Spider-Man: Homecoming is already a blockbuster success, earning more than $256 million worldwide, and in the process drawing an untold number of viewers into theaters who have never picked up a Spider-Man comic book. So, after the glow of the franchise reboot fades, where should a prospective reader begin? After all, Peter Parker has appeared in thousands of comics over the past 55 years.
So, where can you go for a take on your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man that’s in the same vein as Homecoming?
If you want to jump into a new, continuing Spider-Man series, one that’s fun and packed with villains, then pick up Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, by Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert. It launched just last month, so you’ll be getting in at the ground floor. It’s a great take on Peter, New York and his foes, somehow combining the simplicity of the classics with the modern world.
However, if you want to really go back to the beginning, there’s the 1962 debut of Peter Parker in Amazing Spider-Man #15, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and the subsequent Amazing Spider-Man, by Lee, Ditko and, later, John Romita Sr. Of particular note to Spider-Man: Homecoming fans are 1963’s The Amazing Spider-Man #2, which introduced the Vulture and the Tinkerer, and 1967’s The Amazing Spider-Man #45, featuring the debut of Shocker. The original run has been collected in various formats over the years, and can be accessed digitally through Marvel Unlimited.
But what if you think the idea of a company that cleans up in the aftermath of battles between superheroes and villains was cool but not explored enough in the film? Fear not, there’s Damage Control, the Marvel Universe construction company introduced in 1988 by Dwayne McDuffie and Ernie Colon. Someone has to deal with the mess, and these guys do it with a dose of humor. Damage Control’s original miniseries is assembled, along with several of its other Marvel Comics appearances, in Damage Control: The Complete Collection.
If you’re interested in seeing the cool sci-fi suit Peter wears throughout Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the one that’s teased near the end, you can check out the current volume of Amazing Spider-Man, by Dan Slott, Stuart Immonen and others. It’s a very different Spider-Man from the film, though. If, however, you’re a little more curious about that other suit, the Iron Spider, then you should check out the Civil War: Amazing Spider-Man tie-ins, which feature the wall-crawler in the Tony Stark-designed threads.
However, if the high school romance and drama was your favorite part, then you might do well to check out Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, the 2005 series by Sean McKeever, Takeshi Miyazawa and, later, David Hahn that focused more on relationships than any superheroics.
But if Zendaya’s Michelle was your favorite character, you might enjoy checking out Spider-Girl, about the daughter of Mary Jane and Peter Parker who slowly discovers she has powers. While she’s not actually Michelle (the closest to that would be Gwen Stacy in Ultimate Spider-Man), she’s close enough that you’ll probably dig the title.
If Spider-Girl isn’t your cup of tea, upgrade to a Spider Woman with Spider-Gwen, by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez, which tells what happens to Gwen Stacy when she, not Peter, is bitten by the radioactive spider. It’s an interesting take on the mythos, filled with punk music and pop beats.
Of course, Gwen isn’t the only Spider-Woman. Cindy Moon appears briefly in the film as one Peter Parker’s classmates, even if she’s never actually mentioned. In the comics, she’s bitten by the same spider as Peter, and after a long series of plot twists, she emerges as her own hero, named Silk, on the lookout for her family. If you loved the tone of Homecoming, you may enjoy this book, by Robbie Thompson and Tana Ford, even though it features another spider-character.
But if you really want to read the comic that is most similar in tone, you’re going to want to check out Spidey. Penned by the writer behind Silk, it takes place when Peter Parker was only beginning to discover the extent, and limits, of his powers. The Spider-Man you see in these comics is nearly identical to the one doing his best (and often failing) in Homecoming.
If, however, you’d prefer something that focus more on Peter’s relationship with the Avengers, look no further than Ultimate Spider-Man, by Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen. Plenty of comparisons have already been drawn been between Homecoming and Ultimate Spider-Man — and with good reason. The film owes a lot to this comic.
In fact, among the more noteworthy story arcs is “Death of Spider-Man, which encompasses both Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers vs. New Ultimates. Those two tales depict Peter’s training as an Avenger, showing the same enthusiasm that Tom Holland so vividly portrays; and the story deals with him ultimately losing, dying to protect his family, fighting for what’s right.
After Peter dies in Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales — the nephew of Donald Glover’s Aaron Davis in Spider-Man: Homecoming — steps in to take his place. Miles’ story is one you’ll want to check out if you loved Peter’s high school and classmates, especially his best friend Ned Leeds. In the movie, his name is Ned, but the exact same character exists in the comics as Miles’ best friend Ganke Lee, who discovers his secret the same way Ned does. If you enjoyed their relationship, you’re going to need to check out Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, by Bendis, Sara Pichelli, David Marquez and others.
In theaters now, Spider-Man: Homecoming stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Tyne Daly, Bokeem Woodbine, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.
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