson, but like everything in Peter Parker's life, this does not go smoothly. That's because Doctor Octopus makes his return in this issue. We find out that he is dying and has only a year left to live; because of this he begins to formulate a plan that will prolong his life further, which involves Spidey, of course. Doc Ock builds a fleet of octobots and uses them to kidnap Jay Jameson and then begins to cause chaos with New York's computer systems.
As with many of Slott's Spider-events, Amazing Spider-Man #600 is not without its fair share of cameo appearances from other Marvel characters. Spidey encounters his teammates in the New Avengers as well as the Fantastic Four, and even Daredevil shows up, demonstrating Slott's prowess at writing other Marvel heroes.
Though this issue may not have been the most cohesive of Slott's stories, the legacy it leaves is certainly worthy of note. The sequence of events triggered by this issue has ramifications that are still being felt to this day.
6. 'Amazing Spider-Man' #668
This was part two of the "Spider-Island" event, in which the vast majority of New York City gained spider-powers. Because of this, a number of imposters have appeared throughout the city. But thanks to the nose of Wolverine, the Avengers are able to identify the real Spidey in amongst the masses. Spider-Man, however, feels he will simply get in the way and decides that it isn't Spider-Man that the city needs at this moment — it is Peter Parker.
Slott demonstrates his passion for the character in this issue by allowing Peter to stand out. Since the beginning, Peter Parker's story has featured just as heavily as Spider-Man's, and the same is true here. As he is unable to help as Spider-Man, Peter takes it upon himself to rally New York by filming a viral video as Peter Parker:
Hey. If you're watching this, you know what's going on. Some New Yorkers woke up today with spider-powers... And they're tearing the city apart. And all over the world, no one's asking "Why would they do that?" Because everybody knows... New Yorkers are loud, rude, obnoxious jerks! Well, guess what? The rest of the world is wrong! 'Cause today, like a lot of you, I found out that I've got spider-powers too! And I'm gonna do my part! My name's Peter Parker, I'm a native New Yorker... And when I look around this city, I don't see a bunch a' jerks. Know what I see? Teachers, nurses, cops, parents, neighbors, friends... Good people who give their all! Everywhere I look, I see heroes! Now lets show 'em this didn't just happen to the jerks, it happened to the real New Yorkers too! And that today, we're not just heroes... We're Super-Heroes!
Peter's words perfectly demonstrate his values and suitably motivate the people of New York to stop and think about what they're doing. Rather than simply wreck the city, Peter motivates them to use their newfound abilities for good. All the while Eddie Brock is continuing his quest to cure the infected as Anti-Venom, and Flash Thompson is trying to contain the outbreak.
This issue demonstrates Slott's flair for storytelling while also demonstrating his understanding of Peter Parker.
5. 'Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows' #5
Years after the controversial "One More Day" story, Dan Slott finally gave readers the story they craved — one about a Spider-Man who was married to Mary Jane. During Marvel's massive "Secret Wars" event in 2015, there were a number of companion comics displaying alternate realities, and Renew Your Vows was an excellent example of this. The miniseries dealt with Spider-Man battling a man known as the Regent.
Whether or not the Regent is truly a villain is open to interpretation, but in this world he had kidnapped a number of the world's villains and siphoned their powers into his own specially-made suit. In doing so he has made all crime obsolete and taken over the city. Superhumans are now illegal and are forced to live in hiding, whether this is underground or in what is essentially retirement, as Spider-Man does.
In the early issues we find that Peter's daughter, Annie May Parker, is developing her superpowers. Peter and MJ are concerned by this, as the Regent will want to imprison their daughter and as a result, Peter has invented power dampeners in an attempt to keep their family together. Along the way we find the other heroes are secretly plotting against the Regent. In Issue #5 the plot comes to a head and the heroes battle against the Regent, but not without the help of Spider-Man, MJ and Annie Parker.
Not only does Slott display his finesse at writing Spider-Man, he also shows his skill at writing his supporting cast as MJ and Annie are given their own time to shine. Ultimately, the conclusion to the Renew Your Vows miniseries is an excellent finale that actually has a happy ending for the Webhead.
