Amazing Spider-Man (1963)

Comic Book By Marvel
664 Issues, 1030 Variants

1-A | Mar 1963
801-A | Aug 2018


Title:Amazing Spider-Man (1963)
Type:Comic Book
Key Pub.:Marvel
Caption:Marvel 1963 - 1998, 2003 - 2014, 2017 - 2018 (664 Issues)

About Amazing Spider-Man (1963)

Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Spider-Man first appeared in the comic book Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962). The series was cancelled with that issue, but response to the character was so positive that a solo title, The Amazing Spider-Man, was launched with a March 1963 cover-date. The Amazing Spider-Man is the character's flagship series. Supporting cast members such as J. Jonah Jameson, Aunt May, Flash Thompson and villains such as Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Sandman and others have been introduced here, and it is where key events occur.

The series ended with issue #441 then started back up with issue #500. During the gap this title ran as Amazing Spider-Man (1999).

Indicia title fluctuates between "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Amazing Spider-Man" throughout the run.

Lee and Ditko produced 38 issues from 1963 to 1966. Since then, many writers and artists have taken over the monthly comic through the years, chronicling the adventures of Marvel's most identifiable hero.

The title was published continuously until 1998 when Marvel Comics relaunched it with a new issue #1 (Jan. 1999), but on Spider-Man's 40th anniversary, this new title reverted to using the numbering of the original series, beginning again with issue #500 (Dec. 2003)

The 1960s

The initial years of the book, under Lee and Ditko, chronicled Spider-Man's nascent career with his civilian life as hard-luck yet perpetually good-humored teenager Peter Parker. Parker balanced his career as Spider-Man with his job as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle (under the bombastic editor-publisher J. Jonah Jameson) to help support himself and his frail Aunt May. At the same time, Parker dealt with public hostility towards Spider-Man and the antagonism of his classmates Flash Thompson and Liz Allan at Midtown High School, while also embarking on a tentative, ill-fated romance with Jameson's secretary, Betty Brant.

By focusing on Parker's everyday problems, Lee and Ditko created a groundbreakingly flawed, self-doubting superhero, and the first major teenaged superhero to be a protagonist and not a sidekick. Ditko's quirky art provided a stark contrast to the more cleanly dynamic stylings of Marvel's most prominent artist, Jack Kirby, and Ditko's Spider-Man, slightly sinister yet affectionately cartoony,[citation needed] combined with the humor and pathos of Lee's writing to lay the foundation for what became an enduring mythos.

Most of Spider-Man's key villains and supporting characters were introduced during this time. Issue #1 (March 1963) featured the first appearances of J. Jonah Jameson and his astronaut son John Jameson, and the supervillain the Chameleon. It also included the hero's first encounter with the superhero team The Fantastic Four. Issue #2 (May 1963) featured the first appearance of The Vulture and the beginning of Parker's freelance photography career at the newspaper The Daily Bugle.

The Lee-Ditko era continued to usher in a significant number of villains and supporting characters, including Doctor Octopus in #3 (July 1963); the Sandman and Betty Brant in #4 (Sept. 1963); the Lizard in #6 (Nov. 1963); Electro in #9 (March 1964); Mysterio in #13 (June 1964); the Green Goblin in #14 (July 1964); Kraven The Hunter in #15 (Aug. 1964); reporter Ned Leeds in #18 (Nov. 1964); the Scorpion in #20 (Jan. 1965); and the Molten Man in #28 (Sept. 1965), an issue that also featured Parker's graduation from high school

Parker began attending Empire State University in #31 (Dec. 1965), the issue which also featured the first appearances of friends and classmates Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn. Harry's father, Norman Osborn first appeared in #23 (April 1965) as a member of Jameson's country club but is not named nor revealed as Harry's father until #37 (June 1966). Probably the most celebrated issue of the Lee-Ditko run[citation needed] is #33 (Feb. 1966), the third part of the story arc "If This Be My Destiny", and featuring the dramatic scene of Spider-Man, through force of will and thoughts of family, escaping from being pinned by heavy machinery.

