Over half a century after his initial debut in Stan Lee’s Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man remains one of the most iconic figures in all of pop culture. Beloved by adults and children alike, there’s something about Peter Parker’s status as both an everyman and one of Marvel’s greatest heroes that’s endeared the character to audiences worldwide. With almost 52 years’ worth of stories to his name, it goes without saying that Spider-Man comics have played host to some of the greatest, most important stories in the history of the medium.
Able to seamlessly transition from bright, bubbly, child-friendly stories to dark, introspective and mature ones, Spider-Man’s sheer versatility as a character plays a huge part in what’s kept the character fresh and relevant for so long. In addition to this, Spidey also has perhaps the most impressive rogues gallery in all of Marvel Comics, as well as one of the most expansive (and lovable) casts of supporting characters. With that mind,is here to examine 25 of the very best stories the wall-crawler has to offer. Of course, there have been hundreds of fantastic Spidey stories over his five decades of existence, but these are really the cream of the crop.
25. BACK IN BLACK
Penned by one of the all-time great Spider-Man writers J. Michael Straczynski, Spider-Man: Back in Black deals with the fallout from the earth-shattering events of “Civil War”, in which Peter Parker publicly reveals his identity as Spider-Man in an effort to win the public’s favor in the conflict. As was always Peter’s greatest fear however, it doesn’t take long for his loved ones to find themselves in the line of fire after Aunt May is shot by an assassin. With May in critical condition, Peter drops his usual happy-go-lucky attitude and goes full vigilante, beating his way through a list of names to find the man responsible for the attack.
One of several stories exploring the darker side of Spider-Man, “Back in Black” showcases a bitter, vengeful Peter Parker, proving that even your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man can put aside his morals when pushed to his limits. Going as far as throwing men out of windows, threatening criminals with torture and beating the Kingpin to near death, the story stands as one of the grimmest moments in Peter Parker’s history and the result is a disturbing, engrossing read. Sure, the story directly led to the events of the widely criticized “One More Day”, but that doesn’t stop “Back in Black” from being a great story in its own right.