Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is almost here, web-swinging its way exclusively onto PlayStation 5 on October 20, 2023. The long-awaited sequel arrives over 61 years after the June 1962 release of Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy #15, a comic that introduced the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man into the superhero lexicon, which was a watershed moment not just for the medium, but later all media as well.
When looking back at the six-plus decades of Spider-Man comics, there have been an overabundance of beloved storylines and jaw-dropping art from the greatest writers and artists in the industry, with certain runs standing out as perfect companion pieces to the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. While it would be impossible to name every Spider-Man comic worthy of reading prior to Insomniac’s exciting sequel, here are five comic runs/graphic novels that will get you hyped (as if you aren’t already!) for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Issues Collected: Amazing Fantasy #15, Amazing Spider-Man #1-38
Why You Should Read It: Obviously, you can’t be expected to read Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s entire three year-long Spider-Man run before Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, but there is no denying that the writer/artist duo who created Peter Parker and his web-slinging alter ego deserve recognition for their seminal work.
In merely the first fifteen issues of their Amazing Spider-Man run starting in 1963, Lee and Ditko introduced some of the wall-crawler’s most recognizable villains including the Chameleon (issue #1), followed by the Vulture and the Tinkerer (issue #2), Doctor Octopus or “Doc Ock” (issue #3), the Sandman (issue #4), the Lizard (issue #6), Electro (issue #9), Mysterio (issue #13), the Green Goblin (issue #14), and the big bad of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Kraven the Hunter (pictured above in issue #15).
Since their inception in the “Silver Age” of comic books, Lee and Ditko’s varied cast of rogues have made the jump from the comic page to the silver screen, along with memorable appearances in Insomniac’s Spider-Man videogame series. Even if some aspects of the Amazing Spider-Man’s earliest issues seem somewhat outdated 60 years later, Lee and Ditko’s run is one of the most important collaborations in the history of superhero comics. Credit is also due to the great Jack Kirby for his contributions to the early Amazing Spider-Man series as well.
Amazing Spider-Man: The Birth of Venom
Issues Collected: Amazing Spider-Man #252-259, #300, #315-317; Web of Spider-Man #1; material from Secret Wars #8; Fantastic Four #274; Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #100; Amazing Spider-Man #298-299, Annual #25
Why You Should Read It: Jumping to the late Bronze Age/Copper Age of Comics, the Birth of Venom graphic novel introduces Spider-Man’s iconic black symbiote suit. It also details the rise of Peter Parker’s most fearsome villain, Venom, including the character’s first appearance in 1988’s Amazing Spider-Man #300, which featured art from comic book legend Todd “The Toddfather” McFarlane.
Although Insomniac’s Spider-Man universe seems to have diverged from its comic book source material, with (spoiler alert) Harry Osborn as Venom instead of Eddie Brock. The Birth of Venom provides comic readers with the origins of Spider-Man’s iconic black symbiote suit and arguably his biggest enemy. Both Venom and the symbiote suit are set to have major roles in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
Venom: Lethal Protector
Issues Collected: Venom Lethal Protector #1-6
Why You Should Read It: Onward to the Chrome Age of comics, while early iterations of Venom were more villainous, Marvel gave the character his own title in the form of 1993’s Lethal Protector six-issue limited series, with an anti-hero twist. Lethal Protector showed the versatility of Venom as a character by making Eddie Brock the hero of the story, and traded New York cityscapes for San Francisco scenery. The series also introduced more symbiote characters into the Spider-Man mythos including Scream, Phage, Lasher, Riot, and Agony. It’s unclear if any other symbiote villains will appear outside of Venom in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, but Lethal Protector is unquestionably worth a read for Venom fans.
Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection
Issues Collected: Ultimate Fallout #4, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (2011) #1-12, and Spider-Men #1-5
Why You Should Read It: We can’t leave out Miles Morales! In 2011, Marvel released Ultimate Fallout #4, featuring the first appearance of Miles Morales, a character who provided a fresh take on Spider-Man with new powers and a unique backstory. The young hero quickly rose to prominence and popularity in a short matter time courtesy of the Academy Award-winning Spider-Verse animated films, as well as 2020’s Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales PS5 launch title. Despite the fact that later storylines have further fleshed out the character, Miles Morales: The Ultimate Collection compiles the superhero’s earliest stories, making it a perfect primer for the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, which will feature Miles Morales as a playable character.
Venom by Donny Cates
Issues Collected: Venom #1-35
Why You Should Read It: The most recent entry on this list, Donny Cates’ Venom run that started in 2018 just might be the character’s best ever, and became completely transformative moment for Marvel Comics. Some of the series’ highlights include Cates’ collaborations with artist Ryan Stegman, which brought about the introduction of massively important characters including Knull, a Supervillain/God and creator of the symbiotes (making his debut in Venom #3), as well as Eddie Brock’s son, Dylan, in the series’ ninth issue. It remains unclear if Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will take any influence from Cates’ run that concluded in 2021, but for comic readers, it is definitely a series worth checking out before (or after) Insomniac’s game.
For more on Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 from Prima Games, check out all of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’s pre-order editions.