Although credited only as artist for most of his run, Ditko would eventually plot the stories as well as draw them, leaving Lee to script the dialogue. However, a rift between Ditko and Lee developed, and the two men were not on speaking terms long before Ditko completed his last issue, The Amazing Spider-Man #38 (July 1966). The exact reasons for the Ditko-Lee split have been a source of controversy[citation needed] ever since.

In successor penciler John Romita Sr.'s first issue, #39 (Aug. 1966), archnemesis the Green Goblin discovers Spider-Man's secret identity and reveals his own to the captive hero. Romita's Spider-Man – more muscular and heroic-looking than Ditko's – became the model for two decades. The Lee-Romita era saw the introduction of such characters as Daily Bugle managing editor Joseph "Robbie" Robertson in #52 (Sept. 1967) and NYPD Captain George Stacy, father of Parker's girlfriend Gwen Stacy, in #56 (Jan. 1968). The most important supporting character to be introduced during the Romita era was Mary Jane Watson, who made her first full appearance in #42, (Nov. 1966), although she first appeared in #25 (June 1965) with her face obscured and had been mentioned since #15 (Aug. 1964).

Lee and Romita toned down the prevalent sense of antagonism in Parker's world by improving Parker's relationship with the supporting characters and having stories focused as much on the social and college lives of the characters as they did on Spider-Man's adventures. The stories also became more topical, addressing issues such as civil rights, racism, prisoners' rights, the Vietnam War, and political elections.

Issue #50 (June 1967) introduced the highly enduring criminal mastermind the Kingpin, who would become a major force as well in the superhero series Daredevil. Other notable first appearances in the Lee-Romita era include the Rhino in #41 (Oct. 1966), the The Shocker in #46 (March 1967), the Prowler in #78 (Nov. 1969), and the Kingpin's son, Richard Fisk, in #83 (April 1970).

The 1970s

Two spin-off series debuted in the 1970s: Marvel Team-Up in 1972, and The Spectacular Spider-Man in 1976. The flagship title's second decade took a grim turn with a story in #89-90 (Oct.-Nov. 1970) featuring the death of Captain George Stacy. This was also the first Spider-Man story to be penciled by Gil Kane, who would alternate drawing duties with Romita for the next year-and-a-half and would draw several landmark issues.

One such story took place in the controversial issues #96-98 (May-July 1971). Writer-editor Lee defied the Comics Code Authority with this story, in which Parker's friend Harry Osborn, was hospitalized after tripping on LSD. Lee wrote this story upon a request from the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare for a story about the dangers of drugs. Citing its dictum against depicting drug use, even in an anti-drug context, the CCA refused to put its seal on these issues. With the approval of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman, Lee had the comics published without the seal. The comics sold well and Marvel won praise for its socially conscious efforts.[citation needed] The CCA subsequently loosened the Code to permit negative depictions of drugs, among other new freedoms.

The "Six-Arm Saga" of #100-102 (Sept.-Nov. 1971) introduced Morbius, the Living Vampire. The second installment was the first Amazing Spider-Man story not written by co-creator Lee, with Roy Thomas taking over writing the book for several months before Stan Lee returned to write #105-110 (Feb.-July 1972). Lee, who was going on to become Marvel Comics' publisher, with Thomas becoming editor-in-chief, then turned writing duties over to 19-year-old wunderkind Gerry Conway, who scripted the series through 1975. Romita penciled Conway's first half-dozen issues, which introduced the gangster Hammerhead in #113 (Oct. 1972). Kane then succeeded Romita as penciler, although Romita would continue inking Kane for a time.

The most memorable work of the Conway/Kane/Romita team was #121-122 (June-July 1973), which featured the death of Gwen Stacy at the hands of The Green Goblin in the story which shocked readers, "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" (#121). Her demise and the Goblin's apparent death one issue later formed a story arc widely considered as the most defining in the history of Spider-Man. The aftermath of the story also deepened both the characterization of Mary Jane Watson and her relationship with Parker.

