The latest Spider-Man video game has taken both the comic community and the gaming community by storm. In the wake of DC’s incredibly successful Arkham series of Batman games and Injustice series of combat games, it’s been really wonderful to see that Marvel took cues, time, and effort and produced a game of their own that can stand toe-to-toe with the competition.
In the spirit of celebrating the game that we are all obsessed with I wanted to illuminate some of the amazing comic book stories that inspired some of the best plot points driving the narrative of the game!
5. Mary Jane Watson’s Solo Adventure
Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows vol 1: Brawl in the Family (2016)
Writer: Ryan Stegman
Artist: Gerry Conway
Poor, poor Mary Jane Watson. She was introduced to the Spider-Man readers as a love interest and has never really grown much out of that role. She’s often employed as a model with an accompanying aloof persona which serves to establish her as distant and unobtainable to Peter Parker until such a time as the creative team (or maybe editorial), want to allow the couple to be together.
Spider-Man, the video game, excels in reinventing MJ’s personality. The Spectacular Spider-Man took on Gwen Stacy and made her a nerd who could relate to Peter and perhaps inspired the evolution of Mary Jane as a Daily Bugle reporter – who even gets a playable level!
Renew Your Vows was originally a What If …? story that was so popular it was upgraded to an ongoing series. Mary Jane shares Peter’s spider-powers and gets a superheroic identity all her own. She is given the most autonomy that she has ever had. When their young daughter exhibits similar capabilities to her parents, Mary Jane takes on more of a leadership role in the Parker family. Being a mother and a Spidey flush out her character in an interesting way and makes for some very compelling comics. Definitely worth checking out if you dug the Mary Jane-specific level.
4. Friendly Neighbourhood Spidey v. Kingpin of Crime
In the Clutches of the Kingpin (Amazing Spider-Man #50 – #52) (1967)
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Romita Sr.
Wilson Fisk has been basking in a pretty high profile since the Daredevil Netflix series dropped its first season, but the Spider-Man game is not the first time and he the Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man and tangoed. He was actually introduced in this three-issue arc as a villain for Peter Parker to go against. The original issues of The Amazing Spider-Man are up there in quality with the original issues of Fantastic Four. I firmly believe that all comic book readers should check them out since they set what will eventually evolve into being the Marvel Comics house style.
Fisk is pretty omnipresent in the game and while he doesn’t share the same reputation with this comic book counterpart, many of the Kingpin’s signature traits are on display. Spidey has to work in tandem with J. Jonah Jameson to take him down. In the game, Jonah has an awful lot to say about both Spidey and Fisk, just like he does here.
If you’ve been digging the fights in the game too these issues help to define what is now Spider-Man signature web-slinging style.
3. Why so Mister Negative?
Brand New Day (2008)
Writers: Dan Slott, Marc Guggenheim, Zeb Wells
Artists: Steve McNiven, Salvador Larroca, Phil Jimenez, Chris Bachalo, Marcos Martin, Barry Kitson
I have to hand it to Spider-Man, despite including the very high-profile Kingpin of Crime, they actually reached into the bag of Spidey villains and pulled out Mister Negative! He’s used creatively throughout the game as a boss. I’m certain his public profile will only go up from here and we’ll see Mister Negative pop up in more places than just the occasional comic book appearance.
Brand New Day is the story that introduced him to Marvel Comics and remains one of Mister Negative’s best things. We get to experience Martin Li’s transformation into a supervillain at the hand of the Maggia crime family. Like many good bad guys, you can empathize with what the guy is going through. Slott and Jimenez (who are responsible for creating the character), evoke the level of pathos for Mister Negative that Amazing Spider-Man 2 wanted to with their rendition on Electro, but ultimately failed in.
The game has proved to me that Mister Negative could absolutely make a cool movie villain and Brand New Day wouldn’t be a bad place to lift his storyline from.
2. Peter + Miles = BFF
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Miles Morales is a pivotally important character to the larger Spider-Man mythos who often gets the short end of the stick because he’s not Peter Parker. I was thrilled to learn that Spider-Man made him a peer of Peter’s and that he appeared in the game. The whole other Earth alternate universe thing tends to create sticky situations, but it’s so nice to have the Spider-Man be friends.
Bendis’ Spider-Men is a part of his tremendous Ultimate Spider-Man run where he not only killed Peter Parker, but created and introduced Miles. This volume tells the story of the two meeting … sort of. This is Miles’ version of the “With great power comes great responsibility” arc. Readers get the opportunity to see Miles accept the hero that lives inside him, while simultaneously giving Peter and opportunity to fill the role of mentor that had previously been relegated to Uncle Ben and maybe an older Avenger.
This was the first time Peter and Miles interacted. It’s happened with greater frequency since then, though never as effectively. Full warning going into Spider-Men: you will cry.
1. The Otto Octavius of It All
Superior Spider-Man (2013)
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli
Otto Octavius is Peter Parker’s mentor? Are you kidding me? Amazing! Not a wholly original idea that Spider-Man co-opted, admittedly, but a lot of fun. Giving Peter pretty unlimited access to the future Doc Ock’s lab, while developing a strong bond between two like-minded individuals is one of the more compelling non-action-driven elements of the game.
Superior Spider-Man is not that … but it’s super good! Here Doc Ock is on his deathbed and he transfers his consciousness into Peter Parker’s body where the two do war and continue their Spider-duties. It’s a high concept comic book – the type of story that couldn’t be told in any other medium – and it is completely amazing.
Spider-Man, the game, explores the similarities between Peter Parker and Doctor Otto Octavius. It highlights what makes them sympatico. Superior Spider-Man is a much more Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde take on this pair. It explores the war that rages between the moral corps that grounds both men in what they do. It also explores the question of what it takes to be Spider-Man? This is a lesson that Peter Parker (and the player, by extension), learn throughout the game.
Superior Spider-Man also explores if just anyone is capable of putting on that iconic mask – something anyone who is playing the game knows, is a big question indeed.
Do you think we missed any stories? Have a suggestion of your own? Hop into the comments section below and let us know!