What you're missing if you're not reading the '80s-inspired Amazing Spider-Man

Dark Web promo image
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes in the world, and supposedly the most merchandised superhero globally - so there's a good chance that, if you're reading this, you're well aware of who Spider-Man is, what his origins are, and even who many of his biggest enemies are.

But are you reading Amazing Spider-Man, the flagship Spider-Man comic in Marvel's line?

If not, now might just be a perfect time to web-sling your way into the title, which just entered a new story arc titled 'Dark Web' as of November 23's Amazing Spider-Man #14.

'Dark Web' will bring in the X-Men as guest stars and will include a whole roster of Spider-Man supporting characters from Mary Jane Watson to Norman Osborn and more as central characters. In other words, it's a window into not just all of Spidey's world, but the Marvel Universe at large.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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That said, there's a lot more to the current volume of Amazing Spider-Man for Spidey fans to enjoy than just a big crossover with some admittedly kickass guest stars. 

Writer Zeb Wells and regular series penciler John Romita Jr. are both long-time Spider-Man veterans, and along with inker Scott Hanna, colorist Marcio Menyz, and letterer Joe Caramagna, they're tapping into classic Spider-Man themes that go all the way back to the '80s, while building up a new mystery around the relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson.

If you're a Spider fan looking for your comic fix, here's what you're missing if you're not reading Amazing Spider-Man.

Amazing Spider-Man so far

The current volume of Amazing Spider-Man is now 14 issues in. While that may seem like a lifetime in terms of some serialized formats like TV episodes, in terms of monthly comics, that means it's been running about a year - and that Marvel has started collecting the current Amazing Spider-Man (opens in new tab), so it's relatively easy to catch up.

(Don't worry - we're not gonna spoil the entire most recent volume of Amazing Spider-Man that's been released so far). 

The current Amazing Spider-Man #1 kicked off by establishing that sometime about six months ago, Peter Parker was involved in some kind of disaster outside York, Pennsylvania that caused massive destruction and sent Peter into a depressive spiral, alienating his friends and even his recently reunited girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson (more on that in a moment).

We still don't know what that disaster was, but it was so traumatic to Peter that he dove headlong into his first adventure in the current Amazing Spider-Man, suffering a beating at the hands of the villain Tombstone while getting caught up in a turf war in the New York City underworld.

This echoes some of Spider-Man's '80s-era adventures, around the time he took on the black costume that would later be revealed as a symbiote, eventually becoming Venom. In those days, the criminal underworld of New York City was just as much a part of Spidey's adventures as his supervillain foes, with characters like Tombstone straddling the line.

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On the more superhero side of things, Peter also had to take on the Sinister Adaptoid, a killer android with all the powers of the Sinister Six who was created by an advanced, evolved version of the Living Brain, a strange Spider-Man villain dating back to Spidey's earliest adventures in the '60s.

That story, told in the milestone Amazing Spider-Man #900, taps into the heart of what makes Peter Parker the hero he is, with an ending that answers the question "Who is Spider-Man?" in a way that perfectly encapsulates everything good about Spidey.

(If you're wondering why the current volume of Amazing Spider-Man jumps to #900 all of a sudden, it's because of a current comics tradition called 'Legacy Numbering').

Similarly, the story told soon after in an issue that ties into the recent Marvel event story AXE: Judgment Day delves right to the heart of Peter Parker, putting a heartbreaking lens on the comparison between Spider-Man and his arch-enemy Norman Osborn through the eyes of Gwen Stacy, who was murdered by Osborn way back in the '70s.

Since then, Osborn, who is actually sorta reformed from being the Green Goblin and is, in fact, Peter Parker's employer and ally, has become a central supporting cast member of the story. Osborn is currently operating as a superhero known as the Gold Goblin, helping Spider-Man take on the threat of not one but two versions of his other big Goblin enemy, the Hobgoblin.

Along with the mystery of the identities of the Hobgoblins, which also harkens back to the original 'Hobgoblin Saga' of the '80s, there's also a mystery brewing around their apparent boss, a newer Goblin villain named Queen Goblin.

And all of that - Osborn's hero turn, the mystery of Queen Goblin, and more, is unfolding just as Peter is getting wrapped up in 'Dark Web,' which you can dig deeper into with our explanation of everything you need to know about Spider-Man/X-Men: Dark Web.

Peter Parker and Mary Jane

Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

We mentioned that Peter Parker and Mary Jane are on the outs again after finally getting Mephisto off their back.

(For those not in the know, the quick TL:DR is, Peter and MJ used to be married till the demon Mephisto 'stole' their marriage for complicated reasons way back in the story Spider-Man: One More Day).

So what happened to break them up this time?

Actually… we don't entirely know. 

But we do know that in the meantime, MJ has moved on to a new relationship with a guy who has kids (one of whom looks suspiciously like MJ, in fact), while Peter has been kinda dating the Black Cat.

The story of MJ and Peter is still unfolding in Amazing Spider-Man (it's kinda like a season long subplot, to use the TV metaphor one more time), but we've got a deep dive into what's happened between Peter and Mary Jane so far right here.

And what's more, the answers to many of the questions around Peter and MJ's relationship will seemingly be broached in Dark Web, which also includes a Mary Jane/Black Cat spin-off comic.

What about Miles Morales?

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #1 cover

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Peter Parker isn't the only Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe. He shares the mantle with Miles Morales, his protégé who came to Peter's world from another universe in Marvel's Multiverse (these are concepts you'll be somewhat familiar with if you've seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse).

But Miles is far from a supporting character, so even though he does pop up in Amazing Spider-Man here and there, he's got his own Miles Morales: Spider-Man title which is about to kick off with its own brand new #1 on December 7, so there's plenty of time to get right in on the ground floor.

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Meanwhile, there's a second Spider-Man title written by veteran Spider-Man writer Dan Slott (who has actually written more Spider-Man comics than anyone else) and artist Mark Bagley who has been drawing Spidey since the '90s, which picks up on story threads from the longrunning Spider-Verse comic book saga - and which Newsarama named one of our top picks for new superhero comics to get into this winter.

And of course, speaking of Spider-Verse, the alt-universe Gwen Stacy known as Ghost Spider (or Spider-Gwen, unofficially) has her own Gwenverse of 'Variant' versions of herself, which will soon be on display in the February-launching limited series Spider-Gwen: Shadow Clones.

That's just the tip of the iceberg of all the new Spider-Man comics Marvel has planned for release in 2022 and beyond.

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)