By late 1973, Gil Kane was succeeded by Ross Andru, whose run lasted nearly 60 issues, from 1973 to 1978. Issue #129 (Feb. 1974) introduced the Punisher, who would become one of Marvel Comics' principal and most widely recognized characters. The Conway-Andru era also featured the first appearances of the Man-Wolf in #124-125 (Sept.-Oct 1973); the near-marriage of Doctor Octopus and Aunt May in #131 (April 1974); Harry Osborn stepping into his father's role as the Green Goblin in #135-137 (Aug.-Oct. 1974); and the original "Clone Saga", containing the introduction of Spider-Man's clone, in #147-149 (Aug.-Oct. 1975).

Archie Goodwin and Gil Kane produced the title's 150th issue (Nov. 1975) before Len Wein became writer for two-and-a-half years.During Wein's tenure, Harry Osborn and Liz Allen dated and became engaged, J. Jonah Jameson was introduced to his eventual second wife, Marla Madison, and Aunt May suffered a heart attack. Wein's last story on Amazing was a five-issue arc in #176-180 (Jan.-May 1978) featuring a third Green Goblin (Harry Osborn’s psychiatrist, Bart Hamilton). Marv Wolfman, Marvel's editor-in-chief from 1975 to 1976, succeeded Wein as writer, and in his first issue, #182 (July 1978), had Parker propose marriage to Watson (who refused, in the following issue). Keith Pollard succeeded Ross Andru as artist shortly afterward, and with Wolfman introduced the likable rogue the Black Cat (Felicia Hardy) in #194 (July 1979). As a love interest for Spider-Man, the Black Cat would go on to be an important supporting character for the better part of the next decade.

The 1980s

The Amazing Spider-Man #252 (May 1984): Spider-Man's black costume debuts. Cover art Ron Frenz & Klaus Janson.The Amazing Spider-Man #200 (Jan. 1980) featured the return and death of the burglar who killed Spider-Man's Uncle Ben. Writer Marv Wolfman and penciler Keith Pollard both left the title by mid-year, succeeded by Dennis O'Neil, a writer known for groundbreaking 1970s work at rival DC Comics, and penciler John Romita, Jr.. Roger Stern, who had written nearly 20 issues of sister title The Spectacular Spider-Man, took over Amazing in late 1981. During his two years on the title, Stern augmented the backgrounds of long-established Spider-Man villains, and with Romita Jr. created the mysterious supervillain the Hobgoblin in #238-239 (March-April 1983). Fans engaged with the mystery of the Hobgoblin's secret identity, which continued throughout #244-245 and 249-251 (Sept.-Oct. 1983 & Feb.-April 1984). One lasting change was the reintroduction of Mary Jane Watson as a much more serious, mature woman who becomes Peter's confidant after she reveals that she knows his secret identity.

By mid-1984, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz took over scripting and penciling. DeFalco helped establish the maturation in Parker and Watson's relationship, laying the foundation for the character's eventual wedding. Notably, in #257 (Oct. 1984), Watson tells Parker that she knows he is Spider-Man, and in #259 (Dec. 1984), she reveals to Parker the extent of her troubled childhood. Other notable issues of the DeFalco-Frenz era include #252 (May 1984), with the first appearance of Spider-Man's black costume, which the hero would wear almost exclusively for the next four years' worth of comics; the debut of criminal mastermind the Rose, in #253 (June 1984); the revelation in #258 (Nov. 1984) that the black costume is a living being, a symbiote; and the introduction of the female mercenary Silver Sable in #265 (June 1985).

Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz were both removed from Amazing Spider-Man in 1986 by editor Owsley under acrimonious circumstances.[2] A succession of artists including Alan Kupperberg, John Romita, Jr., and Alex Saviuk penciled the book from 1987 to 1988; Owsley wrote the book for the first half of 1987, scripting the five-part "Gang War" story (#284-288) that DeFalco plotted. Former Spectacular Spider-Man writer Peter David scripted #289 (June 1987), which revealed the late Ned Leeds as being the Hobgoblin (although this was retconned in 1996 by Roger Stern into Leeds not being the original Hobgoblin after all).

