Rereading my Spider-Man collection the other day, I noticed how few issues would be deemed essential outside of the core titles. Unlike X-Men, with some many related titles, had cross-overs between those, making your ability to get the full story hard to do if you were subscribe to just the core titles. Spider-Man is a bit different, as it had, at times, up to four core titles, which was more than enough to contain all of his stories. Even some core titles are almost unnecessary to read in order to get the full story going on in the longest running title, Amazing Spider-Man. Furthermore, some parts of the core titles, with few exceptions, can be completely excluded from your reading order without missing a beat, such as most of the Annuals, Unlimited and even Marvel Team-Up.
Complete your Spider-Man collection…
For most readers like me, I want to get the full experience, but with most of the “fat” trimmed, as their are a lot cookie-cutter, forgettable spider-man stories and appearances out there. So, I decide to compile a list of issues for readers going through their Spider-Man collection, with Amazing Spider-Man serving as the main vein, that are necessary to get the full story, while leaving out those appearances which can be skipped with little to no impact on this main continuity line.
The First Spider-Man Collection Essentials (Outside Core Titles)
Nova #12 stands as the first, and still only, issue that continues its story an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, which is not a Spider-Man title itself. It is the first time where a reader sticking solely to the core spider-man collection titles would truly feel the gap in the story, as it is a true two-parter, continued in Amazing Spider-Man #171.
This next back issue can be considered the most important issue outside of the core titles. It contains probably the most important element to the entire original Hobgoblin saga, which spread over the better part of Amazing Spider-Man in the 1980’s. I’m talking about the first Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot, which includes the death of Ned Leeds.
Spider-Man Collection Essentials: Marvel Wide Crossovers
Aside from the issues above, which play directly into storylines happening in Amazing Spider-Man, the following issues contain actions which are more so simply alluded to. Still they contain some very important scenes. I’m talking more specifically about the various Marvel-wide crossovers of the 80’s and 90’s. The first set of these crossovers is Secret Wars, and its sequel Secret Wars II. The former contains the first appearance of the black costume, in Secret Wars #8, while the latter contains the Beyonder storyline which pops in and out of the core titles of the time.
The “Infinity” mini-series played out in a similar fashion as Secret Wars, where they gradually, through their sequels, had their stories weave directly into the core titles. Infinity War did not directly interfere into the storylines in Amazing Spider-Man or any of the other core titles, but Infinity Crusade did so, just like Secret Wars II, with core title issues featuring a corner triangle that would announce its link with this mini-series crossover. Still, the Infinity War mini-series contributed elements that outlived the mini-series, the “Doppelganger” which was later seen prominently in the Maximum Carnage storyline.
Not Far Out of the Core Spider-Man Collection
These issues are for those of you who skip the annuals as well, which often seem to be written to be unessential stories. Occasionally, though, they contain some major elements. The most important of these is none other than the wedding of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21.
Similar to the annuals, Spider-Man Unlimited also contained similar stories, but was published quarterly, in order to fill in the occasional 5-week month when there would be a week without a published core title. Yet, the first two issues of this series bookended the Maximum Carnage storyline, providing essential elements which launch and end this essential Spider-Man collection story. Another issue, #9, concludes the Mark of Kaine storyline.
The Few True Crossover among the Spider-Man Collections
There are decades between the first true crossover between two titles for which only one of which is within the Spider-man collection, the first of which was with Nova, and the second, between Spider-Man and X-Force. X-Force #4 features Sabotage Part II, continuing from Spider-Man #16.
Not long after, we see another cross-over of this type, this time between Web of Spider-Man and Spirits of Vengeance, featuring Venom. Spirits of Vengeance #5 continuesthe Spirits of Venom cross-over from Web of Spider-Man #95, while
The Spider-Man Collection Fill-Ins
Finally, by the end of the 90’s, it became commonplace for Marvel to publish Spider-Man mini-series filling the adventures of Spider-Man, at first to fill in the blanks between Peter Parker and Ben Reilly at times when they weren’t Spider-Man.
These are a few other important mini-series and one-shots of this period to complete your Spider-Man collection:
As well as the Alpha/Omega special editions that bookend the major Maximum Clonage storyline:
Maximum Clonage Alpha & Omega
Shortly after, the mini-series were then used to wrap up dangling storylines, such as the Ned Leeds/Hobgoblin mystery in Hobgoblin Lives, which had previously been closed, though through a different writer than one who conceived the mystery, and therefore wrote the conclusion without much input into how it was supposed to wrap up. Spider-Man Dead Man’s Hand is the other mini-series of this type.