Reading Spider-Man, pt. 1: Ultimate Spider-Man

I started a quest to read all Spider-Man stories, one collection at a time. Since there are so many issues and series, I decided to start with Ultimate Spider-Man, the series that reintroduced Spider-Man to a new generation. Whether you’re a new reader or a longtime fan, Ultimate Spider-Man (USM) is a great place to start.

What is Ultimate Spider-Man?

Ultimate Spider-Man is a series first published in 2000. USM reimagined the Spider-Man story for a new modern audience. The series was a success, and it led to the development of other Ultimate series that covered heroes such as the X-Men, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. While these stories are not set in the main Marvel universe, many of its elements were popular enough that they were adapted into the main Marvel series.

How to Read Ultimate Spider-Man

Ultimate Spider-Man is a self-contained series, and can be read from start to finish. But, you’ll enjoy the series more by reading content from three other series: Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, Ultimate Six, and Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem. Most of the issues in the series are hard to find reasonably priced, so I recommend subscribing to Marvel Unlimited to read the issues digitally. Alternatively, you can buy the series in trade paperback (TPB), hardcover (HC) or omnibus formats.

To read USM start with issue #1 and continue reading until issue #133 in that order with the following exceptions:

  • Read Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #1-8 after USM #13
  • Read Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #9-16 after USM #21
  • Read Ultimate Spider-Man Super Special after USM #27
  • Read Ultimate Spider-Man #1/2 after USM #39
  • Read Ultimate Six #1-7 after USM #46
  • Read Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #1 after USM #85
  • Read Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2 after USM #105
  • Read Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 after USM #120
  • Read Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem #1-2 after USM #133


Peter Parker is bit by a genetically enhanced spider in Ultimate Spider-Man #1

5 (out of 5)

Ultimate Spider-Man is one of my favorite comic book series. It’s one of the few that I have genuinely enjoyed from start to finish. I started reading this run in my early teens and got through the first 96 issues before moving on to other hobbies. Now as an adult, I read the entire series from start to finish, and I actually appreciate it more reading it the second time around.

The creative duo behind USM: author Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley deliver a cinematic-style comic book, with more focus on visuals and layout. The stories are also character driven, delving the reader into the mind and world of Peter Parker. Through 133 issues, USM manages to transport us to a world of superheroes, as seen from the perspective of a teenager who is just trying to do good in the world.

When I first read the series, I was a bit disappointed by Peter’s dialogue, finding it to be sometimes childish. Of course, reading it now, I realize that Bendis was writing dialogue of a 15-year-old teenager. And, having later experienced that age (and now having nephews around that age), I think that Bendis does a great job of portraying how a modern teenager would react to the events surrounding him.

Ultimate Spider-Man brings action, drama, suspense, and comedy to the table. The series masterfully weaves these elements into an easy to read collection. Furthermore, since the series is set in its own universe, Bendis had the freedom to tell a story without the baggage of other series weighing it down. Even a crossover event like Ultimatum (issues #131-133) is enjoyable without having to read any of the main issues in the event. Overall, I give this series a 5 out of 5, and I recommend it for any new reader wanting to learn about Spider-Man.

Bonus: How to Collect Physical Copies

I prefer to read physical copies of my comic books. For Ultimate Spider-Man, I collected most of the issues listed above in trade paperback (TPB) format. If you are not a fan of reading digital issues, then here is a list of collected editions of Ultimate Spider-Man issues.

In my case, I collected all these issues in trade paperback format. I purchased most of these over a decade ago when they were first published, and others were purchased used through eBay. I collected the following:

  • Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 1 to vol. 22 collect issues #1-133, the three annuals, and Ultimate Six #1-7
  • Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Ultimate Collection collects Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #1-16 and the Ultimate Spider-Man Super Special.
  • Ultimatum: Requiem collects Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem #1-2

Unfortunately, none of the trade paperbacks include Ultimate Spider-Man #1/2, so I purchased the issue individually.


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