David Michelinie took over as writer in the next issue, for a story arc in #290-292 (July-Sept. 1987) that led to the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. Issue #298 (March 1988) was the first Spider-Man comic to be drawn by future industry star Todd McFarlane, the first regular artist on Amazing Spider-Man since Frenz's departure. McFarlane revolutionized Spider-Man's look. His depiction – large-eyed, with wiry, contorted limbs, and messy, knotted, convoluted webbing – influenced the way virtually all subsequent artists would draw the character. McFarlane's other significant contribution to the Spider-Man canon was the design for what would become one of Spider-Man's most wildly popular antagonists, the supervillain Venom. Issue #299 (April 1988) featured Venom's first appearance (a last-page cameo) before his first full appearance in #300 (May 1988). The latter issue also featured Spider-Man reverting to his original red-and-blue costume.

Other notable issues of the Michelinie-McFarlane era include #312 (Feb. 1989), featuring the Green Goblin vs. the Hobgoblin; and #315-317 (May-July 1989), with the return of Venom. After the editorial and creative turmoil that beset Amazing Spider-Man in 1987, the Michelinie/McFarlane team at the tail-end of the 1980s restored a sense of creative consistency and quality to the book, and set the tone for Spider-Man for the next decade.

The 1990s

With a civilian life as a married man, the Spider-Man of the 1990s was different from the superhero of the previous three decades. Following his 1988-1989 run on Amazing Spider-Man, Todd McFarlane left the title in 1990 to write and draw a new series titled simply Spider-Man. McFarlane's successor, Erik Larsen, penciled the book from early 1990 to mid-1991. After issue #350, Larsen was succeeded by Mark Bagley, who had won the 1986 Marvel Tryout Contest and was assigned a number of low-profile penciling jobs followed by a run on New Warriors in 1990. Bagley penciled the flagship Spider-Man title from 1991 to 1996, with his art forming the basis for most Spider-Man licensed merchandise of the decade and onward.

Issues #361-363 (April-June 1992) introduced Carnage, a second symbiote nemesis for Spider-Man. The series' 30th-anniversary issue, #365 (Aug. 1992), was a double-sized, hologram-cover issue with the cliffhanger ending of Peter Parker's parents, long thought dead, reappearing alive. It would be close to two years before they were revealed to be impostors, who are killed in #388 (April 1994), scripter Michelinie's last issue. His 1987-1994 stint gave him the second-longest run as writer on the title, behind Stan Lee.

With #389, writer J.M. DeMatteis, whose Spider-Man credits included the 1987 "Kraven's Last Hunt" story arc and a 1991-1993 run on The Spectacular Spider-Man, took over the title. From October 1994 to June 1996, Amazing stopped running stories exclusive to it, and ran installments of multi-part stories that crossed over into all the Spider-Man books. One of the few self-contained stories during this period was in #400 (April 1995), which featured the death of Aunt May — later revealed to have been faked. The "Clone Saga" culminated with the revelation that the Spider-Man who had appeared in the previous 20 years of comics was a clone of the real Spider-Man. This plot twist was massively unpopular with many readers,[citation needed] and was later reversed in the "Revelations" story arc that crossed over the Spider-Man books in late 1996.

The Clone Saga tied into a publishing gap after #406 (Oct. 1995), when the title was temporarily replaced by The Amazing Scarlet Spider #1-2 (Nov.-Dec. 1995), featuring Ben Reilly. The series picked up again with #407 (Jan. 1996), with Tom DeFalco returning as writer. Bagley completed his 5½-year run by September 1996. A succession of artists, including Ron Garney, Steve Skroce, Joe Bennett, and Rafael Kayanan, penciled the book until the final issue, #441 (Nov. 1998), after which Marvel rebooted the title with vol. 2, #1 (Jan. 1999).

The reboot

Marvel began The Amazing Spider-Man anew with vol. 2, #1 (Jan. 1999). Howard Mackie wrote the first 29 issues. With #30 (June 2001), J. Michael Straczynski took over as writer. The relaunch proved very controversial with Sandman being regressed back to his evil ways and the "death" of Mary-Jane, whose death was ultimately reversed due to fan backlash. Other elements included the introduction of a new Spider-Woman (who was spun off into her own short-lived series) and major references to John Byrne's controversial "Spider-Man: Chapter One", which launched at the same time as the reboot. Mackie's run would end with Amazing Spider-Man Annual 2000, which saw the return of Mary Jane, who controversially left her husband upon reuniting with him.

