Into the Spider-Verse comes to theaters this week. It’s shaping up to be one of the most visually interesting movies of the year. Focusing on multiple Spider-Men, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into. If you want to check out the comics that inspired the movie, look no further than this handy reading guide.
Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man
Brian Michael Bendis (Man of Steel, Jessica Jones) decided in the middle of his 18-year run, the Ultimate Spider-Man comic needed a shakeup. What better way than to kill off your main character?
Co-created by Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli (Guardians of the Galaxy, Fantastic Four), after the death of Peter Parker, young Miles Morales takes up the mantle of Spider-Man.
On Earth-1610, the master thief Prowler steals one of Norman Osborn’s experimental spiders. The spider bites his nephew, Miles. After gaining powers and witnessing the death of Peter Parker, Miles decides to take up the mantle himself.
He faces the legacy of his moralistic father and his villainous uncle, the overthrow of the US government, and Venom killing his mother. Parker’s shadow hangs over the series, but ultimately (pun intended) it’s about Miles learning to be a hero his own way.
In Spider-Men, by the Ultimate Spider-Man Creative team, Peter Parker of the main Marvel universe (616) crosses over to the Ultimate universe and meets Miles. Acting as something of a mentor, the two work together to return Peter home before Mysterio strands Peter permanently. Spider-Men greatly influences the movie, with several scenes being directly inspired by the series.
New Universe, Same Problems
Then came the dimension devouring madness of Secret Wars. The Multiverse collapses and all that remained were fragments formed into God Emperor Doom’s Battleworld. Miles survives the destruction of 1610 and with Peter helps Reed Richards wrest control from Doom. Miles plays a small but important role, giving the Molecule Man, the source of Doom’s power, a hamburger. Touched as Miles is the only person to consider him as more than a power source. Molecule Man transfers Miles and his loved ones over to the 616 after the reformation of the multiverse, also bringing his mother back to life.
Bendis and Pichelli pick up 8 months later in Spider-Man. Dropping the Ultimate as he’s no longer in a parallel earth, Miles has become New York’s primary Spider-Man. Miles deals with the second superhuman Civil War, the return of the Sinister Six, and the son of the Devil! To make matters worse, his mom and his dad temporarily split and worst of all – girl problems.
A crossover with Spider-Gwen, Sitting in a Tree takes place between volumes 2 and 3. It’s a fun mash-up where we get to see Sara Pichelli’s take on Earth-65 and Robbi Rodriguez’s vision of Miles and Gwen’s combined future.
A new series is being launched just in time for the movie by writer Salamin Ahmed (Exiles, Throne of the Crescent Moon) and artist Javier Garron (Star-Lord, Secret Warriors). Available in at your local comic shop and digitally.
On Earth-65, the radioactive spider bit punk drummer Gwen Stacy, turning her into the Amazing Spider-Woman. Much like Spider-Man’s story, she became a performer and then suffers a loss. Her best friend Peter Parker, tired of being bullied, transforms himself into the Lizard. Peter dies in a fight with Gwen. She becomes a fugitive protecting the people of New York as they try to hunt her down.
It’s a fun twist on the characters you know, telling a story completely on its own. Jason Latour’s (Southern Bastards, Silver Surfer: The Best Defense) writing is sharp and fresh, while the art by Robbi Rodriguez (Goddess Mode) and colors by Rico Renzi (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl) are unlike anything else Marvel has put out.
Spider-Gwen reads pretty easily. Start with volume 0 (an essential, yet oddly named part of the series) and read to the end, with Sitting in a Tree in between volumes 3 and 4. Available in paperback and digitally.
A new series, subtitled Ghost-Spider, by best-selling author Seanan McGuire (X-Men Black: Mystique, Wayward Children) and artist Rosa Kampe (Extraordinary X-Men) has launched out of the Spider-Geddon crossover. Separated from the rest of the Web Warriors, she has to navigate another, another, another alternate universe. Available digitally and at your local comic shop.
The massive Spider-Event that brought it all together! Peter Parker frees Cindy Moon a.k.a. Silk from her protective imprisonment and it calls the attention of the Inheritors. The Inheritors are a family of sorta-vampires that travel the multiverse killing Spider-Powered people for food.
Peter Parker is the only Spider to have defeated an Inheritor, so ol’ Pete’s recruited to lead the rest of the Spiders in battle against them. This causes tension as they clash with a second group of alt-Spideys led by The Superior Spider-Man Otto Octavius, from the past, who had stolen Peter’s body. Spiders live, Spiders die, Spiders spinoff into their own series. It’s a fun story, although it doesn’t quite have a satisfying ending, continuing in the pages of Dan Slott’s (Fantastic Four, Tony Stark: Iron Man) ongoing Amazing Spider-Man plot. Gorgeous art by Olivier Coipel (Siege, Thor) and Giuseppe Camuncoli (Hellblazer, Darth Vader).
The main story in Amazing Spider-Man deals with the Inheritor War. While it has stunning art, it might not be the fun alt-Spidey romp you’re looking for. I’d like to direct you to Spider-Verse and Spider-Verse Team-Up, an anthology series that spotlights different universes and comic creators, each with a different take on Spider-Man.
Before the series proper there was an Edge of Spider-Verse miniseries that introduced some of the Spider-People in the crossover and some who didn’t make it that long. It’s a fun series and you don’t have to read the main series to enjoy. It also features the first appearances of Spider-Gwen and Peni Parker.
Confused yet? Well, there’s more Spider-People in the movie. If one of them sparks your interest, here’s a quick run-through of their comics.
Spider-Ham’s classic adventures have never been fully collected, but some of them are available in Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham and more recent stories in Amazing Spider-Man: Animal Magnetism.
Noir, Peni, Gwen, and Ham all appear in the Spider-Verse Spinoff, Web Warriors about a team of multi-dimensional Spiders forming a team to protect the multiverse.
Also of note is the Enter the Spider-Verse one-shot, specifically made for new readers!
Now that you’re all caught up on the Spider-Men, you’ve got an entire dimension of reading waiting for you!