Mysterio's Best Comic Book Appearance Isn't a Spider-Man Story at All

Mysterio strikes! This summer, for the first time on the big screen, the special effects criminal mastermind in a fishbowl will appear in Spider-Man: Far From Home portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal. As one of Spider-Man’s earliest villains, Mysterio has appeared on and off in comics for decades, but hasn’t really had a whole significant storyline of his own. Yet a handful of artists have managed to find the mystique in Mysterio.

Debuting in The Amazing Spider-Man #13, Mysterio is Quentin Beck, a special effects wizard who tried and failed to become an actor. Irritated over his failure, Quentin opts to become a criminal instead, using his unparalleled skills as a film magician to “do crime” (as Jason on The Good Place would say).

Although a significant character in Spider-Man’s comic book rogues gallery, it was Mysterio’s subsequent appearances in adapted Spider-Man media, including the ‘90s animated series, that made him famous among fans. Once relegated to a cameo in Sam Raimi’s scrapped Spider-Man 4, his role in the new movie will certainly cement his recognition even more.

For those who want to catch up on Spider-Man’s history with Mysterio, here are five comic books to track down. We’ve linked to Comixology and Amazon for your convenience, but you can also hit up your local comic book retailer or a convention for back issues. And because it’s Marvel, many of these comics can be accessed with a Marvel Unlimited account.

Mysterio Spider-Man
Cover of 'Amazing Spider-Man' #13, featuring the debut of Mysterio.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man #13

The one that started it all (for Mysterio, at least). This classic banger from Stan Lee and Steve Ditko features Mysterio in his very first appearance. It’s a fun, old school Spider-Man comic that’s still worth reading today if for nothing else but an unintentionally hysterical panel of an insomniac Peter Parker.

Spider-Man Mysterio Sinister Six
Cover of 'The Amazing Spider-Man' Annual #1.

4. The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1

In Spidey’s first oversized “Annual” issue, Doc Ock forms the Sinister Six for the first time. An all-evil alliance of Spider-Man’s most colorful enemies, including Electro, Kraven, Vulture, Sandman, and Mysterio, the Sinister Six work as one to take down Spider-Man. But in the end, Spidey proves he’s got the brawns and brains to outwit them all.

Spider-Man Mysterio Marvel Comics
Cover of 'The Amazing Spider-Man' #198.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man #198-200

In one of the biggest demonstrations of how sophisticated Mysterio’s illusions can be, the villain tricks Peter Parker into believing he killed Peter’s dear Aunt May as a ploy to obtain a hidden fortune in the Parker household. The storyline is also the final confrontation of a criminal known only as “Burglar,” the one responsible for the death of Ben Parker.

While Mysterio’s illusions border on the impossible, the story exists as proof that Mysterio is not to be trusted and anything in Far From Home is suspect.

Mysterio Spider-Man Marvel Comics
Cover of 'Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man' #1.

2. Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #1-3

In 1999, Marvel released the short-lived series Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man, with the intent of letting comic creators shine in a Spider-Man anthology. The first few issues, written by J.M. DeMatteis with art by John Romita Sr. and Michael Zulli, explores Mysterio’s backstory in greater detail. Plus, J. Jonah Jameson falls victim to Mysterio’s illusions, believing he’s in hell surrounded by Spider-Man demons. It’s all very 1999.

Daredevil Guardian Devil Marvel Comics
Cover of 'Daredevil: Guardian Devil' trade paperback collection.

1. Daredevil: Guardian Devil

This is actually a big spoiler, but Kevin Smith’s first eight issues of Daredevil Vol. 2 — a major part of the influential Marvel Knights imprint — feature one of the greatest Mysterio stories ever told, and it doesn’t even star Spider-Man.

In Guardian Devil, Matt Murdock becomes the caretaker of an infant who could be either the Messiah or the devil incarnate. As the story unfolds, Mysterio is revealed as part of the larger plot, creating an event that would have an everlasting impact on Daredevil: The death of Karen Page.

Guardian Devil is a phenomenal exhibition of not only Smith’s skills as a storyteller (he’s great when he’s not making Batman piss his pants) but for proving what could be done with a goofy character like Mysterio when taken a bit more seriously.

Spider-Man: Far From Home swings into theaters on July 5.

Media via Marvel Entertainment, Sony Pictures