ByBen Kubota, writer at Creators.co
I'm saving the world at night, that's why I'm always so tired in the morning. product guy at moviepilot.com, talk to me via twitter @omdb.
Ben Kubota

While watching Sam Raimi's version of Spider-Man the other day (part 2 actually, the best part imho), my wife asked me a number of questions about the people on screen. The social network of Peter Parker and relationships between all of the main characters can be confusing at times, especially if you haven't followed the comic books. It's probably not as bad as trying to watch Games of Thrones without any knowledge of the books, but if you plan to be a little more prepared with all of the characters in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there's a simple solution. Grab a few comic books from your local comic book dealer. But where to start?

If you're not familiar with the Spider-Man universe, things might be a little overwhelming. There is The Amazing Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, The Avenging Spider-Man and many more titles that might or might not have anything to do with the movie or with each other. So here's a brief shopping guide for you if you're interested in getting a book and start reading.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Hands down, this is what you should read if you want to prepare for the movies. Originally started back in 1963, this is the main storyline of our teenage hero Peter Parker. A troubled kid, trapped in between his own insecurity, his responsibility to take care of Aunt May and his early steps into relationships. It's half soap opera and half action comic. Every movie so far is based on this comic book line. Impressive enough, The Amazing Spider-Man has been published from 1963 until 2012 - where it ended with issue #700. An astonishing run for 50 years (that's as long as the Peanuts have been published) and a rare accomplishment. Influential lead writers include Stan Lee, Gerry Conway and J. Michael Straczynski, who produced a number of remarkable stories. It might be best to start at the very beginning, with the the Lee/Ditko or Lee/Romita run, to get a good feel for the original setting. Both of them are available a Marvel Omnibus Editions (Stan Lee and Steve Ditko version, Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr version). If these are to costly, grab Death of the Stacys or Spider-Man: Blue*.

The Superior Spider-Man

In The Amazing Spider-Man #700, Dan Slott opened a completely new chapter, that lead to a new publication called The Superior Spider-Man. In #700, Peter Parker dies (ups, spoiler) and no other but Doctor Octopus is taking over the role of our beloved web crawler. As you would expect, Otto Octavius does not live the same life, nor follow the same moral codes, as Peter Parker did.


Even though the story is not revisiting all of the original members of Peters peer group, a good number of them are present in this run. It is a very refreshing and upbeat version of your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, that just start a couple of years back. So you can get recent copies, and follow the complete story without looking at hundreds and hundreds of comic books. You should start with Dying Wish and continue with The Superior Spider-Man collector editions (number 1, number 2). Be aware that there is an oversized version of the first collectors edition, that includes Dying Wish.

Spider-Man: Season One

The Season One series of Marvel is the attempt to retell all origin stories for all major Marvel characters, like Thor, Iron Man, Dr. Strange and of course Spider-Man. Each book contains a completed story, adds little new information, but unfortunately the quality varies between each of the Season One books. The Spider-Man version is pretty close to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, and a good way to meet Flash Thompson, J. Jonah Jameson and The Vulture - Spider-Mans very first villain in the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man.

If you're new to comic books, this might be an ideal start. This is just one comic, no ongoing story line, no extra knowledge required, not too expensive, a solid story that avoids too much complexity. So for the first time reader, I can recommend Spider-Man: Season One. If you watched Sam Raimi's Spider-Man a few times or are generally familiar with some of the Spider-Man comics, you might want to skip it.

If you're new to comic books, this might be an ideal start. This is just one comic, no ongoing story line, no extra knowledge required, not too expensive, a solid story that avoids too much complexity. So for the first time reader, I can recommend Spider-Man: Season One. If you watched Sam Raimi's Spider-Man a few times or are generally familiar with some of the Spider-Man comics, you might want to skip it.

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man

The Ultimate Universe is an alternative version of all Marvel characters. And attempt to tell the stories in a more modern approach, without worrying about a legacy of decades and decades of old stories. Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men and other comics were launched in 2000. New writers rose to fame with the Ultimate comics, such as Brian Michael Bendis or Joe Quesada (nowadays CCO and producer for Marvel Studios).

Fun Fact: Nick Fury in the current Avengers movies is based on the Ultimate Universe, where most of the other characters are more tied to the original storylines.
Fun Fact: Nick Fury in the current Avengers movies is based on the Ultimate Universe, where most of the other characters are more tied to the original storylines.

The fate of Peter Parker was sealed in the Ultimate Spider-Man as well, as he also had to die in this alternative Universe (ups, another spoiler). Brian Michael Bendis decided to restart the Spider-Man story the same way, Stan Lee once did - with a teenager. Marvel renamed the comic to Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man and introduced Miles Morales as the new Spider-Kid, so to speak.

Miles Morales, the Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man
Miles Morales, the Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man

The social background of Miles is not connected to that of Peter Parker. He does meet Aunt May and MJ briefly, but other than that, there is not much you can learn about the Peter Parkers acquaintances. Even the villains are reinvented or brand new, so Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man will not help you to learn more about The Amazing Spider-Man movie. But on the other hand, it's the best Spidey comic out there at the moment - at least in my view.

The original Ultimate Spider-Man is also worth looking at. You can feel Bendis' love for the Spider-Man character on every page. The origin story is pretty close to the one you might already know, but Peter Parker is a very different character and the overall story arc go in different directions. For historical reasons I'd recommend the Amazing Spider-Man, but if you're a young reader or you are more into modern or asian comics, the Ultimate Spider-Man is the comic for you. And you will meet most of the people that will appear on screen, including Electro.

Poll

What's your favourite Spider-Man comic book line

*) Spider-Man: Blue is mini series and not part of The Amazing Spider-Man comic books, but it's a great story to grasp the atmosphere. And it generally follows the Amazing Spider-Man Universe.

Tell me your favourite Spider-Man story arc or book in the comments.