You could say there’s a bit of Spider-Man fever in the air. After the cinematic fall from grace that was Spider-Man 3 and the two Amazing Spider-Man movies, the character came back in a big way with his MCU cameo in Captain America: Civil War. Later, Spider-Man: Homecoming was a hit, and ol’ Spidey ended up being one of the best parts of Avengers: Infinity War.
Fans are hoping to see more Spidey in Avengers: Endgame and his solo sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home. However, you don’t need to wait that long for cinematic Spider-Man, as Into the Spider-Verse is here! This is a tale of dimension-hopping Spider-Men (and women) teaming up to save the day.
Cool idea, huh? It didn’t come out of nowhere; in fact, the movie builds on several characters and stories of the last decade. If you’re ready to do your Spider-homework, we’ve put together a definitive guide for what to read before seeing the movie!
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Volume 1
If you don’t know, Into the Spider-Verse very prominently stars a different kind of Spider-Man: Miles Morales. This character has been gaining intense popularity for many years now; if you want to catch up, then pick up volume one of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.
This comic explains how Miles gets his powers and why he feels responsible for taking over as Spider-Man after the death of Peter Parker. It takes place in the separate Ultimates universe, but the character is so popular that he was eventually merged into the proper 616
Edge of the Spider-Verse (Issues 1-5)
Most of the recommendations on this list are to help you learn more about these different characters. However, Edge of the Spider-Verse is a bit different: these comics help introduce you to the entire concept of a “Spider-verse.” And while the movie will certainly have many differences from the comic, these issues help put things in perspective.
If nothing else, these issues give you a peek at several different kinds of Spider-Man. Some are returning characters, such as the Spidey from Spider-Man Noir. Others are brand new, including Spider-Gwen. Consider these issues your “Cliffs Notes” regarding this entire universe and its characters!
Spider-Gwen, Volume 1
In many ways, the whole Spider-Verse thing was an experiment to see if any of these characters would be popular enough to warrant a new series. And one character clawed her way to the top: right away! Spider-Gwen now has a solo series, and if you pick up Volume 1, you can see how it gets started.
The idea is pretty simple: in her universe, it’s Gwen Stacey that gets fabulous Spidey powers. And Peter Parker? He becomes a kind of monster that she feels responsible for creating. Ultimately, this is a fun comic that returns the Spideyverse back to its familiar roots while adding some really fun twists and turns.
Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham
Even before the Spider-Verse thing, Spidey has had many weird forms. Remember when he was swinging around with a bunch of extra arms? However, many fans agree that the weirdest it ever got was with Peter Porker, also known as Spider-Ham. And this character pops up in the Spider-Verse movie!
If you want to learn more about this strange creature, then you should pick up the Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham trade paperback. If you have a weird sense of humor, these stories are right up your alley. Where else will you find a protagonist who started out as a spider and was bitten by an irradiated pig?
In the Into the Spider-Verse movie, a large part of the fun is watching Miles Morales interact with an older and (at least slightly) wiser mentor in the form of Peter Parker. And while the movie puts a new spin on this meetup, the idea has been done before in the appropriately named series Spider-Men.
In the series, “our” Peter Parker is transported to the Ultimate universe. He teams up with Miles Morales to stop Mysterio but ends up going on a huge emotional journey when he finds out that he died in this universe and that Gwen Stacey is still alive. This is both a fun and moving tale, and it helped show the potential for Spider-people running into each other.
Miles Morales, Spider-Man
Obviously, most of the recommendations on this list are comics. And if that surprises you, check the name of the website, Bub! However, we’re making an exception with this next recommendation: the Miles Morales, Spider-Man novel by Jason Reynolds.
Until Into the Spider-Verse came out, this book was our single largest dive into the world of Miles Morales. You can learn more about his family, his powers, and his motivation in these pages. And it’s a Young Adult novel, which means it’s a quick read for grown-ups and also a great way to bring your kids into the world of the character.
Superior Spider-Man, Volume 1
We’ve got one last recommendation on this list. Many of the tales so far feature a different kind of Spider-Man in a different universe. But what if we had a very different kind of Spider-Man in our own universe? That’s the idea behind Superior Spider-Man.
In this series, a dying Doctor Octopus found a way to put his mind into Peter Parker’s body. Peter still lingers as a kind of conscience, though, and compels the former super-villain to prove that he can be a better Spider-Man than Parker ever could. Obviously, this character change wasn’t permanent, but it gave us some unforgettable story moments and costume designs.
So far, critics and fans alike seem to absolutely love Into the Spider-Verse. We’re hoping that this will kick off an entire series of big screen, big-budget adaptations of our favorite Marvel heroes. And if you do your homework by reading these comics, you’ll certainly be ready for the inevitable sequel!