While the arrival of J. Michael Straczynski saw the title regain lost readers, Stracynski oversaw additional controversial storylines; most notably his lengthy "Spider-Totem" arc, which raised the controversial issue of whether or not Spider-Man's powers were magic-based, as Spider-Man found himself fighting a string of supernatural based insect villains created by Stracynski. Less controversial was the resurrection of the plot point of Aunt May discovering her nephew was Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #36) and the return of Mary Jane to both the franchise as the couple reunited in Amazing Spider-Man #50. Stracynski also gave Spider-Man a new profession, having Peter Parker land a teaching position at his former high school.

Issue #30 began a dual numbering system, with the original series numbering (#471) returned and placed alongside the volume-two number on the cover. Other longtime, rebooted Marvel Comics titles, including Fantastic Four, were given the dual numbering around this time. In October 2000, John Romita, Jr. succeeded John Byrne as artist. After vol. 2, #58 (Nov. 2003), the title reverted to its original numbering for #500 (Dec. 2003), with vol. 2, #1-58 considered #442-499 of the original run. Mike Deodato, Jr. penciled the book from mid-2004 until 2006.

Civil War and aftermath

As part of the 2006 Civil War crossover story arc, which included The Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man initially works with Iron Man and the government to fulfill the Superhuman Registration Act, capturing superheroes who refuse to reveal their identities and register with the government. On live television, he reveals his own true identity as Peter Parker, but eventually changes side and, alongside Captain America and others, becomes an opponent of registration and exposes several of Iron Man's dirty secrets in the process (most notably, Iron Man's concentration camp-style prison for non-registered super-heroes).

Due to Iron Man's revoking of security protecting Mary Jane and Aunt May in the wake of Peter's denouncement of Iron Man, the two join Spider-Man on the run. However, the villainous Kingpin of Crime Wilson Fisk orders the Parker family killed, culminating in Aunt May being mortally wounded as a result. This, plus the death of Captain America, causes Parker to retrieve his long-unused black costume to wear (in truth, the costume is resurrected to tie into the release of the third Spider-Man movie, which features the black costume). After discovering that Kingpin gave the order that led to May being shot, he breaks into prison and delivers Kingpin a humiliating beating as a warning to leave his family alone.

One More Day

One More Day is a four-part, crossover story arc, written partially by J. Michael Straczynski and illustrated by Joe Quesada, running through The Amazing Spider-Man #544-545 (Nov.-Dec. 2007), and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #24 (Nov. 2007) and Sensational Spider-Man #41 (Dec. 2007), the final issues of those two titles. The demon Mephisto makes a Faustian bargain with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson-Parker, offering to save Parker's dying Aunt May if the couple will allow their marriage to have never existed, rewriting that portion of their pasts.

This story arc crossover also marked the end of Straczynski's six and a half years run as writer (from 2001-2007) on The Amazing Spider-Man after 75 issues.

Brand New Day

Following this, Marvel made The Amazing Spider-Man the company's sole Spider-Man title, upped its frequency of publication to three issues monthly, and inaugurated the series with a sequence of "back to basics" story arcs under the banner of "Brand New Day", wherein Peter now exists in a changed world where he and Mary Jane had never married — neither having any memory of being married together — and with domino-effect differences in their immediate world. The alternating regular writers are Dan Slott, Bob Gale, Marc Guggenheim and Zeb Wells, joined by a rotation of artists that includes Chris Bachalo, Phil Jimenez, Mike McKone, John Romita, Jr. and Marcos Martin. Joe Kelly, Mark Waid and Roger Stern later joined the writing team and Barry Kitson the artists roster.