4. 'Amazing Spider-Man' #700
Perhaps one of the most controversial issues in comics ever, Slott actually received death threats from irate readers over it. The reason for the controversy was this issue concluded the "Dying Wish" storyline in which Otto Octavius had swapped brains with Peter Parker. As mentioned earlier, Octavius was dying and, in a final bid to prolong his life, he chose to take over Peter's young, healthy body and destroy his reputation as Spider-Man.
But this was not the case, as Peter — in Otto's body — had successfully plotted his escape from the raft. He had successfully managed to prolong his life long enough to try and get his body back thanks to various team-ups with his rogues gallery. One such attempt, an electric shock from the Tinkerer, caused Peter to black out and see a vision of all of his loved ones, including Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben. This vision encourages Peter to push one final time to reclaim his body and he eventually meets with Otto, where they do battle. Due to Peter's frail body giving up on him, he loses this fight quite badly, but he does try one final time to regain his body using the very same Octobot that Otto used to switch their brains in the first place.
But Otto had prepared for this and defended himself against it. As Peter lay dying in Otto's body, he realized that the two still had a psychic connection, so he used his final moments to bombard Otto's mind with all of his memories. Most of all, he showed him the message "with great power, there must also come great responsibility!" This overwhelms Otto, who then vows to continue Peter's legacy — as the Superior Spider-Man!
This was billed as the final ever issue of Amazing Spider-Man because of the events that occur within it, which has since proven to be a ruse.
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3. 'Amazing Spider-Man' vol 3 #13
2015's big spider-event was the excellent Spider-Verse, with Dan Slott delivering on his promise of bringing "EVERY SPIDER-MAN EVER" (that he was legally allowed) to the comics. This was part five of the event in which Peter and his Spider-team battled the Inheritors, life-force sucking vampires with a particular taste for spiders.
At this point, the Spider-team had taken refuge in a reality that had been destroyed by nuclear war that was therefore inaccessible to the Inheritors. They were feeling slightly dejected, as though their task was totally impossible, until they met the Spider-Man of this world: Uncle Ben.
In this reality, Uncle Ben had been bitten by the radioactive spider and, encouraged by his nephew, taken up the mantle of Spider-Man. This went well initially, until his nemesis, the Emerald Elf, discovered his secret identity. The Elf bombed the Parker home, killing Aunt May and Peter, which sent Ben into a spiral of depression, causing him to give up being Spider-Man. This issue had a nice contrast, as it was always Uncle Ben's words that guided Peter in his time as Spider-Man, but this time around it was Peter who had to reassure his uncle. Peter reminds Ben of his uncle's words that so inspire him, and this ultimately inspires Ben to become Spider-Man once more.
The reason this, and so many of the Spider-Verse issues, work so well is because of Slott's brilliant ability to write subtle nuances into the different versions of the same character. Many of the spiders are alternate versions of Peter Parker, but they all have their own unique voice. Each spider plays a significant role and is allowed to play his part within the story. It is testament to Slott's writing that he is able to balance the book so well.
This particular issue also contains a number of huge revelations that are essential to the Spider-team winning. It also reveals to the Superior Spider-Man that he is destined to lose control of Peter's body.
2. 'Superior Spider-Man' #30
It has to be said that it isn't just Peter Parker that Dan Slott has a total understanding of; he also is brilliant at writing Otto Octavius. Throughout the whole Superior Spider-Man arc, Slott excellently brings another side to the character of Doctor Octopus, showcasing his capacity for good and his quest to become a superior Spider-Man. At this point in the story, however, we have discovered that he has failed, miserably. The Green Goblin had taken control of New York City completely under Otto's nose and to compound his problems, the Goblin knew that it was Otto Octavius masquerading as Spider-Man!
