Earlier this week, it was announced that Stuart Immonen, one of the best superhero artists in the comics industry today, would be returning to the Marvel Universe as the regular artist on Amazing Spider-Man.
Immonen isn't the first all-star artist to draw Marvel's Spider-Man though. The web-slinger has had an embarrassment of riches when it comes to artistic talent drawing his adventures.
But which of those artists did it best? That's the question ComicBook.com has considered and answered.
These are the five greatest Spider-Man artists.
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5. Todd McFarlane
Todd McFarlane was an aspiring baseball player who had to shift careers after injuring his ankle. Now, he's known as a co-founder of Image Comics, the creator of Spawn, and for his mighty toy empire.
In the middle of that surprising career track, McFarlane found the time to become the definitive Spider-Man artist of the 1990s, and the bestselling Spider-Man artist of all time, with Spider-Man #1, which he both wrote and drew, selling 2.5 million copies in 1990.
The magic of McFarlane's work on Spider-Man is how it combined two versions of Spider-Man's looked that had previously seemed opposed to each other. McFarlane's Spider-man was athletic, but still capable of truly strange contortions.
On top of that, McFarlane gave Spider-Man an almost gothic look by widening his eyes, making his costume's lines more intricate, and pioneering "spaghetti webbing" that was sinewy and constantly dripping.
McFarlane also defined the look for Venom, the breakout Spider-Man villain of the decade.prevnext
4. John Romita Jr.
John Romita Jr. has been a mainstay of the Marvel Comics roster for decades, so much so that his "defection" to DC Comics to draw Superman in 2014, and Batman as of 2016, was one of the biggest comics news stories of the past several years.
Romita Jr. had two major runs on Spider-Man. The first was in the 1980s during Roger Stern's well-liked run writing Amazing Spider-Man. During that run, Romita's style largely mimicked that of past Spider-Man artist.
Romita left Spider-Man to draw other Marvel character for several years, including the X-Men and Daredevil and developed a stark and visually distinctive style. He brought that style to Spider-Man when he returned to the character in the 1990s and 2000s.
Romita is a master of comic book action sequences, as evidenced by his work on Spider-Man's early battle with the Juggernaut, and draws beautiful urban landscapes. He's also drawn several major moments in Spider-Man history, including Green Goblin's return in the finale of "The Clone Saga" and much of Ben Reilly's tenure as Spider-Man.prevnext
3. Mark Bagley
Any fan who has ever fallen in love with any kind of Spider-Man merchandise or collectible in the 21st century owes a debt of gratitude to Mark Bagley. He is the artist who defined Spider-Man's look more than any other single artist for the past 20 years and counting.
Bagley began drawing Spider-Man in the late 1990s, bringing a cleaner look to the character that McFarlane and other '90s artists before him.
In the early 2000s, when Marvel decided to introduce a new version of Spider-Man for new readers, they tapped Bagley and writer Brian Michael Bendis for Ultimate Spider-Man. Bagley and Bendis worked on the title together for 111 consecutive issues, setting a new record for a longest comic book run by a single creative team.prevnext
2. Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko is responsible for creating and designing most of the iconic aspects of the Spider-Man mythology. Ditko designed Spider-Man's instantly recognizable blue-and-red costume, as well as his web-shooters. Ditko was the first to consider what pose Spider-Man should strike while hanging from his web or sticking to a wall. Ditko also created many of Spider-Man's greatest villains, including the Green Goblin, the Lizard, and the Sandman, plus many of his most memorable supporting characters, such as J. Jonah Jameson and Gwen Stacy.
But it isn't just that Ditko did it first, but that he did it so well. Ditko filled his Spider-Man pages with angst and awkwardness that defied superhero convention even more than Jack Kirby's work did. That Ditko style that infused The Amazing Spider-Man for the first three years of the title's existence is a huge reason why Spider-Man endures today.prevnext
1. John Romita
John Romita Sr. had the unenviable task of taking over art duties on Amazing Spider-Man after Steve Ditko's abrupt departure from Marvel Comics. Where a lesser artist would have floundered and failed by trying to imitate Ditko's style, Romita instead relied on his own skill and elevated Spider-Man to brand new heights.
Romita was a romance comics artists before he began working on superheroes, and the influence shows in his work on Amazing Spider-Man. Ditko's misanthropic Peter Parker was replaced by Romita's handsome and athletic version. Romita's female characters were also noticeably more attractive, and that's nowhere more evident than when Romita drew Mary Jane Watson's iconic introductory panel with the famous dialogue, "Face it tiger...you just hit the jackpot!"0comments
Romita rounded the rough edges of Ditko's work, both literally and figuratively. His art was more palatable to the mainstream comics reader, which helped sales after Ditko's departure. Drawing the characters all as if they were young movie stars also helped encourage Stan Lee to indulge in more romantic subplots, which are now a staple of Spider-Man's stories. Romita's work was also used for most of Spider-Man's marketing and licensing up until Mark Bagley took that role for the 21st-century consumers.
Making Spider-Man prettier and more mainstream could have ended up watering the character down, but Romita's superb storytelling talents and Lee's willingness to write to Romita's strengths meant Romita was able to truly define Spider-Man for everyone, reader and artist alike, who followed.prev