Barack Obama

Issue number 583 of The Amazing Spider-Man features President Barack Obama upon the front cover, giving a thumbs-up. Spider-Man is hanging from above, taking a picture, and saying "Hey, if you get to be on my cover, can I be on the dollar bill?". At the end of the comic, there is a Bonus Back-Up Feature in which Spider-Man meets President Obama. The illustrations were completed by Todd Nauck and Frank D'Armata while the story was written by Zeb Wells. In this Back-Up Feature, an imposter Barack appears at the Inauguration Ceremony. In an attempt to reveal which is the real Barack Obama, the secret service asks "what was your nickname on your high school's varsity basketball team?". The true Barack reveals that it was "Barry O'Bomber". After further questioning, the imposter becomes enraged and shows his true self, The Chameleon. Barack realizes that this situation is best suited for Spider-Man, who then proceeds to punch him in the face. Barack tells Spider-Man that he has been a long-time fan, and says "Thanks, partner" while they pound fists. The inauguration continues and Spider-Man heads back to New York.

Related Titles

Amazing Scarlet Spider
Comic Book - Takes place between #406 & 407
Amazing Spider-Man (1992)
Graphic Novel / Trade - #88-90
Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks
Graphic Novel / Trade - #1-5
Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus
Hard Cover - #1-67
Amazing Spider-Man/Ghost Rider: Motorstorm
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Amazing Spider-Man: Big Time
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Amazing Spider-Man: Big Time
Hard Cover - #648-651
Amazing Spider-Man: Peter Parker - The One and Only
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Amazing Spider-Man: Red Goblin
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Amazing Spider-Man: The Movie
Graphic Novel / Trade - #75-77
Civil War: Amazing Spider-Man
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Essential Spider-Man
Graphic Novel / Trade - #1-248
Marvel Masterworks
Hard Cover - Vols 1, 5, 10, 16 & 22 collect #1-50
Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man
Graphic Novel / Trade - #1-67
Origin of the Hobgoblin
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Punisher vs the Marvel Universe
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Spider-Man Clone Saga Omnibus
Hard Cover - #394-401
Spider-Man Fights Substance Abuse
Graphic Novel / Trade - #96-98
Spider-Man Versus Doctor Doom
Graphic Novel / Trade - #349-350
Spider-Man Visionaries: John Romita
Graphic Novel / Trade - #39-42, 50, 68-69 &108-109
Spider-Man Visionaries: Roger Stern
Graphic Novel / Trade - #206
Spider-Man vs. Venom
Graphic Novel / Trade - #300 & 315-317
Spider-Man: 24/7
Hard Cover - #589-594
Spider-Man: Amazing Fantasy
Comic Book - #1-2 in Black and White.
Spider-Man: American Son
Graphic Novel / Trade - #595-599
Spider-Man: American Son
Hard Cover - #595-599
Spider-Man: Birth of Venom
Graphic Novel / Trade - #252-259, 300 & 315-317
Spider-Man: Brand New Day
Graphic Novel / Trade - #546-563
Spider-Man: Brand New Day
Hard Cover - #546-563
Spider-Man: Crime and Punisher
Hard Cover - #574-577
Spider-Man: Death and Dating
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Spider-Man: Death and Dating
Hard Cover - #578-583
Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys
Hard Cover - #88-92, 121-122
Spider-Man: Doctor Octopus
Comic Book - #3-5 in Black and White.
Spider-Man: Dying Wish
Graphic Novel / Trade
Spider-Man: Election Day
Graphic Novel / Trade - #583-588
Spider-Man: Election Day
Hard Cover - #583-588
Spider-Man: Ends of the Earth
Hard Cover - #682-687
Spider-Man: Flying Blind
Hard Cover - #674-677
Spider-Man: Flying Blind
Graphic Novel / Trade - #674-677
Spider-Man: Identity Crisis
Graphic Novel / Trade - #434-435
Spider-Man: Invasion of the Spider-Slayers
Graphic Novel / Trade - #368-373
Spider-Man: Kraven's First Hunt
Hard Cover - #564-567
Spider-Man: Mark of the Tarantula
Graphic Novel / Trade - #231-237
Spider-Man: New Ways to Die
Hard Cover - #568-573
Spider-Man: Red-Headed Stranger
Hard Cover - #602-605
Spider-Man: Sinister Six
Hard Cover - #334-339
Spider-Man: Spider-Island
Hard Cover - #666-673, Infested parts from #659-660 & #662-665
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