We’re just a few short weeks away from finally seeing the fallout from Avengers: Endgame playout in the MCU. Spider-Man: Far From Home releases into theaters on July 2, and what better way to fill that time than by reading comics!
Now, all we know about what to expect is what is available in the movie’s trailer: Peter and his classmates are on a trip to Europe and hijinks ensue: Mysterio shows up, Nick Fury crashes, and MJ continues to be very observant. Let’s pick up some apropos issues!
The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #13
Words: Stan Lee
Art: Steve Ditko
Letters: Art Simek
What you need to know: Nothing, we’re 13 issues deep into Spidey’s first run and Peter is a Spider-Baby-Boy.
Why pick it up? Well, and I quote, “The editors sincerely feel that this may well be one of the most gripping tales of the year!” Also, this is the very first appearance of Mysterio, who is being played by Jake Gyllenhaal in the new movie! It opens with “Spider-Man” committing a crime, and quickly devolves into Peter Parker considering that he might have a Jekyll-and-Hyde situation going on… but of course, we as loyal readers, know that can’t be the case! (Also being almost 60 years in the future helps.)
Anyway, of course it's Mysterio manipulating the good people of New York City into hating their friendly, neighborhood Spider-Friend, and the issue goes on to pack a wallop of a plot. We get it all: Peter's anxiety, Mysterio monologuing, epic fights — all with the classic zingers of Lee and explosive, iconic Ditko art. Honestly, there's a fight scene on a movie set that looks like it's in space and it's wonderful. This introduction to Mysterio is an old, rare breed in that it wraps up the whole arc in a single issue — that said, he'll be back, he's too classic to say goodbye to forever!
The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #257- #259
Words: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Ron Frenz
Inks: Josef Rubinstein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Colors: Christie Scheele (#257), Bob Sharen (#258, #259)
What you need to know: There is a lot going on in these three issues. Spidey’s in his black-costume just on the cusp of his Venom phase, and he’s dating Black Cat (hello, Felicia) who is starting to realize that while she loves Spider-Man, she doesn’t much care for what’s underneath the mask. Someone’s put a hit out on Spidey and the Puma has taken the payment, but Kingpin is not okay because he has his “own plans for the webslinger!”
Why pick it up? There’s a lot of standard action in these issues, but why it’s so iconic for our purposes? It’s in these issues that Mary Jane comes clean to Peter that she’s always known that he’s Spider-Man and it kicks off a heckuva story. In Far From Home’s trailer, we know that MJ knows that Peter is Spider-Man. In issue #257, Mary Jane drops the bomb and then books it out of there. This not only kicks Peter’s anxiety about his life into high gear, but it also exacerbates his unease with the symbiotic costume, laying the precursor to the Venom storyline. From what we can glean from the Far From Home promo material, MJ plays a bigger part in this one than the previous film. And through these issues, we learn a lot more about Mary Jane’s background and who she is as a character.
Fantastic Four #588
Words: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: Nick Dragotta
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: VC’s Russ Wooton
What you need to know: Spidey and Johnny Storm have a long history of friendship full of mutual ribbing and respect dating way back to the early days of Amazing Spider-Man. Then, almost a decade ago, the Human Torch sacrificed himself to save the universe. This is the aftermath.
Why pick it up? We know that in Far From Home, Peter is dealing with the loss of his mentor and friend, Tony Stark. Like Johnny and Annihilus, Tony sacrificed his own life to save the world as he knew it from Thanos. Something that is intrinsic to the character of Peter Parker is being grounded in a sense of grief. We haven’t really seen that in the MCU, beyond a few hints of something that May went through. So why this Fantastic Four comic? In the first few wordless pages, we see various superheroes gathering to mourn the Human Torch. We catch a glimpse of Spidey as he comes upon a young Franklin Reed, sitting on top of the Baxter Building. Franklin is sad, he’s just lost his uncle and that’s something Peter can identify with. So, he spends the day with him, acting normal, and then slowly breaches the subject of loss and responsibility. It’s a really beautiful issue and one of my favorite scenes that illustrate the depth of the character’s story, and the impact it’s had over decades.
Ultimate Spider-Man (2000) #13
Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Art Thibert
Letters: Albert Deschesne
Colors: Jung Choi
What you need to know: Not much, for context. Peter is Spider-Man and he’s 15 years old. In this run, Brian Michael Bendis created a new Earth, so this isn’t our Peter Parker. He’s a Peter who was 15 in the year 2000. This is who could have grown up to be our favorite Millennial Peter Parker.
Why pick it up? This is a really wonderful stand-alone comic from the Ultimate world. This is another comic in which MJ finds out that Peter is Spidey. Except this story is called “Confessions” — because really, it’s a single issue of Peter and MJ having a conversation, and Peter tells her truthfully, and to her face that he is Spider-Man. She doesn’t have to figure it out or spy him coming out of his window. And unlike his 616 counterparts, there’s no second-guessing himself in the moment or trying to figure out how to backpedal. He’s thrilled to have a confidant — especially one that he’s clearly crushing on.
Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business
Words: Mark Waid and James Robinson
Pencils: Werther Dell’Edera
Inks & Colors: Gabriele Dell’Otto
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
What you need to know: This is a fairly well-grounded stand-alone graphic novel set in the Earth-616 universe. Released just a few short weeks before Dan Slott’s relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man and not set definitively during any point in his life, it seems this Peter is actually doing kind of okay money-wise. Of course he’s still a disaster-and-a-half at life, don’t worry. This comic features Kingpin pretty heavily, and while he’s more recently better known as a Daredevil foe, he and Spidey have also had a longstanding enmity… I mean, New York’s not really that big, to be honest.
Why pick it up? Far From Home sees Pete jet setting out of his friendly, neighborhood roots to Europe so I wanted to share a comic that takes Peter out of New York and boy does he get taken out of New York. Picked up by a mystery woman claiming to be his sister during a very confusing kidnapping attempt of his civilian identity, Pete gets taken from Monte Carlo to the Swiss Alps and beyond. The story digs into the background of the Parker family and feels more spy-movie than a more traditional Spidey fare, but it’s a great way to see Peter out of his element, and having to rely less on his superpower and more on his intellect and ability to adapt to his environment. Dell’Edera and Dell’Otto bring a gorgeous and capital-A-art quality to the imagery in the issue which is a joy to fall into while you join the Spidey and family on a joint adventure to learn more about who they are and how they’re connected.