Otto had thought himself free of Peter Parker entirely at this point, but since ridding himself of the Venom symbiote, Peter had slowly been making inroads to reclaim his body. Otto was scrambling around at this point desperately trying to find a way to win, but the Goblin had other ideas and had kidnapped Otto's girlfriend, Anna Maria Marconi. The Goblin sends one of his minions, Menace, into the subway system to taunt Otto under the pretense that he has Anna held captive and about to be ran over by a train. When he arrives, Otto sees that it is not Anna being held, but a small girl he had previously saved. He hesitates, and it is in this moment that Peter reveals himself to Otto. He screams at him to save the girl's life and, instinctively, Otto obliges. Peter then lambasts Otto, telling him that you can't always think about things; sometimes you just have to act quickly to save somebody.
It is in this moment that Otto realizes something: that Peter Parker is the Superior Spider-Man. He realises that his own arrogance had blinded his judgement, preventing him from seeing the truth. As a result of this, Otto proves that he has been on a true journey of redemption and heroically sacrifices himself, even if it means he has to give up the woman he loves.
1. 'Superior Spider-Man' #9
And here we have it, the best Spider-Man story that Dan Slott has written, as far as I'm concerned, and Superior Spider-Man #9 is a true masterpiece. Up until now, we knew that a small fragment of Peter's mind had remained alive after the "Dying Wish" storyline, but it was this issue that features a battle between Otto and Peter in the mindscape.
Otto had discovered the existence of this fragment and chose to eradicate it from his mind, allowing him to have full control over Peter's body. Otto equips the neurolitic scanner and enters his mind, where he meets Peter Parker. Peter is desperate to try and reclaim his body, so begins to fight Otto, preventing him from wiping his mind. Otto becomes frustrated by this, so decides to confront Peter directly; in Peter's mind he takes on his original form, Doctor Octopus.
Peter feels that he can defeat Otto by using his mind to his advantage, so he uses the memories of all of his friends to help him fight Otto. But Otto is clever and has been living in Peter's head for months; as a result, he is well-prepared for this and easily dispatches Peter's friends by summoning an army of his own, a collection of Spider-Man's greatest foes.
Peter begins to lose his memories of his friends and weeps, calling Otto a monster. But just as Otto begins to gloat about his victory, Peter remembers something: he is not just Peter Parker; he is also the Amazing Spider-Man!
At this point Peter is filled with renewed vigor and purpose and begins to get the upper hand against Otto. He questions Otto's methods, asking him what a true hero would do. With a smile on his face, Otto remembers that he is no longer just Doctor Octopus; he is the Superior Spider-Man!
The two Spider-Men do battle within Peter's brain (and this is truly awesome to behold) with each man questioning the other's methods. It is only when Otto tells Peter that his actions almost prevented Otto saving a life that he begins to falter. While Otto was about to perform life-saving surgery on a young girl, Peter attempted to intervene and stop Otto. Initially, Peter defends himself by saying he didn't trust Otto, but Otto knows the truth: Peter knew that Otto was about to find him, and his actions were purely selfish.
The anguished final words of Peter Parker in this issue were so perfectly done, only someone who truly loved the character could put him through this much pain. I have mentioned before that Superior Spider-Man was a love letter to Peter Parker and we have the perfect man at the helm.
Dan Slott is an excellent writer who has truly revived and revolutionised Spider-Man — and long may he continue to do so!
Special Mention: Silver Surfer #11
Okay, so it's not a Spider-Man comic, but if you haven't checked out Slott's run on Silver Surfer, you are missing out. It is a magical journey throughout the universe that is clearly inspired by his love of Doctor Who. This is by no means a bad thing, and if there is one issue I implore you to check out it is Silver Surfer #11.
This is truly a unique and groundbreaking approach to comic book storytelling. The Mobius strip that flows through the comic takes you on an infinite loop that is just magical to read. Only by escaping the loop can you see the true conclusion of the story. It won an Eisner award and was fully deserving of this. It might not be Spider-Man, but it is definitely something everybody should check out!
Do you have any other suggestions for Dan Slott's greatest Spider-Man issues? Let me know in the comments!