The Best Spider-Man Comics Set Outside the US
With Peter Parker off on a European adventure in Far From Home, we look back at his comic-book counterpart's international travels
Spider-Man: Far From Home sees Marvel’s friendly neighborhood webslinger heading out of his familial home in New York City and visiting locations around Europe. For his latest outing, Tom Holland’s Spidey visits Venice, Prague, Berlin, and, for the memorable final battle, London.
Director Jon Watts recently told Den of Geek that the inspiration for Spidey’s European adventure came to him during the international press tour for the film’s predecessor, Spider-Man: Homecoming. “There was a moment where Tom and I were on a rooftop in Rome, doing some interview. And I looked across and saw a stuntman dressed in a full Spider-Man suit, posing on this tiled rooftop with Rome behind him. And I thought: ‘That would be a good movie.'”
In screen terms, Far From Home‘s Euro trip is quite the departure for Peter Parker – but over 50 years of adventures mean that the comics version, at least, is no stranger to adventures outside the USA. Here are five of his most memorable international adventures…
Amazing Spider-Man #95
After being ditched by Gwen, who has traveled to Europe following the death of her father, Peter is sent on assignment to London by the Bugle. Although he initially plans to surprise her, Peter becomes embroiled in a hostage situation when the US Ambassador and his son are abducted by terrorists on the plane.
Springing into action as Spider-Man, Peter defies the orders of Scotland Yard to capture the terrorists, who are hiding behind the clock face of Big Ben, naturally the most convenient hideout in London. Unfortunately, he now can’t reveal to Gwen that he’s here without her becoming suspicious that he’s arrived at the same time as Spider-Man. He’s forced to return home alone – much to Gwen’s sadness, as she wonders why Peter doesn’t care enough to come visit her. Still, they’re young and in love, they’ve got plenty of time together.
Further Reading: Spider-Man: Far From Home Review
Amazing Spider-Man #143-144
Following the death of Gwen Stacy, Peter believes he’s seeing her all over the city, so when J. Jonah Jameson tells him and Robbie Robertson to take $1 million of the Bugle’s money in cash (wait, what?) to Paris, it’s no surprise that they jump at the chance and hit the plane.
Jameson has been taken hostage by French villain, The Cyclone! Or – in the original French – Le Cyclone. Spider-Man fights the Cyclone in his Notre Dame cathedral lair (naturally, the most convenient hideout in Paris), and after the villain explains his origin (he made a wind weapon for NATO but the US purchased it for their OWN use, fuelling Cyclone’s anti-American sentiment), Spider-Man defeats him by creating a counter-wind with a giant fan (wait, what?). Victorious, Peter returns home only to find Gwen Stacy alive! But sadly she turns out to be a clone a few issues later. Spoilers.
Further Reading: Spider-Man: Far From Home Ending Explained
Amazing Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth
In this grade-A nutso graphic novel, written and fully illustrated by Charles Vess, Peter and MJ go on a second honeymoon to Scotland after a distant, dead relative leaves her estate to MJ – including a home in the Scottish highlands. While there, they learn of a kidnapping attributed to local “faerie folk” until a local woman, Dark Mairi of the Shore, tells them that there’s more to the events than it seems. Peter investigates and finds that it is ghosts, not the faeries.
I must re-iterate that this is a real comic that happened. Anyway, it all goes a bit Scooby Doo, but in the end, the plot is that a disgruntled member of the Hellfire Club (wait, what?) wants to use a giant crystal to destroy the town, but Mary Jane and Dark Mairi of the Shore channel the Earth Mother to cause an earthquake, freeing an imprisoned Spider-Man, who beats up the local landowners leaving the Earth Mother to destroy the crystal.
Again, real comic. Pretty sure MJ still owns a castle by the end of the story. Bring it back, someone.
Further Reading: The Creative Challenges of Spider-Man: Far From Home
Peter Parker: Spider-Man Annual 2001
In a flashback to Peter’s time as a student at Midtown High, we see Peter heading to Peru on a summer vacation to spend three months working for the Red Cross. As your average 16-year-old might.
Abducted by locals after he stops a bus crash, he learns that they are part of a spider cult who worship “the great weaver.” Unfortunately, the snake clan has taken over their temple (this is sounding like a classic Spider-Man story isn’t it?). Luckily, he’s able to defeat the usurpers and gets back to the Red Cross camp where he can spend the rest of those 3 months working as some kind of child slave for them.
In case you’re wondering, this three-month excursion sits in continuity right between Amazing Spider-Man #5 and Amazing Spider-Man #6, so if you read those comics, we recommend you look out for signs that Peter Parker spent three months in Peru. You won’t find any, but it’s fun to look.
Further Reading: How Tom Holland Settled into Playing Spider-Man
If you’re an American, there’s a good chance that you find the mere idea of Canada hilarious in a way that baffles the rest of the world. If you’d like to tap that rich comedic seam, Spider-Man once spent not one, not two, but five issues bouncing around Canada in an extremely unusual comic produced by agreement with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (and other similar organizations).
The series comprises five stories: “Skating on Thin Ice,” in which he is accidentally shipped to Winnipeg in a crate of hockey pucks; “Double Trouble,” in which the Chameleon disguises himself as a hockey coach; “Hit & Run,” in which Ghost Rider (wait, what?) is visiting his Canadian Cousin who, after the superheroes save his life, gives them Blue Jays tickets; “Chaos in Calgary,” in which Spider-Man fights the Fightful Four during the Canada Day celebrations and is assisted by local hero, Turbine, a wheelchair-using doctor who rides a solar-powered turbine cycle in her superhero identity; and “Deadball,” in which Spider-Man protects a bicycle safety team from an attack by the Green Goblin in the Montreal Olympic stadium.
And if you’re wondering how Spider-Man managed to spend five issues in Canada without bumping into Alpha Flight, well, so are we.
Feel free to let us know if we’ve missed your favorite international Spider-Man story in the comments below…